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D-E-L-T-A spells Late

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I realize that when you read this blog you have expectations with regard to setting, so I want you to imagine for a minute that you have stumbled upon a blog called “anightinatlanta” because I cannot keep this debacle of a trip to myself any longer. I’ve been ruminating (and recovering) on the experience for a couple of days now, in hopes of narrowing down the volume of material I have to work with and themizing this account so that it doesn’t burgeon into a treatise on why traveling with small children causes braincells to evaporate, strangers to point, stare, or just talk openly about how “brave” {translation: stupid} you are, and sullen or impassive airport and customs officials to raise their eyebrows and stamp or type or wave you through a little faster. But I’m afraid that’s what you’re about to get, so beware!

This comedy of errors begins with an hour-long check-in at the Cayman airport with the hapless man at the ticket counter on hold with his Delta comrades waiting on approval for Thomas’ “infant in arms” ticket. Clif had the kids at the back of the airport and no one was screaming so I assumed everyone was doing okay. And they were, until he handed Thomas to me, kissed us all good-bye, and sent us on our merry way through security. Thomas realized he was hungry and started screaming as soon as he was in my arms. Needless to say, no one in my party was asked to remove our shoes as we hustled through the security checkpoint. As we continued on to the customs official, Thomas didn’t let up. I realized that I had left his pacifier and my baby bjorn carrier at the security checkpoint, so I asked the officer if I could run back and get it. He replied that he had to finish stamping our passports first, but there was more stamping and less scrutinizing going on once he realized that the screaming was not temporary.

The next couple of hours were the easiest of the whole trip. We still caught plenty of stares, some stranger boarding behind us was accused of being my husband (because what idiot would travel with three small children and no significant other?), and Thomas didn’t really settle down until after I had fed him, which I tried to put off until everyone in the thirty rows behind us had boarded the plane. Because we were among the first passengers to board the plane, I had a half an hour to see how many different ways I could explain to Alliene that, no, the plane was not moving yet and, yes, she still had to have her seatbelt buckled. This iniquity prompted her to turn to the passenger behind her and ask him, “Are you buckled?” Luckily this gentleman and his wife, who was sitting across the aisle from him in the seat behind Nora Ruth, turned out to be two of the lovliest people and they endured the next two hours of questions and silliness with infinite patience. Shortly after introducing themselves, my two little viragos had modeled every piece of jewelry this sweet lady was wearing.

Things were going so smoothly. Thomas was napping, the girls were swapping snacks and jewelry with our backrow neighbors, there was no turbulence. I should have known it was a bad omen when I felt something flopping around on my foot and looked down to see that one of my “sturdiest” pair of flipflops had somehow snapped off and was now unfit for walking, much less trekking through the Atlanta airport. No worries, our new friends from Georgia helped us off the plane, even caried one of my children all the way through the terminal, helped to orchestrate a bathroom break, and maneuvered my crew through baggaage claim (where I pulled another pair of shoes from my suitcase) and customs. LOVE awesome strangers.

When we arrived in the D terminal, the Gate 31 attendant casually informed me that our flight was delayed. We chit-chatted for a second about how “brave” I was and how she was expecting her first baby in four months. For supper I stood in line and spent an indecent amount of money on Sbarro pizza, which still makes me shudder, but with a terminal full of weather-delayed flights and passengers there was nowhere to sit. We ate on the floor until we were joined by an overweight Asian woman who decided to have a chat with NR and Allie. She and Nora Ruth were trying to interpret each other’s accents when Alliene broke in with a tender and sincere, “Why do you have those sad eyes?”. People, I think I could have handled this if we hadn’t been eating Sbarro on the floor of the D terminal waiting on a flight that was delayed two hours past bedtime, and if the woman hadn’t asked Alliene to repeat it several times with no breakthrough in communication.

