Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I personally thought the best way to celebrate gay pride last weekend...

...was to fly to Ohio and watch two straight kids get married. My girlfriend and friends disagreed. Hey, I'm not bitter that I used to baby-sit for the groom, yet he's allowed to get married and I'm not. Ok, maybe a little bitter.

My parents basically said I had to go to this wedding. I'm not very close to the groom, but he's the son of close family friends. They live across the street from my parents; his sister was in the same grade as me. And the father is ill with two types of cancer, and is headed to the hospital for his 2nd bone marrow transplant. It was important that I be there before he's in the hospital and under quarantine for months.

Since my presence at the wedding was mandatory, my parents booked and paid for my flight. Now, normally I'm very resposible about printing out my flight information and get to the airport plently early. But last week was hectic. I was out of town Monday, worked and saw a friend Tuesday (my last chance to see her before she left town to get married), did laundry and packed Wednesday and worked both my jobs Thursday and Friday.

I was talking to my dad during the hour I have between jobs Friday when I mentioned that I still hadn't printed out the flight information for the next day and needed to look it up. It had easily been 2 or 3 months since the flight was booked and I really had no clue when it left. My dad said, "Oh, I have it right here in my Outlook. Northwest has a feature when you book online. You can download the flight information right into your Outlook and Blackberry."

This is where the Consumer Alert portion of the story begins.

He told me my flight was at 10:05 am.

I arrived at the airport at 8:40, plenty early for a 10am flight.

The check-in kiosk told me my flight was a 9:05 AM.

When my dad downloaded the info, Outlook converted my flights from Central Standard (where I live) to Eastern Standard (where my dad is). The fact that I was leaving at 10:05 Michigan time wasn't going to help me in the Minneapolis St. Paul airport. My flight was already boarding and I hadn't gone through security yet.

The first time in my life I've not printed out the flight information for myself.

Turns out it would also be the first time in my life I would miss a flight. Not before I put forth a galliant effort to make that flight. But the Fates are not without a sick sense of humor. I ended up in security behind the people with strollers, inexperienced travelers who don't know to take off their shoes, people who put their IDs away after the initial inspection. And the bitches at security pulled my bag for inspection. I knew they wouldn't give a shit that my flight was about to leave, so I kept my mouth shut, assuming that they look upon idiots like me with utter disdain and purposely take longer out of spite for the stupid girl that can't get to the airport on time.

Like a scene straight out of a movie, I ran to my gate, pulling my suitcase behind me, my overloaded purse bouncing off my butt, simultaneously pulling my shirt up and pushing my pants down. At one point my name came over the intercom "This is the final boarding call for flight whatever to Cleveland, Smitty, you have two minutes to be at gate whatever". I flagged down one of those golf carts usually reserved for the frail and invalid. Panting and dripping with sweat, I begged for a ride. The driver obliged and did his best with me cursing under my breath everytime we had to slow down for a yuppie with a small dog in a carry-on or a businessman on a cell phone that was oblivous to the cart coming down the concourse.

When I got to the gate, my plane was still visible through window, but the door to the gangway was shut. There was an Amish couple in front of me at the counter who were also trying to get to Cleveland. They had just flown in from somewhere else and there flight was late getting in to Minneapolis. They were being told, "I'm sorry, we saw that you were coming from a far-away gate and held the plane as long as we could." Damn, they didn't hold the plane for some Amish folk who were late through no fault of their own. I knew then I was SOL.

I had called my girlfriend in a panic from the security line. I knew she was praying I'd miss the flight, that there'd be no more flights to Cleveland in time for me to make the wedding, and she'd get to turn around, come pick my ass back up, and take me to the Pride festival.

Perhaps I would have made it to Pride if I hadn't started to simuloustaneously cry and have an asthma attack in front of the ticket agent. She took pity on me when I really didn't deserve it, and gave me a seat on a Cleveland flight that left only an hour and 20 minutes after my original flight. A flight that ended up being overbooked. When the ticket agent at my new gate came over the P.A. and said "I'm looking for 3 people with flexible travel plans to give up their seats on this flight in exchange for a free round trip ticket anywhere in the U.S.," I sat in my seat twindling my thumbs as if I was supposed to be there all along.


CoryQ said...

That is one humdinger of a story!

Lisa said...

Ah, you have to love technology! Excellent story, I laughed out loud!