Saturday, June 5, 2010
Suitcases were crammed sideways into the back of the wagon to accommodate a child in the pint-sized optional third row. We were headed to the airport with plenty of wiggle room for traffic and a donut stop. I double checked the itinerary and panicked when the departure time was a half hour earlier than I had remembered. I sped to the airport imagining missing my flight and having to unpack the dirty clothes now soggy from commingling with wet swimsuits and sandy shoes. Lines were long. I scooted the duffle along the ground, fighting with the roller bags as I zigged and zagged my way towards the friendly agents. A quick kiss for grandma and grandpa and the three kids and I were up the escalator towards the single-parent circus show that is security with preschoolers and a runaway toddler.
We huffed and puffed our way to the gate where people were queued and waiting. The man ahead of me handed the gate agent his ticket, which beeped in protest under the barcode scanner. “Sir, do you have a different ticket? This one is for Sacramento.” He mumbled. She repeated herself and I studied the back of his head for clues about his age, situation and cognitive capacity. It was finally decided that Sacramento was his destination and she pointed him towards the baggage claim with questions about whether or not he was meeting anyone who could help him.
I smiled sympathetically, with only traces of condescension at the corners. He turned and stepped out of line and I handed the agent my wad of tickets. She ran my ticket under the scanner and then I heard the beep of rejection. There must be some mistake, I thought. Clearly I know where I am going. “Ma’am, this flight is to Seattle.” I smiled and nodded my head, pleased to be getting closer to home. “Ma’am, you are not on this flight. Your flight is at the next gate.” I blinked. Frowned. She handed back the wad of tickets. My little ducklings fell in line. I looked for the first time at my ticket and its corresponding gate, extracted myself from the line and commenced with the walk of shame. I kept my eyes down to avoid the pursed lips and shaking heads of those traveling without children. Like my husband says, people with small children do not go on vacation. They take trips.