Monday, August 4, 2008

Airport Bardo

I wakened this morning thanking God Almighty that I was in my own bed. I’ve just returned from ten days of intense travel: a ho’oponopono workshop in Woodland Hills, California; visits to my in-laws; a sandwich stay in Santa Fe with my ex-husband and best friend.

The trip was, of course, bookended by air travel. By the final taxi ride, I was certain that Murphy’s indubitable law of things going wrong was the ONLY operative one!

The trip to Burbank wasn’t too bad. It could have been because I was so looking forward to seeing my best friend from high school. She’s a friend with whom I don’t need to speak regularly and then, when we see one another again, we’re right back on the same page. Sari’s one of the favorite beings in my life.

I got on an earlier flight than I’d originally planned on Sunday—it should have made my arrival in Albuquerque more than three hours earlier than originally planned. Instead, we flew from Burbank to Phoenix, and there was a mechanical problem with the plane. Mechanical problems happen, I know. Then, US Airways “couldn’t find” (I quote) another plane that was working. Then, when they did, they didn’t have a pilot, so they flew one in from Philadelphia! (And just how Philadelphia is on the way to or from Phoenix, I still haven’t quite figured out!) Even though I paid an additional $65 to get to Albuquerque more than three hours earlier, I arrived ten minutes before I would have had I not made the changes.

Never mind.

The pièce de résistance was the trip from Albuquerque to Boston. We got up at 4 AM, showered and blew into a cab for a 6 AM departure. The flight to Dallas wasn’t bad.

When we got off the plane in Dallas, however, they’d cancelled our flight to Boston. Just summarily. No reason was given. For what it’s worth, if the gate agent had simply said to us, “You know, we at American Airlines are committed to doing everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint; the plane just wasn’t full enough to justify the fuel,” we might have at least felt like we were doing our bit for God and country. But no, she had no excuse, and didn’t seem to need to make one. And I’m not saying she was rude, for she wasn’t, she was charming as all Texas.

She waitlisted us for a 10 AM flight and put us on a 12:45 flight. There was no way we would be put on the 10 AM (we were numbers 15 and 16 on an oversold flight) which I figured out after we schlepped through half the airport and talked to another (more honest?) gate agent. She put us on an 11:35 flight. Why didn’t the first one? So we schlepped some more and got on and took off on time.

Okay . . . we’re on our way home. But are we?

The toilet began to stink almost immediately after take-off and it got worse and worse throughout the trip. As we were nearing our destination, Boston got the weather weirds. We were about to run out of fuel, so we had to put down in Hartford to get more. They kept us locked in the plane with the odoriferous head for 90 minutes. Oh, we’d gotten the fuel we needed but things were iffy in Boston still, or someone needed to clear us or whatever; the pilot was so inept with the microphone that all we heard was buzz-buzz-buzz-Boston-buzz-buzz. Finally, we take off again thinking it’s a spit till we’re in a cab on the way to our happy home.

Oh no. The luggage doesn’t get taken off the plane and put on its delivery spinner for 50 minutes—count ʼem, folks!—five-oh minutes. By the time we get both our suitcases . . . mine was one of the last off-loaded . . . get into a gypsy cab and go tearing through the tunnel to Somerville, we’re toast. No, we’re bread crumbs.

We staggered up the seventeen steps to our front door at 8 PM. Our original ETA had been 3.

Amazingly, this morning I was considering a little cosmic math. If ever we are called to do time in the Bardo, that in-between Heaven and Hell purgatory, we can faithfully point to our Sunday with American Airlines and affirm that we’ve already done it!

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