Those who have known me a long time know that it doesn’t take much to make me cry. Maybe because I am the ‘baby of the house’, or maybe not. Maybe I am just reeeally sensitive. I cry when watching [good] movies; even movies that are not necessarily sad. Okay, enough about that …
Of the many reasons I cry, another is when I am majorly stressed. And what greater way to stress yourself than not being prepared for your 10 day trip to Europe.
In order to get time to travel as much as I do, I also have to work pretty much all the times I am not traveling. Seriously, like taking half day vacations, working extra hours the first half of the week in order to have the second half off, working the day I am traveling, going straight from work to the airport; working from the airport, things like that have become the new normal. But it’s so worth it- look at all the places I’ve been!
So it does get stressful. In addition to the
crazy unconventional work hours, there’s not getting enough sleep, packing the morning of travel, the pit stop at the mall to get last minute gifts on the way to the airport, not having time for proper meals, overweight luggage, waiting till the last minute to rent a car to go to the airport or to get gas, and running late to the airport.
Ugh, that last one though. Thank goodness, I’ve always made it [knock on wood]. But there was that one time I almost didn’t get to Tampa for my one week western Caribbean cruise. It would have been so devastating. And all the money would have been wasted and I would have missed out on an incredible experience.
On this particular trip, I was incredibly stressed- surprise surprise! Some of the stress this time was from all the planning I had put into this trip. This was going to be a really complicated itinerary. I had to get all my stuff together, all my paperwork in order, all my tickets, hotel reservations, etc. Moreover, thanks to Pinterest, I had decided to pack everything into a carry on. Yep- for my 10 day trip, I was not going to check in any luggage. I got it all in, even my running gear. I tell you, Pinterest is very useful- and not just for recipes.
So anyway, fitting everything into a carry on meant I had to make a number of sacrifices. I couldn’t carry much liquids- so no regular sized bottles of lotion and perfume and all the other essential liquids females need to pack when going on a trip. But I stayed strong. It wasn’t even about the money (this time). I was going to get a free checked bag anyway. It was more about the convenience. Going to all these places, traveling light was key. Also, there was no way the airline could lose my bag this way, right?
So, as usual, I was in a panic because I was cutting it close getting to the airport (you’d think I would have learned) but I made it fine and got to the gate before boarding even started. Then I looked at my boarding pass and noticed I was in the last boarding group. Wait a minute- that never happens to me. I was flying with an airline whose credit card I had and whose credit card I used in purchasing the ticket so I was supposed to have priority boarding. That was the whole point!
So best believe I made a call to customer service right there and then. By the way, I sincerely dislike calling customer service. This time, the call wasn’t too bad but the bad news was since she had just fixed it, it would take some time for the changes to take effect so unfortunately, I couldn’t have priority boarding that day. Great! Stress-o-meter climbed up a significant bit.
So boarding starts and by the second zone, they started to say that the overhead cabins were getting full and bags would be checked in for free once they got full. No, no, that was NOT the plan! I was silently praying that somehow when I got on the plane, there would still be space. But the few people in front of me got their carry-ons taken from them and they seemed pleased that they had been taken off their hands. I was still hopeful, but stress-o-meter was at about maybe 85% by now.
Then it was my turn to board and lady #1 took my boarding pass to scan it and her assistant started to put a formidable looking tag on my carry on and proceeded to take it from me (stress-o-meter at 95%). So I said to her in a shaky voice (from stress/anger, not fear), “ma’am, you don’t understand. This bag HAS to be with me on this plane. I sacrificed sooooo much to have only a carry on“. So she looked at me with
pity understanding and let me take my bag with me on the plane. I heaved a huge sigh of relief (stress-o-meter at 80%).
I get to the plane door and I’m waiting because it’s backed up; you know people finding their seats, people getting out of their aisle seats to let others in, etc. Then lady #1 walks up the jet-bridge after scanning all the passengers’ boarding passes and saw me, and then saw my bag, and then her eyes narrowed. Then she accused me of sneaking my bag through. Imagine that! In front of everyone on the line. I said “no- the other lady let me take my bag with me“. She said I was lying. Oh, I was livid! I said “no, you can ask her if you want“. Then she said “well, there is no space on the plane, it is going to have to be checked in“. I still held on to hope (stress-o-meter at 101% and I was mentally biting my fingernails).
I get on the plane and search frantically for space. There was none. Or should I say, people had put their stuff up in such a way that there was no space. I really wished I could take out all the puffy jackets and handbags up there. I searched desperately. Even one of the other flight attendants helped me search but there appeared to be none. Everyone was staring at me, like it was my fault there was no space.
Finally, lady #1 came up to me and said I was delaying take off (and I didn’t want to be that girl) and she needed me to hand her my bag. So I did. Then I found my seat, plopped into it and promptly burst into tears (quite loudly). Like hot torrential tears, snot, shoulders heaving, red eyes, the whole nine … I didn’t care if anyone was looking at me. I needed to cry it out and have my moment. And it helped because the stress had been building up so so much. After the good cry, I dried my tears and decided to face the long journey ahead. There was nothing I could do at that point.
That was just the first flight, so during my layover, I thought more about it while nursing my headache from all the crying. And I convinced myself to be okay with it. I thought of the bright side- I didn’t have to lug the carry on with me through out the airport. I was indeed traveling light. When I had to visit the airport bathroom, I didn’t have to wrestle with getting myself and all my luggage in the stall in one piece without touching too many germs.
All’s well that ends well though. When I got to Charles de Gaulle, I had no issues with waiting endlessly for my luggage- thanks immigration! In fact, my bag had already been taken off the conveyor belt because I took too long to come out. lol. Oh, and there were a lot of stairs and standing in queues at the airport so I guess it worked out I didn’t have an extra bag to maneuver throughout that whole process, huh? :).
In retrospect, it was a blessing in disguise. I suppose. And it probably sounds ridiculous that I burst into tears for such a thing- something that others even wish for themselves- a free checked bag.
But that’s what happens when one is stressed, I guess.
Have you ever encountered a mean flight attendant? Share below!
Header Photo: A beach at Fiumicino, Italy, on a gloomy morning in April 2015 by O Thomas.