Patience or Despair?
“There was a time when patience ceased to be a virtue. It was a long time ago.” –Charlotte Perkins Gilman
My day first started to go wrong at around 8:30 a.m. when I am on the Pennsylvania turnpike outside Philadelphia. I am on my way to drop off my car at my sister’s apartment in Ambler, where her boyfriend is going to pick me up and take me to the airport. I am about to fly down to Miami to meet my family for a week vacation. I didn’t wake up in the best spirits, having been out till 3 the night before, and achieving a massive hangover. I’m sure that is a contribution to my clueless-ness, as I run through the EZ pass only lane of the turnpike. Muttering “shit,” I remember my decision to begin being more patient in life and take a deep breath. I only had to go down one exit on the turnpike. Surely I can reason with the tollbooth operator, and he will let me pay the 50 cents and be on my way. My optimism fades as I give my plea to the middle aged man behind the glass. I think I understand now why they are behind that wall. It is for protection. Whether it is made of glass or not, shattering it with my fists is my very first thought. As I start to explain my mistake to this tollbooth worker, it becomes very clear that I will not be getting out of this. I truly don’t understand why I can’t just be one of those lucky people, I’m sure you know the type. The person that always gets their way, doors magically open for them, and they have no problem talking their way out of things. A lot of times it’s the people who don’t even deserve it! I’m always the one who gets screwed. Seriously, I get pulled over the day the officer needs to reach quota, or I lose my wallet with two hundred dollars in it. Or the worst was the day of senior pictures when it was not only raining, but I also hydroplaned and crashed my car into a guardrail. We won’t even get into the time I blew up my dad’s sable…Yes, I said blow up, and I know what you’re thinking, but I am trying to fix my part in these things.
Anyway, as I was saying, back at the turnpike I am writing out a check for the full turnpike fair, while trying adamantly not to curse this man out. I read somewhere that instead of cursing you should say a prayer. Being virtuous, and wallowing in my self-pity, this is what I did.
Nick (my sister’s boyfriend) and I reach the airport, and he leaves me in front of the gate. If you have ever traveled alone, you know how patient you have to be when attempting to carry all of your luggage to the check in counter. After having checked my bags, I go through security, where naturally my bag is pulled out for a search. They throw all of my stuff out, and run my laptop through twice. Maybe it’s that I resemble a terrorist: Caucasian, 5’5, blonde hair…makes sense. I’m reprimanded for not having put each item of makeup into a separate baggie, and grab my own arm as I find myself about to stab a guard with my eyeliner. As I’m leaving security, I can’t help feeling a sense of relief. I’m almost on vacation, and really, what else could go wrong? My eyes search for my seat on the plane, and as I am walking farther and farther back, I find that I am in the very last row in the farthest seat of an extremely large airplane. They called it a window seat at check in, which is really quite laughable considering there is no window. Therefore, you can imagine my anxiety upon realizing that there will be an extremely large woman sitting on my other side, and another woman, where calling her big-boned is indeed being gracious, next to her. Maybe for the average person, being crammed between a large woman and a window seat would be bad enough. I am, however, not just your average person, but your average person with claustrophobia. My hangover suddenly feels increasingly worse, and for a second I really think that I might pass out. Funny, I’ve heard of people meeting their future husbands on airplanes, having affairs, or making new friends, why couldn’t I be one of those people?
After surviving take-off, in which my eyes are closed for ten solid minutes, I order a sprite and quickly engulf the five pretzels the airline provides. One would think with plane tickets costing half my month’s rent that the airline could afford to give their passengers more than five pretzels. It is not until this point that I realize I have not had the opportunity to eat anything, and my nausea increases. The two women next to me have ordered Bloody Marys and are loudly chatting about their upcoming cruise. They are also eating what seems to be some form of garlic or onion cracker. I can sense this from the smell that is causing me to dry heave. I concentrate fully on my breathing, feeling a bit like a woman practicing limaz. I have only one armrest, because I see by this woman’s arm there will be no sharing of the right one. This reminds me instinctively of this hilarious Seinfeld episode, and as I am managing to get my mind off my misfortune, I feel a cold damp liquid fall into my lap. I look down and see myself wearing her Bloody Mary. My first instinct is to curse, naturally, but I somehow manage to keep myself from spouting out profanity, and turn to look at this woman. She smiles sheepishly and hands me some napkins. The flight attendant has run over with more napkins and the woman grabs them in order to wipe off her tray, hands, etc. I am still at this point waiting for an apology. I very calmly count to ten in my head, but eventually realize that I will be waiting a long time, since this woman has no intention of apologizing. What kind of person spills an entire drink on a stranger and is unable to say the simple phrase, “I’m sorry”? I tell myself that her rude inability to do the right thing is a reflection of her and not me. But seriously?
