Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We're going to make it after all

We're in Tennessee. Its only an hour and a half flight, which sounds like no big deal -- smooth sailing -- but if you've been on any airplane with two young children, you'll know there is no such thing. I mean, it was a helluva lot easier than our recent red-eye flight to Italy, memories of which still haunt me in my dreams, but that's not saying much. This time, I was prepared to face heightened airport security, including pat downs and full body scans but neither of these presented themselves (what? I'm not hot enough for the full body scan?) Instead, the trouble came in the form of unexpected delays. Which were totally our fault.

Yeah, we got lost driving to the supercheap off-airport parking near Newark. And when you get lost near the airport, you're totally fucked -- one wrong turn, and you're stuck driving through the the entire airport, which'll easily cost you 15 minutes. OK, so maybe you wouldn't be fucked if you were the sort of persn who gave yourself more than a 15 minute cushion, but we just don't roll like that. When we finally found the parking spot, we saw the airport to the shuttle pulling away, which meant we'd have to wait another 20 minutes. We raced through check in and baggage drop off and the Air Train over to the terminal and through security, where no one was patted down or full body screened, as far as I know.

While lacing up our boots after security, I said, "I think we're going to make it after all." Then, I repeated it again, but more slowly and sagely, so that it would be clear to all who happened to hear that I was referring to more than just the flight. Then, realizing I sounded like I was in an episode of Grey's Anatomy, I had to laugh out loud. All of which made me sound like a nutjob.

We did make it after all, onto the plane, that is.

I'll tell you what didn't make it. Our Maclaren stroller, which we checked at the gate, the way you have to when you fly with a stroller. When we landed in Tennessee, the stewardess handed us our stroller, except that one of the front wheels had been mangled beyond recognition. The rubber had been ripped off and the steel or aluminum or whatever the hell they use to make the hub was twisted and bent all out of shape.

Now, I should note that we came by this stroller in the following fashion: my mom brought it over one day, looking new as can be, with no explanation. When I pressed her as to why she'd decided to get us a stroller, suddenly and for not apparent reason, she said that she had been leaving work one day and saw a poor, pitiful young mother trying to sell it on the street for money for her baby and so she bought it from her, for charity. I didn't buy this bullcrap, not for a second, so I kept pestering her and pestering her to explain where the hell she got this nice stroller and she finally confessed, in a very irritated tone: "I found it on the street in front our our office, OK? Some kid had vomited in it and those assholes, their parents, just left it there even though it was PRACTICALLY NEW! All that was wrong with it was a little VOMIT!" So that's how we got our swank Maclaren stroller, and really, when I saw it mangled up, I should have thought, "easy come, easy go." But I didn't.

"Do you see this?" I asked the stewardess, "My stroller's all mangled. I can't use it."

"Yes I see that ma'am, but unfortunately, there's nothing we can do about it." she replied stiffly.

"Can't I file a damage claim or something?"

"Unfortunately not, because stroller wheels are not covered by our damage claims."

"Ok, here's the situation. I gave you this stroller in New York and it was fine. Now you give it back to me and its un-usable. So I need to talk to someone about this."

"Yes, I do understand that ma'am, but unfortunately, my supervisor is not here on Saturdays."

I'll spare you the rest of this edifying convo. After a few back and forths, I realized I wasn't getting anywhere and tried the airline ticket counter at the front of the airport only to find there was no one there. So I went downstairs to get David who was claiming our luggage, and cleaning up Sec, who had shit her pants on the airplane. She's going through a phase where she's too scared to poop and sometimes this results in shit-in-the-pants. Meanwhile, Primo's screaming about how he refuses to stop at the International House of Pancakes for lunch because the chance of rain today is over 0 percent and he wants to go straight home, since he is currently terrified of precipitation.

So with my two crazy kids, both of whom are crying and carrying on, I head BACK up to the ticket counter to see if, perchance, someone's decided to actually WORK even though it is Saturday and I do see someone but unfortunately, its the same stewardess who was totally useless at the gate.

I caught her looking at the door behind her when she saw me coming but I was walking too fast and she was caught, at the counter.

"Yeah, its me again."

"I see that ma'am."

"Ok, look, I'm not being unreasonable here. I had a stroller and now I don't and I need one for my daughter and I need your airline to take care of it because you broke it."

"But I can't do anything about it so why don't you tell me what you want to do."

I love Southeners because this is about as mad at they get. Snippy. In Newark, we'd be slinging four letter expletives back and forth by now.

"What I want to DO," I retorted, "is leave you this stroller, because I sure as hell can't use it, and I want to leave a note taped to it for your supervisor when he gets back on Monday. How about that?"

Which is precisely what I did. And not only did the stewardess not get more irritated and irate, she actually told me, as I was writing my little note, that she understood how I felt and she sure did hope I got my stroller fixed because she was a mom, too.

Makes you feel purty good to have a civilized exchange like that.

So we're here in the Smokies. Looks like we made it after all -- onto the plane, that is. As for the rest, that remains to be seen.