Friday, December 24, 2010

Airports: The New Birth Control

The holidays are a beautiful time to spend with family and friends. If you're like me, it's also a time to daydream about the future family that you'll one day create on your own. It goes something like this: rosy-cheeked children in footie pajamas, hot cocoa with way too many marshmallows, maybe a dog and a cat thrown into the mix when the whole family piles onto the couch to watch A Charlie Brown Chrismas for the upteenth time.

Ah, sweet fantasy.

However, something awaits to shatter my illusions during this magical time of the year. This dark force? Airports. And the families that travel within them.

This past Wednesday, I attempted to make it from Charlotte, NC to Great Exuma Island, Bahamas. The first leg of my trip? Charlotte to Atlanta. It went a little something like this:

7am: I slide into my aisle seat and breathe a sigh of relief that
1) I actually made my flight (it was iffy there until I broke into a full-on sprint to the gate), and
2) that I can shove my carry-on and purse as big as a suitcase under the seat with such ease. My fellow passenger in his window seat is already fast asleep. This is going to be so easy!

7:03am: A harried woman precariously carrying a diaper bag, rolling suitcase, and baby on her hip gives me a guilty smile that can only mean one thing: she's coming in.

7:04am: With an apologetic smile, she asks if I would be willing to move into the middle seat. I notice her baby has snot caterpillars starting to slide out of his nose. I kindly agree. (Not only because I am Working On My Zen, but because I was trying to get away from the snot. Like I don't deal with enough of that day-to-day.)

7:15am: Our scheduled takeoff time, in which we are cheerfully informed by the captain that we will be sitting on the runway until 8am.

7:16am: Snot baby starts to fuss. Mom talks to him as though he is not, in fact, an 18 month old, but a full-grown adult that comprehends phrases such as "Please stop crying" or "You are bothering everyone". (Hey lady? If that worked, I would have tried it 10 minutes ago.)

7:22am: Mother of Snot Baby attempts to console him with a portable DVD player and Baby Einstein video. He responds by flinging said player across the aisle, where it falls at the feet of a very nice looking lady. I pretend to hyper focus on my US Weekly.

7:30am: Baby is simulatenously snotting and crying. My brain begins screaming HOW ARE WE NOT THERE ALREADY? before I realize we haven't even taken off yet.

7:43am: We are miraculously cleared for takeoff 17 min earlier than scheduled. My white-knuckle grip on the arms of my seat begins to loosen.

7:50am: Baby stops crying.

7:51am: Baby starts crying.

7:58am: I attempt to listen to my self-help audiobook in order to Find My Zen, but can't hear it over the baby wailing. Start to wonder if this is a test of My Zen, and realize that I am probably sliding by with a solid C+.

8:07am: The captain informs us we are 15 to 20 minutes away from landing in Atlanta. I attempt to hold back my tears of gratitude.

8:11am: Mom attempts to bring out the DVD player again. (See "7:22am".)

8:14am: The DVD player appears again. Really, lady? No one needs bruises in addtion to ear damage from your child's screaming.

8:28am: We land in ATL. I try to avoid shouting "It's a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!"

8:31am: I book it out of the gate, past where Mom is waiting for her child's stroller is being delivered to her. I keep my head down in order to
1) reduce interaction, and
2)build up as much speed as possible.

I don't mean to sound like such a Scrooge. I don't fault that woman for traveling with her baby during the holidays. I only fault her for booking the same flight and sitting next to me.

But really, she didn't seem like she was having that much fun either. From the schleping of a million bags and strollers, to the constant nose-wiping, and the screaming and subsequent shushing, I could only think of one word: miserable.

I guess it's good karma to be kind even in the face of boogers that come way too close and near-death experiences at the hands of flying DVD players. I'll need it one day when I'm a mom.

(And by "one day", I mean "when pigs fly/hell freezes over". Or when I can have a full-time nanny.)

On another note, this Christmas Eve I hope you are somewhere warm and safe, surrounded by love even if those you care about are very far away.


Jamie said...

OMG! Totally feel you. My cousin flew 11 hours from Europe. I cry for the people on the plane with her.....

Ensley said...

Ha! Thanks Jamie. I guess I need to be glad it was a 45 minute flight instead of transcontinental! Though it did SEEM like it lasted 11 hours...

Ensley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Southern Prep said...

I am so sorry! Luckily that's never happened to me, but I don't think I'd be as zen!

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

Ensley said...

My "Zen" was definitely put to the test, that's for sure! It was all worth it though, and hopefully earned me some good karma points. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas as well!

Hannah said...

Congrats on your good karma points! I once mumbled something under my breath while shopping (child was in full out tantrum with clothes flying through store) and the mom screamed at me saying, "its just a BABY." I honestly didn't mean to say it out loud, I was just so frustrated but when she yelled I dropped everything I had (in fear) and said "I'm sorry, I just - don't have kids!" and ran out of the store.

I totally understand that having children is hard but when does their right to scream over rule my right to have a comfortable experience?

Sarah said...

I'm new to your blog and was just reading over posts and laughed out loud to this one!! I agree completely and like you, I'm a teacher too!!!! I flew to DC before Christmas for a vacation and had planned on sleeping the whole plane ride there since it was so early in the morning. Apparently the 3 year old behind me decided to make it his mission to keep me from sleeping because I had to hold myself back from yelling at the kid and his Chinese parents!!

Haughty by Nature said...

Thanks for following Sarah! I sympathize with you girl! Traveling with young children seems as unpleasant for the parents as it does for the rest of us (especially since they have to deal with the child well after the plane ride is over). Maybe they should invent an airline JUST for families with small children? I'd invest in it.

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