The first day of our trip is one of simply getting there. Simply is a laughable term when it comes to travel these days. Something always goes awry and though we are resilient, it’s easy to become frustrated rather quickly.
We departed from an unfamiliar airport in a region known for its impossible traffic, so we left ridiculously early in the hopes of avoiding it. The drive up was tense, unable to find the parking company we’d searched out in advance. The GPS kept telling is the entrance for the lot was somewhere around the middle of the bridge we kept crossing, but no lot or entrance was to be seen. In the end, we opted for the next closest option, and shrugged off the strangeness.
We arrived at the international terminal to learn we couldn’t pass through security until 3 hours before our flight. We still had an hour to kill. Luckily we found a restaurant with some decent beer options so we sat in the airport Chili’s with our huge luggage scattered uncomfortably in everyone’s way.
As the minutes ticked by, I compulsively checked my phone, waiting for the stress-easing text message that my son was picked up from daycare safely (and more importantly on time) from daycare. (If you pick your child up late, they charge you some ludicrous rate by the minute, so it’s critical that they arrive on time to get him.) The text did arrive and the weight lifted somewhat from my shoulders.
We finished our drinks and went to queue up in line to check in for our flight. The line was already quite long. Passing the time, we did some people watching, trying to get a feel for the humanity I was going to share the next nine days with. Noticeably, there were a few couples which included Hot Wives (TM). Clearly these were women who did not work, and spent their days either maintaining or “upgrading” their trophy wife status. Perfectly manicured nails beset by ludicrous jewelry, giant breasts and spray tanned skin, designer sunglasses and each one sporting the same manufactured color of perfectly blond hair.
It was hard not to feel more than my usual twinge of insecurity standing near them. Of course, they all know each other, being part of the company’s legacy group who qualifies for every trip. They greeted each other with the same sugary sweetness and perfect grace, placing casual kisses on each other’s cheeks as they passed each other through the serpentine.
Some of the younger models have their kids in tow, perfectly quaffed miniature versions of themselves, teen daughters trying way too hard to look like they made no effort at all. The pleather leggings and gold chains on one girl’s gladiator style sandals were almost laughable. She had a few well timed excuses to go into her luggage, bending over to show off the goods while the men in the line got subtle elbow jabs from their wives.
Of course, there’s plenty of normals to be had as well. My husband greets the folks he knows, but for the most part, we don’t know many of the people around us as they are from different territories than the one my husband covers. To keep myself occupied, I try to locate one person from my high school who I know began working for the same company about a year ago. He’d likely be on this trip if he met his goals. Although I barely knew him then and haven’t seen him in nearly 15 years, it did pass the time. I don’t think I saw him, but even if I did, he’d not likely recognize me either.
We get to the front counter and receive our tickets. Because it was a chartered flight, our tickets were inexplicably hand written. It wasn’t until we were queued up in line to go to security that the agent walking through called out that the chartered flight ticket holders should check to ensure the correct date was written on them. Apparently, many were written out with tomorrow’s date and therefore completely unusable. Of course, our tickets had this error.
We sprinted back to the check in counter to see the line now wrapping around the building with people waiting. We decided to cut over to where the other ticket holders seemed to be congregating and were able to get a corrected ticket pretty quickly. Then we had to race back to the security line and begin to queue up again.
As we passed by one of the TSA agents, a young woman with a giant camping backpack was arguing with him about her bag. From what we could tell, she wanted him to confirm that she’d be able to bring this bag through, and perhaps not have to check it. In typical New York style, he explained to her that he couldn’t guarantee anything, that he didn’t know her and her bag would be subject to the same inspections anyone else had. It was unclear what she was trying to get past the checkpoint, but not getting the answer she wanted, she stormed away. He then went on to comment to us jokingly how he could just let someone through security because he “knows them.”
By the time we cleared security, it was nearly time to board. Our plane was nowhere to be seen. So we decided to grab something to eat. The Irish pub was jammed, so we went to the Mediterranean grill, figuring it would be appropriate considering our destination. I ordered a club sandwich, which was described on the menu as a turkey, ham, and bacon sandwich with cheese. I received a pita with turkey, bacon, cheese and some grilled vegetables. It was easily the foulest bit of food I’ve ever received in a restaurant, but I didn’t have time to send it back.
Our plane finally boarded an hour late, giving the long line still waiting at the ticket counter and security time to arrive. We got on board and got settled in. We took off without incident, but about a hour in, the flight staff inexplicably began dinner service. It was nearly midnight, and considering the long overnight flight, we just wanted to sleep. We did get some rest finally, but four hours later they began serving breakfast. It was definitely not the night to forget my eye mask.