This is a story I like to call- Gullible's Travels. After you read this, you may think that it should be called Goober's Travels, but I'll let you decide.
So, I went up to our north office on Tuesday- where we had meetings on Wednesday and Thursday. I had planned my travel arrangements through cheaptickets beforehand, and thought that I was getting a good deal on having my flight up with US Air (which is normally the airline where my "bad" stories come from) and having my flight back with Delta. I actually thought that the stories would come from my flight up- but the trip to DC was uneventful, as it should be. The trip back home, however, was a different story...thus it begins.
Sweet Shannon Hopkins said that she would take me to the airport to catch my flight, so we left the office around 3:30pm and got to the airport roughly between 3:45 and 4:00. I went to the kiosk to print out my boarding pass and the screen said that my ticket required "special handling" and that I needed to see a ticket agent. Ok, that's fine. That happens all the time. Well, the ticket agent tells me that my flight to Atlanta has been delayed quite a bit and that it's going to cause me to miss my connecting flight to Birmingham. Never fear though, there are always flights from Atlanta to Birmingham, and if all else fails, I can rent a car and drive home. Well, that's not the only problem that had occurred. Since I booked through cheap tickets, Delta could not change my flight information, and "it seems that they have booked you on an alternate flight through Cincinnati. You can probably make it...the flight leaves at 5:00." It's now 4:20. However, "you have to go stand in that line over there to get your boarding pass printed out because they will have to call Salt Lake City to make sure that we can do that for you." I didn't ask why...I didn't care. I just wanted my boarding pass so I could get the show on the road. And I was halfway excited, because it looked like I was going to make it back to Birmingham earlier than the 8:00pm that was originally planned.
I stand in line for about 10 minutes until an agent could help me. It's now 4:30pm. She prints out my boarding pass and then looks at me with the most serious face she had and said, "Ok, you have to run...you have 30 minutes...once you get through the security checkpoint, you must hop on the transit...it will take you to concourse B and you must make it to B78. Now run!"
Feeling like James Bond on a mission, I grabbed the boarding pass and took off, sprinting to the security checkpoint.
Now, let me stop for just a minute to tell you what I'm wearing...time out. Before I left the office, I changed into jeans, a t-shirt and my flip-flops. I have found that flip flops are easier to remove when going through the metal detector, they're faster, and I have gotten the security checkpoint down to a fine art. However, most of the time I'm not sprinting through the airport in flip flops to make it to the aircraft. Ok, time in.
As I sprint toward the security checkpoint, my right flip flop goes flying out straight in front of me, and if I'm lying I'm dying, I watched a man pick up his baggage to jump over my flip flop as it shot under him. As I ran past him to retreive the flop, I heard him comment on his cell phone that "now there are flip flops flying at me!"
I slip the flop back on and finish the race to the checkpoint. Not that it mattered though, because the line was so long...my shoulders dropped and I thought, "There is absolutely no way that I am going to make this flight. But Lord, I know that you can work miracles, so if I'm supposed to make it, please help me out here." I get to the end of the line where there is an airport security woman directing passengers to each line. I thought, great! I'll just tell her the situation and maybe she can get me through this line. "Ma'am, my flight is in 30 minutes and I have to get all the way to B78, and the lady at the counter told me to run and I don't think I'm going to make it." She looked at me- said "Aw" and condescendingly turned her back to my face! Now let me stop for a minute...time out. The old Kay would have looked at this woman and said, "Hold up Gina...let me tell you something..." and she would have proceeded to tell the woman where she could take her condescending "Aw's." But the new Kay stood shocked...still...mouth gaping open...in disbelief. Ok, time in.
I turned and walked past her into the line of my choice, praying that God would please make this the short line. With tears in my eyes from my crushed pride, I called my husband. "Michael, they changed my connection...my flight is now leaving in 20 minutes...I'm in the security line...please pray that I make it."
