April 14, 2008

Patience, Perserverance, and Plain Pissed Off

*Settle in, Folks, this is a long one.*

Sorry for the lack of updating but the better part of last week was choc full of packing, planning, and traveling to South Dakota with Moo. We had a lovely time and were very sad to go. More on our lovely time in later posts.

First, as this is my blog and my kingdom and my platform for complaining, here I go. If I had to perservere the last time I went to South Dakota via plane, I don't know what in the hell this was. The travel part was BAD. Well, most of it left a bad taste in my mouth, not unlike vile and vomit. Oh yes, I said VOMIT. It was THAT BAD.

It went like this.

On The Way Travel

Tuesday, I worked a full day and came home to a snack and sent the kids on their way with Daddy so that I could pack. That's right, I - the organizer extraordinaire that I claim to be - waited until the night before leaving to pack. Not saying it's smart, just saying it happened. I can report that I didn't run off and forget anything though. Must have been because of my handy-dandy itinerary and list. It was 5 pages long and very detailed. Not kidding. Got to bed late (like, very late) after jabbering with Lulu for hours and singing Duran Duran. Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand...

Wednesday, I woke at 4:30 to put everything in the car, feed Mabel, get dressed, and drive the short drive to the airport. No weather was expected either here or in Da Plains, so that wasn't a worry this time. One very specific worry when I fly with Mabel is her poop schedule. Because poop leads to rash in an instant for her. And on Wednesday morning, she didn't poop before we left for the airport. I was on poop watch from then on out.

So, Mabe and I got to the airport, checked in, declared her as a "babe-in-arms" and waited for the plane. Airport personnel and patrons alike thought I was very weird for continuing to pick Mabe up, sniff her butt, and put her back down. *Shrugs.* The things you do as a Mom, I tell ya. Anyway, this was connection #1 of 3. Yes, 3. (I didn't make the plane reservations this time and very much regret it because 3 flights to get anyplace is TOO many.) The plane was small but the ride was less than an hour. Goodbye, Hometown!

The weather was choppy so they kept the seatbelt sign on. Mabel played. She cooed. Then she cried. And then, she pooped. A big, green, Nutramigen-stinky, nasty, runny, poop. My eyes got as big as saucers as I worked out in my head how I would change her while remaining seated. I mean, I didn't want to risk dropping her (or her by-now exploding diaper) while racing down the aisle for the 2 sq ft airplane potty. I decided to use the empty seat next to me. I changed her diaper quickly (oh, she had quite the satisfied smile on her face, too) and wrapped the nasty one up and stuck it in her diaper bag. I heard the passenger behind me "sniff, sniff" and sunk down in my seat a little. Once Moo's butt was freshly covered she stood and bounced on my lap and started making raspberries. Juicy fart-noise raspberries. The passenger behind me sniffed again. Oy.

When the first plane landed I had my first deboard-on-the-tarmac experience. Had it not been 35 degrees, dark, raining, and windy I might have enjoyed it. I might have enjoyed it even more if I also hadn't had my hands full with my purse, the 20 lb diaper bag, an 18 lb baby hippopotamus, a blanket over said hippopotamus' head, a descent on VERY steep and wet metal stairs (with a wet metal handrail), or a stroller and carseat to reassembly planeside with one hand. Do you think the baggage handler offered to help? No. But I did it! I used my feet. They always said I had monkey toes.

My connection to plane #2 went rather smoothly. Still a small plane and Mabel was still wanting to stand and bounce instead of sleep. I cursed myself for not giving her Benadryl before we left. She'll sleep on her own, I thought to myself. Yeah. Right. She smiled and grinned and wet-raspberried everyone next to us. All the strangers started touching her. They patted her head. They touched her hands. I then cursed myself for not bringing extra sanitizing wipes or Purell and readied myself for her next diagnosis of ebola streptococcus airplanius. *Sigh*

