I have been on a roller coaster from hell, like in out of fire, through snow, sleet and ice and I made it. I might just quite possibly be even more amazing than I was before my break down and even more beautiful after the second one. Oh I lost friends, acquaintances and loved ones during this and I am thankful. In time I will elaborate on my major depressive episodes further but right now, I don’t feel like it. I want to talk about a flight I recently took to California to see some of my favorite people. I worked over 50 hours that week to be able to go so I wouldn’t worry about things while I was gone. I stayed up way late the night before and at the last minute I was asked “what time does your flight leave?” Hmm, good question, maybe I should look. Yep, I thought it left when I was actually landing so I had to adjust and barely slept thinking I would nap on the plane.
While driving to the airport, I was listening to the radio and “School’s out for Summer” was roaring through the speakers and I thought why are they playing this on a Saturday morning in November? I shrugged it off as a repeat play list at 6 a.m. because quite frankly, who cares at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning? That song was stuck in my head.
I made it with plenty of time because if I don’t do this I instantly go into panic attack mode and that is not fun. I must be at the airport two hours before my flight or I start sweating, shaking, everything is loud around me, I get lost, panic and pretty much ruin my trip. So, over the years I have learned to avoid this, I must be there early. I also wanted to give my self enough time to look for this little shit head.
I had time for breakfast and sent a text “should I do Starbucks or a Mimosa?” She laughed and said “oh boy, you are in vacation mode. Have the mimosa and get some sleep on the plane.” She had me at vacation and I ordered one. That’s all I could handle, one. I drug my ass to the plane, boarded looking forward to my window seat. As I am approaching my row I see there is someone in my seat. Fuck. As I advance towards my seat the elderly lady says “can I have your seat?” Well, what the hell am I supposed to say “no, move your fragile cute ass because I need some rest?” Of course not, I nodded with no words and sat down in the aisle next to her husband who smelled. As people are walking by I am constantly bumped with back packs, suitcases, purses, small children’s hands and occasionally a hip. Great, I am going to arrive in California with a black eye and bruises and my friends will immediately take me to the closest women’s shelter for abused women. I physically can’t move closer to this man because as most know, I do not do well with aromas, perfumes, smelly lotions or really, people close to me. I don’t like touching others or them touching me. This is why I book the window seat. I can roll up my sweatshirt, use it as a pillow and check out in my own little bubble.
Nope, not this time. Instead I put the hoodie on backwards so the hood covers my entire face and I am not breathing 1922 Old English stale cologne. I let out a silent scream in my head “uuuuggghhhhh.” Where are my drugs? Oh, in my backpack, this is shoved under the seat in front of me giving me zero room for my actual feet. United, you suck on that leg room stuff. I am not even a big girl and I can’t turn in the seat area. My knee actually got stuck in between the seats and turned a way it was never supposed to. Again, I silenced my pain, my panic attack and hid in my hoodie. The pilot announced over the loud speaker that our auxiliary power was not working, he wasn’t receiving any warning lights but the crew outside said it did not sound good. They were simply waiting on a cart to come jump our engines since we didn’t have enough power to start them on our own. WHAT? Oh, our engines will not start on our own and this is cool? Fuck you dude, this is not acceptable. He then follows it up “this will not have an impact on our flying experience today.” Uh, sorry dude, those statements just screwed this entire flying experience for me. I practice the breathing shit some horrible therapist taught me and looked around. I contemplated hitting that emergency exit but I fear jail, prison or being held against my will in any manner. So I breathe. Fuck, someone hand me a paper bag.
“Folks it looks like we are all set and will be leaving the gate area, flight attendants, prepare the cabin for take-off, cross check” something, something, I couldn’t understand. Oh boy, stay calm, he wouldn’t put his own life in danger so simmer down Nikki, and it will be fine. I don’t know if that was the devil on one shoulder laughing deeply or an angel on the other one being sweet. Wait, who in the actual hell is talking to me? Crap, I really need those meds but I can’t get to them because the airline is so fixated on trying to shove one more seat in this decrepit airplane they stopped giving a shit about comfort or claustrophobia.
As we get pushed back from the gate the plane comes to an abrupt halt. I look over at a lady who was inquiring about my jeans earlier and she gasps. I look down at the floor. After about twenty minutes sitting there an announcement is once again made, “folks, the fuel pump is not working and I think we have a sick airplane. I’ll keep you updated as soon as I know the plan.”
Uh, no jackass, there is no plan. This aircraft wants to go play shuffle board in an Assisted Living Care facility with all of his retired friends. I don’t actually know what games an airplane prefers but it’s pretty fucking clear, it doesn’t want to fly today. He follows up his last statement with “we are waiting to hear if we are getting another plane, so sit back folks and we appreciate your patience.”
No, no, no, this is not acceptable. IF we are getting another plane, why is there an “if” in that sentence, why? Breathe Nikki, breathe. Isn’t this about the time they should start handing out vodka or just hook us up to and IV of valium?
