#211 In which our hero recounts the events of a lovely wedding and the Bataan Death March which followed--part II
Our plan was a good one.
We’d get up at 4am, drive to the airport, check in, get on our 5:30am flight to Chicago, hop on a plane to Cleveland and be home in time for dinner. Ideally the kids would sleep much of the way. With dinner at home and a familiar bed time, we might even be able to get them back on a schedule with minimal pain and suffering.
But things starting going south as soon as we got on the plane. We were all situated, strapped in, taxied to the runway and ready to take off.
The engines powered up.
Then the engines powered down.
Then they powered up again.
Throughout this process, we started to smell fuel in the cabin. Which couldn’t be good. Finally, the captain came on and said that there was a sensor fault in the #1 engine and he was taking us back to the gate to have it looked at. Should take about 30 minutes, he said. This was an inconvenience, but nothing horrible. The girls were still occupied with napping or watching DVDs.
After a half hour, they tired it again. Engines powered up. Engines powered down. “Sorry folks,” the captain said. “We’re going to have to offboard you to another flight.”
Which I thought at first meant that they’d bring another plane around and we’d get on that one. But that wasn’t the case… they were going to rebook us on a later flight. And the next available flight to Chicago? 1:15pm. Keep in mind that it’s now 7am. We had more than six hours to kill in an airport, with two cranky little girls.
We watched movies. We ran around. We played games. The girls, by and large, were in decent spirits. After a couple of hours, though, their spirits were clearly hitting bottom. And one by one, each of my girls, including my wife, fell asleep on the floor.
Since I only got about four hours of sleep the night before, there’s nothing I wanted to do more than crash, too. But, considering we were at a public airport, it seemed like at least one of us (us grown-ups, that is) should stay awake. And since The Scientist had already staked out her chunk of carpet, it fell to me.
As I sat there reading my book, I took a moment to look at my sleeping family. They were all cuddled up, more or less together, and their sleeping poses said so much about them. Lily, the sensitive girly-girl, snuggled close to her mama. She insisted in being covered by a blanket, so we did the best we could and draped her pink hoodie over her shoulders. Her hair shone red and gold in the sun. Macey, the stubborn, bull-headed child refused to stay on the blanket we laid down for her. Instead, she rolled around and fussed until she finally fell asleep; her butt up in the air, knees on the blanket, face mashed cheek-first into the gross airport carpet, hair a tangled mess. The Scientist was positioned strategically between them, trying to get close to both, comfort them, help them sleep. She was curled around Lily, a hand resting on her shoulder; while Macey was near the back of her knees. A slumbering yin and yang. Also, The Scientist’s ass was pointing up at me, driving me to think dirty thoughts even in my sleepy state.
We finally got on the flight at 1:30, and it was a pretty uneventful trip to Chicago. The Scientist managed to score us free meal vouchers, so we ate and snacked and watched movies and slept. Macey loves the TV. Loves it. The portable DVD player kept her fully engaged and occupied for the entire four hours. Which was great… until they told us to turn off all electronic devices. This threw Macey into a screaming rage that lasted a good 20 minutes. Only by landing and pulling her out of her seat did it stop.
We marched our droop-eyed children off the plane and to the next gate. While Lily was big enough to sit in an airplane seat without a booster, Macey had to use her car seat. Which, let me tell you, weighted a fucking ton. Dragging that damn thing through three airports really sucked. It wasn’t just heavy, it was awkward.
And, naturally, when we arrived we found our flight had been delayed two hours. Any and all positive energy from two days ago had been thoroughly beaten out of me by then, and when they made the delay announcement, I was less than charitable.
ME: Did I just hear that right? Delayed to 10:30? Are you fucking kidding me? GodDAMN it!
LILY: Daddy, why’d you say goddamn it? Why’d you say goddamn?
ME: Because I’m sick of being in these goddamn airports, honey.
So there was more running the girls around, more snacking. Thankfully our luck broke and the fight was bumped up to a 10pm departure. When we finally got seated, the girls were completely gone. No snacking, no movies; nothing but putting them into their seats so they could immediately fall asleep.
The fight to Cleveland was also uneventful. We picked up our baggage, which had arrived hours and hours before us. An aside: I think it’s crappy that the airlines just leave your bags out in the open if you don’t pick them up. At any point anyone could have walked by and said hey, that’s a nice bag! I think I’ll steal it! But everything was there and accounted for when we arrived.
We plodded through the final leg of our journey, out to fetch the car. The Scientist and I were both heavily laden with suitcases and roller bags and garment bags and plastic bags, so the girls had to fend for themselves. We prodded them along, finally crawling into the car around 12:30, local time.
An hour later, we were back home. I was scared that after all the sleeping, the girls would be wide awake and ready to play. Thankfully, they were as eager to sleep in their own beds as I was. With minimal wiping of faces and changing of clothes, everyone went to bed.
It was nice to be home again.