We have arrived in Indianapolis! But not without a LOT of Sturm and Drang. Here are the details, abbreviated.
Good flight from CHS to CLT, with a 60 minute layover. To the gate to board the flight to Indy, right on time. Before we could board, the co-pilot, a most fetching young lady, full of confidence and vigor, emerged and chatted quietly with the gate agent and marched away down the concourse….away from the plane. Your scribe, a veteran of the air-travel battles, knew that we would not be going anywhere anytime soon. Sure enough, a maintenance problem, necessitating a delay of 30 minutes. Which turned into 90 minutes. The next flight scheduled from the gate had to be moved, causing mass confusion in the concourse. Then we were advised that the plane was not repairable, and that we would be leaving on another plane, at another gate. Another 30 minutes of milling around a very congested series of gates, at the end of the concourse, with no place to sit, and crowd frustration building as the chaos mounted from 7 flights trying to depart through 2 gates.
Finally, the announcement. We will board, but first, a small problem. The 74 people booked on the flight are now being moved to Indy on a plane with 50 seats….does anybody want to volunteer to go later? Well, for a pair of free round-trip tickets, the Agricoli are game. The hitch…….all flights to Indy are booked for the next 24 hours. But, they will fly us to Cincinnati and then drive us to Indy in a van. This makes the decision easier. We will NOT take them up on their offer. Nor will most other flyers, so the management announces that they will PICK the 50 lucky travelers….the other 24 are SOL. We make the cut, the first sign that this may well turn into a merry Christmas.
Then, in the long, wet walk to the plane, we mount the steps of the aircraft just as our bags roll OFF the aircraft. This presents us with the opportunity to ask the flight attendant what is happening with the luggage of 74 passengers, only 50 of whom will arrive at the destination. Since some luggage must come off, due to weight restrictions, how will we know that our bags make the trip? The answer, long in coming, is not reassuring but with no recourse we can only shrug. Then we are advised that the weather is bad en route, so the aircraft must be loaded with additional fuel so that we can fly to an alternative airport if we cannot land in Indianapolis. More bags are removed, to make the weight. More shrugs……what can we do?
Airborne at last, a bumpy flight into Indy, including a real gutwrencher of a bump that lasts so long that I am able to determine that we are in an updraft, that the weight pushing me down means the aircraft is being pushed up. The contemplation of that bit of physics makes every following bump and wiggle seem like the initiation of an in-flight breakup of the jet, as we white-knuckle our way down, down into the soup of rain, clouds, wind, and, hopefully, the runway. Just as it seems we cannot descend further into the black without creating a smoking hole, the runway appears, mere feet below my severely puckered……..well, you know.
Finally, the warm lights of sister and brother-in-law. Hugs, cheer, laughs. Then, blessed sleep, encouraged with Ambien, 1/2 each for the Agricoli. Ah….quiet, dark, peace………..shattered by the ringing of the phone, although with an altered ring-tone used by the niece. Not sure whether the noise is a cell-phone, an alarm clock, carbon-monoxide detector, or most likely, an Ambien induced hallucination, we are roused from the stupor to a phone call from the mother-in-law. Come quickly, your father thinks he is having a heart attack. Ten minutes later, another call, this time understand as a ringing phone, with the update that father-in-law has self-diagnosed the episode as tachycardia and that a trip to the emergency room is not necessary. Dimly we perceive that dear father-in-law is not a cardiologist, but a retired oral surgeon, surely not qualified to give, or take away, such a diagnosis.
Into clothes, into the car, across town to the hotel. Fevered entreaties to permit us to take him to the ER, given that their hotel is but 1 mile from the Indiana Heart Center. Raised voices, assent reluctantly given. Two hours later we drop my in-laws back at their hotel, with the episode confirmed as Tachycardia, not a heart attack. Warned that the next event means he must go, immediately, to the ER so that the specialists (not retired oral surgeons) can monitor the event as it unfolds.
Back to house, now 4:00 AM, Ambien still coursing through our veins so that sleep overtakes us instantly.
Today, from behind the blackout curtains of the niece’s room (who can sleep better than teenagers?), we arise to blue sky, warm weather, healthy in-laws, and the sure knowledge that we have received our Christmas presents a few days early. We have all survived!
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