Infrequent flyer miles

I woke up this morning 4 hours before my alarm. I’m flying to San Francisco today and I’m a bit of a nervous flyer.

I double check my carry-on to make sure I’m following all TSA regulations. I do not want to be singled out.

I pee. And then again about 6 more times before I leave the house. What is it about nervousness and the need to empty my bladder?

Donnie loads my suitcase in the car while I check my purse for the 10th time.

As we drive up to the airport Donnie points out all the construction. The incomplete state of the airport only heightened my nerves as I imagine balls being dropped by shady contractors and that somehow that may affect my flight.

I couldn’t figure out how to pre-check-in from the itinerary I was sent because there was no confirmation number. I had to wing it (pardon the pun). I hate winging it. Donnie told me to make sure to let him know when I had checked in that all was good. I think all the pacing and peeing got him a little nervous too.

I walk up to United self check in. I’m not sure I’m qualified for this but I proceed. And by proceed I mean, read and re-read the instructions while I fumble through my purse to find my ID. Sensing my pathetic incompetence, a latino man offers to help. “Thank you for choosing United. Ju have a beautiful smile, can I help you?”

I accept, trying not to look too stupid. He shows me how to use the incredibly simple device and says “Ju got it from here, right?”

I nod, looking at the two questions on the screen and having no idea whether I’m over 13 or if I am traveling with an infant. I panic and hit the answers, remembering that I am an adult and looking around to make sure I didn’t have Riley. He checks on me again and asks if I know where I need to go. “Yes” I say in my big girl voice. Wow, I’m a blubbering idiot.

I run outside to tell Donnie I’m good, kiss my babies, and feeling naked without my 40-pound suitcase, I head up toward my gate.

But wait.. There will be no relaxing at the gate yet. It’s TSA time. I know it sounds like a fun song like “It’s Hammer time!” But I assure you, this was not fun.

I show my ID and ticket and he tells me “Don’t worry about removing your shoes and jacket. This is a special line and we have Ninja technology” (It wasn’t actually called that but I can’t remember what it was called).

So I confidently step toward the Ninja scanner 5000. The TSA agent tells me to put my shoes and jacket in the bucket. “Oh and your scarf too. And probably your belt and watch.” I want to question the Ninja technology but I’m on a mission to not be singled out. I comply.

I walk through the metal detector unscathed! I made it! I look around. No one cares.

I go to grab my belongings from my buckets and the ray-of-sunshine TSA lady slides my bucket out of my reach and says unapologetically, “Sorry. We need to keep the line moving.” As if I were wandering aimlessly through the airport bottlenecking her line.

Irritated at my choice of tennis shoes over slip ons, I contemplated walking all the way to my gate in my socks. Instead I sit down on the paper thin carpet and put on my shoes. As I drape my scarf and pull on my jacket I’m wondering why I even got dressed before I came to the airport.

I trudge on. Checking my purse three times on the way to my gate.

I see a friendly face. Yes! The meeting planner booked me with another coworker because she knew I was a nervous flyer.

She asks me what seat I’m in, I check my ticket. It says, “See agent.” Shit! She says, “You better check in, it’s an overbooked flight, you may not get on.” I go into panic mode and hit the bathroom again before asking about my seat. It was no big deal, I just went up there and got an actual ticket, not a stupid “means to a ticket” with no seat number and no hope to get on the plane. Thank you friendly face for the unnecessary uncertainty.

Finally, I’m on the plane. I stow my purse and electronics. I look for my seat belt thinking I had to get buckled quickly. I mean, I only have 20 minutes. I don’t have a seat belt. What the hell?! There is no seat belt on my seat?! Noticing my short breaths, the guy next to me unbuckled his seat belt and handed me mine, which he was sitting on. the. whole. time.

I’m buckled. My things are stowed. I’m holding a water. “Is this legal?” Oh well, I’m thirsty… and now I have to pee again.

The pilot talks over the speaker. He sounds like a guy I dated in high school. I have no confidence in this pilot. Since when do we let people my age fly airplanes?? He’s saying something about possible turbulence (gulp) and names some ungodly number of feet that we will soaring through the air. Why do they do that? As if I’d be like, “um… I wondering how many thousands of feet we’ll be up in the air this time.” It’s useless. It’s only purpose is to reassure me that, if we crash, I’m a goner.

We take off. Suddenly, I can’t hold my head up. How is everyone holding their heads up?! I lean back trying not look nervous, which may be making me look a little more constipated than the “relaxed” look I was going for. “It’s ok. It’s just a normal day everybody.”

I’m lightheaded. Am I breathing? There. I breathed. It’s was one of those breaths that stay in your chest. I try to see the ground from my crappy, last minute aisle seat. The guy next to me is reading, all nonchalant. He probably thinks I’m into him because I keep looking his way, around him and out the window. Breathe. There’s the ground. This is helping. There’s no way that’s 35,000 feet.

The flight chick bumps my elbow for the 18th time without apologizing. I know she feels it. I have sharp elbows meant for a basketball player. However, my sharp elbow is inside the armrest. How does this keep happening? It’s ok, keep walking. No problem. I’ll get her next time, we’ll see if she keeps walking.

The 30-year-old I once saw do a keg stand announces over the speaker that I can now use my electronics and mentions the thousands of miles again. Is this a point of pride?

I pull out my phone to listen to a funny book I bought to ease my flying tension. A message on my phone reads, “You must have internet connection to use this app.” Really Audible? Really?!”

As the flight waitress spills and then proceeds to wipe water from her cart into my hair (now I have to pee again) I pull out my iPad thinking, “I guess I’ll just write a blog post.”

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