I decided to look for somewhere to sit a little further down the terminal. We found sanctuary at Gate 35, not too far away, and the attendant there was nice enough to update me on our flight, informing me that it was now one hour and forty five minutes late. The girls were coloring and I had just finished giving Thomas the massive bottle I had been saving for this time of day and I laid him down across my seat to play. After a few minutes I picked him up again, but with some awkwardness, and my arm caught him across the stomach. He immediately projectile vomited across the floor of Gate 35. Wiping the vomit out of my second pair of shoes of the day, I looked around to see numerous stink-eye glances directed our way and I knew they were thinking “stomach virus””. So I packed up my crew and headed back to the old Gate 31 to sit on the floor. Along the way, my little reader extraordinaire says, “Mommy, what does D-E-L-T-A spell?”. “LATE,” I replied, with more than a little bitterness. “Really? D-E-L-T-A spells L-L-L-Late?”. Oh baby, does it ever.

My old friend at Gate 31, the five-months pregnant attendant, gave me more bad news: the flight had been pushed back by another 45 minutes. The girls were whining and Thomas was thrashing around to get comfortable enough to sleep. The gate attendant approached me again to give me good news: our plane was actually here and perhaps we would be able to leave a little earlier than predicted. I had just heard someone give that same news to a Roanoke passenger across the aisle from me and as that realization hit me, I asked her incredulously if she thought I was on the Roanoke flight. Her jaw dropped lower than mine and she checked the GTR flight while I grabbed and counted my kids, then slogged down to the gate where our flight had departed about 15 minutes prior. The long line of passengers who had gathered there to be re-ticketed due to weather delays were visibly feeling better about their predicaments as they observed my plight. I am sure that it was pretty obvious to everyone in that line that they were about to witness someone losing their *@!#

The agent at the gate waved me off to the side of the line with no explanation. I was doing my darnedest to stay calm. The girls were sitting on the floor with their backs against the wall and I was cheerfully explaining that we were going to spend the night in a hotel when the attendant called me back to the front of the line. She handed me a hotel voucher and new tickets for the following morning but as she was giving me instructions, a siren errupted. Covering her ears she looked up and asked, “What is that?!”, and several people in the line pointed and glanced sideways at my two year old who was standing next to an open emergency defibrilator door clutching her ears. As my tired crew trudged towards Ground Transportation to catch our shuttle to the Sheraton, sirens still pulsating through the D Terminal, it never occurred to me to discuss the pulling of emergency levers with Allie.

So if by now you have had enough of this tale of woe, I am happy to report that all subsequent calamities were minor. Toothbrushes and toothpaste were acquired at the Sheraton’s front desk, we slept in our panties until about 2 am when a toddler-who-shall-remain-nameless wet the bed all over her sister at which point the girls went back to sleep in the buff, we woke up early and were back on the shuttle to the airport, went back through the check-in line, security, train, escalators, and one final gate change, and flew into Columbus on our last diaper. When I woke the girls in the Sheraton at 6:45 that morning, although the previous day and night had been completely out of the ordinary, they still asked the same question I hear every morning, “What are we going to do today?”. I explained that we were going to dress, go downstairs for a quick bite of breakfast, find the shuttle, traverse the airport, board our plane, and get to Mississippi. “But, Mommy,” Nora Ruth replied, “we are having pancakes for breakfast.” And we did…just a day late!

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2 thoughts on “D-E-L-T-A spells Late

  1. Oh Becky, I’d not read this when we saw you Tuesday! My sympathy for you would have been overflowing! Poochie would LOVE your blogs; Unc and I have laughed hysterically and want to know when the hard copy is being released! How wonderful to see you and your precious children- am I glad AllieBoo changed her mind and decided to stay with us in the pool. Her hug goodbye has a permanent spot in my heart 🙂 am glad,too, that Unc was there so NR could figure out who I was quickly. Thomas, not to be overshadowed by the girls, felt quite comfortable on my hip (to me, at least). I still think I should have brought them all home with us. We know your schedule’s packed and are so glad to shared a few minutes together. We love you!

    • hey! we made it back with very little “turbulence”…that was a quick visit. The time flew and it was time to go too soon. Love you xoxo

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