Thursday, August 24, 2006

Home Sweet Home

I was up before the birds in Boston this morning, expecting to arrive in New Orleans about noon, local time. Sr. Mary Frances, who is an extraordinary minister of Communion, led a Communion service, since there was no way I could attend Mass on this feast of an Apostle (the might-as-well-be anonymous, two-named Bartholomew/Nathaniel, about whom we know nothing except "Cana in Galilee"). Then the same dear sister took me to the airport. I was a good two and a half hours early, both to ensure calm nerves about getting through lines on time and to allow Sr. Frances to make it home in time for the community Mass. Well! The line to check in wasn't so bad. It would have been better if they had more than three computers available, but it was relatively quick, and Boston Logan has "in line" scanning of checked baggage, so they take your bags right onto the belt when you check in: no lugging humongous suitcases to a separate area (and line) for bomb-sniffing. So far, so good, "Ahh," I thought, "I'll get to the gate area early enough to pray a good while and take care of other things as well." Little did I suspect...
First, it was the security line snafu. Seems the line I waited in to show my passport, etc., was not the proper line for my gate, even though I followed all the signs. Nope, it was all the way down. So down I went. Just as I opened up my passport case to begin the shoe-shedding, laptop revealing process, I saw another sign: "No restrooms past this point."
Wait a minute. I had two hours before boarding. No way. After verifying that the sign was dead serious, I had to revise my plans. Part of the revision included breakfast. I backtracked a football field or two toward a restaurant and got a breakfast pannino (I refuse to use a plural form for something that is singular: one pannino, two pannini!). That and a cup of coffee set the Daughters back $8, but I figured it would last me through 1:00 p.m. (noon, New Orleans time). Made my meditation while enjoying the tasty, toasted sandwich and a cup of very strong coffee, and then trundled my stuff outside to pray a rosary. Got too cold (autumn is definitely in the air: you can smell it), and sat inside to read 1 Corinthians. My nerves being what they are (Dad and I are alike in our anxiety about missing planes and deadlines), I went through the infamous gate area and continued my prayer, or attempts thereat, given the drone of CNN airport news in the not-so-very background. My itinerary was to take me through LaGuardia, with a very quick (quick for post-911 times) transfer time to a New Orleans flight. There were minor hitches in this shuttle flight to NY, but we landed in a good timeframe, and the flight pattern allowed me my first-ever fly-over of Manhattan, with a bird's eye view of Ground Zero. Just the way things must have looked for the people on those hijacked planes: the vast city, the water, the speed... I prayed for those souls and for their families.
Once we landed,  we stayed on the tarmac so long before being allowed to stop at a gate! I (worst-case scenario without the terror part) was making all sorts of acts of surrender to the will of God about missing my connection. But it seemed it was going to work out! We got to the gate. I did NOT zip past the elderly woman in the jetway. I found a screen which listed my connecting gate, in another terminal. I tried to figure out where that other terminal was... That was not so good. To get to the terminal, I and my fellow travelers had to leave the security-screened area, go through a public access hall and then go through the whole security process AGAIN! A man to my left was an American Airlines employee, and he didn't know about this ridiculous set up. He did not mince words in expressing himself. The young lady directly in front of me in the line (this is 5 minutes after my plane was to have started boarding and the line had mysteriously stopped moving several people ahead) did not know about the new no-gel, no-liquid, no-water, no-eye drops, no-applesauce, etc. rules, and was trying to convince the TSA screener to let her keep her makeup. Now I was getting nervous that I would miss my plane AND that my laptop would be pushed off the conveyor belt (happened to someone I know)! I have a system for what I put on the belt when, so--shoes first. Grab, put on feet, leave untied. Laptop case, grab, prop open. Backpack, slip on. Laptop, grab, slip in case, RUN! Well, walk with quick and sure steps (after all, the shoes are untied). (Fifteen minutes into boarding.) I got to the gate as the final announcement was made "all rows, all groups." AHHH. "Jesus! We're going to make it! Thanks!" I continued with St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians as the first announcements were made. LaGuardia to New Orleans, flying time 2 hours, 45 minutes... Minor electrical problems. "They're working on it as I speak."
And they kept working on it. An hour later, we were being led off the plane. Where to? We found out when we got back into the gate area, and all headed to a new plane at a new gate for a new departure time--12:20 p.m.  I had enough time to get something to hold me over (we were all beginning to wilt already), and that flight did finally take off, 40 minutes later than posted. By the time I landed in New Orleans, it was 4 p.m, Eastern Time.
Maybe I should have had pannini for breakfast...


Karen said...

See, that's why you shouldn't get there two hours early!

That all sounds familiar. You needed one of those non-English speaking ill-tempered women in green jackets who were so helpful in Madrid.

Glad you made it. Say "hi" to the folks from me. Miss you!

Lisa said...

Just glad you made it safely!

Anonymous said...

If there were an Oscar for mastery of the understatement/overstatement the name Karen would already be engraved upon it.