I woke up yesterday morning in Tuscumbia, Al with my boyfriend. It was my last day in the city and I was trying to keep smiling. I don’t know when I will him again, long distance relationships suck. We checked out of our hotel at around 10:30 am after eating a waffle and fussing about waking up at 9, even though the sun was up. I never did get used to central time. As a side note, it has been a while since I had waffles and I forgot how much crispier they are than pancakes; my apologies to those who I said “burnt” your waffles to get them crispy.
Back to my story. My flight didn’t leave until 6pm local time, so we decided to spend the time at his house and just relax and play Wii. We started out with some Mario Cart. I beat him 🙂 all three times if memory serves. Then we played some Donkey Kong. After too many attempts, he was finally able to get the finishing blow on the first boss. By this time it was approximately 1pm. His mom asked us if we wanted to go to the one Japanese “steakhouse” in the area, UMI’s. When we got there, his parents both ordered chicken teriyaki, as did he. I on the other hand, decided to be a bit more adventurous, for their standards. I got their 3 roll special with miso soup. The rolls were minimal and about what I expected for the $9 price point. I will add, however, that it is very entertaining to watch people try to learn how to use chopsticks. Although, I will admit i was very impressed that everyone was able to pick up something with them.
When we finished eating we went back to his place and packed the family’s van with my luggage. In a few minutes we had begun our hour and a half drive to the airport. I checked my bag with virtually no line and realized I forgot the headphones Rob gave me in the van. We went back to get them and I noticed the line for TSA security was very short. We sat together for about a half hour and I had almost an hour before my flight would leave. When I went through security, however, it took an extra 15-20 minutes. Apparently the wire soup I keep in my backpack looked strange to them on the security scanner (Laptop charger, wired mouse, phone charger, camera charger, etc). They used a swab to check it; probably for radiation or something to that effect. I told the TSA attendant who was apologizing that I would rather they look at it than let someone on a plane with something actually dangerous. I finally had to wave goodbye to Rob who was standing on the other side of a glass pane waving back.
When I got to terminal 7, where my flight was to leave, I listened to music and read a bit until we were free to board. Once on the plane however, that is when the real wait began. We were relatively quick to board, but when the pilot went to push back, there was a problem with some instrument at “headquarters” and they couldn’t get their “taxi number,” whatever that means. After about an hour, the pilot said he got his numbers manually and we began to taxi. After reading a while, I felt myself dosing off, so I closed my book and rested. Next thing I knew we were about to begin our descent. I looked at a little clock I had on my purse and realized we only had 20 minutes until my next flight left Houston, Tx for Orange County.
I kept hope, but decided I would not get upset if I missed my next flight. When I got to George Bush International Airport, I looked at the kiosk that had the departing flights. To my dismay, Orange County was not listed. I knew I probably missed it, but I decided to go from Terminal A to Terminal C, just in case. When I arrived in Terminal C, there were hardly any people so I decided to stop at the customer service desk rather than walk all the way to the end only to be disappointed further. The lady told me that I had missed my flight and that she would get me a hotel and a flight for the next morning. That is until she saw I was coming out of Huntsville, Al. She told me I couldn’t get a hotel because that flight was delayed for weather. I gave her a very confused look, as the skies were clear the entire travel and told her what the pilot had said. She made a phone call and decided that it would be alright for her to get me a hotel. This relieved me, as I really did not want to spend a night in the airport.
After making a few phone calls I figured out where I was supposed to go to catch the shuttle and was lucky enough to arrive at the stop just in time to catch it. When the shuttle was full and we were leaving the airport terminals, we were blocked by a pretty bad accident that was almost cleared. Luckily they had a lane opened so we were able to get by without much of a hitch. I talked to the man who sat next to me, turned out he was from London and was trying to get home in time for work today. He looked at his watch and said he should have been there in about 3 hours and at his desk in about 7. I felt bad for being upset that I missed my flight by a few minutes while he and about 300 other people were delayed on international flights due to some broken landing gear.
When I got to the Marriott hotel, where the United Airlines help desk woman gave me a voucher for, I went up to my room to find it was very nice, a bit strange I had two beds, but nice. I bought myself an overpriced cheeseburger that without my $10 food voucher would have set me back over $20. I carefully placed my boarding pass and second $10 meal voucher in my purse and texted my friends and read until I passed out, alarm set for 5:30 am, so much nicer than the 9:00 am I had fussed about that morning. I probably fell asleep sometime around 1:00 and was abruptly awoken when the TV turned itself on at 4am. I rationalized that maybe someone in the room next to me, who was clearly awake and rustling about, must have their TV remote on the same frequency or something, because the door was still latched from the inside.
5:30 rolled around and I got my wakeup call along with a series of alarms from my phone. I turned on the light so I wouldn’t fall back asleep. The shuttle showed up about 35 minutes later and was full. The driver said standing room only, or I could wait for the next one in 10 minutes. As my flight is not scheduled to depart until 9:17 local time, I figured I could wait. I sipped my somewhat tasteless tea and arrived at the airport to wait in a TSA line for an hour. They had no qualms with my wire soup that was the same as it was in Huntsville, thank goodness. Though, I did step on my toe trying to take off one of my boots, hooray for bad balance plus sleep deprivation!
Now I play the waiting game in the terminal, hoping that today will bring better luck than yesterday.
So, the lesson that I learned? Always pack spare clothes in your carryon luggage. Be thankful for the little things, like not packing cell phone chargers or laptops in checked bags and that I was only delayed a day. Make sure if there is a choice of layovers, to pick one in a city with people I know, like Chicago because even though I know people in Texas, it does not mean that they are close to Houston. The Mariott is a very pretty hotel. Many people who are in similar frustrating situations, (ie missed flights coupled with an overnight stay) tend to be fairly kind to one another. Most importantly, talking to friends in situations where on the inside you are freaking out, even a little bit, is always a good thing.
Conclusion time! I made my flight just fine. Turned out we left on time and arrived about a half an hour early!
Oh and there was a part of the story I almost forgot. I saw someone drop their boarding pass while waiting in line for TSA. I could not believe that nobody near him said anything as I am sure someone other than me must have seen it. I had to walk by about 10 people in order to inform the customer that he had dropped his ticket. Sometimes, people just make me sad.