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post #53
bio: jen
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1/31/2005
15:27

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Meet Me in St. Louis
As many of you know firsthand, a lot (as in a bunch, a ton, oodles) of snow dropped on New York, the east coast, and the midwest during the weekend of January 22nd and 23rd.

On that exact weekend, our travel plans were: fly on Southwest from San Diego to New York on Saturday, see friends, go to my friend's wedding on Sunday, fly back to San Diego on Monday. Welllll, it didn't quite happen.

Saturday morning, Stephen and I got up at 5 and caught the 7am flight to Chicago (where we would change planes for New York). As we checked our bags, the counter guy told us that snow was falling in Chicago, but it should be okay once we got there.

We got on the plane and had a comfortable flight. I worked on the Carrie Fisher piece and drank coffee and ate from the provided snack pack. Stephen slept.

When the pilot announced that we were circling the airport due to snow, I settled back and read my book. No worries. We had plenty of fuel.

Then the ride got a little bumpy, then a lot bumpy. I started to feel a bit nauseous. Maybe I shouldn't have eaten Stephen's cookies while he was sleeping.

The pilot announced that we were on final approach to Chicago. Outside the window, the ground was white with snow. The turbulence continued, but I figured any second we would be on the runway with breaks squealing and engines roaring. Any second. . . .anytime you're ready. . .now would be nice.

We never landed. Instead we started going up (which sorta defeats the purpose of landing). The pilot announced that we missed the runway and will try landing again. More turbulence, more bounce. Ugha. Ugha. Ugha. Then up!

Then a new announcement came: we're going to Omaha to refuel. A new pot of coffee was brewed by the stewardess. Stephen woke up.

After about twenty minutes, a new announcement: we're being rerouted to St. Louis. No planes were going in or out of Chicago.

I was still optimistic. Maybe we could catch New York flight out of St. Louis. I just needed the lady's room, and then I'll be ready to go.

Deplaning in St. Louis, we were issued a brown plastic ticket. The girl at the counter told us that if we wanted to go to Islip, we could get on a 9pm flight to Baltimore, then catch a flight to New York on Sunday afternoon. We told her we'd get back to her.

Stephen wanted to eat, so we grabbed a table and ate airport food. Best case scenario: We make it to New York but we miss the wedding. Worst case scenario: We end up some place worse than St. Louis and can't get out. What if we can't land in Baltimore? What if we can't land in New York? What if we can't fly out of New York? What if. . .what if. . .what if?

I checked my phone, and there was a message from Kelly:

Jen, there's snow, snow, snow, lots of fucking snow. . .(and so on).

I phoned a friend in Delaware to get a Baltimore weather report. It had stopped snowing in Delaware, and there was an Amtrak station right at Baltimore airport. However, twenty inches of snow was expected in New York. I was not encouraged.

I called New York and got confirmation of blizzard conditions and the potential dawn of a new ice age. Yikes.

I turned to Stephen who was enjoying his Burger King chicken sandwich a little too much. Stephen has flown around the world for his job. He is the only person I know who can walk off an airplane refreshed. He has taught me how to fly lightly without heavy drama. He is my modern air travel hero.

We ran all the scenarios, and we decided to turn around and go home.

With a sense of purpose, we went up to the counter girl, placed our brown plastic tickets on the counter, and told her we wanted to go back to San Diego. She happily obliged and typed quickly. What are they typing anyway? She got us on the next plane to Vegas with a connecting flight to San Diego.

We told her we had checked luggage.

‘Oh. Well, just go to the baggage claim office in San Diego, and they can track it for you.' She said. Good enough. I really wanted to get out of St. Louis. I was beginning to feel a little too culturally elite.

The flight to Los Vegas was crowded and bumpy, but our all-gin g&ts were complimentary. I scarfed down more snack box cookies.

We perused a left-behind issue of People and discussed the aesthetics of Golden Globe fashion as well as the financial portfolio of Brad and Jen (they're splitting up). Yes, we were mentally sinking fast.

We landed in Vegas (63 degrees, clear skies) and pulled up at the wrong gate. I don't know how that's possible since all the gates have big ass numbers on them. Even the rednecks behind us made a joke about that one.
After we finally deplaned, we learned that our boarding passes were for a 9:20 flight, but an 8:00 flight might accept the ticket. Or something like that. We didn't know. We were on the brink.

Stephen was mumbling: They should have never put us on that plane this morning.

Jen was manic and giddy: Oh look! Slots!

The Gate Counter Guy was young, crew cut, wore shorts with really big cavs, and had no people skills. Maybe he once had people skills---once, before he had to deal with the east coast snow refuges.

All we wanted to know was ‘could we get on the 8pm plane?' Uh. Uhmmm.

We didn't get on the 8pm plane. We went to the bar. Stephen smoked a cigarette. I played the slots (I won two dollars but let it ride). We drank Sin City Amber out of plastic cups. We started to feel human again.

We sat at the gate and watched Cops. Too tired to write the Carrie Fisher piece, to read an issue of the New Yorker, or even to construct haikus about Southwest, I sat and watched Cops for the first time in my life. What a terrible program.

We replaned and ordered two more gin and tonics. We had a short and unbumpy flight.

Back in San Diego, we went to the lost baggage desk and pushed our claim checks across the counter.

‘Where is our luggage?' we asked.

‘Islip' the girl answered.

‘Noooooo! No. They're not in Islip. Islip's under twenty two inches of snow.' I said in the midst of my oscar clip worthy breakdown.

The girl looked at the claim check again.

‘Ohhhh.' She said. She started to type. I stared at her fingers.

"Last name." She said.

"Dedalus. D-E-D-A-L-U-S." Stephen said spelling his last name without being asked to spell his last name just to make things go faster.

The luggage came back Tuesday morning. Apparently the luggage made it to Chicago, ate some ribs, and took in a Bulls game.

Stephen and I walked out of San Diego airport at 11pm Saturday night---17 hours after we walked in.

On the good side, we can use these tickets to fly to New York again. We're thinking springtime or summer. . .after the thaw.



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