Monday, October 3, 2011



Saturday, 10/1: Dropped puppy at super-friend, Robin’s house, then drove to Joe and Gails’s house for a wonderful bon-voyage dinner for my traveling buddy, Ginger, and myself. Friends, Dave and Ginny, let us park our cars in their one acre yard, and we called for the shuttle to LAX.

The fist clue we were in trouble was the shuttle driver’s obvious lack of backing-up skills as he wove back and forth trying to avoid the brick columns along the path. He tried several times to back the old, tired Ford Van into the driveway, finally giving up half-way in. We dragged our luggage to the van, afraid if we didn’t, we’d miss our plane.

He asked what terminal we were going to. “To Brisbane on Quantas,” we said. “Which one?” he asked. “Is there more than one?” “Yes,” he replied as if talking to two children, “there’s Quantas in the Bradley building and Quantas in Terminal 4.” We looked at each other, nonplussed. I whipped out my cell phone and called our travel agent. “It’s Bradley,” she said, most irritated, “he should know that.”

Ginger climbed in and seat-belted up, then I slipped in. No seat belt. I found various and sundry straps, and several buckles that kept slipping under my butt as I scooted across the seat, but when we tried to make the connection, it was a no-go. When I complained that I couldn’t get these things to cooperate, the driver pulled to the curb, groused about missing a turn because he was listening to me grouse. He tired to belt me in and realized it was a lost cause. He then asked me to “lift up” so he could slip his hand under me and find the buckle. When I raised my rump, out slipped a little gas bubble, with just a hint of a sound. The driver jumped backwards like he'd been shot. Ginger giggled while I gave her a dirty look, then I began to laugh. The driver mumbled something in a foreign language that I’m sure were meant to call down a hex upon our families and their descendants. He found the elusive buckle, belted me in, then slammed the door. He jumped in the driver's seat and screeched off, as our necks flew back with whiplash. Geesh! It was just an accident. I had a lot of bubbles rolling around inside due to my fear of flying, so I say he was lucky it was just one, and small at that!

The driver was from some indeterminate country where they seem to like to hit every bump and hole in the road—at high speeds. We finally arrived at the Bradley building, where he off-loaded our baggage without a smile. Sorry! We dragged our 48 and 49.5 pound bags into the terminal, only to find that we were supposed to be at Terminal #4 “Bradley is for Auckland and Sidney, and Terminal 4 is for Brisbane and Melbourne. We left, dragging our 48 and 49.5 pound bags about a block down the road. “Good thing we’re early,” we said in unison. Our plane was scheduled to take off at 11:20 p.m. It was now 7 p.m. We had plenty of time.

I’d expected lines of irate travelers as they headed toward signs that read: Step right up. This way to the “See Your Privates X-ray Machine,” along with stern TSA Folks. The line was really not that long, but the Folks still pushed us ahead pretty fast. By the time I emptied all my paraphernalia from my computer case, crawled out of my shoes and jacket, we were almost up to the “I See Your Privates” machine. I began to fret as I neared the monster. I’d heard some horrible stories about these Peeping-Tom x-rays, and what they could see. I’d worn a panty-liner (extra protection against sudden onset of sneezing or laughing fits) for this fifteen-hour flight, and I, with my vivid imagination, conjured up what would happen as I entered said machine: “Ma’am, please step out and against that wall.” “Huh?” He then would talk to someone on his shoulder mic: TSA 1 to TSA 2 - Sir, I’ve detected an unidentifiable object in this lady’s underwear. What’s that, sir? Roger, sir! That’s a big 10-4.” Then he would turn to me and say: “Ma’am, I’ll have to ask you to step in this room with me and hand over that UFO you’re hiding in your panties.”

But luck won out. The couple in front of us were taking way too long to get their carry- ons into the little plastic carriers, so a TSA Folk waved Ginger and me into another line where we walked through the “I Can’t See Into Your Privates” machine and thus bypassed the whole Privates-Peeking monster. Thank you gods of travelers who wear panti-liners!

