So we’re in Texas. We’ve been here for quite a while, actually, but have finally arrived at our destination. I know what you’re thinking. Texas is a big state. True that. It is. But that had nothing to do with being in Texas forever before reaching the place we intended to be.
My flight plan looked like this: Fly out of Pittsburgh at 5:15AM (which meant leaving the house at 2:30AM), arrive in Charlotte for a 50 minute layover and plane change, fly to Dallas for a 2.5 hour layover, and catch the next flight over to Midland to arrive just past noon. Simple, easy, done.
Why do I believe such lies? Is it because I’m an eternal optimist?
I fed the puppies quick before we left home, and was witness to a horrific act of nature that I wish I hadn’t been. The sickest little puppy projectile pooped. Everywhere. I know it’s going to sound like I’m making this up, but I am, in fact, simply retelling what I saw. She stood on her back legs to elevate her backside, and then sprayed. The effort she exerted shifted her footing, so she turned in a semi-circle as she was doing this. I will not describe the level of awful that came out of her, just know that it was pure liquid. And that it was dripping down the walls, laying in puddles on the floor, liberally covering Darla and the other puppies….
It was wrong, people. Just all kinds of horrific wrong.
But because I love puppies, and raising puppies is my job, I rolled up my sleeves and started cleaning. And cleaning. And cleaning. But the problem was that I was limited on time because I had to leave to catch a plane. I mopped up the mess, fed babies, put them on a heating pad under a heat lamp, and left.
It took a bit longer to get to the airport than I’d planned. Probably because it took a bit longer to take care of puppies than I’d planned. We spalked (sprint-walked) through rain and mud puddles, in flip flops, to the terminal, and then spalked through the terminal to check in. We arrived in Charlotte, bought $20 worth of breakfast at Starbucks that consisted of 2 coffees, grapes and a muffin, and flew to Dallas. And that’s when things started going downhill. We arrived in Dallas at 9AM and our flight was to leave at 11:30. As we sat at the gate watching the board with the flight arrivals on it, things started going wonky. Our flight was delayed. Indefinitely. The board said “delayed.” Nice, right?
Oh, it gets better.
Also, let me tell you about the Dallas airport. It sucks. I’m assuming its completely under construction because if that’s the walls they’re going with, it could be mistaken for a sci-fi psych ward. Also, it’s sprawling. You walk a quarter mile from this set of gates to that set, and the only thing between is a corridor with weird construction-like white walls. No stores or restaurants, no artwork, no paint. And did I mention that it’s sprawling? It is. It sprawls.
We got word that the airplane scheduled to leave before ours had mechanical trouble, and as soon as it was repaired we’d be flying out. We were scheduled to leave at 2:00. Then we were bumped back 7 minutes. Then bumped back another half hour.
Then the flight was cancelled.
There was a mad rush to the ticket counter to inquire as to the WHAT THE HECK, and a frantic dashing away. We were booked on another flight, at another gate. So we frantically dashed, too, because it’s all the rage. Gate B33, here we come! I checked the flight board, but the flight number wasn’t even listed on there. I talked to an employee, who snippily said, “it’s too far out to be on there.” Our flight left in an hour. I waited half that time and asked another employee. He printed out 2 sets of tickets for me. This set, he said, was standby for a flight leaving in 10 minutes from B13, and this set, he said, were actual tickets for the B33. We spalked to B13. We started noticing familiar people. That one was on the plane from Charlotte. That one was at B47 with us before our flight was cancelled. That one was at B33 in front of me at the ticket counter. That one has been following this gang, like me, around the airport, looking just as lost as I felt. That elderly couple seemed so content to sit and wait happily, but were eyeing the B13 board just as often as I was.
As we collectively waited, we started comparing stories. A rehearsal dinner to get to for a best friend's wedding. A baby shower. A closing on a house that was already missed and rescheduled for the morning. Just trying to get home after work. Military wanting to get home to wife and kids. A visit to a daughter. None were happy with delays, and some had paid dearly for them, already missing the entire point of the flight.
From that point, the day became a blur of Airport Bingo. Delays led to more delays, and eventually cancellations. B47! B33! B13! No, I mean, B12! Just kidding, I meant B37! Back to B46! Run, you can make it! Delayed, delayed, cancelled.
By the time we were scheduled on a 6:00 at B47, I had given up hope of ever getting out of Dallas that day. The adrenaline was wearing off, and the vet had texted to say that not only did I not kill puppies with a lack of clean-up and leaving cold puppies unattended, but they were all doing very well and nursing on their own. The stress of possibly losing an entire litter of puppies left me worn out mentally and emotionally. It was showing. I hadn't slept more than 2 hours at a clip since Sunday. I was currently living on a 1 hour nap over the course of 2 days time. Exhaustion was so real I nearly dozed on my feet while standing at the ticket line yet again. I was also irritated when I heard people around me whining that they'd been up since 4AM, or had been at the airport for 5 hours. At that moment, I'd had 1 hour of sleep in the past 48 and was at the airport for 9 hours.
We collectively waited, the random passengers and us. We were skeptical. We checked the flight board every 5 minutes. Delayed 5 minutes. Delayed 15 minutes. But that one held. We lined up for boarding, and watched the screen count down to boarding time. Five minutes left. Three minutes. One minute to boarding. And we still waited.
We're waiting for the plane to come in, we were told. The plane arrived. We waited. The flight crew were maxed on hours, so we had to wait for a new one to arrive. Their plane was delayed getting into the airport. They arrived. We waited. Delayed again. They were overbooked and asked for volunteers to give up seats. With a guaranteed flight out in the morning, a room to stay in and free meals, I was so quick to give up our seats. We were exhausted and starving. They were grateful, and then put us on the plane anyway.
And we waited.
They were overweight so had to unload the luggage. They needed to refuel and had to wait for the tanker to come. We sat on the plane until nearly 9:00pm before we finally began to taxi down the runway. We had been at the Dallas airport for 12 hours. And of all the injustices we endured at the hands of the airline yesterday, the worst is the fact that I desperately wanted to visit with a friend in Dallas but didn't have the time with a 2.5 hour layover and going back through security checks again. Turns out, I could have spent an entire afternoon with her and saved myself a whole lot of stress.