Modern travel is an exercise in emotional control. Witness the emotional rollercoaster on which I rode en route from Lima to Atlanta:
1. Arrive at Lima Airport, where the line to check in at Delta is like 6 hours long. Lower lip quivers.
2. I'm PLATINUM, biatch! Skip to business queue, wait 5 minutes, get free pass to fancy lounge. Big smile. (Especially after free wifi is secured!)
3. Time to board! Cool I'm Zone 2! This means I will definitely have space for my wheelie bag. I win!
4. I get called to board quite quickly, give the guy my boarding pass and I'm about to board. NOT. A last-minute security desk has been hastily installed right in between the ticket desk and the jetway. And the woman decides I look like trouble. So much for getting space in the overhead bin. I open all my stuff AGAIN as this woman paws through my trashy magazines. She asks me stupid questions about if I have coins in my bag three times. Ugh! My rollercoaster has hit rock bottom and I'm seriously peeved. I huff my way onto the plane behind like 60 other people, a little black cloud forming over my head.
5. Score! My seat is in front! Doh! This means I REALLY need the overhead bin, not just for my wheelie bag but for everything. I find space a few seats back and sit down, spending the next 15 minutes dodging swinging bags and being stepped on. But it's ok... in 15 minutes it will be over and I have more legroom than anyone. Things are looking up.
6. A woman appears at the door and I hear her say my name. Instant panic. They're going to pull me off the plane for being rude to the last-minute security lady! I will never get to San Diego! I avert my eyes and try to camouflage myself into the seat. But she looks right at me and says... "Miss Sadler, your seat is in business class, please follow me." HAHAHAHA security lady! You thought you could get me! Current state: somewhere between hysteria and delirium.
7. I don't remember any of the flight, really. In the first few minutes I helped an ancient Peruvian man with shaking hands and hearing aids fill out his immigration forms. Then I konk out for the rest of the flight. I wake up for long enough for the old man to tell me I'm an angel, which leads me to help him try to get a wheelchair after getting off the plane. And this is where I get really pissed. People working in Atlanta airport are so rude. As I walked with the man toward immigration I asked two people WHO WERE PUSHING WHEELCHAIRS TOWARD OUR GATE if they might be for him or if they might radio for someone to send one for him. One flat out ignored me. The next yelled over her shoulder something unintelligible. I finally found a bunch of wheelchairs with an airport guy standing nearby, and when I asked if he could help the man through security with a wheelchair, he suggested that I take care of the man all the way to his next flight. Hmmm. Interesting. First of all, he is Peruvian, I am not. We can't even wait in the same immigration line. Second, I don't know this man. I'm happy to help him, but I'm afraid I can't be responsible for both of us making our flights to separate cities, including collecting and rechecking everyone's luggage. Fortunately the guy understood and now I can only hope that the old Peruvian guy is on his way to New York. The immigration people were even more rude, if that's possible. My blood was boiling by the time I got to baggage claim....
8. Where I saw a beagle sniffing everyone's stuff. No! He will find my contraband ham sandwich! I am so illegal! Minor panic.
9. But my bags are the first ones off! Instant relief as I skirt the beagle (and laugh at him, just a little) and sling my bags onto a trolley and head for bag recheck and security. Woo hoo, ever closer to San Diego now!
10. Security, by the way, smells absolutely disgusting. I am grumpy as I am told to take off practically all my clothes and open every bag I have with me. But I get less grumpy once I think about the fact that I only have to endure this agony for a few minutes. The security people who work there have to smell stinky feet (we're talking cheese feet here) with absolutely no ventilation for EIGHT HOURS. I pity them, even though they annoy me.
11. And that brings me to here, gate A30, stocked with trashy magazines the likes of which I haven't seen in 6 weeks, and full of my contraband Peruvian ham sandwich (illegal stuff just TASTES better!) and a big coffee. Only four and a half hours separate me from 2 weeks in paradise. I'm happy to be back in summer, happy to be back in San Diego, happy to have two more weeks still before.... work starts! Current mood: sheer fright! Hahaha.
A final note: On my way to my gate I saw an enormously obese man wearing a humongous t-shirt that read, in big block letters, "SIZE DOES MATTER." Shocking.