From the TSA area, we proceeded to the waiting area, found two seats and settled in. We had over three hours to wait for our flight. About ten minutes later, I began to fidget. I can’t sit here this long, I said. I'll get stiff. I need to walk. Ginger, being the sweet thing she is, suggested that I might want to think about the 15 hours of sitting ahead of us. So we walked. We stopped in a Duty Free shop, smelled all the wonderful perfumes, and then headed for the place we really waned to head to in the first place: Brioche Doree, a heavenly bakery on the concourse. We split a cookie, bought some water, and paid what amounted to my mortgage payment. I walked across the aisle to a bookstore, picked up a dime-sized bottle of aspirin and handed the clerk a five-dollar bill from my purse. “It’s nine-ninety five” she said without a smile. “WHAT?” Well of course I paid and groused as I walked out of the store.

Ginger waned a sweet roll so we ambled back to the bakery. Not wanting her to feel bad, I ordered a small fudge brownie. I reached for the strap of my purse, only to find no strap, hence, no purse. My heart fibrillated and I thought I would faint. Everything was in my purse; my boarding pass, my passport, my visa and cash, and cell phone, and most importantly, my extra panti-liners!

I knew it! I’d heard about all those pickpocketers at airports. They should all be rounded up and their fingers broken. Instead of worrying about panti-liner bombers, the TSA should be on the lookout for pick-pocketers and thieves.

What the hell would I do now? Ginger would have to go to Australia without me, while I roamed the airport like Tom Hanks.

I ran back to the books store, ready to scream at them for not being on the lookout for pick-pocketers and thieves in their shop, when I spotted the clerk who’d waited on me. She wore a smile, and a strap dangled from her pinkie finger, with my purse attached. OMG! Thank you gods of forgetful old broads.

Now, we’re sitting in the same waiting area. Thirty minutes after we were supposed to board, the agent announced we would be delayed because of engine trouble. Now, I’m a wimp when it comes to flying, terrified of all things that go “bump” during a flight. Did she have to say “engine trouble”? Couldn’t she have said they were taking an extra long time to clean up the mess that the last passengers left?

We finally boarded at 2:15 a.m. instead of 11:20 p.m., which amounted to seven hours of sitting, waiting for our plane. Once aboard, they served us a nice weight-watchers size meal of chicken cacciatore and caramel cream cake dessert. Ginger ate little, then pulled her blanket over her face and went to dreamland. I watched her, enviously, between runs to the head and back. Fortunately, we did have a wonderful bonus; we sat in Economy Plus, which is Quantas Airways concession to under-privileged travelers. Actually it was well worth the price we paid to bump up, as we had at least six inches extra leg room, which allowed us to pile everything on the floor in front of us. Unfortunately, the couple in front of us pushed their seat-backs all the way back, so that when we needed to step out into the aisle we had to put our bodies into the “Limbo” position and literally crawl slide our butts over the center divider, the outside arm, while praying we wouldn’t get our feet wound up in bags, blankets or purse handles in the process. We are hoping for a bulkhead row on our return trip. Maybe I’ll sleep then.

I envy people who can cast all fear to the wind and sleep on airplanes, like Ginger! I snuggled up with a blanket, put on my eye mask, stuck in earplugs, plumped my pillow so it was just right, then stared at the inside of the mask. I crawled out of all my covers and looked over at Ginger: mouth agape in a smile, and I hated her. When she finally awoke, about five hours later, I was so excited to have someone to talk to: “Hi, good morning!” She looked at me, opened her mouth, growled and then turned her head to the window. I guess she didn’t get enough sleep. Oh well, have to crawl over everything now and hit the lavatory again.

More to come tomorrow.

1 comment:

Barbara Smith said...

ONLY YOU!!! I was so glad to get this = when i woke this morning i was thinking of you and wondering how the trip was going. All that initial aggravation will be worth it - you will love Australia!

Can't wait to get the next update!

love, Barbara