So, we deboarded plane 2 in Minnesota. The time change had me all screwy, but I was certain I had just enough time to use the potty myself, change Mabel, and feed her. I was also ready to start chewing on Moo's fatness, I was so hungry. So, we hauled arse through the concourses (had to go from A to E. E!), winding our way through the Minneapolis octopus airport. We pottied (both of us) and I bought a slice of pizza. Two bites in I hear, "last call for flight XXX from Minneapolis to Da Plains..." WTF?!?! *Shriek and scream* The gate was right around the corner so I chucked my pizza, loaded my arms, and RAN full stop. The gate agent with NWA was a BITCH. She was very unfriendly, very unhelpful, and told me that I should make a better effort to be on time and know what I'm doing if I'm going to travel with an infant and a stroller. EXCUSE ME??! I told her she was being rude. Yeah, that's all I came up with on account of me not wanting to get arrested and all. I'm pretty sure she would have called security if I'd have ripped her hair out. Turns out that the plane was nearly empty and I was allowed to bring Moo's carseat onboard. That was SO much easier. Oh, happy day! NOW I know to ask for that before boarding! Jeesh! She did finally fall asleep about 15 minutes before we landed in Da Plains. Nice of her, huh?

The adventures of Wednesday through Friday will be in the next post. Try to wait!

Coming Home

On Saturday, things ran a little tight (not by planning, mind you) and I had 59 minutes to FIND MY CAR, get gas, park, drop off the rental car, Moo had to poop, I had to pee, and I had to check in at the counter. We arrived and went through the process. Babe in arms, check. One HEAVY checked bag, check. Aisle seat with neighboring empty (for the carseat), CHECK (YAHOO!). Security, check. Off we went. Except, wait.

The plane is delayed for mechanical problems. I spoke to the counter agent (she was very nice) - she said if the plane left Da Plains in the next 15 minutes, I would still make my connection in Minneapolis. Any later and I'd be spending the night again in Da Plains. Nice, but all too familiar. I wanted to get home!!! Thank GOD Himself that the plane was safe and we departed about 14 minutes later (a total of 50 minutes late).

Flight 1 went smoothy until about halfway through when Moo's ears started hurting and she started wailing like someone was pinching her. I was really wishing I'd given her Benadryl. She was in her carseat for this flight and I was afraid to take her out if the flight was only 39 minutes long. I tried to communicate to her to blow her nose or suck on her binky, but she didn't understand my crazy eyes and hand gestures. Poor thing. She finally fell asleep just as the captain told the flight attendants to prepare for landing. Hmpf.

[As an aside, I like the NWA planes - they are much cleaner and newer looking that those little regionals, but then again, I know virtually nothing about flying. Gimme some time and I'll be all kinds of opinionated about it. So, the NWA planes are nice but the agents are NASTY. ]

Remember that wench in Minnesota on the way to South Dakota? Her bitchy twin was working on Saturday and VERY unhelpful and mean when we landed in Minneapolis on the way back. If you'll remember I had about 15 minutes to again navigate the Minneapolis airport octopus mess and go from gate E to gate A. Nevermind peeing. Nevermind changing Moo's diaper. Nevermind even putting water into a bottle for her to eat. I ran. I ran with the stroller and carseat in front of me and my purse, Moo's blanket, and the 20 lb diaper bag hanging off of one arm. I am extrememly lucky I didn't fall on one of those conveyor people- mover things and eat shit on my way through the terminal. That would have been a good blog story, but alas, I did not fall.

I made it to my gate in time to catch flight #2, only to take Mabel out of her carseat and have the gate agent (maybe a cousin to the bitch twins at NWA) tell me, "you're going to have to go down stairs to get on this plane, Ma'am. And there's no elevator. So, you'll have to carry the stroller and carseat down yourself."

"Excuse me?" I said. "I'm not going to lay my daughter on the floor so that I can carry this down the steps. Isn't there a baggage handler that can get it like at all the other gates?"

She replied, "Not today, Ma'am. And I'm too busy. I can't do it for you. You moms should really think about these things before you fly with an infant. If you can't carry it, you'll have to board last or give up your seat."

Thankfully - and just as I was about to risk going to jail to pull her red nappy hair out - the dad in the family behind me in line scoffed at the agent and grabbed my stroller. His wife grabbed my carseat. Angels, I tell you. Thank you, Jesus for sending me those helpers that day. Whew.

