One of the problems with air travel these days is that once you’ve gone through security and discovered that indeed, as feared, your flight has departed without you, and, after weeping in front of the passenger assistance desk for 30 minutes, being told that the next two flights are sold you, and the earliest they can get you to your scheduled destination (two hours’ drive from your Grandmommy’s 90th birthday celebration, to begin at 1 PM tomorrow) is 12:30 PM tomorrow, it is physically impossible to shoot oneself, or better and more dramatically, to commit ritual seppuku in the center of the “C” Concourse. I was sorely tempted to rake the edge of my federally-issued picture ID across my throat to see if the rumor about the emergency use of plastic-card edges as weapons was true, but instead I made my way moistly and dejectedly to the ladies’ room, where I discarded the crumpled paper napkins I’d taken off the disobliging U.S. Airways woman (I confess I didn’t feel much guilt about omitting the traditional “thank you” when we finished our frustrating tete-a-tete). I washed my hands, put on a pair of granny-style wrap-around sunglasses, and applied a stripe of bright red paint to each pale and trembling lip, then walked to the gate where the flight to Columbia, SC, rather than the desired flight to Augusta, GA, is due to leave at 7:20, an hour after my original flight will have reached Bush Field, on the edge of the swamp south of my hometown.
My mother had arranged for the wife of her assistant pastor to come pick me up at the Augusta airport, and I’d called her several times to update her on my travel woes. She then volunteered to come all the way to Columbia, in the dark, to get me, rather than have me rent a car I couldn’t conveniently return, and I was so mortified by this generosity I burst into tears again. I phoned Mums to let her know what was going on, and my sister suggested that I call my Navy brother in Charleston, to see if he could get me instead. Bless him, I forestalled his Friday five-o’clock indulgence with my request, and he sweetly agreed to meet my plane, thus sparing the pastor’s wife. I told him to save some of the booze for me, because after today, I need it.
It’s the little foxes that spoil the vineyard; today has been chockablock with minor annoyances, which I should have handled with more grace than I did. The weather has been fabulously fall, though, and I am really looking forward to seeing the family tomorrow.