You know it's going to be a bad flight when you spot a guy taking a picture of you from across the waiting area at the gate.
It started off like just any other morning, being dropped off at the airport, checking my bags, and going through security.
As usual, I was on time.
I was excited for my mini vacation to begin. I haven't had one in 3 years. Still trying to switch into 'vacation mode', I splurge for a Starbucks Apple Chai Tea only to find that they were out of apple juice.
What? How could Starbucks be out of apple juice? They are the almighty Starbucks.
The end all be all of coffee shops.
So it begins. The pattern for a memorable beginning to my vacation.
So instead, I splurge for a tall CAFFEINATED English Breakfast Tea. Since I don't drink caffeine, this was quite the party for me.
I find my gate and plop myself down, arranging my belongings and settling in. I was claiming my territory, so to speak.
I begin to chat away between my Yahoo instant messenger and Facebook sites. I'm about thirty minutes into the fun and banter when I notice couple eating ice cream at roughly 10 am.
I decide to comment about it on Facebook. Pizza is much more appropriate for morning vacation food.
But that's just me.
I enjoy the witty comments back and fourth about the ice cream eating couple, when I notice a flash in the corner of my eye.
I look up.
I notice a man looking straight at me from across the way; he ever so nonchalantly slides his camera under his jacket and continues to look at me.
I give him a look. A long, intimidating look. A look that says, I know you took a picture of me, and you know that I know you took a picture of me and I'm NOT happy.
So far, I don't have the tea I wanted and some whack job is snapping photos of me like I'm frigging J-Lo.
A banner day for me so far and it's not even 7 a.m.
A few minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I notice across the room a man with a briefcase who walks over to an attractive blonde woman who was talking on the phone and waiting to board her flight to Martha's Vineyard. He leans over, drops his briefcase next to her seat, and whispers something in her ear. She looks at him quizzically, slowly nods, then he walks away.
Hmmm...interesting, I think to myself. So I decide to eavesdrop on the situation.
Because I can be nosey like that.
Nobody else noticed what I just witnessed. As I watch the man walk away I catch her eyes. She has a slightly concerned look as if she is regretting having agreed to what he asked of her. I mouth the words - "Do you know him?" She slowly shakes her head and mouths back, "No." I instantly turn to watch him walk down the airport corridor to see if he breaks out in a run. He is slowly walking further and further away until I can hardly see him.
My heart races, the pit of my stomach drops, and the hair on the back of my neck stands up.
This can't be good.
I look back at her. I give her a "what the fuck" look and she gives me a worried "what the hell did I just agree to" look back. I look at the airline crew at the check-in desk and contemplate telling them that some strange man just left his briefcase unattended with a woman to whom he doesn't know.
I am torn. Should I get involved? What happens if I don't? What happens if I do? I sit and continue to argue with myself trying to assess the situation.
I look back over to the woman. She begins to make another phone call. I can read her lips. She's talking to someone about what is going on. I can only assume it's in case she just happens to blow up. While she is talking, her eyes dart between me, and the area to where she last saw the man.
She is just as nervous as I am and we are both sort of waiting for the briefcase to explode. Yep. That would be my luck. I can't win the fucking lottery, but damn, I can pick the ONE airline that a wacko would choose to blow up.
I'm scanning three areas. The airline crew at the check-in desk, the woman with the briefcase, and the area where I last saw the man. I anxiously await his return. Seconds feel like hours.
I do this pattern over and over, contemplate if I should tell someone.
Call me crazy, but my gut says no. Lord knows the last thing I want to do is delay my flight.
A long agonizing fifteen minutes go by and I am still contemplating telling the crew. I tell myself two more minutes. If he's not back in two minutes, then. Then I'll cause total havoc on Gate 6.
The man returns just in time. The woman with the briefcase is pretty freaked out at this point, but trying to keep her cool. She is texting and making calls nervously. He saunters back and doesn't even stop to say thank you to the woman. He just walks up next to his briefcase, bends down, and in one swoop, takes the bag and keeps on walking.
