Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Worst Flight Ever

I was just going to put this behind me, but Mara asked

After a week of the Kiddo being spoiled by relatives, daily presents, chips, cookies, candy, loads of attention and lack of sleep, we packed up our weary three-year-old and rested selves for a return to reality.

The Kiddo and I said goodbye to the ocean and we all saddled up. My spouse got the short straw, driving two hours in the minivan with his aunt who regaled him on our desperate need for bible study. This unwelcome lecture was most likely triggered by an earlier event the breakfast table — with all the older generation present — when my child decided to pull my tank top down and shove her hand inside, shouting, “I got your nipple!”

Well, at least we know someone is praying for us.

I had an epiphany that morning, on the road. There are moments when it seems like your child is hell-bent on pressing every single button you have in some crazy exploration of human nature. Because Mommy is “safe,” it’s usually Mommy who gets to be the guinea pig for these experiments. The Guinea Pig got grouchy.

Somehow we made it through the first flight. Just as I was wondering how to amuse our wired little button-pusher, she bends over in the middle of the airport and pulls down her pants. “Look, Mommy!”

If I thought this was the “end-all” of our travel adventures, what happened next certainly eclipsed the little Coppertone moon.

We make it onto the final flight home, child miraculously still intact and clothed. We even get front seats by the bulkhead up with the pre-boarders. I was actually hoping to get a seat farther back. One of the pre-boarders was already showing signs of being high-maintenance.

As my spouse put our carry-ons up in the overhead bin, a precariously stowed wheelchair back falls out, pegging that same elderly woman in the head. She begins to scream, “Oh my God! OH MY GOD!” I turn to look, not expecting to see my poor spouse standing there, a victim of circumstance, as a fountain of blood flows from this woman’s head.

I am squeamish. My stomach curls into knots. The woman is covered in blood and angrily calling for my husband’s name to be taken. Paramedics are called. A report is filled out. The chaos ensues as a hundred people are waiting to board. The woman is taken off the plane and put in an ambulance. My husband volunteers to stay behind and accompany the woman since she was traveling alone. She refused the offer.

The crew begins clean up and seat removal. Now, there is so much blood that they will have to remove the entire seat. The pre-board folks are relocated. I cringe as a woman on crutches with an assistance dog hobbles back several rows. Evil stares commence from the mother of the boy in the wheelchair, whose seat back was the instrument of doom. We have pissed off, inconvenienced, and/or caused bodily harm to each and every handicapped individual on the flight. Without any intention at all. Just really bad luck. It’s a nightmare.

It gets worse.

As the seat is torn out to reveal more blood pooled in the framework, the flight is cancelled due to potential harm from “blood-borne pathogens.” We deplane to the stares of a hundred passengers all now calling on cell phones to rearrange transfers and pickups. One poorly stowed item (by the stewardess no less) and hundreds of us are displaced.

A woman stares at me as she talks on her cell phone. “Well, [stare], I really can’t get into the details now, [stare], but I am going to be very late.”

In all the travel I have done in the past and for work (quite a bit) I have never witnessed anything like this. It’s the kind of story that makes you consider being a hermit — for a second.

Just a second later I am remembering the joyous laughter of my child running in and out of the waves and I think, “Well, next year I’ll need to pack another swim suit. And a first aid kit.”


Mara from Motherofalltrips said...

Oh dear. Well if it's any consolation, I think you win the prize! I wish I had some kind of cash reward...

Allie said...

Oh, my! Sounds traumatic. If it had happened to me I'd be running down the path to the hermitage!! Well done for sticking it out!

Susy said...

Wow, Mr Chiots and I are often in this kind of situation, we have extremely bad luck when traveling.
But I think this takes the prize over anything that has happened to us.

Cheryl said...

Whoa. My great sympathies. I thought our recent flight with our toddler from Ohio to the United Arab Emirates was rough, but you win hands down. Thank god it is over! I can't even imagine. That's days of recovery.....

Bonnie said...

Now THAT is a great travel story. And one that will be retold over and over as your child grows up!

Rachel said...

shame you couldn't catch a photo of Kiddo mid-pantsing. Those make great blackmail photos when she brings home her first suitor...

Evil, but planning ahead! ;-)

Erika said...

Holy crap.

So, our first trip to the ER and missing our flight last week pales in comaprison to this.

Thanks for helping me regain perspective. :-)