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Friday, January 16

What’s Your Worst Travel/Airplane/Airport Experience?

I got this idea from Melissa over at Shakesville (inspired by today’s miracle on the Hudson). Amazing how many things can go wrong when a person travels. My worst? It's a tossup. When I was 11 - the plane I was in went down with all 4 engines on fire. We all made it OK. They foamed the runway in Denver, so it was like landing in a cloud of shaving cream. It was one of those church sponsored trips (to Ireland) where they charter a plane and everybody pays a drastically reduced rate. The plane was old – a prop job. I remember we milk-run’d the return – Ireland, Greenland, New York, Denver and finally San Francisco. The engines caught fire just outside Denver. I’m the one who noticed it and let everybody know (god, could my mother scream). Funnily enough – my mother knew it was going to happen. When we were about to leave the hotel in Ireland – she came out of our room white as a sheet. She told my father someone had laid a hand on her shoulder and told her the plane was going to crash. Now – my mother always had these pre-sentiments (as do I) – but my father wouldn’t listen. “You’re getting on the plane!” he hollered. He wasn’t coming with, because my parents had decided to move to Ireland (they were both born there). My mother was just coming back to tie up loose ends (like renting out our house). Needless to say, my father shut up about my mother’s sixth sense after that. I knew we’d be OK, actually – and I told everyone that, thinking it would help (I was only 11). We were both right, my mother and I. The plane did go down – but everyone survived.

The next worst has to be when I landed in Narita Airport (Japan) following my recently separated first husband to where he'd been stationed (it had been an eventful year). In point of fact, my 25th year was a revelation in a myriad of ways – but that’s a whole host of different stories. Welllll (to shorten the saga)….the bastard never showed up to meet me. There I was - my entire compliment of worldly goods in tow - and no husband to help smooth the way. I couldn’t even get him on the phone; once I figured out how the damned things worked and persuaded some kind stranger to lend me the proper coinage (banks aren’t open in the middle of the night). In the end, I was forced to find my way from the airport all on my own. Let’s hear it for the kindness of the Japanese people – without whom I would never have managed. In the end, I arrived at Yokosuka Naval Base only to find my then husband hadn’t even made reservations for me at the dependent hotel. No reservations – and my name wasn’t up at the front gate to get let in. So no one was expecting me. You wanna talk pissed? It had taken me 4 hours to locate Yokosuka (and that luggage was heavy!). By the time I got there – no 18 year-old Marine (however well armed) was keeping me from finding my husband and flaying him with a dull knife. Oh they let me pass. I located the husband on board his ship. The whole of Yokosuka heard exactly what I thought of the son-of-a-bitch in exquisite and intricate detail (complete with twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one).

End of the story? I ditched the jamoke, got a job, and live happily in Japan for several years. So how about you? What’s your worst story?

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