30 August 1997

Trip from Hell going home

I woke up and had a leisurely morning to shower and pack and get ready to leave. I wasn't hungry after the huge meal Kim and I had the night before so I decided to delay breakfast. As it was, I think I was on the road headed for the airport by 7:30. That time of day, traffic was light and it didn't take long to get there. I returned the rental car (I drove about 960-some miles since I picked it up...) and went to check my bags.

My plane wasn't scheduled to leave until 5pm but I had planned all along to catch an earlier standby flight so that I wouldn't be arriving in Omaha at midnight with a 2-hour drive ahead of me yet. The check in line was incredible...I've never seen such a long line. I took my place at the end and shuffled along with everyone else. I decided to have a bagel while I was waiting and took one from my stash of food.

When I got closer to the ticket agents, I saw a sign for another line (that had almost no one in it...) that said it was for ticket exchanges and something else. I figured what I really wanted to do was exchange my 5pm ticket for something sooner, so I got in that line. Took all of 5 minutes to get through and my bags checked. There weren't actually any seats I could exchange to but she put me on standby for the 11:15am flight and sent me to gate.

I found my gate, bought a bottle of pop and sat down with my knitting (the doily I'd started on the way out), and a cookie I bought at Pike Place the day before. I all but finished the doily by the time it was time to board.

We took off. I finished the doily and started a pair of socks. Then I started feeling a little funny. I put away my knitting and thought maybe a little nap would help. But then they started serving lunch. The flight attendant put mine down in front of me and it was the most nauseating smell...I opened the foil to find a cheeseburger and I knew it smelled just like a cheeseburger but my stomach was rebelling at even the sight of it. I figured then that I was Not Well.

By the end of the flight I was in the grip of what must have been food poisoning...diarrhia, nausea, intestinal cramps, chills, sweats, shaking...I was not a happy camper. The flight ended and I took the air sick bag from in front of me 'cause I had a feeling I was going to need it. I started shakily down the jetway and thought I needed that bag right then but I was determined not to throw up just yet. I got off the jetway and started looking for a bathroom. I saw a sign that said restrooms and headed for them but could only find the men's.

I looked for a spot out of the way and crouched down, leaning my forehead against my hand on the wall. I was shaking and sweating and just decided to rest there a bit until I decided if I could make it to my next flight. Eventually, I stood up. Slowly and shakily and found a monitor to see what gate I needed to go to. I knew I didn't have much time and since I was flying standby, I had to check in.

Luckily, the gate was nearby, I checked in and sank into a chair until boarding. Boarding started almost immediately but I wasn't going to move until the last minute. An elderly lady with a little lapdog in a crate was beside me and she kept trying to engage me in banter about her dog and flying and where-was-that-wheelchair for her? but I was in too much misery to even respond.

My assigned seat was the first row on an aisle, which I was glad to see. I sat down but then almost immediately got up again to use the restroom. When I came out, I must have looked pretty ragged because the stewardess asked me if I felt ok. I told her I didn't and she asked if there was anything she could get me. I thanked her but told her I didn't know what it would be. She came back a few minutes later to tell me there were 3 open seats together in the back and I could move back there if I wanted so that I could lay down. She's a saint!

I moved to the back and she got me some pillows and a blanket. As soon as we were in the air I laid down and slept until Omaha. By the time we landed, I was feeling somewhat better. The stewardess said my color was better now and I thanked her again for all her help.

I collected my luggage (it made it!!) and looked for the shuttle to take me to my car. When I got to my car, I discovered that one bag didn't get loaded on the shuttle. It must have been left on the sidewalk back in front of the terminal, because I know when I last saw it but in my much-less-than-alert state, I didn't notice that it didn't make it on the shuttle. The shuttle driver radioed to another shuttle to see if it saw the bag on the sidewalk and it didn't.

I paid my way out of the parking lot then drove to the terminal to see if it had been picked up by security or turned in to lost and found or something. After chasing around various leads, I found that it had been turned into the United lost luggage counter and when I got there, sure enough, there it was waiting to be processed. I picked it up and went back to the car and started my final leg towards home and bed.

I finished the Cry of the Kalihari book early on and had nothing but intestinal cramps for company the rest of the way. I got home around 9:00 and just peeled off my clothes and fell into bed...I didn't stop to unload the car or check the mail or anything.