Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.
~ Al Gore
“What are you going to do?” Mike asked me calmly when I called him and not-so-calmly told him my flight from Las Vegas to Los Angeles had a 45-minute delay. Normally, it wouldn’t be a big thing, but there were only 65 minutes between the original flights. Cutting that time down to 20 minutes in LAX was not good.
“I don’t know,” I cried (literally and figuratively). “The agent is trying to figure out how to handle this. Poor American Airlines Ticket Agent Brandy was trying to get me to Heathrow so I could catch my flight to Bologna the next afternoon. If I missed any of the connections, I would end up arriving in Bologna around midnight instead of 6:00 pm. I won’t bore you with the entire conversation I had with her and the agent on the phone, but suffice to say that we decided I should stay on my original flight and deal with it at LAX if I missed the connection.
I have to mention that, as happy as I was to be leaving for Italy, I was not in the mood to travel Wednesday. My hand surgeon discovered I did hurt my hand when I fell, gave me a horrible cortisone shot because he found some kind of stenosis and crap, and had the OT work on one part of my hand particularly hard. The shot hurt. The therapy hurt. I didn’t sleep well Tuesday night. My hand still hurt from the shot. I was not ready for any of this delay crap…especially if it involved LAX.
“The agents in LA are rude,” I said as tears dribbled out of my eyes. Brandy told me she understood but thought it was still the best option since I was against arriving late or delaying the trip another day. We had figured out that my first flight was arriving at Gate 47 and my second from Gate 41, both in Terminal 4. And, I had requested assistance since I still cannot deal well with the carry-on. “That should help,” she assured me.
The gate area was quite empty when I got there, but we still had over two hours until we boarded. People filed in slowly, and one woman in her 30s sat across from me. I actually heard her before I saw her as she had her cell phone glued to one side of her face while she struggled to get her two carry-on bags close to her. She dropped—hard—into her seat. I mentally thanked God that I was not seated on that side a I wasn’t interested in being thrown into the air with the heavy flop.
“I have to call Mama to see if she got out of jail yet,” Flopper told the person on the other end. She went on to explain that some guy—Flopper’s ex-, perhaps—had gone to her house to see her, and when she wouldn’t answer the door, he started pounding on doors and windows. “I was so afraid,” she continued, “that I called the police and my mother.” Mama apparently arrived first, and she and said ex- had a bit of an altercation. “They believed him and arrested Mama.”
Somewhere around that point, she looked at the monitor. “Oh, I’m on stand-by,” she told her friend. “What does that mean?” The friend apparently didn’t know as Flopper declared, “It must mean I get to board first. She and her friend talked for a bit, and when they finished that, she called someone who, I believe, was Mama. Flopper was crying and speaking more softly, so I thankfully could not hear that part of her conversation.
More and more passengers were arriving in the lounge area, and most seats were full when two gals slid into the seats next to me. While they were more gentle, one did manage to somehow get her foot under my chair and punt my Coke Zero (Sugar) across the aisle. “Excuse me,” she mumbled without getting up to chase my errant bottle. As I sat back down, I saw her rustling something out of her purse and heard the distinct crackle of a snack bag.
Allow me to step out of this story again and explain that I suffer from misophonia (literally translated=hatred of sound). In case you’ve never heard of it, those of us who suffer from it are particularly sensitive to certain sounds. The triggers are not the same for all those affected, and the bothersome noises can vary from eating, chewing, and breathing to tapping, humming, and pen clicking. Recent studies show that about 20 percent of the population suffer from it in varying degrees (I’m not alone!), and those most affected can actually fly into a rage. Luckily, I do not fall into that category.
You know what I’m getting at, don’t you?
Punter proceeded to open her bag and chomp on a loud snack. I didn’t look at first, so I thought she was munching kettle chips. Soon, however, I smelled toasted corn and glanced to see that she was crushing Corn Nuts. Gnawing. Munching. Grinding. One. By. One. The smell alone made me nauseous, and the sound was akin to fingernails on a chalkboard.
At first, I tried to ignore the smell and the sound, but she was too close. Worse, since she was downing each honking-big kernel individually, the gnawing, munching, grinding went on forever. Okay. I exaggerate, but I was about to pull my eyelashes out one-by-one when the ticket agent announced they were ready to board Group One. I was out of that seat so quickly that I think I left tread marks on the carpet.
Since I was the third person to board (and in row 4), I watched everyone else clomp up the aisle. Punter made it on the flight without her Corn Nuts, I assume, as she was chomping gum and blowing bubbles as she trounced by me.
Somewhat Happy Ending
Somehow, the pilot made up time in the air, and we made it to Los Angeles earlier than expected. I had 40 minutes to make my flight, and as I walked off, I figured getting from Gate 47 to Gate 41 with assistance would be easy.
Except, no one was waiting for me at the gate. I rushed out and saw that we had arrived at Gate 53, but I could not find a sign pointing me in the direction of Gate 41. I practically tackled a maintenance man who happened to walk by. “Please, I’m late. Where is Gate 41?” I begged him.
“Honey,” he replied, “you need to go to Terminal 4. This is Terminal 5.” I ran toward the connecting walkway and tried not to knock anyone over. I took the escalator and had to stand while it moved me down since I could not pick up my carry-on and run down. I started off down the hall and saw a woman pushing a wheelchair. “How do I get to Terminal 4?” I gasped as I ran past her. She told me to look for the elevator down the hall as I grumbled that I should have had someone waiting for me at the gate and no one was there.
“Stop, Honey,” she said. “I’ll take you.” She caught up with me, grabbed my bag, and away we went. Luckily, the elevator opened as we slid in front of it, and when we got out, we were at Gate 45. “We gotta go all the way down the hall,” she continued, “but you’re going to make it. I guarantee it.” She also told me that someone was probably waiting for me at Gate 47 and didn’t realize that our arrival gate had changed. “But,” she laughed, “I wanted some fries anyway, and the best ones are in this terminal. It was karma that I got to bring you here.”
We arrived while the plane was still boarding, and she wheeled me all the way to the plane door. I was shaking so badly that I could barely stand, but I as I stumbled, I asked her name. “Jeffyne,” she replied. I hugged her and said, “Jeffyne, God bless you.” I handed her something as a flight attendant grabbed my bag and my arm.
Five minutes later, I was holding a
tranquilizer glass of champagne in my still-shaking hand.