Everyone Flying to Ireland at 8:30Pm Today Take One Step Forward. Not So Fast You Three!
Our bags were packed. We were ready to go. Then, just when we least expected it, the phone rang. After a couple of rings Mariellen answered it.
It was her little exclamation: “Oh!”
One doesn’t want to hear the problem loaded “Oh!”, the sure sign of disappointment and coming dismay when one is waiting at the end of the board to dive into adventure. “I’m sorry to tell you that the pool is closed, the water drained. Go for a walk and come back in a month or two.” Just listening I could hear the air escaping from the balloon.
“Thank you,” she said, and put down the phone and looked at me, and I knew that we were about to start off a little left footed, well, more than a little left footed. I thought we were about to start off flat on our backs. We were together, upstairs in the little room we use for our computer room. She had just read something on her e-mail and gone silent. Then the phone rang with the nice lady’s confirmation of the happy event in person. Aer Lingus had written to let us know that our flight, scheduled to leave Boston for Dublin at 8:30PM, would now leave at 11:30Pm. She told me. I supplied the “If we are lucky.”
The bus we’d planned to take down to Boston and Logan Airport was the one leaving Nashua at 3:00PM. With everything now knocked into a cocked hat, what would be the thing to do? Would we take a later bus? That’s what Mariellen suggested, but she’d do whatever I wanted. I thought about such things as rush hour traffic, and getting stuck in tunnels; about schedules changing, and flights being moved up. I thought about how much I hate options and decisions. We left as scheduled. We took the 3:00PM bus. We would spend seven or eight hours in what Mariellen later called “lockdown” at the airport waiting for our flight.
We got to Logan a little bit after four, dammit. The place was empty; a few leftovers from yesterday it seemed were the only folks who were inside the departure terminal; them and the folks just arriving for the flights leaving around six and seven in the evening. We did what must be done and checked our bags. To help us feel better, the airline gave us each a voucher for $15.00 to spend as we liked. That we did, promptly, eating supper at some place just outside the stockyards and cattle chutes of TSA smack dab in the middle of that gigantic bowling alley of a place.
What does one say about airport food and dining at airport restaurants? Anyone who has a good idea is more than welcome to contact me. No, on second thought, I think I already know what you’ll say. As it goes, this was one of the less forgettable meals I’ve eaten at an airport. At least the beer was good. Plus the $30.00 almost equaled the bar bill.
Then we joined the mercifully short line of travelers waiting to disrobe in public, or to be X-rayed and added to the growing library of shadow porn in some drool slimed little corner of the world. The only advantage to that sweet benefit of technology is that I no longer have to undergo the public humiliation of enduring the caresses of some boring TSA agent because of my tin hip; hands and wand slipping and sliding all over me. I have often been tempted to yell, “It’s a hip Lemuel! So what the hell are you zipping around my chest and running your fingers through my hair for?” But, I know that if I did that I’d spend at least ten hours in a little room with three or four of the most stupid people in the world asking me in a hundred different ways if I was affiliated with Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization. I don’t hate myself that much, but if I did I would be tempted to answer, “Yes. I am a Catholic.” Maybe I’ll do that the next time, or claim membership in the Maccabees.
We made it into “lockdown” world where we re-assembled ourselves, and I looked for the obligatory missing shoe. Then we wandered to the section of Limbo reserved for folks waiting until they grew roots into their chairs; down by Gate E4 where Aer Lingus usually is parked, and where our flight, being rowed across the Atlantic, would show up…whenever. As the photo says, it was anyone’s guess…
Airports have their busy times, and anyone there later than about ten pm knows that the activity drops off significantly right around then. Even the cleaning crews curl up on anything curlable on. You can always tell it’s about ten when the place gets quiet enough to hear the horrible sound of CNN echoing up and down the emptying building. That’s when a person begins to think of the Four Last Things: Life, Death, Heaven, Hell, and wonder why Dante never included waiting rooms in The Inferno. It would be, I think, a perfect place for a politician to spend eternity, or a businessman; listening forever and ever to “the numbers”, or Wolf Spitter interview some bloviator about his latest bill to save the silver dart fish somewhere, and why that’s necessary for freedom and the American way of life; a three minute loop forever and ever.
I was about ready to lower my head and run into the nearest wall when our granddaughter Carolyn showed up. After a happy greeting I took a look at her. “Here,” I thought, “is a young lady who knows a thing or two about travel.” She wore flannel slacks (pajama pants?), pink slippers and a sweat shirt. She carried a thick cotton blanket and a gray fuzzy stuffed animal, her favorite she said. She also had her back pack carrying some water and her camera. We could have been going camping! We quickly found plenty of space in the nearly empty 12 mile long waiting room and spread out, pitched camp. I thought about the absurdity of it all, briefly considering how it would look with a little fire we could gather around. It was about 10:15PM, I think, and the flight had been pushed back for another hour; the guys in the rowboat having stopped in Bermuda for lunch, I guess.
Betimes, as they say, during which Carolyn amused herself taking pictures of her grandfather trying to sleep on the most uncomfortable chairs ever made, there appeared outside the form of an Aer Lingus A-320, our plane. And several thousand yards nearby, at Gate E4, appeared several people in green uniforms, our boarding crew. I walked down and requested early boarding on the plane when at last it was announced for boarding.
Shortly before I thought about ordering breakfast the announcement for early boarding was made, and we processed to the plane. We found our seats, safely in the middle of the middle. I overcame my disappointment in not having a window seat in a nano second and found myself comfortably ensconced between wife and granddaughter; the rose, etc.
A few minutes later we were aloft, and a few minutes after that I had entered that zone of existence known as hibernation. When I emerged it would be in Ireland.