Trust me on this, my dear readers, I was a model passenger all day yesterday, smiling as I dealt with delays and cancellations, ground stops and last minute gate changes that sent me scrambling across two terminals at the sprawling Dallas/Ft. Worth airport not once, not twice, but three times.
By the time I thought I was finally going to make the final leg of my journey from Dallas to Tallahassee my smile was beginning to look like something one would find on a paranoid schizophrenic in the psych ward. I might have snapped.
The day began perfectly. Saint Helen and I left her house in Hereford around 7:30, stopped for breakfast at Waffle House, then she dropped me off at the airport in Amarillo by 9:15 a.m. I breezed through check-in and then through security and was at my gate by 9:20 for my 10:30 flight. Then Tropical Storm Bill decided to get involved.
Just between you and me, Bill is an asshat.
First a delay of my flight was announced due to a ground stop in Dallas. Then at 11:00 a.m. the stop was lifted. I boarded the flight. The ground stop was activated. I deplaned. The gate was changed. In Amarillo that isn’t a big deal–one terminal, only five gates. Then it was changed back. I ate lunch and chatted with fellow travelers.
One elderly Japanese man headed to Tokyo had me speak to his daughter on the phone. She decided to pick him up and have him try another day rather than risk the possibility of him spending a night alone in Dallas. So I helped him communicate his needs to the gate agent who couldn’t understand what his daughter was saying. I was still smiling.
My flight didn’t depart from Amarillo until 2:30 p.m., arriving at Dallas/Ft. Worth airport at 3:30 p.m. Immediately upon arriving I went to the gate agent and asked about the status of my connecting flight, specifically, asking if I needed to rebook. She assured me I was still on the flight. It, too, had been delayed and at that time was scheduled to depart at 4:25 from gate B19. I headed to the gate and found a spot to read and recharge my phone. Still smiling.
Someone behind me mentioned that their gate had been changed, so I thought it prudent to check mine even though no announcements had been made. Sure enough my flight was now scheduled to depart from B29 at 5:45. Still smiling I went in search of the gate deducing, incorrectly, that it would be within easy walking distance of B19. Both Bs, right? But no. One must first go up a set of escalators, hop a tram, and then go down a set of escalators before locating that gate. I hate escalators. Especially down escalators.
I arrived at B29 only to learn that my flight had been moved again. Back to B19. Escalator, tram, escalator. The departure time had been changed again, now to 6:30. Still smiling. Barely.
Since I had over an hour to spare, a food break seemed appropriate at this time. At an airport Chili’s I had a glass of wine and a grilled chicken and spinach dinner with a side of mozzarella and tomatoes. Good decision. My mood lifted until I looked down and realized I’d dipped my right boob in my plate and now had a big brown splotch on my nice white blouse. Quickly I dabbed my napkin in a glass of water and swiped at the boob blob. Now I had a wet blouse. It looked for all the world as if I were a middle aged nursing mom in need of her infant. I still managed to smile somewhat ruefully.
Outside of Chili’s I looked at the departure board. Sure enough my gate had changed again. Escalator, tram, escalator. This time when I reached my gate the flight details for Tallahassee were up on the monitor. I deemed that a very good sign. I sat where I could have an unobstructed view and awaited the announcement to board. When that time arrived I gathered my carry on and stood in line.
The gate agent scanned my boarding pass. She frowned and began typing furiously; tiny figures appearing on her screen.
“I can’t find your record,” she snarled. “Stand over here.”
Soon two other travelers joined me in the ‘stand over here’ space. The three of us compared our boarding passes. All had the appropriate flight numbers. We waited patiently until the agent began calling standby passengers.
“Hold on a minute,” I broke in. “What about us?”
“You aren’t on this flight. You’ll need to take a later one,” she barked, continuing to board standby passengers.
I could feel my smile going wonky.
“With all due respect, ma’am, I am booked on this flight,” I insisted.
My compadres, a middle-aged biker dude and a teenager, chimed in their agreement. I caught the eye of an airline employee at the gate adjacent to ours and he waved us over. Giving him a quick rundown of the situation he found all three of us in the system and went to intervene with the gate agent. She still didn’t want to let us board. She had boarded all of the standby passengers and wanted to close the flight. Thank goodness the gentleman had seniority. He calmly told the woman to step aside and escorted us to our seats–the same seat numbers indicated on our boarding passes. I was the last to board.
Because of a bag delay I had time to utilize the bathroom. That’s when I encountered Miss 29C, one of the standby passengers.
“You!” She spat. “You were trying to keep me off this plane. And now you’re delaying us.”
“I wasn’t upset with you,” I explained. “I was booked on this flight and should have been given priority over a standby.”
“I bought this ticket. I had just as much right as you.”
I patted her on the head. Still can’t believe I did that, and said something about it having been a long day.
“Bitch,” she muttered.
I just smiled. And then I blogged.