Sunday, 22 April 2012

T is for Traveling with G and why Delta Airlines is forever on my Christmas card list

T

(A true story for the letter T)

I have fleetingly mentioned spending a lot of time in the US travelling when I was a child.  In a reversal on the usual procedure, my role was often to look after my father.  He was spectacularly eccentric and my mother deemed me a proper person to make sure he got to places on time.  She had done it for many years and felt that her 12 year old daughter would make a decent substitute.  Or something.  I've never known quite what her reasoning was.

However it came about, G and I found ourselves going on a jaunt to Mexico via San Francisco before heading to New York to catch a flight home to England.  Ever practical, mum made sure that I was the person looking after passports, visas and flight tickets.  "Make sure you tell your father the flight is two hours earlier than it is." was her parting advice as she saw us off.



It was well-intended advice.  G habitually ran late everywhere and his notion of comfortable travel consisted of drinking half a bottle of wine, swallowing a nembutal and crashing out in a cacophonous snoring heap until the flight landed.  Minor details like knowing where we were supposed to be staying he could deal with, but airports did not bring out the best in him.

G and I liked travelling together.  I didn't mind the snoring and rather enjoyed whimsical side-treks to wherever took his fancy.  He let me stay up late and was unfussed by my desire to live entirely off Pepperidge Farm cookies.  It was a win-win as far as we were concerned.  Stage one went very smoothly.  Atlanta to San Francisco was a complete success.  I went with him to whatever lab it was he was supposed to visit and cheerfully broke some software.  We went to see Godspell.  We ate some nice meals and looked at San Francisco which I adored and have never visited since.  Onwards to the airport for the journey to Mexico.


Following mum's advice, I managed to get G awake enough to arrive at the airport comfortably early.  I was so proud of myself.  He wandered off to the bar while I book browsed and we met up to have some lunch.  Over which he announced that he had taken his pre-flight nembutal.  Two hours early.  This was not good news.  Oh how my sensible lie had come back to bite me in the bum. 

Working our way down the marathon walkways of San Francisco airport, we duly arrived at the departure gate and I took my eyes of an obviously rather woozy G to make sure we had the relevant tickets.  When I looked around again, he had vanished.  He stayed vanished.  The flight was called.  He was still vanished.  I could only think of one solution.  He must have gone to the Gents and the nembutal had kicked in.  By now, I was the only person at the departure gate and announcements were blaring all over the airport demanding that Professor Pask present himself immediately. 

Major panic ensued.  I was not going to investigate the Gents by myself.  Masterminding my father was one thing, but that was way out of my remit.  I got on the flight and demanded to see the captain.  Where I explained that my father had probably passed out in the Gents and could they possibly go and get him for me.  To the infinite credit of Delta Airlines, they did just that.  I've been grateful to them ever since.

This, of course, was before we got trapped at Mexico airport when we discovered that my visa had expired.  Same journey, but another story.

24 comments:

  1. Wow that is quite a story! What an interesting life you've lead! You clearly grew up quickly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I did in some ways. Nobody living with my parents could afford to be anything other than practical. Both my sister and I are very good at dealing with emergencies. Less good at running the mundane :)

      Delete
  2. Somehow I feel there is literally a books worth of similar such stories - so when are you going to do it, Amanda?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I can manage to write more than half a page at a time, is the honest answer. I think these work well as blog posts, but my gut feeling is a that a book would be indigestible.

      Delete
  3. You tell a wonderful story! I enjoyed this so much. New follower! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much - it is both much appreciated and now reciprocated :)

      Delete
  4. Hooray for Delta Airlines :) I really enjoy your writing - like the Beckett-reading lover, that must have been uncomfortable to say the least to experience, but it makes a great story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I cannot describe how much I loved Delta that day. There's nothing like an eccentric upbringing for strange stories.

      Delete
  5. Traveling is always an adventure!
    Good thing they didn't decide a missing father meant another seat they could sell a ticket for again ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it happened today, I'm sure they would have done, but this was a long time ago and air travel still had a residual glamour to it.

      Delete
  6. I love travel stories (most of my travels never run smooth)and enjoyed reading yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our travels rarely work out the way we plan them, but I now have a resigned attitude to that. It's all fuel to the anecdotal mill.

      Delete
  7. That sound like the trip from Hell. I am however, happy to hear some good things about an airline co. I only have frustrating stories to tell about my travel experiences. *cough, cough Air France, chough*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see your Air France and raise you Monarch Airlines. Who are the spawn of Satan.

      Delete
    2. Ooooo. I might have to fold....

      Delete
  8. Wow! That was quite the story! So well told! I was right there with you, having fun eating only cookies and exploring new cities, then getting completely stressed out by the end. So glad it worked out! Nice people can make all the difference in the world.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That is hilarious! You handled it well for a 12 year old. Fellow A-Zer. http://libbyheily.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  10. Replies
    1. A-Z has been fairly revelatory in terms of finding out how many stories I seem to have stashed away.

      Delete
  11. Hi Amanda .. those must have been amazing times .. what great stories .. thanks for sharing - Ihope the Mexican one comes up ..

    Your students must love hearing these?! Cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  12. Amanda, I think it would be a pity if you didn't give some serious thought to the 'proper memoir.' Though if this is not something that calls your heart, I am grateful for these posts.

    Well done.

    (post script: Now craving Mint Milanos.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If A-Z has done nothing else, it has crystallised that memoir as something I need to do. I worry about the format though. In some ways blogging is the perfect fit.

      Delete