So we sit and we sit with no further news except for the occasional text message alert from the Airline saying we have been delayed and will now be departing at 10:10. No little text message, you are incorrect, it’s now 10:30 and we are still sitting here. As I am about to jump on board with the other passengers who are demanding to get off the plane (which is their right and a law) the elderly woman in my seat requests that her husband would now like the aisle and she will sit in the middle. I almost think out loud, Whoa, you mean like the seats we were assigned? Instead I nod my head in agreement and grab my back pack, set it in the aisle as they make their way out. The jean stalker lady looks at me and says”are you going with the bandwagon and getting off?” I shake my head back and forth and mumble “no, this lady wanted my seat when we got on and now she is giving it back.” She looks bummed and I grin as my knee throbs and I get in my window seat and breathe a sense of relief. Screw it; if this sick plane is going to go down I am going to be comfortable at least.
I did have thoughts that maybe I should get up and get off the plane. If it did crash, I would be the one on the news saying “Yeah, I just had a feeling I should get off and I am so glad I did.” As I sat pondering my options I decided it would be a hassle to get up and get off. I don’t want to be interviewed by any reporters or have people paying attention to me or just really any more interaction with people than I already have had today. I am on people and germs overload as it is. No, I am just going to sit here and take what happens in stride, even if we are plummeting towards the earth. I am tired, just plain worn out.
My daydreaming is interrupted with a new voice over the intercom saying “Thank you for your patience, this plane has been cleared by maintenance and we are waiting on new paperwork for the new pilots and then we will be on our way to Orange County.” HUH? The pilots jumped ship? I mean airplane, whatever. Where in the hell did they go? That dude said the plane was sick. Was he drunk, did he say “hell no, I am not flying that plane?” Did the airline just grab some random guy who said “sure, I’ll fly that plane” and they threw him a uniform and said “put it on and meet us at the plane, pretend you know what you are doing.” Oh yeah, I’m flipping out. I send Lori a text giving her the low down about how bad I am delayed so they aren’t sitting at the airport waiting for me to get there…three hours late. She responds by saying “the lady who took your seat should pay for your drinks.” I reply, “Fuck, she needs to buy me a Spec’s.”
We FINALLY push back 3 hours and 15 minutes after our scheduled departure date and sit next to the runway while they rev the engines for about 5 minutes. I am assuming to get all the fuel through the lines and let the plane know that instead of a retreat you are going to have to get up and go Mr. Plane, your Social Security has been denied and there’s no room at the Assisted Living Hangar. Sorry.They did explain that the other pilots timed out, whatever that means. I guess they were in trouble and had to go stand in the corner. Probably the corner in the one bathroom that is NOT working on the plane.
We finally are hauling ass down the runway and then in the air. The plane drops a little bit and I think, oh hell, we are going to crash and then I settle down and realize everything is fine. As the snack cart is approaching I definitely need something in my stomach. I mean, we did just almost die so I ask for the cheese and cracker thing and they are out. How about a sandwich? “Nope, we are out too.” Did you assholes sit back there the last 4 hours and eat up all of our food? Okay, “may I please have whatever you have left?” I have watched the flight attendant roll her eyes for 21 rows and I am no exception. I can only assume she is so miserable because she ate all of our food as she chunks me a box of Tapas. The drink lady looked at me like I should join an AA meeting when I asked for 2 drinks.In my head I am screaming “No really, I need two, I have been sitting on this plane for 5 hours now and all you have offered me is six ounces of water” but I say nothing and take my lecture like a preschooler. She tells me I will have to wait for the second round to order another and she can give me one. WHAT? Is this Junior High School? What in the world would it matter if I have one now and another in a little while? Geez. Oh and yes, they charged me for the second. That is why they wanted me to wait.
I finally make it to Cali some 9 hours later from my first arrival at the airport. I am excited to see my friends and even more excited to be out of that airport. As we drive off from the airport I wave a little middle finger gesture towards the United sign and when I see the ocean off in the distance, my blood pressure drops, my shoulders relax and I am finally okay.
My time there was flawless. We ate delicious food, relaxed; I got my ass up on a paddle board and liked it, a lot actually. I’m going to be pursuing that more and have the perfect person near the beach to enjoy it with. The plants were vibrant, I probably saw 70 different types of succulents, surfers were everywhere and fun to watch and most importantly I spent the perfect amount of time with two people I adore and their fur kids.
The flight home went off without a hitch (what does that even mean) and I landed on time. However, when I was approaching my seat, there was someone in it. I don’t know if it was my stare, the fact I kept my ear buds in and pointed and grunted as if I were deaf and mute, “MINE” but she got up and went to hers. Not this time people, not this time. My only gripe was the sweaty warm man sitting next to me on the bus back to the parking area. He had no choice but to touch me while we sat but I was not a fan. At this point I have exhausted my extrovert skills and I need time to recharge, in my room, alone with Sandido to take in how very wonderful my life is right now. I start the car to drive out of the parking area and I’ll be damned if “School’s out for Summer” doesn’t start playing. Who are you people that play that on a Monday night at 9:00 p.m. in November, who are you?
Be kind and expect the same people!