Let’s be truthful…we’ve all been there. You’re sitting at the gate in an airport waiting for your plane to board. Standing in a corner is a mother who hasn’t brushed her hair in days, holding on to a toddler who is no longer interested in looking at airplanes. She’s holding a crying infant…with a cough. A collective prayer is silently being offered up. “Please Lord, let this family sit anywhere except next to me.”
I (not so) fondly remember being in that exact situation; where the daggers were being directed at my kids and my dirty hair. Those wonderful times at the airport asking my son through clenched teeth to HEEL! When I had to explain to my 10-month-old daughter that no my little angel, I can’t heat up your bottle in the airport just GROW UP AND DRINK IT COLD! So yes, I do feel for this stressed out Mom, but, please Lord I prayed along with 400 others…anywhere but next to me.
Flying can be such a chore these days, but I knew it would be 5 hours of a little reading, a little writing, and a little listening to music. Not to mention a movie, gourmet food, a masseuse…wait, wrong dream.
The crowd begins boarding.
We are mostly all seated.
In walks THE FAMILY. (They didn’t board at the time of the announcement for “those traveling with children.” My Dad would call that a head-fake).
They pass my row.
Thank you, Jesus.
The baby is really crying now, but they are far behind me. Clearly someone’s prayers were not answered. On a flight, when all else failed, I gave my kids Benadryl…whether they needed it or not. Everyone slept. Sue me.
And then I hear it.
It’s a faint YAP. Then a YIP. Then a quiet MEOW. I realize there’s two dogs sitting behind me on different sides of the aisle. I can’t tell where the cat’s located. It’s quiet for a while and then one of the dogs starts to whimper. Which makes the other dog bark. And then as if on cue, I hear the cat.
The women next to me begins frantically searching for her pills and mumbling about 5 hours of hives and sneezing. She’s highly allergic to cats she tells me and I notice a raised red welt forming on her forehead. I keep that to myself.
The yipping, yapping, whining, and meowing, continues on and off for about 2 hours. My noise cancelling headphones don’t work at Dr. Doolittle’s clinic in the sky. At this point the baby in the back is quiet and the hyper active 3-year-old is watching a movie. Maybe I can go watch my movie with them.
Having smelled the food carts, the dogs begin whining even louder and I noticed the handler of one of the dogs is on her 3rd scotch. And then the game changer: one of the dogs decides to poop. Is this Noah’s f#king Ark or a United flight to California?
This is Gods way of saying, be careful what you pray for.
I get the whole comfort animal idea, but what about passenger comfort? The lady next to me? She looks like she’s got chicken pox on steroids. And how much comfort are you really getting from a dog kept in a hand-held cage, under your seat and whining so much you need to drink 3 scotch and sodas because of your anxiety. NEWS FLASH: Ditch the comfort-animal and go with Ambien. It’s comforting too.
4 hours in to the flight the baby wakes up crying. The dogs are still yapping, whining, pooping. The friendly skies just ain’t what they used to be. The mother, trying to nurse her baby lets her 3-year-old out of his seat to wander down the aisle. At first, I start to feel my own anxiety watching a toddler, alone, walking the aisle, but where can he disappear to? It’s not like he’s walking down the aisles at Walmart, alone.
He spies the whimpering dog and bends down to inspect. The dog stops whimpering. The dog’s handler puts down her scotch, takes her dog out of the carrier and puts the dog on her lap. The dog is cute. The toddler is really cute. We learn his name is Jacob and the dog’s name is Max. It’s a mutual love fest and everyone around is smiling. Relaxing. Enjoying. Scratching. (the woman next to me).
I take out my book.
Somebody. Needs. A. Diaper. Change.