People these days. I wanted to walk up to him poke him in the chest and say, "Hey buddy, what the hell was that?!" "Do you not hear the annoyingly redundant recording about leaving your bags unattended or with strangers??" "You should be damn grateful that I didn't say something to security and had your stupid ass hauled off to be questioned by the authorities!!"
It's amazing how brave my inner being can be sometimes.
But instead I stew in my own juices. I am actually very relieved that he was just a stupid, arrogant, asshole.
I sit in my chair and think; This is gonna be a hell of a day. I can feel it.
We board the plane. It's actually a great flight. I get my own TV, watch hours of Law and Order and forget about where I am.
It's almost like being at home.
We begin to land. Or should I say begin landing attempt number 1.
It was smooth flying up until the time we had to land. I'm guessing the pilot was absent during the "How to Land 101" lesson in flight school, because he SUCKED at it.
He did it so badly that if he hadn't pulled up, we probably would have been on the six o'clock news in Ft. Myers.
It went like this;
We are in preparation for landing. Tray tables and chairs are in the upright positions.
Seat belts were on. We were descending onto the runway. I'm preparing myself to feel the pull back from the wheels hitting the ground. As we were coming in, the plane was a bit "wobbly." By wobbly I mean the plane was rocking left to right a bit more than what it usually does. This has me a little nervous, but I've experienced something like this before.
We touch the ground, and for a split second I am relieved. However, instead of being pulled forward from the landing, I am being pulled back suddenly with force due to the plane taking off again!
What the FUCK!?!?
I turned to the man in the next seat over and shot him a look. I must have looked panicked because he said calmly to me, "It's going to be alright."
The plane shoots up, does such a sharp bank, I am able to see the area where I was certain would be my final resting place. I'm waiting for the plane to flip. My hands grip the arm rests.
Yeah, like that's gonna save me.
I always wanted to plant myself permanently in Florida someday. Just not like this.
I am alternating between looking out the window and closing my eyes. After a few arguments with myself, I decide to shut the window shade and not see my impending death.
It's eerily quiet on the plane.
After what seemed like an eternity, the plane levels out and comes around again. Descending once more, the plane is not rocking as severe as the first time. I hear the wheels being put into place and the wings adjusting.
Let's try it again Ace.
The plane successfully lands and like an actor giving a poor performance; there is weak and staggered applause for the pilot. I get the feeling however, that most would have rather punched him in the mouth.
I can hear sighs of relief being expressed within my area of the plane.
Once we are able to stand and gather our belongings there is some angry mutterings and nervous laughter. Mostly just silence. I glance around the plane and wonder what is going through everyone's head. I look at the family who were seated in front of me. They hold a seven month old on their lap, and still obtained the lovely shade of pure panic white on their faces. I mention to them sarcastically what a brilliant landing it was and the man replies, "That was not supposed to happen." "He was in trouble and HAD to go back up." He continued with, "This has happened to me three times in my life, and all were dangerous landings."
I knew this was going to be a hell of a day.
To sum up my vacation so far, I've encountered a creepy man taking pictures of me, a man who thought that leaving his briefcase with a stranger was OK, and a male pilot who didn't know how to land properly.
Interesting common denominator here. But I digress.
I get off the plane to meet my best friend. She is dressed nicely and laughing at me. She has already heard about the ridiculous landing and finds it funny.
I however, think otherwise and I'm still shaking.
She asks me if I want a coffee. I stop walking, shoot her a look and say are you fucking kidding me?!? Did you SEE that landing?!? then reply with, "Hell NO!" I need alcohol!"
She laughs as if I was kidding.
As we walk out of the airport and into the warm Florida air, my mind is still reeling from the morning events. Trying to make sense of it all, I can't help thinking;
I should of had the ice cream.