excerpt from 4.25
Indianapolis Airport. Magdelana and I are an hour-and-a-half early for our scheduled 2.29 flight.
Airports smell good, mostly. Which is good, because airplanes do not smell good, mostly. We buy some gum, tater tots, and water, and admire the installations and sculptures. Also, Magdelana sings, loudly. Nothing specific, just the faux-English, Sigur Ros-channeling dialect she has been developing.
Odie odie hay ong omie omie say /
My say oh my ohsay yoh odie my may
We board our United flight, a few minutes late. The red-haired gate attendant, Katrina, is not friendly. She does not smile, or acknowledge me when I say thank you and inquire how her day is going. It is obviously not a lovely day for her. I notice out of my eye's corner, that the other attendant (I later learn he is Mr. Patel) is returning the phone to its hook with a thundering gracelessness.
Our seats are on opposite sides of the aisle, so I ask a gentlemen with no moustache if he might be willing to switch. He is nice, and does. Magdelana commandeers the window seat, and immediately begins sharing her thoughts on the plane's aroma, loudly.
Phew, it smells really really really awful, she groans repeatedly, not to the amusement of the first class gentleman eating Chinese takeout.
We settle into our seats. Mags peruses the contents of her precious blue bag.
- Art supplies
- Non-working cellphone
- 300 hair ties & scrunchies
- Ten dollars in change she has thieved from my wallet over the last month
We wait. And wait. The flight attendants have a sort of headless chicken aimlessness about them, peppered with an air of panicked irritation. We keep waiting.
Finally, an announcement is made: will somebody give up their seat, in exchange for a ticket voucher and a later flight?
Short version: I ask if they'll double up. We'll give up our two seats and take a couple ticket vouchers, a later flight, meal and hotel, and a suitcase of cash. Okay, they say, so Mags and I grab our bags. We are heroes. Now, the plane can depart.
To the ticket counter. I meet Mr. Patel, who is slamming the phone down again. No. No. No. Absolutely not! (and then the phone slams)
For the next 45 minutes, we haggle out details. Our original flight soars away, though there still seems to be some issue over a missing flight attendant who stomped off somewhere (seriously).
Our flight is scheduled for five-something the next morning, but Mr. Patel suddenly gets a message, or call, or something from somewhere.
We can get you out tonight...actually, on the next flight. Are you interested?
So we hop in the next line for O'Hare, instead of D.C.
We make the short jog to Chicago. I read aloud Around the World in 80 Days. At O'Hare, we spend $45 in meal vouchers on a veggie sandwich, raisin bagel, eight-dollar peanut butter smoothie, and four Naked juices at $4.25 a pop. Mags is almost sleeping on her feet, but gets a shot of adrenaline* from a bottle of apple juice. We dine on the floor next to a fivesome of United crew. One, a Japanese flight attendant, is sprawled across three seats, sleeping. I aggressively and unsuccessfully work to not pull a double-take, as her slumbering skirt is pulled far above her knees, Abercrombie & Fitch-style while she gracefully rests (I do not sleep gracefully, I am told). The captain keeps peeking at her, I think. Some things take a conscious effort to do. Or not do. I call Becca and tell her I accidentally looked a second and third and fourth time. She laughs and then gets furious and then laughs and we both laugh.
P.S. She was not furious.
Finally, we board our 5.43. This aeroplane smells too. We read some more. We sit on the tarmac, again. I wonder how long it will be until we take off.
Patience! Magdelana reminds me. Patience!
We fly up, at last. Mags conks out at 6.25, snuggled against me. She is wiped out.
I love her so much, my little adventuring travel buddy.
We arrive at PDX fifteen minutes earlier than our original flight, which is good. And then I get a phone call while we are disembarking and find out that our house has been robbed, which is not good.