Oh, the crying. You see, this was the Goose’s first airplane ride, and she was convinced that she had a fear of flying. Why? Who knows? She probably saw it on a Disney show. Whatever the source, she now had a self-imposed fear, and real or not, it was extreme.
Yesterday, we tried to check in 24 hours ahead of time online to get our seat assignments. That’s what you have to do now. You have to log in 24 hours (exactly!) in advance and pick your seats. So, we logged in yesterday right on time, and there were precisely three remaining seats on the plane available, unless we wanted to pay $18 per seat. Since there were four of us flying, we were pretty sure this was just a scheme to get us to pay extra, so we decided to wait until we reached the airport to get seats and to let the chips (or more precisely, our butts) fall where they may. We showed up at the airport without assigned seats, hoping to beg the gate agent to have mercy on our souls.
I had prepared the Goose ahead of time. I told her just to imagine herself sitting between two strangers on the flight. That way, if it worked out as such, she wouldn’t be so freaked out. When we reached the airport, the Beetle and I joked about who we would end up sitting between. He picked out a very large man with a beer belly and an old woman with big hair. I chose a woman wearing a red hat who was carrying an ugly pack of flowers and a man with a beard and tank top. I also threw in that I would be on the last row in the seats where you can’t lean your seat back and everyone bumps you on the way to the bathroom. The Goose said she was okay, no matter where she ended up sitting. That was until we checked in.
At check-in, we were given four seats near each other but not beside each other. They were all four aisle seats, so I was relieved. At least we would not have to be wedged between two other people. Two of the aisle seats would be across from each other, so someone could hold the Goose’s hand across the aisle. (The Mister and I would have to draw straws to see who that would be.) I told her what good news this was that at least one of us would be across from her, and she burst into tears. She was totally freaking out about having to sit by someone she did not know. I reminded her of our discussions about this very thing, but she would not be consoled. I reminded her that we did not cry over things we couldn’t control, but she rejected my stance on the subject. The man at the baggage area said to talk to the gate agent and that maybe he or she could help.
This all happened while Mr. E was driving back to the hotel and parking the suburban. He joined us, and we went through security where we were forever scarred by the poor old lady taking her shirt off.
I told the Goose to keep the tears coming as we got closer to the gate. I told her the gate agent might just buy how sweet and innocent she looked with her swollen little eyes and puffy nose. The child is a dramatic genius, I tell you. She looked so pitiful by the time we reached the gate that I almost bought the act.
We got to the gate, and the agent took one look at us and called us by name. He must have heard we were coming. He said he had four seats all together ready for us. Bless his pea-pickin’ heart. I silently took a vote at that very moment about who would get the seat between the kids and who would take the aisle seat by the strangers. It was a unanimous vote that the Mister got the middle. When he protested, I told him he should have voted.
We boarded the flight and found out seats in, you guessed it, row 30, the last row on the plane. The Goose, Mr. E and the Beetle all sat together. I sat across from them beside the lady with the red hat and the ugly flowers. I called that one correctly!
We landed and went on to have lunch and wait at the gate for our next leg of the trip to Jamaica. We had a long layover, but it went by quickly, what with buying the $50 lunch and the $20 milkshakes.
At the gate, I told the Goose to turn on the tears again as we approached the gate agent. She was amazing with her quivering chin. I really need to get that kid into acting. We were given seats together, with the Beetle, Mr. E and the Goose on one side of the aisle and me on the other side in an aisle seat. We were, of course, in aisle 30. This time, God was smiling down on us. No one was seated beside me, so the Goose moved to the window seat on my side of the plane. Both little darlings got a window seat and all was right with the world.
Then, I heard the words I so longed to hear, “Welcome to Jamaica, mon.” Oh, wait, that was just the Beetle saying that phrase for the hundredth time of the day, in his fake Jamaican accent, just to make the Goose squeal. As I was writing this story, I was still on the plane, but I knew I would be in Jamaica soon to start the trip of a lifetime. I wasn’t sure what the trip would hold, but I knew for sure that it would be anything but average. –Al