Monday, February 15, 2010
I had neatly trimmed down my carry-on items to one little Juicy sling purse and my train case filled with my jewelry, book, magazine and non-liquid makeup. I packed my large purse in my suitcase along with my liquid toiletries so I wouldn't have to move them into a baggie in the "bare it all" security line. I felt very put together, organized, prepared and ready to glide on down to the gate.
NOT SO FAST... I rolled my lovely blue Delsey suitcase over to the "self-check" inside. I approached the checkin screen and began entering my information. I had already printed my boarding pass at home to save time. Next, I attempted to lift my suitcase onto the scale. THE SCALE! OMG! I TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THE SCALE!!
The SWA checkin agent looked at me and said, "I'm sorry, but you're overweight. The weight limit is 50 lbs. Your suitcase weighs 61 lbs. Would you like to pay the extra $50 overweight baggage fee?" "No, I don't want to pay the extra $50 overweight baggage fee," I tried to calmly say. Oh, gosh, I just sunk down, embarrassed and at a loss at what to do.
I did not want to pay an extra $50 for my bag. I could buy a bag for less than that. So, my options were to eliminate 11 lbs. from my suitcase or go buy another suitcase and come back. Leaving and coming back was the last thing that I wanted to do. I just wanted out of there! Two bags fly free on SWA... but bags over 50 lbs cost an extra $50. Truly, I was so peeved with myself for packing so much, and I was so hot with embarrassment, that all I could think to do was to start unloading my suitcase.
Lucky for me, I had my giant, bright blue, brand new Coach bag (brand name dropping is appropriate when going to L.A. It just fits the L.A. profile, right?!) packed in my suitcase, and it was EMPTY. So, I began stuffing it with my curling iron, my flatiron, my camera, heavy sweaters (it might be cold in L.A.), and extra coats (it's possible that it could be really cold in LA). I re-zipped my suitcase and plopped, ok heaved, it back up on the scale... 55 lbs! OMG! Now I can feel the sweat running down my back. I'm trying to remain calm and coolheaded, but I felt so silly. I keep thinking to myself, "You're 40. You're a grownup. You don't need to be embarrassed. Just keep your cool. I want my MOM!"
Back down on my knees again with my suitcase, I unzipped it and pulled out more things. My giant Coach bag did not seem so giant anymore. Clothes were now spilling over the top. Once again, I re-zipped and hoisted that damn (cussing is okay too when you're going to LA) bag up on the scale. Ahhh... 54 lbs. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME?!
A third time, I knelt down and pulled socks, boots and shoes out... stacking them atop the other things in my now tiny looking Coach bag. Back to the scale went my stupid, huge, "why did I bring this" bag... 51 lbs! SERIOUSLY?! The kind SWA agents who had been watching me, said, "don't worry about it... we'll give you that extra pound." They then slapped a lovely red striped sticker on my ridiculous bag that read: HEAVY.
I stood up, thanked the SWA agents (they really were kind) and realized I no longer had my boarding pass. Perfect. All I wanted to do was to get out of there and to my gate. Graciously, the SWA printed me a fresh, new boarding pass and sent me on my sweaty way now carrying an extra 11 lbs. all balancing atop spilling my lovely,bright blue, brand new Coach bag :) I am so NOT L.A.!
Before going through security, I went to a gift shop and bought a small duffle to stuff my extra 11 lbs into. The duffle was a reasonable $9.99... better than $50! (Actually, looking back, I think the $50 might have been a well-spent $50.) Then I took my tidy little Juicy sling purse and put it into my Coach bag. Now, I had a duffle, a giant blue purse and my train case in tow... heading toward security-- Instead of being the wonderfully put together and prepared passenger, I am now the one that you don't want to be behind in line.
Lucky for me, though, there was a mom a few passengers in front of me traveling with two small children, one asleep in the stroller. She picked him up, still asleep, and then attempted to fold her stroller, get everything out of her pockets, load her purse, diaper bag and her other child's backpack onto the belt of shame... (truly, going through security is a humbling experience for most of us -- undressing ourselves, removing our shoes and piling up all of our belonging for everyone to see.) This process took her a good, full 5 minutes. I could have helped only I was balancing my 11 extra pounds and waiting for room on the moving belt.
At any rate, I made it through security with no "beeps" or "bleeps" for that matter. Onward, I proceeded with my extra 11 lbs and headed to SWA gate C-17. There are 21 gates in the C Terminal at BNA, and if you're familiar with the airport, it's a hike to the end. After a stop for a Blue Coast Burrito (yum) to go and a trip to the Ladies' room, I began my stroll to gate C-17. Lucky for me, Mom had dropped me off at the airport with plenty of time to spare. So, my suitcase escapades had at least not made me run for the gate.
Arriving at gate C-17, hot and sweaty (again), by this point, I found it odd that so few people were going to L.A., and I found it even stranger that there was no gate agent, terminal check-in or marquee with my flight status. It was at that moment that my memory returned to me, and it dawned on me that my gate was C-7, not C-17. I knew this in my head, but for some flighty :) reason, I just had just trotted on down to C-17... Thinking to myself, "Well, at least I'm getting some exercise," was actually of very little solace to me at this point.