SO. We boarded the plane - in the last seat and Mabel was VERY MUCH AWAKE. Like, open your eyelids as far as they will stretch. That's how awake she was. Lady next to me was rubbing her eyebrows to make her go to sleep. Other lady on the other side was touching her nose and singing and playing with each of her fingers. Great. More ebola streptococcus airplanius. This flight included hair pulling, neck skin pinching, screaming, refusing the bottle, lots of jumping on my lap. She even whacked the one lady in the face a few times with her rattle. After all of that, her eyes were allllllll droooooopy but she was way too nosey to sleep. Screamed her fool head off every time I tried to bounce or rock her to sleep. Oh - and I forgot to mention that the cabin ventilation was broken on that flight, so it was about 207 degrees in there. Cute as she is, I was ready to sell Mabel to a gypsy by the time we got off that plane.

We again deboarded outside. At night. In the wind and rain. Gotta love Ohio in the Spring. Then again, it was much better than South Dakota in the Spring so I'll digress. This time I wasn't surprised when the baggage handlers brought the cart out and just stood there watching as I opened the stroller with my left arm and left foot, while balancing my blanket-covered daughter on my other hip and the two bags on my shoulder. I put the carseat on the stroller and shoved it down eleventy-six times before it clicked. Then I threw my purse and diaper bag inside and headed off for the door. Before turning away I yelled to the asshat baggage handler dude watching me, "Thanks for all of your help!"

Now the third stop might have been my most favorite of all. I approached the desk SO very happy to finally have a full hour between my flights. I was busy planning what I'd have for dinner. Sbarro? Quizno's? It's amazing how being famished makes almost any nasty take out sound delectible. I hadn't eaten in almost 6 hours. I could feed Moo, change her diaper (hope she'd poop before take off), maybe even get her to sleep for 15 minutes (the kid usually sleeps about 4 hours throughout the day and as of that time - 7:30pm, she'd had a total of 45 minutes). I went up to the desk, declared my infant and asked for an aisle seat with an empty beside, in hopes I might take the carseat on this one last leg of my incredible journey. Then the agent broke my heart.

Apparently, the person who made my reservations did not select a seat for me on the last flight, so I was not confirmed. And because of the American Airlines crap going on, our flight was overbooked. So, I was probably not going to get a seat on the flight. She began talking to me about making plans to spend the night, and blah blah blah small hotel allowance, blah blah blah (Mabel started crying in my arms) small allowance for food, blah blah blah or I could sleep in the airport (I started tearing up), or they might run out of vouchers - but don't worry! I could sleep right here in the airport. Not joking folks, I cried right there in front of the agent. Mabel and I both went to town. I told her that I was a single mom with two little boys at home and how my very livelihood, evening, and LIFE ITSELF depended on me being able to get home that night to tuck my little boys into bed. She told me to have a seat and she'd take my situation into consideration.

I made the mistake of calling Judy to tell her before I knew for sure, but dammit, I needed some consolation from my mommy. I just didn't get it. I felt worse after she almost started crying. "Oh, HONEY!" she kept wailing. The boys were screaming and beating on each other in the background. Ohhhh, I felt bad, People. Real, real bad.

*Sigh* Mabel did eat. (I did not.) She burped. She even played on her tummy on the new blanket from Aunt Lulu (thanks, Aunt Lulu!) for a while. Jesus worked his magic and again, some angels came forth to give up their seats (I think they knew what Delta dollars actually were and could find a way to use them) so that Mabel and I could ride. We boarded (no carseat) and sat on the tarmac for AN HOUR while they dealt with some baggage problem. I am happy to report that my baggage was at the airport in the end, waiting for me to take it home. Lost luggage seems to be something I have thankfully avoided thus far. Moo didn't sleep on this ride either.

I deboarded, took the elevator up to Baggage Claim and then down to Baggage Claim (not a typo), pushing Mabel's stroller one-handed the whole time and found my bag. Which weighed about 25 lbs more than when I checked it in on Wednesday. Which was also a bitch and a half to push through the airport, outside, and through the dark, cold, rain to my car while one-handed pushing Moo's stroller. But, I sang joy to Jesus the whole way that I actually made it home on the day I was supposed to.

So. Once again I had to perservere to see my friend and do something for myself. I had to be patient while traveling with Mabel. And I was really just plain pissed off with several airline agents and my overall travel schedule. I'd write a strongly-worded letter, but I'm not going to waste my time.

Now I must rest, for writing that story was almost as tiring as living it.

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