Monday, May 08, 2006

Airport stories

Please help me.
If you don’t have time to read this whole post, allow me to ask advice first. My ears didn’t pop upon landing here in Seattle. They hurt pretty badly – it’s starting to make me sick. The right one is worse than the left one. They both crackled a bit when I swallowed in the taxi to my hotel, but have remained pretty blocked. I’ve tried yawning, was chewing gum on the descent (they hurt for a full 25 minutes before landing and my seatmates both were trying to pop their poor ears too, so it’s not just me being super-sensitive!), have eaten and sipped soda, tea and wine since my arrival. I’ve held my nose and tried to alter my head pressure that way. Does anyone know how I can make them pop?! Please? I don’t want to suffer! Someone has an idea, right?

Fine. Moving on.

Panic faster!
I didn’t fly growing up – we drove everywhere. So it was with a great deal of fear that I started taking planes in grad school, but I’ve adjusted into it relatively well. I struggle with two areas. One is when the plane drops suddenly – it’s all I can do not to scream. I don’t, of course. I dislike being embarrassed more than I dislike the feeling of the plane apparently falling out of the sky.

The other is waiting to board. I don’t know why, but I’m tense on the way to the airport, then relax a bit after clearing security and can be mildly nervous while watching people, playing on my laptop and reading my book at the gate. I always allow plenty of time to sit and prepare to board. At least an hour. Always.

I arrived at the airport in my hometown today more than 2 hours before my scheduled departure. I was going to hang out with my parents and the Little One, then – about an hour before departure – clear security and take advantage of free wireless internet. But when I was checking in, the friendly ticket agent looked at my flight plans. They were bad – I have a habit of selecting terribly inconvenient routes and times – I’m not sure why.

“Would you like to arrive in Seattle at 6:30 rather than 8:30?” She asked, and I nodded because even though I was tense, it seemed there was an obvious answer. So I connected through a different airport and took a much more direct route. Lovely.

I returned to my parents with my good news and said the flight boarded at 12:50 for a 1:10 departure.

“It’s a good thing we got here early!” Dad said, looking at the clock. It was 12:30. I laughed nervously, gave hugs, proceeded directly through security and sat down at the gate.

And flipped the hell out. I had no time to prepare and went into full panic mode for about 2 minutes. I couldn’t breathe, started getting light headed and seriously considered leaving the airport. So apparently there is a given amount of worry that must occur – it can either be gradual and mild or squeezed into a tiny period of time. Either way, you don’t want to hang out with me before I fly.

Is that a leash on your child?
The Little One was particularly precious this trip home. So I’m achy with the desire to have one of my own. She looks like Brother, who looks like me, so she could easily be my little girl. There are moments when I watch her or talk to her, and find myself rubbing my chest against the pain that I might not have this for myself. It’s unpleasant.

Anyway, I’m definitely in a maternal mood lately, so I smiled at the little girl when she wheeled by on this little chair attached to her mom’s suitcase. I hadn’t seen one before, but it was pretty clever. Suitcase + stroller on one handle!

Her mother released her from the contraption and made a call on her cell phone. Apparently they were meeting the husband/father tomorrow at their new home. There were moving issues to discuss, and the mom missed the dad. (Um, yes, I eavesdrop on cell phone calls at the airport. All the time.) That’s nice and everything, but she’s ignoring this little girl. Little Girl finishes her French fries and asks for a drink. Mother doesn’t listen and I frown disapprovingly as I look up from my book. But I'm not a mom (sniffle, sigh), so I don't judge too harshly - I'm sure it's hard.

Then I see that Little Girl, likely around age 3, is wearing some sort of turquoise harness attached to a piece of fabric. Like a leash. For your child. I guess that makes sense if you’re carrying a bunch of stuff and need to wrap the end around your wrist. So, OK, fine. Little Girl sits down on one of the tables in the gate area that’s attached to the rows of seats. This stretches the leash across the aisle.

Mother tells Father to hold on a moment while she demands Little Girl move from the table. She is to sit in a chair or go in a corner for time out. Little Girl continues to swing her feet as she sits on the table; Mother continues to tell Father how much she misses him; Katie calls Mother names in her head.

Little Girl decided to move from the table and wander around. Mother walks after her and rather than taking her hand, picks up the end of this leash. Then she tugs Little Girl back to her seat, still talking on the phone. So Little Girl tries to get away. I watched, sipping my iced coffee and neglecting the book on my lap, as she flailed her little arms in circles, leaning forward at a nice angle as she was held back by her leash and harness. She must have been startled when someone walked by because she lost her balance and fell down pretty hard. She cried, and I was putting my coffee down to check on her when Mother picked her up, put her in the chair and demanded that she “look at the wall! You’re in time out! Look at the wall!”

My point? I guess my opinion is that the wrong person was looking at the wall there. Not that it's my job to judge this situation, but it irritated me. Then again, I'm not exactly at my best while waiting for flights. But if I do get to have a child someday, I'm not going to use a leash.