I put in my headphones and let my mind concentrate on the comforting sounds of The Fray. I am entirely too airsick to read, so I shut my eyes and try to forget about the morning. I’m woken up from a sleep that couldn’t have lasted more than ten minutes, by this horrible grunting noise. Half dazed I start to look for some form of animal, because surely this is not a human sound. But I find that everyone is looking in my direction, and sure enough, this woman has her head flung back, mouth open, with a gargling hog like noise managing to escape. I can see by the faces of the people across the row, the big-boned lady next to her, and the flight attendant, that everyone wants this woman off the flight as badly as I do. I daydream on the notion that if there did happen to be a terrorist on board, she would be the first to go. I realize that these are not the kind thoughts of a patient person, but I’m still learning here. Now, I had also realized when awakening from my millisecond nap that I had to pee. I have already accepted the fact that I will probably be one of those old women who wear depends because of bladder issues. I peed my pants in Weis Markets when I was 4, again in a public library when I was 8, and I may forever be the girl who takes more bathroom breaks than the beers she drinks. Hence, when I say that there would be no getting around the large snoring woman, I think seriously about crying hysterically or throwing a massive temper tantrum. I begin whispering that patience is a virtue, start breathing deeply, cross my legs, and hold out. What feels like days, but is actually only an hour later, the seatbelt light turns on, and there is an announcement that we are planning to land. It is not until this announcement that the woman wakes up. I immediately say “excuse me” before pushing my way around her into the aisle. A flight attendant grabs my arm, telling me that I must sit down and put on my seatbelt. I quite hysterically scream, “I have to go to the bathroom!” and push my way through. As I bounce around in the stall, I let myself experience turbulence while peeing. It’s a first for me.
After landing, they have to set up the outside stairs in order to let us out. This takes an additional 20 minutes, after already arriving 15 minutes behind schedule. When I finally getting inside of the airport, I have never felt more relief in my life. I am in Miami, where the weather is beautiful and warm, and I have every intention of forgetting that I am upset. This may have actually happened, had I not waited for over a half an hour to find that the luggage from our flight is missing. There are angry Philadelphians everywhere. All I can hear are people complaining that they should have flown with a different airline, and never again would they go for the cheaper price. My sister is on the phone with me, bitching that I am not outside, because there is some Nazi traffic guard banging on her window and demanding that she move. As if she thinks I have any control over either of these situations. So I wait, I mean what else can I do? It has been a heck of a day, and at this point, I am going to make the best of it, or at least give it my best shot. And, I do meet some really great people, which I would not have had the opportunity to do if I had chosen to throw a fit instead of be patient. We talk about where we live, our professions, and the Eagles. You see, life throws you a lot of shit, but there’s other people in that shit with you, and that truly does help.
My sister is still dealing with the traffic Nazis when I finally do get my luggage. I am beginning to think that maybe she should also practice the art of patience. I realize she has truly reached her limit when she begins screaming that I grab my luggage, chuck it in her backseat, and jump in, all while the car is still moving. I mutter that this is utterly ridiculous, which she finds to be an unacceptable answer. She seems to think that she is unable to stop the car without getting arrested, so I have to be quick. Exaggeration could possibly be genetic. So, when I see her car, I fumble with my suitcases and make a run for it. From the corner of my eye, I see the traffic Nazi running towards me, arm outstretched and yelling; there is also a taxi driver honking and cursing from his window. Quite flustered and struggling, I manage to jump in, suitcases and all, and obtain only a minor scratch.
I lay my head back on the seat, and take a deep breath, my suitcase digging into my thigh. I reach for my purse and flip open my phone, hearing my mom asking,
“How was your trip…?”