Monday, August 18, 2008

Melanie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

This time two years ago, I was hysterically crying my eyes out on a pay phone in the Dublin airport, disturbing several sleeping Estonians on the floor. That was a bad day. Lots of things went wrong.

Funny how much of a difference two years makes.

Take this past Saturday, for example. I didn't cry. I just shrugged and thought, "Oh, well." Let me explain.

Two years ago, when my husband and I were still dating, he was doing a short tour with his band through parts of the U.K. We hadn't been dating very long and the idea of being separated for three weeks seemed intolerable. (I know....but it was new love). He invited me to fly over and join them for the last week in Scotland and England and I jumped at the chance. (Um...duh.)

I traveled out by myself, only the second time I'd ever left the country. It was during extremely heightened security measures because of a terrorist threat against flights between the U.K. and the U.S. (This is where the no liquids in your carryon started). Since it was all so new, the security was a nightmare to get through and no one knew the rules or procedures. It caused my flight into London to leave late (and it's a loooong flight from the West Coast). I had to change airlines at the Heathrow airport and my flight delay caused me to miss my connection to Dublin on Aer Lingus. They didn't feel it was their fault since I didn't come in on their airline but after parking myself in front of their service desk on my hibiscus print suitcase and looking mournful for about an hour, the desk agent finally relented and got me on a flight. From there I just had to make it to Glasgow and then I would be with my husband (boyfriend at the time). My flight into Dublin was the last one I could take and still make my final layover. We pulled away from the gate, everything looked fine, we started to taxi and then....we went back to the gate and sat for an hour.

When I finally did get to Dublin, the Aer Lingus counter was closing and the harried agents there were not interested in a travel stinky, tear stained wreck of a girl and her problems. By this time, I was running on no sleep for 18 hours and fueled by sheer frustration. So that's when the hysterics started. My husband (boyfriend ) had given me his credit card information in case anything went wrong and after naviagting the incredibly thick brogue of the phone operator I got him on the phone and gasped out everything that was going wrong. He felt terrible even though it wasn't his fault and there was nothing he could do about it. He tried to cheer me up. I pretended to let him so he wouldn't worry anymore. Then I took another stab at it with the lone Aer Lingus agent still at the desk, powering down her computer.

My true patheticness must have finally gotten to her because she relented and began looking for a ticket for me the next day. Her first solution: fly out the next night. No. I wasn't going to lose an entire day in Europe because they delayed me in making my connection. Next solution: fly out the next morning but pay the difference. In Euros? Definitely not. Again, not my fault I was stuck in the airport. Finally, she just gave up and gave me the morning ticket, no charge. When I got in touch with my husband (boyfriend) and told him how it all worked out, he was totally worried about me sleeping overnight in the airport. He wanted to send me to a nearby hotel. Just the thought of trying to navigate public transportation in a unfamiliar foreign city at one in the morning was enough to send me nearly over the edge so I opted for the dubious comfort of an airport bench and sleep interrupted by a security announcement every fifteen minutes.

Yeah, I got it. Don't leave my bag unattended.

Ultimately, my greatest danger was leaving my bench for the restroom and losing it to one of the canny Estonians eyeing it's half inch of vinyl covered cushioning and coveting it from their spots on the institutional tile of the airport floor.

What a night. I think my hysterics subsided under the weight of pure exhaustion and still I couldn't sleep. I read two books and stared vacantly when I couldn't focus anymore. Then I dozed until the next security announcement. Lather, rinse, repeat.

My husband (boyfriend) had asked what he could do to make it better when I got to Glasgow. I had the presence of mind to give him an answer, so the next morning when I stepped off the plane, he was standing and waiting with a hand drawn sign made with taped together paper and borrowed crayons. It was decorated with rainbows and airplanes and a big bubble lettered "Welcome!"

I always wanted one of those.

It ended well. Our trusty chaperone, Bass Player Joe, let us out of his sight long enough to say our "I Love Yous" for the first time. Their shows went well. We took in an amazing Shakespeare play and made it back to the States without too much fuss. We were engaged a month later and married three months after that. I didn't get stuck in the Dublin airport indefinitely, grow old and die there after living only on their bizarre version of McDonald's. I made it. I lived to have yet another ridiculously bad travel day with totally different results. Good ones, ones that didn't involve hysterics.

But I'll save it for tomorrow because this post is long and my attention span isn't, and I have "vented my spleen" at Ye Olde Aer Lingus and surly Dubliners in general. Alaska Airlines, you're next!


Alison Wonderland said...

I love sleeping in the airport! Fun for you!