My arms are KILLING me. I smell like a burrito, and I am sweating again... I calmly and cooly look around as though I had come to gate C-17 to find someone (like anyone is paying attention to me anyway... like they are so concerned at why this girl is here with so much stuff). Having not found the person I was looking for, I gathered my 11 lbs that now felt like 50 lbs and headed to gate C-7, which I had so swiftly and determinedly passed earlier... so I could sit down at gate C-17.
All I'm thinking is, "I just have to get on that plane. Get me OUT OF HERE!" Walking up to gate C-7, I ran into friends heading to L.A., and I threw up on them -- not literally -- I just had to find some sympathy from someone, and these friends were the lucky ones. Graciously, they listened to my morning adventure and even made me feel better by saying that they too had overpacked before...
Our flight began boarding, and since my friends had children, they went ahead of me. The flight was full, overcrowded even. Some got off to make room for others. I found a window seat toward the back next to an older couple who greeted me with, "Oh, thank God, you're small! I really didn't want to sit next to someone who's really big. You'll do just fine." "Well, golly, ma'am. Thank you very much. I'm flattered?"
As grateful as I was to finally be aboard the flight and ready to go, I don't like sitting in a full row, on a full plane, especially next to the window, but I took the opportunity to keep to my "little" self, eat my burrito (worth every bite) and chug down as much H2O as possible --
Our flight from Nashville to L.A., albeit a full 40 minutes ahead of schedule, lasted around 4 hours. The captain kept the "fasten your seatbelt" light on for almost all 4 of those hours. I was DYING. The "delightful" couple sitting next to me, were sound asleep -- He with his pillow and eye mask, her with her jaw dropped open and head bobbing and jerking every time it hung to far too the right. My bladder was about to EXPLODE. I was stuck.
Seriously, I thought I was going to throw up on the lady next to me -- and not with a story this time. I was nauseous. I practiced my kegels for 3 hours. I couldn't look at a magazine. I couldn't read my book. I kept crossing and recrossing my legs. I even prayed, "God please, please, please tell the captain to turn off that seatbelt light." I sent mental telepathy waves. I prayed and prayed and prayed. Then, I think I passed out... not really, but I did sleep a little which took my mind off of it.
I wasn't the only one needing to go to the bathroom. Folks were getting up right and left. As soon as someone did, the intercom would crackle, and the flight attendant would kindly remind the passengers to remain seated while the fasten your seatbelt sign was on. "It is on for a reason, ladies and gentlemen."
Oh my gosh, I'm gonna die of a bladder infection. Finally, that "ding" of freedom that I'd been praying for rang in my ears. The couple next to me gently awoke from their lovely nap, and with as much calm as I could maintain, I asked them to please let me out. On any other day, in any other circumstance, it would not have mattered, but this couple took sooo long to get out of their seats that by the time I got to the back bathroom there was a line 6 people deep and only one lavatory.
Of course, there was a lavatory up front, but you risk being handcuffed and tackled to the ground if you dare "loiter" near the lavatory... forming a line in front of the plane is strictly prohibited. Grandpa, though, the sleeping beauty in my row, managed to meander right up to the front of the plane and get into the bathroom while I stood and waited... sweet relief.
GET ME TO L.A.!
Landing 40 minutes early in L.A. was great. I was so excited to get off that plane and on to the hotel. I waited at baggage claim for my HEAVY labeled blue bag. It nearly drug me to the ground as I tried to get it off the turning belt. No one helped me. I then promptly ripped the HEAVY tag off and went on my merry way.. Because Don had meetings that day, I had to take a cab to Hermosa Beach where we were staying. All of my 61 lbs + waited with me in the taxi queue.
I hailed my cab, handed over my baggage for him to load and plopped myself down in the backseat and put on my sunglasses (it's the L.A. cool factor, right?). The cabbie climbed in and said, in his Jamaican accent, "Where to?" I gave the driver the hotel address in Hermosa Beach. We headed out of the terminal.
Before we got out of LAX, the driver was asking me if I knew where I was going. "Well, yes, I know where I'm going. I just gave you the address." Ahhh.... he didn't mean did I have the address. He meant did I actually know HOW to get there.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! MY CAB DRIVER DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO GET TO MY HOTEL. ISN'T THAT WHY I'M IN A CAB?!
Thank God, truly, for my iPhone GPS. I began entering the address into my phone as we merge into the L.A. traffic. Mom calls in. I put her on speaker phone so I can give directions to the driver. This was not a good plan. I don't know where the hell I am. "Seriously," I'm thinking. "I am going to have to tell him how to get to the hotel for real!" I had to tell Mom I'd call her back later.
Honestly, I had to give the cab driver turn-by-turn directions to a place that I'd never been in a city I had only been driven through a couple of times years ago. Thank the good Lord, though, we arrived at the Hermosa Beach Club safe and sound... a mere 5 miles from LAX.
Ironically, as I was climbing out of the cab, the driver said, "Oh, there was a much better way to go than the way you took me." (seriously?!) I looked up at the cabbie and said with a polite Southern accent and maintained composure (How I drew up these powers, I do not know), "Well, you didn't know how to get here. I didn't know how to get here. Lucky for us, I had GPS, and we just followed what it said. We did the best we could, and here we are. Now, the next time someone asks you to take them to Hermosa Beach, you'll know where to go."
I then grabbed my 61 lbs of "must-have's" and headed for the trip of a lifetime...
Posted by Laura Lyn Donahue at 5:20 PM