I get all the way through the security checkpoint and start the sprint again. Flip flop loss #2 occurrred and while I'm trying to get to the flop across the airport, my roller bag turns. So, I'm now dragging my bag- not on the roller side- trying to expertly flip it back over, all while trying to retreive flop loss #2. I sprint the rest of the way to the transit...not that it mattered. I sat on that shuttle for 15 minutes before it even thought about moving. My face is now burning, as it has now become obvious that I'm not going to make the flight. The shuttle gets to the B concourse and I now have 5 minutes to make my flight. The sprint begins again. Flop loss #3 occurs, but this time it's stuck under my roller bag, and I can't see it. So, I'm frantically searching for the flop- as my over the shoulder bag knocks me in the face from the direct halt in motion. I find the flop and begin the sprint again. About 5 gates down, I start to realize that I feel like I'm hitting the 15 mile mark in a marathon in January. My lungs are burning so bad that I tell you I would not have been surprised to look down and see one of my lungs on the ground...because the lungs were doing me no good. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't run anymore, and my pride was now like gum on the bottom of my shoe. I start walking- not able to breathe- and the tears came. But since I can't breathe, I am no longer in control of the sounds coming out of me. The loud wheezing/crying was drawing unwanted attention from the people around me. I'm telling myself "Shut up Kay" but my body wasn't listening. So I think, I've got to start running again. Flop loss #4. I'm now starting to curse the flops..."You stupid rainbows! I could have you burned for the anguish you're causing!" Realizing that this is now making me look crazy, I stop cursing the flop. But I look up to realize that I'm not making progress to B78. It was the very last gate at the end on the left...but at this point I can barely see the numbers through my tear-filled eyes.
Finally I make it, and the man working the gate must have guessed at what I said, because it made absolutely no sense to me. "Left? God...help...plane?"
"You just made it ma'am...you must be Katherine Sanford." Oh great...that means they've been calling my name over the loudspeaker.
I run down the tunnel to the sweetest man I have ever seen. "It is ok ma'am...calm down...I'll take your bag...you made it."
So I enter the plane- it's a small one- two seats on each side- and every single set of eyes turned to me upon my arrival. At this point, God thought, "You know what would be hilarious? Let's give her an uncontrollable cough now." So, I'm walking down the aisle to 9D- red faced- tears streaming- sweating like a pig- and now coughing uncontrollably. However, I couldn't get to 9D because the flight attendant is standing smack in the middle of the aisle, trying to get a verbal "Yes" from the four passengers in row 8- the exit row. Once she got the answers she needed, she turned around only to catch a glimpse of me- I saw the grimace of her face as she examined my state of being. However, she managed a smile as she asked, "Going to Cincinnati?"
Cough cough, wheeze, sniff, nod yes, cough cough, wheeze.
The man in 9C was thrilled that I was coming to sit next to him- purposefully folding up his newspaper before unbuckling his safety belt to squeeze out into the aisle. As I sit, I'm searching frantically through my bag for a ricola cough drop, hoping to cease the constant feeling of the bug in my throat. I realize now that 9C thinks I'm sick, so I manage out "I'm sorry, I'm not sick, I just ran the entire length of the airport..." but the tears got the last part of the sentence, so I'm not sure if he understood. I pop the cough drop and think, "Oh my gosh, I'm hot" so I turn on my personal air vent and tilt my head back to cool off. But it only makes the coughing worse, so I'm now doubled over in my seat trying to pull my wet hair back into a ponytail without elbowing 9C.
Finally, I calm down, although the coughing will not cease. The girl in 10C lets out a dramatic sigh, letting everyone on the plane know exactly how she feels about my coughing. As the urge passed to hit her with the infamous flop that wouldn't stay on my own foot, the captain comes over the loudspeaker, only to inform us that we would be sitting on the runway for at least 20 more minutes before we were able to take off. I'm thinking, "Fine...maybe I'll calm down and quit coughing before we take off, and I can just relax." But the coughing never stopped.
