by Megan Cummings
The Holidays, what visiting family is for, if they agree to pardon the restraining order. The Holidays, what love and good cheer is for, if one avoids wallet nabbing moral lechers. And, ah, the Holidays, what hellish travel stories are for, if one ever gets there.
I have the amazing ability of getting stranded in airports. I guess looking 16 and pathetic has its advantages, otherwise I would have gotten mugged sleeping outside of some airport years ago. And so I keep traveling despite my ill luck of picking connecting flights that never connect.
I missed out on Christmas with my folks last year, so I made early plans to head up to Oregon this year for some actual festivities and winter-like weather patterns. As a semi-last minute decision, my boyfriend (referred to as the ‘sucker’ henceforth, or just Glen) was suckered into accompanying me. (Interrogation is good for personal reflection, right?) I was unable to secure the same travel arrangements I had for myself, so he was booked on the flight out before mine.
So happy, happy we go off to the airport. Glen gets on the plane and I take the truck to run a few errands before my later flight. My first stop is Eegee’s, because Sierra Vista doesn’t have Eegee’s and I figured a nice sugar injection would help my travels go smoother. (I am sugar intolerant- I go berserk for about an hour and then fall asleep). I of course have to be wearing the most inconvenient pair of pants I own for traveling. No pockets. So when I use the restroom, I set my billfold on the paper towel dispenser. I use the facilities, wash my hands, and walk out. I go back to my table to nurse my addiction and watch a lady go into the restroom. A few seconds later my brain produces a singular electrical impulse and I remember my wallet. I go in as she’s walking out only to find its GONE.
Trying to remain calm, I check my table, the truck, everything. I’m quite sure this lady has taken it and so I am racing around the store like a hamster on speed while she is enjoying her lunch. I finally get the guts up to approach her and in my most non-confrontational voice ask, “Uh, I left my wallet in the restroom, did you see it?”
This her reply, verbatim, “If I saw it, I would have given it to you.” Hmm, how would she have known it was mine unless she was watching me?
Panic is causing my tear ducts to spasm, pumping out precious electrolytes. I have no identification, my boyfriend is on the plane to Oregon, and I don’t think they are going to let me get through the front of the airport without it. I’m starting to think of how lonely Christmas is going to be with me in a bar. I explain to the manager my situation, including that I’m quite sure this lady has my wallet. He hands me a phone and walks out to smoke.
I again approach the lady, “You’re SURE you didn’t see my wallet? I really need my ID to get on a plane in about two hours.”
“I wouldn’t steal your wallet. I’m on probation,” she says. Those are her exact words. She’s on probation. Well, at this point I’m pretty sure I know why she’s on probation.
So I call the police. He says I have no probable cause because I didn’t SEE her take the wallet. He asks if I can see it on her. Frankly, if she was hoarding a jet engine I wouldn’t have known. Either she had some genetic issues, or she had shoplifted an auto parts store. I explain this to him and he says the soonest he can get anyone out there would be three hours.
I decide to resort to bribery. I again approach the lady and whisper conspiratorially, “Look, you can keep the money, I don’t care, I just really really need my ID.”
“I don’t have it.”
“I won’t tell anyone, I promise.”
Frustrated at having made a non-violent contract with myself, I stomp out of the store and throw a tantrum in the parking lot in front of the chain-smoking manager who needs to pull his pants over his underwear. He reminded me of the guys I chased down with my truck just for the entertainment value of watching them try to pull their pants up while running.
By the time I make it to the airport I must’ve looked either dangerous or really disturbed because the ticket agent simply wrote “no ID” on my ticket and sent me off. After being thoroughly searched at the checkpoint I make it to my gate, beginning to relax. I was no longer in crisis mode and the sugar high was dumping me into the chasm of nonchalance. At the gate I discover that my flight has been delayed due to a dust storm in Phoenix.
My simple solution was to wander to the bar and amuse myself with amber brew. (See Phil’s solutions in the previous newsletter) However, I had no ID. True Christmas spirit existed in the couple who provided me with four beers. By the time I got to Phoenix I was exceptionally mellow, which made it much easier for me to handle the news that I had missed my connecting flight.
I was handling it all quite nicely until the ticket agent said the next flight they could get me on was the morning after the next morning, and no, they weren’t going to put me up in a hotel. So Niagra re-routed itself through my eye sockets. Concerned that I was disturbing the other 50 customers in line, the ticket agent asked, “Well, how old are you?”
I hate lying, but at that point my morals were shot. “Seventeen,” I said, looking up at her with my sweetest, most innocent eyes. So I stayed in a hotel that night and caught a flight to Seattle the next morning.
Meanwhile, unsuspecting Glen arrived in Portland by himself to be picked up by my father whom he’s never met. I am the third of three daughters, so my parents have got the interrogation thing down. It wouldn’t stretch my imagination much to envision my parents stringing electrodes to him.
Fortunately, all goes well the next morning and I was greeted by my parents, and Glen, (which meant they didn’t turn the voltage up too high) and the airline industry was spared my wrath.
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