Posted by: jility | January 9, 2011

ZEE PLANE!!! ZEE PLANE!!!

The plane touched down in Las Vegas about 45 minutes after we left LAX. The sky was a bit overcast but The Strip was as spectacular as always. I walked the short distance to my next gate and waited to board the small prop plane for Santa Rosa. I walked down the aisle to seat 16D and, as I approached, I freaked. There in 16C was an ENORMOUS man taking up more than his share of the two seat row. I stood there staring at him and thought my inside voice was talking in my head but then I heard these words come out of my mouth, “BUMMER! This isn’t going to work!” His face just looked blankly back at me. I felt like a real ass. WIth my engorged self and his enormity, I would have had one cheek on the seat and one in the aisle! Then this very lean man comes down the aisle behind me (you could board from the front or the rear of the plane) and, before seeing who was next to me says, “Are YOU supposed to be in 17D?” Without missing a beat I said, “NOPE,16D” and started to get up. The lean man, obviously in a hurry and a huff, then saw the size of the man with whom he would be sharing a seat for the next hour and a half and said,”Oh, never mind, I will just take your seat in 16D!” NO WAY was I going to let him get away with this one! He started to rush to put his things in my seat and I just pushed by him and said, Thank you but I will take my own seat and sat down without even looking at his face.”

Turned out the flight wasn’t completely full so I got the row to myself and selfish skinny guy moved and got a row to himself and great big guy got a row to HIMSELF! All was well.

WIth only about fifteen minutes until we were due to touch down, the captain came on the loud speaker and announced that the fog was too thick to land in Santa Rosa and we might have to go to Portland, Oregon and then they would deal with me from there! WTF????

THE LAST FREAKING PLACE I WANTED TO GO WAS PORTLAND! I do everything I can to avoid the PNW in the winter! It was about 4:15 PM at the time and I figured by the time they flew us back to San Francisco or Oakland and I got a shuttle to the Days Inn in Santa Rosa, then, cab to the Flamingo Resort, it would be well past midnight! Also, they over book all the flights so good luck finding seats for all of us! The flight was scheduled to go to Portland after it dropped us off so all those passengers staying on the plane for Portland laughed but those of us who wanted off at Santa Rosa didn’t find it one bit funny. The thought of spending most of the night in Portland was more than I could stand!

The captain went on to tell us he would circle the airport for a while in hopes a hole would open for landing and that he had plenty of fuel to do so. It gets incredibly foggy in the Santa Rosa area at times.

When I left New England back in 1974 I went as far away as I could before running out of land and ended up with a friend in Petaluma, just down the road a bit from Santa Rosa. The fog, so thick you could hold it in your hand, never lifted until 2 in the afternoon every day so, after three days of that, I left and flew to Southern California and fell in love with that area.

We continued circling above the fog. Every once in a while you could see a hill sticking up though the white soup that was so thick that at first I thought it was a layer of snow! We circled for a half an hour waiting for that tiny hole to open up in the white blanket covering the airport. Then he said,”OK folks, we’re going for it! Take your seats, buckle up and hold on!” Now THAT sounded a but scary to me! However, part of me thought crashing in the fog might actually trump going on to Portland for the night.

The small prop plane bounced around a bit as he dove through the fog and clouds. It seemed like an eternity as we descended towards the small landing strip we couldn’t see but hoped was there. Visibility was about zero and I was surprised they let him even attempt the landing! We could see NOTHING!!! He was landing instrumentally I guess. Then I saw the landing gear come down. It was directly outside my window. That was a good sign! At least I could see that far (but barely!). We bumped our way lower and lower then, I saw it! The ground! DEAR LORD!!!! I swear we were only about ten feet above the ground when it finally became visible! I was not the only one who was a bit alarmed by the sudden runway in our window! The entire plane gasped at that sight!

HOW THE HELL DID HE LAND THAT PLANE????

On touchdown, there was loud cheering and clapping from all on board! What a relief!

NO PORTLAND AND I was alive (always a good thing :))

They told us to pick up any luggage we put below at the last minute from the front of the plane so that is where I wanted to deplane. There was a tall, cocky looking older guy a few rows up form me who had decided and informed all the passengers around him that they would be getting off from the back of the plane. He stood in the aisle and blocked my passage to the front stairs and made some smug comment about why I wasn’t heading towards the back stairs. I looked him in the eyes and said,” Gee, I am really sorry I delayed your departure but what, A HALF SECOND?!!!!” and walked past him. I hate assholes, especially when you throw arrogance into the mix!

So I went down the stairs and waited for the carryon bags that had to ride underneath because that plane is just too small for them onboard. I picked up my bag and walked across the tarmac to the baggage claim area. There were bags already there waiting to be claimed but I assumed they were from another flight because mine was not in the mix. I waited for an eternity until they turned off the carousel and everyone else had left. NO BAG!!!! WTF???

I walked over to the desk and explained that my luggage had not arrived. One of the workers went out back to check and I asked him to please check in the plane before it left. He was gone for quite a while and my heart sank when I saw him return empty handed. CRAPOLA!!! NOW WHAT?

The luggage guy had a very sad look on his face and shook his head side to side as he approached me. I felt like I was in a hospital being told my friend hadn’t made it. OK, not quite that bad but it SUCKED!

The woman behind the counter was helpful and made some calls and took down the information about my AWOL bag. She assured me it would be in the next day and they would deliver it to my hotel. RIGHT. What more could I do so I left and hoped she was correct.

There were two men standing on the sidewalk waiting for a taxi. The man who had called the cab asked me where I was going and then asked them if they would mind sharing a cab ride with me. They said that was fine so, as the barely English speaking driver, mounted his TAXI sign on the roof and the magnetic TAXI sign on the doors, we all piled into the cab with me in the front. About a mile out from the airport, the 60ish plus driver asked if they knew where they were going or should he put it in his navigation. That didn’t sound good to me at all. Since they were from New Jersey, they had no idea where they were going so the navigation device seemed like a good option to all of us.

They got the address and started reading it to the driver. He clearly wasn’t versed in electronics and tapped the keys slowly as he repeated every letter and number slowly.

What little confidence I once had was now totally eroded.

The navigation device couldn’t find the address. They tried the same thing over and over until I finally asked the name of his hotel. I told my phone the name and in a shake it had the address as we were good to go.

The cabby drove like a little old lady. He would have been eaten alive in New York City! He was a super nice man, just obviously not cut out to be a cab driver. At one point, he crossed a very busy intersection and pulled out into a lane without looking.  The next thing I heard was BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!!!!!!! The driver never flinched or even looked in the direction of the blasting horn. He just kept driving. We reached their hotel in one piece, however, and they unloaded their things. I asked the driver if he knew where he was going to deliver me and he assured me he did. I shrugged and hoped for the best.

On the way to the Flamingo, he told me his life story. Turns out he was a very successful business man in Ethiopia and a millionaire. When the war came he and his family lost everything but won a lottery to come to America. It was very sad. He put four kids through the University and they were all successful. He was very proud (rightfully so). He was a VERY sweet man. He asked me when I needed to go back to the airport so we made a date for him to pick me up for my flight home next Sunday. I am a bit nervous to take my life in my hands with his driving but what the hell.

So here I sit, three days later, STILL waiting for my FREAKING luggage.

The program is amazing though. More on it when I have some time to write. They keep us very busy and very full!!!


Responses

  1. Oh no!!! And I assume you packed your bathing suit in your suitcase? How to find another one in Santa Rosa? lol
    Glad you made it in one piece!


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