We finally landed in Cincinatti, so I pulled out my boarding pass for Birmingham to have it ready and in hand for the next trip. As I look down to study the ticket, I realize that my connecting flight is leaving at 7:30- which was in 15 minutes! The flight attendant informs all of the passengers to please allow those with tight schedules to exit the plane first...which they did. Not that it mattered. I had to wait at least 5 minutes for my curbside bag to make it to me before making the mad dash from Concourse C (where I was) to Concourse A (where my plane was). So I start sprinting again...yep you guessed it....flop loss #5. I caught the bus to Concourse A and sprinted through the moving sidewalks- scaring people half to death with the coughing and wheezing.
I got to the gate at 7:27. Not that it mattered. "Yes ma'am, your flight is already departing." She took my ticket and started clicking the computer keys to make me an alternate flight to Birmingham. Not that it mattered. "There is not another flight to Birmingham until tomorrow morning. The closest I can get you tonight is Huntsville. However, because it was a connecting flight delay, Delta cannot provide your travel from Huntsville to Birmingham."
I said, "Look, I don't even care right now. My husband can come and get me in Huntsville. Just get me there."
That flight was departing from...you guessed it...C33. But I had time to make it without running. The Lord must have known that I was at my breaking point so He cut me some slack. I took the bus back to Concourse C, and called Michael to see if he could drive to Huntsville to get me. I think at first he thought I was joking, but it soon became a reality. So, he set out to the house to look up directions to the Huntsville airport while I made way to the Subway restaurant by my gate. Yes, I said restaraunt. At this point, a smushed chicken leg on the floor would have been a gourmet meal. Subway had a place to sit, a table from which to eat, and a clear view of C33, so I could make SURE not to miss my flight. I finish my meal, thank the Lord for getting me to C33 and feeding me, and make my way to sit and wait. About 5 minutes passed, and we started the boarding procedure. I was seated in 1A- which I loved because the first row always has more room for my gangly legs. The man next to me seemed nice...didn't take up my seat as well as his...I thought, "Thank you Lord- I can finally go home."
So, we take off. My normal routine at take off is to ask the Lord for His blessing over the plane, pilot, and people on board...to place a hedge of protection around us all. So, that's what I did. About 10 minutes pass, and I hear some commotion. But all I heard was, "lalalalalallalalalla....SEIZURE!" The guy next to me jumps up, yells "I'm a nurse!" and runs to 4A where an 18 month old girl was having a seizure. We're all watching as the man-nurse gets supplies from the flight attendant...not that it mattered...the emergency kits are all made for adults. So the dad of the little girl carries her up to the front of the plane while the man-nurse helps him remove the little girl's shirt. He plops down in the now empty seat next to me, and I help hold her head while he tries to keep her chin up. The flight attendant comes on the loudspeaker to inform the passengers that we've had a medical emergency, and that we'd be turning around and landing back in Cincinnati. While I'm holding this little girl's head, I'm praying that God would just heal her and calm her parents, and I mean, HE DID. The parents were so calm and collected and while the little girl became unresponsive, she would whine a little bit every now and then. Man-nurse took a seat as we landed and as soon as we hit the ground, the door opened and an emergency crew was on board. They took the little girl and her family onto the ambulance and headed to Children's Hospital.
In the meantime, the flight attendant is now having to fill out paperwork about what happened, man-nurse is writing down what happened and his diagnosis. Since we broke the seal on one of the packets in the emergency kit to get out a stethoscope, we now have to wait for another emergency kit to arrive. Man-nurse starts to tell me about how he had to do the same thing for a man on his previous flight- except that man was in the bathroom. I stopped him right there- "Man-nurse, I don't need to hear the details..." Then we start to laugh about how he's not really a nurse, but he did stay at the Holiday Inn Express last night.
So, we took off again, arrived in Huntsville at 11:00pm, and Michael was there to meet me. We drove back to Birmingham, picked up my car from the Birmingham airport, and finally got home. I fell into the bed...
The only remnants now from the trip are my tainted memory, the still persisting cough (though it's gotten better), a heaviness in my lungs, and soreness in my legs. I am happy to be home, and I fly out again on Monday. This time the destination is WV...and I am on my knees asking the Lord for favor this time. He's so funny...I can't wait to see what happens!
We Love You, Mari Andrew!
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