First, because we were at the mercy of the company who scheduled our trip, we did not have a straight flight to Florida. Instead, we flew home from Antigua to Florida via JFK Airport in New York. “Why?” you may ask. I have no idea.
When we got onboard, we had seats 8 A and B and 9 E and F. I had already told Mr. E that I would sit by the Goose for the first flight and he would be by the Beetle. Then, we would switch for the second flight. When I realized that row 8 was the bulk-head, I decided to be generous, so I gave that seat to the Mister. Okay, actually, here’s the truth. There was a Cameron Diaz look-alike sitting in seat 8 C, and I didn’t want to have to sit beside her for the whole flight. I figured that as my fat hip touched her skinny leg for hours, I would feel badly about myself, so I opted for row 9. Besides that, there was no one in 9 D, so there was a chance the Goose and I would have an extra seat.
As the passengers were getting on, it was looking hopeful. No one had taken 9 D. There was hope that we would not have anyone else in our row. The passengers had stopped coming, so I thought we were set. Then, one last passenger came on board. If only I could have gotten a picture for you. He was a tall, skinny man who had, for lack of the proper term, Reggae hair. His braids were tucked under his cap, causing a big bump under his hat in the back. The Goose got tickled because she was wearing her Antigua t-shirt. She kept looking at her shirt and looking at him and comparing the two. I had to tell her to stop because I kept laughing too.
The man ended up being very quiet. I wouldn’t say he was friendly. He never spoke, never smiled and never acknowledged us. When the Goose had to get up to go to the bathroom, he stood to let her out because his legs were too long for her to step over. I thanked him, but he did not acknowledge me. You might think, from his hairstyle, that he was a non-English speaking individual, but you would be wrong. His passport was from America, and his name was Edwin. (Okay. I peeked at his customs card.)
Edwin got progressively stuffed up as the flight progressed. He went from sniffling a little to sneezing and wiping his nose with the back of his hand constantly. I tried not to think about those movies where one person starts an epidemic that wipes out the whole nation. (Note to the authorities…if everyone living near me dies, it was Edwin who started it.)
We finally made it to New York. The Beetle and Mr. E got to see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building out their side of the plane. I was too busy watching Edwin to make sure he didn’t fall over on me to actually see anything.
We knew it would be a rush to get through customs, through the airport, back through security and onto our connecting flight. We had warned the kids to be ready to run, and they did a great job. We made it through the first customs checkpoint and to the luggage claim area to get our suitcase to be searched when the Goose said the dreaded words. No, it wasn’t, “I have to go to the bathroom.” That was me who said that. She said, “Oh no! I left my phone!”
The Goose just got her new phone last week for her 12th birthday, and so far, it has provided hours of entertainment. On the flight from Antigua, she put it in the pocket of the seat in front of hers. I told her not to forget it, and she said she “always” puts it there. (As though she flies so often.) I meant to remind her before we got off the plane, but I was busy trying to take a picture of Edwin. So, the Goose left her phone.
She started to panic, and I reminded her that panicking is not how we got things done. Instead, I told her to take a deep breath and we would see what could be done. I said a little prayer, and we went through customs. There, we did not even have to unzip a suitcase. So much for heightened security.
We found an American Airlines employee and asked what we should do about the phone. She directed us to Baggage Services, AKA Land of the Forgotten Luggage. The employee there said she was not sure what she could do but she would try. Meanwhile, we reminded her that we had precisely one hour to get the phone, get through security and find the gate for our plane. She again said she would see what she could do. After a few minutes on the phone and repeating, “Flight 818. No. 8. 1. 8,” four times, she said, “Here. I’ll let you talk to her.” She handed me the phone so the person on the other end could tell me that there was nothing she could do. I asked her why not, and she said she couldn’t get it done within an hour. I said, “So, what now?” and she said she didn’t know. I told her that this phone was my 12 year old little girl’s birthday present and it was a week old, and I asked her how she could help me out. She said to give her 10 minutes and to call back. After several more phone calls and many minutes of tension, the employee in the luggage office told us to go to our flight. She said to go through security and head to the gate. She said the employee would meet us at the innerline. We had no idea what that meant, but she said to ask any employee and they would know.
We took her advice and went through security. Thank goodness, there was no line. We stopped and asked the TSA agent where the innerline was, and he said he had no idea what that was. I thought maybe he just didn’t speak southern, so I tried to say it again in Yankee. He still didn’t know what I was talking about. I explained the situation, and he said to go to our gate and to see if they knew. We took his advice and headed toward the gate.
The gate agent had no idea what the innerline was. She made a phone call, and the employee said we were supposed to meet them back at customs at the Enter Line. That was not what we had been directed to do, but regardless, it was too late now. The agent was making the final boarding call for our flight. The agent asked the employee to bring the phone to the gate, but she also gave us contact information in case it didn’t get there in time.
We got on the plane and found our seats. At this point, I was pretty sure we would never see the phone again. Then, after holding my hands over my face and breathing deeply for a minute or two, I opened my eyes to find the gate agent heading down the aisle toward us. She had the phone. Halleluiah!
The most ironic part of the whole fiasco was the fact that we had just boarded the same exact plane that we got off. We landed at gate 41, walked around the airport to customs, walked back around the airport to security and walked back to gate 41. The phone had done a grand tour of the airport and had ended up right where it began. Except this time, it sat with us in row 25, a much more claustrophobic row than 8 or 9. While it seemed completely silly that it had to go so far to get back to us, we were just happy it did. The plane took off, and the Goose had her phone. We were headed home! (To be continued.) -Al