Well, hello.
I was standing in line on the jetway, waiting to board, eavesdropping on another phone conversation. There was a boy in front of me – my age, likely younger (but not by much! I’m not old!) – talking on the phone. Canadian accent, I thought with a happy sigh. I do enjoy accents, and while British would have been ideal, I’ll settle for Canadian. Apparently he arrived at one airport at 1AM, made it to this one at 6AM and was just getting on a 3PM flight to Seattle, landing at 6:30, then driving to Vancouver afterward. Wow.

He finished his conversation and I smiled at myself for being disappointed. Then he turned around. He was ever so pretty. Not tall – 5’8” at most, average build, dark hair and a bit scruffy. Perfect facial features though – excellent skin and a face that was put together quite well. And the most stunning green eyes. I was staring at him and he smiled before checking the progress of the line. Then he turned back around. I was too awed to even blush – he was just so pretty!


“Oh. Hello.”

“Full plane.”

“It looks that way, doesn’t it?” I replied, still marveling over eyes that color on a real live person. He shifted his bag on his shoulder and I glanced behind him, checking the progress of the line. He turned to check as well, then returned to look at me.

“I’m ready to get going.” He said.

“Long travel day?” I asked, aware that it had been.

“I got to [some airport] at 1 this morning.” He sighed.

“Wow. What’s in [some airport’s city]?”

“I broke up with my girlfriend.” Then he shrugged and stepped forward as someone finally sat down on the plane and the line moved a bit. Immediately sympathetic, I patted his shoulder and told him I was sorry.

“Then there was a problem with my credit card and I couldn’t fix it to make the connecting flight!”

“You poor thing.”

“I’m just so tired.” He confessed, and I nodded.

“It should be over soon. You can rest a little on the plane, then you’ll be home, right?” He corrected me, telling me he had a bit of a drive after landing in Seattle. So we talked about that for a few minutes before we reached the plane.

“How big is this plane?” He asked and I shrugged.

“Pretty big, I think.” I said, wrinkling my nose. I was in seat B, neither window nor aisle. But it was fair since I changed flights just hours earlier from my original plans. Then I looked as he showed me his ticket. Nodded when he said he was likely toward the back.

Then we got on the plane, he headed toward the back, I sat between two older men near the front of the cabin, and we had a nice flight.

My point? I saw a really pretty boy and talked to him. No crush. I didn’t even want to sit near him. I don’t even think I was that attracted to him – I wasn’t flustered or blushing or flirting. I just thought he was really pleasant to look at. I hope that signifies some sort of maturity. Maybe I was just tired and tense.

To be continued…
I have more little stories I could tell, and while it’s not so late here on the west coast, my brain lives on central time. So I’m going to get ready for bed, sleep in my lovely hotel room overlooking some pretty buildings downtown, then plan what to do while I’m here. (Other than working, of course. And wearing the 8 outfits and 13 pairs of shoes in the 4 days I’m staying.)

But do let me know if you can help my poor ears. Thank you.


phd me said...

I wish I had a solution for your ears. This happens to me more than I'd like when I fly and nothing seems to work except time. My advice: go to sleep. Usually they'll open up overnight and, more importantly, you won't be conscious while they're stopped up. Good luck!

ScienceWoman said...

I can't help you with the ears. But I am with you in being adamantly anti-leash. I'll save that for the PrincessPup thank you.

post-doc said...

Sleeping helped with the ears a little bit. But they're still achy which is now making my head hurt.

The time difference is screwing with me - I woke up at 4, ready for coffee. I played online then went back to sleep and made it (for the first time ever!) to the opening session of the conference. Then got tired so I returned to the hotel to switch shoes. I considered changing clothes (just because I can - I brought enough outfits) but I do enjoy my pink and gray so I'm leaving it.

I'm quite pleased with my hotel - the room was clean when I returned this morning! At 9:45! Yay! So there's good news with the bad. If my ears don't improve soon, I may have to start taking pain medication though. It's really unpleasant.

JustMe said...

hmm, have you tried blowing your nose really hard?

other than that, i'm out, sorry.

and you sure do have fun travelling stories!

MplsJu said...

No suggestions, sorry...I used to have that problem (ears popping) when I was little, and my family would give me hard candies to suck on. This stopped when I started swallowing them whole. Fortunately, my problem with ears popping also stopped with I don't have any good advice. Good post, though. Nice stories. :)

ceresina said...

I was feeling a little sympathetic for the mother for a while. It's hard to be the only parent for only a short while, as one can get somewhat frustrated by having to be the only one saying "stop!" because the child *will* be hurt if she keeps doing what she's doing, at least if one isn't used to it.
Leashes are obscene. If you don't have the time, effort, energy, or lack of egotistical self-involvement to chase after a child (who clearly will be wayward; she's four, or whatever) in a crowded area, you shouldn't have a child.
I hope your ears are feeling better. I'm not surprised you wanted to keep the pink & grey; great combination.

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