Day 9 – Turbulence

24 Jul

I remember the first time I ever flew on a plane without a parent. My sister Christina and I were on our way to our grandma’s house in Iowa by way of Chicago O’Hare, which at the time (1997) was the busiest airport in the U.S. When you are 7 and 10 and traveling alone, they require you have this “hostess” lady who brings you between connecting planes and out of security to your parents/guardians or whatever. So Christina and I had this sweet lady who met us at the gate in O’Hare and took us to this room as we waited for the short flight from O’Hare to Moline.

The room was like straight out of Willy Wonka. There was food, toys, games and all the kids to play with. It. Was. Awesome. A Wonderful Airport Land of Games. There were these wonderful workers there who played with you and I felt like I never wanted to leave.

Then we learned we couldn’t. For some reason Christina and I were scheduled on the last flight of the day between O’Hare and Moline. And wouldn’t you know, it got canceled. Next flight wasn’t until the morning. Our sweet grandma offered to drive the three hours to pick us up, but my mom said we would be fine. Hell yeah we would be fine, we were playing our tails off in the Wonderful Airport Land of Games. How wrong we all were…

When nighttime came, the Wonderful Airport Land of Games became a terrifying place ran by an evil and malicious woman named Mama. While the boys got to sleep in the room full of video games and toys, the girls were forced to sleep on these two long couches on either side of a skinny room with a TV at the end. At the end of one of the couches was a chair. That’s where Mama slept.

Now Mama loved her couches. We were just so privileged that she allowed us to sleep on them. Mama also loved her TV. When it was time to go to bed, Mama turned on the TV and quickly fell asleep. The other girls and I couldn’t sleep with the TV blaring, so, deep in the night, in hushed whispers, the older girls, including Christina, convinced me I had to go turn off Mama’s TV or else they would never be able to sleep. Slowly, a crawled up the room to turn off the TV. No sooner did I press “power” and run back to my place on the couch before Mama jumped out of her chair and yelled, “WHO TURNED OFF MY TVAY?” The shrill of her voices still haunts me to this day. At this time I had mastered the what-what-are-you-talking-about-I-just-woke-up-face and just looked at her. Again, she yelled, “WHO TURNED OFF MY TVAY?” After no one answered Mama turned told us to not be doin’ that no more and turned the TV right back on again and went to sleep. I cowered the rest of the night and prayed for morning.

When the next morning finally came and we woke up from the single most terrifying evening of our lives (other things happened this night but this blog post is already very long and has nothing to do about the Marta) we ordered McDonald’s breakfast courtesy of the airline (probably the first time I ever got McD’s breakfast, and it is AWESOME) we learned we would be on the next flight to Moline in about an hour. Thank. God. Well, in that hour I managed to spill my little McDonald’s syrup cup twice on Mama’s beloved couch. Christina and I freaked out and covered up the two dinner plate-sized sugar stains with my little blanket and pillow before Mama noticed. Thirty minutes later someone comes in the room and says, “Christina and Gabrielle, your flight is here!” Literal God-send music to my ears. We grab the pillow and blanket, run out of the room, and manage to get out and around the corner just in time to hear Mama’s first scream by the sight of her couch.

I say all this because when you’ve done flying enough, you learn the “bumps” that go with that form of travel along the way. The turbulence, the middle seat, the rather large elderly women who makes you call her Mama and makes you sleep on her couch. You learn that it’s a part of the journey, and you’re more than likely going to be OK no matter what.

I haven’t yet learned that about the Marta.

Today’s trip home might as well have been Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. We were swaying side to side, doors were cracking open, wheels were screeching, hell, the little over-com lady telling me what stop was next wasn’t even playing. I was literally terrified. I thought we were going to just fly off the tracks into I-85.

As I thought about it some more and looked at the calm faces around me I thought, well heck, this is just like turbulence. Just a little bump in the travel and nothing to worry about. I am going to be fine. At least I’m not 7 and spilling syrup on the seats.


PS – The above story is a first draft/abridged version of one of my favorite stories ever. If I ever write a book, you will see it there too. Give me more than 5 minutes to spend on it, and it will be even more hilarious (if that’s even possible 😉 ).


2 Responses to “Day 9 – Turbulence”

  1. Teeny July 25, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Literally laughing so loud my laughs are actually silent. Classic piece of literature. I cannot stop laughing. I actually sound like I’m crying… My roommates might come check on me soon… To this day Mama is one of the scariest women I have ever encountered

    • gabrielle July 25, 2012 at 3:51 am #

      I knew you would appreciate this, just one of the 1,000,000,000,000 reasons I love you. It’s probably one of my favorite stories. I didn’t even plan on writing about it when I started. Then the next thing I know I told the whole story. Mama. Oh jeez. Hahahaha

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