Straight shot to North Dakota
I’ve been in the oil and gas business for a decade. In that entire decade, I have never flown straight into Williston, North Dakota. A flight from Houston Intergalactic Airport typically connects in Denver followed by a three-hour layover. Then you walk out onto the tarmac, board a puddle jumper, greet the 18-year-old pilot who is earning valuable air time he needs for graduation at the local junior college. After that, you hang on and pray.
You can imagine my surprise to learn that after all these years, Houston now has a direct flight to Williston! I know you are overjoyed. I am too. It came just in time for my trip this month. I booked my flight weeks ago, packed my coveralls, hard hat, safety goggles and steel-toe boots. Get ready to party Willison!
I woke up this morning to a text message telling me that my credit card had been compromised. Chase Bank wanted to know if I had recently purchased ski equipment. I have to admit—I actually took a moment to think about it in my groggy state. I texted back that I had not purchased anything. A response came in seconds later that basically said, “Call me.”
Chase Bank texts like my mother. Except she can’t be bothered with extra letters that are perfectly legitimate in the English language. Mama’s text would have read, “cal me.” Then should would put her cell phone down and forget to check it for a few hours.
This unexpected hiccup in my morning routine should have been a major red flag that things were not going to go my way today. I called Chase back. He was cool, but insisted on canceling my card. It is, as you would assume, connected to EVERYTHING in my life. Including the airfare, hotel and rental car I would be utilizing this very morning.
I decid to adopt the mantra of Scarlet O’Hara and worry about the credit card nonsense in three to five business days, when my new card is expected to arrive. Meanwhile, I marvel at how Highway 59 is miraculously devoid of traffic at 8:30 in the morning. Do you see that folks? Over there? It’s the other shoe! It’s about to drop!
I arrive at Intergalactic’s garage, easily park by the elevator (wait for it) and make my way up to the United kiosk. I swipe my card. Woopsie! DENIED! I swipe another card and a message pops up that I can no longer check luggage due to my inexcusable tardiness. My flight was scheduled to leave at 9:50 and my watch read 9:00.
I’m one of those people who still wears a watch. Most of you would have checked your phone. Instead of “freak,” I like to think of myself as “classic” or “vintage.”
The lady behind the counter actually told me I could not check my bag. Normally, I wouldn’t have cared. I’ve seen enough people pretend that they had no idea their suitcase was so big as they tried to shove it in the overhead compartment, only to have the annoyed flight attendant check it for them. This particular morning, I was running behind due to aforementioned Chase drama. So instead of packing miniature travel size toiletries, I shoved everything that lives on the edge of my tub into my bag. The thought of throwing away my special shampoo with oils from the ylang ylang tree was devastating. And how am I supposed to wash my face without my Cerve?
Who am I kidding? I average washing my face about three times a week. It’s a miracle that bottle made it across the packing threshold in the first place. Still…it was a brand new bottle!
I ask the lady if there was anything we can do.
United Lady: I could make a call.
United Lady: I’m not supposed to ask for special treatments.
Lincee: I won’t tell anyone if you don’t.
Twelve minutes later (thank you Swiss Army) we receive permission to check my bag from the all powerful Oz on the other end of the phone. I have to wheel my bag over to a specific place while the Rebel United Lady prints my boarding pass.
By the grace of our good Lord, there are two security lines and ONE IS EMPTY. What are the odds? (Wait for it.) I follow a darling family through the zig zag maze, hand my ID and ticket to the attendant and head left since the family of five are heading right. Whoopsie! DENIED! It seems that Derek needs his state-mandated 15-minute break more than I need to X-Ray my stuff. I am ushered into the other line—behind the family of five.
I love children. I love parents. Children who have never stepped foot in an airport clinging to the legs of parents who have clearly never stepped foot in an airport make me want to break things. No one knew to take off their shoes. The dad went through the metal detector three times. The mom had all sorts of liquids in her bag. The kids were afraid of the entire process. At one point, I was wrangling children. Finally, we all make it through. I have just enough time to use the little girl’s room before heading to my gate.
Because life is funny and identity thieves are not, a line of about 50 women, all wearing the same turquoise t-shirt, snaked out of the women’s restroom. I walk over a few more gates to find another bathroom. Just as I enter my stall, I hear a little boy talking to his mother in the handicap stall next to me.
Boy: Mom…mom…are you pooping? Are you pooping, mom? Mom…mom…are you pooping?
Dear reader. Do you know those times when you are laughing so hard at something so funny, that it just feels good and cathartic? I had to stifle that in, bite my tongue and think angry thoughts (identity thieves!) just to keep from embarrassing that sweet woman pooping next to me. Bless her.
After that escapade, I head out to find my gate. Only, I can’t find my gate. What in the world? I’ve been in hundreds of airports. I’m not the Party of Five Family! I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING! Where in Carmen San Diego is B-15 forcryingoutloud?!
The bowels. That’s where it is. The bowels of the airport. I almost miss my flight because I am too busy missing the GIGANTIC SIGN that tells me where to go. To make matters worse, as I board the teeny, tiny plane, I fall inside the door. This is not the first time I have tripped into a small plane.
I give a tiny wave to the pilot and make my way back to number 22. My seatmate joins me. I’m immediately on guard. It’s clear that Biff is nervous. When the attendant announces that our flight is only three hours, he makes a noise that is a combination of terror and a manic giggle. I offer Biff some gum to get his mind off of the small plane, but he rejects my offer and prefers to hang on to his stinky morning breath.
Biff fidgets THE ENTIRE TRIP. For 193 minutes, Biff rubs his legs, adjusts his seat, checks his phone, becomes irritated that you can’t get Internet in the sky even though the service is airborne, messes with his seat, turns his air thingy, turns on his light, turns off his light and makes that noise every 14 minutes. Around hour two, I consider slipping one of my pills into his coffee. Around hour three, the plane starts jumping and I assume Biff is going to have a literal heart attack.
We finally land. Biff is the first one out. I believe he knocked over one old lady and bribed the flight attendant to open the door early. I make my way up to the Avis desk. Of course my car wasn’t ready. So I retrieve my “call in a favor” luggage while the Avis people figure out what to do with the one person who rented a car from their counter. Bobby (probably the kid brother of the 18-year-old currently flying the puddle jumper from Denver) leaves to fetch my car for me. Naturally, he never returns. And the entire process starts all over again. Have fun joy riding Bobby!
I climb into my Dodge Dart, adjust the seat and drive the 500 yards to the Best Western across the rental car parking lot from the airport. Nice. I unload my stuff and haul it into the lobby. I ring a little bell and Bobby’s other brother comes around a corner. I ask if I can check in early?
So help, he has to make a call. I’m not lying.
Here’s the situation. The hotel elevators don’t work. OF COURSE THEY DON’T. I told Bobby Jr. that I was perfectly fine schlepping all of my stuff up to the fifth floor. He shrugs and hands me my key card. After three flights of stairs, I realize that I’m miserably out of shape. After four, I decide that I may live in the stairwell for the next three days. Once I reach the fifth floor, I thank the Lord for elevators and my ice cold vending machine Dr Pepper. I twist open the cap and it sprays directly into my eyeball. I spend the next five minutes flushing my eye of 23 glorious flavors.
If you’re still reading this, you’re awesome.