Alexa B-Side: 22 Hours of Hell
Katie finally answered her phone “Jenny? Thank God.” She said
“Kate what’s wrong? Did something happen to Lex? Is she OK?” I asked my roommate.
“Oh god Jen. Have you talked to her yet?”
“Alexa, no. What happened” I ask, fearing the worst.
“When we got home from dropping you off at the airport, Dick was here.” Katie said. That was all she had to say. I instantly began screaming at the top of my lungs.
“OK, I’m on my way. I’ll keep trying to call her. Where is she now?” I ask.
“She went to work. I think she is on autopilot. I, um, found her last night on the Washington Avenue bridge.”
“And you let her go to work! Oh, God Kate. Keep an eye on her I am on my way.” I hung up the phone on my roommate before I could start screaming at her. I let out another scream and began going over everything that I needed to do in my mind. I slipped on a pair of black legging, a sweatshirt and my North Face vest. I went to grab my back pack and after stuffing Alexa’s Gopher Hockey Jersey in, I raced out the door of my room and nearly trampled my grandmother as I ran out.
“Jennifer, where are you off to in such a hurry and what was all that screaming?” My grandmother asked.
“Home. Alex’s dad found out about him and all hell broke loose. I have to go to him. I’m sorry grandma.” I stammered as I tried to get away from the one family member who I knew truly cared about me.
“Oh dear. Was he dressed as Alexa?” My grandmother asked and I simply nodded. A look of resolve came over the elderly woman’s face. A look I had not seen in sometime. “You go to him. Do whatever you must. I’ll deal with your parents.” I gave her a big hug as I raced down the stairs and began looking for her driver. I found him and asked him to take me to the airport. “Phillip. I need you to take me to the airport immediately” I announce.
“I’m sorry Miss Thompson, but I am supposed to take your parents to the Country Club in an hour. I can do it when I get back.” Phillip replies. I can’t wait I reply. Phillip continues to argue against it until my Grandmother arrives.
“Phillip you will take my granddaughter to the airport right this minute. I will deal with her parents.” The matriarch has spoken! But I am still getting a little push back from Phillip. I just stare him down, tapping my foot as I wait for him to get moving. Eventually he relents and the two of us head towards the car, Phillip mumbling under his breath the whole time. As we leave my grandmother’s estate I begin to apologize to Philip for my actions. I explain to him that I needed to get back to Minneapolis and see my boyfriend. He smiles and seems satisfied with my argument. Soon he had me in front of the airport terminal in West Palm Beach. I thanked Philip for the ride and raced into the terminal and to the Delta Ticket Counter. It was there the adventure of the day began.
I ran to Delta ticket counter where I was informed that while there were plenty of flights into Minneapolis out of Atlanta, however there were no available flights to Atlanta. I tried every trick in the book I knew, even screaming at them and using the “do you know who I am” line on them, but no luck. Growling I leave the counter and went to the other airlines but was rewarded with the same response. All their flights were full and that I could go standby if I wished. I looked at the other airlines and saw my last bastion of hope, Southwest. I have never flown on Southwest before and the horror stories I had heard made me nervous. But I knew they flew to Minneapolis. I walked up to the counter.
“I’d like a first-class ticket to Minneapolis please.” I state.
“I’m sorry ma’am, we do not have first class.” Ok I can deal with coach I guess. I agree to the flight and am handed my ticket. Unfortunately, I had been too busy playing with my phone to pay attention to the itinerary. And after the usual questions I am racing to TSA to get to my flight which leaves in 25 minutes. The line at TSA is extremely long. I never figured so many people traveled Christmas Eve. I looked at my phone again and I still didn’t have a signal. What is wrong with this stupid thing! Between my phone not working and the length of this line I am starting to get a little worked up. Won’t this line move! Oh, cool. Here come a pair of TSA agents. I’m going to get through!
“Excuse me ma’am. Will you follow us please” the female agent states and the lead me to a portioned off area. “Agent Adams is going to look through your backpack while I give you a complete pat down.” Confused, I agree and the agent begins searching me and touching me in places only Lex has. “Why are you traveling one a one-way ticket with no baggage?” The female agent asks me.
I am trying to get home to my boyfriend.” I say. “He had some problems with his family and is home alone right now. I am worried.”
“Nothing here” Agent Adams says. The female agent agrees and I am allowed to go. “Next time ma’am. Try not make such a scene. We had some complaints about a crazy woman in line. That’s why we brought you over, Have a good flight.”
“Yeah, thanks” I say as I grab my backpack and race to my gate. I look up and realize that I have less than 10 minutes until takeoff. I run through the airport and the gate agent tells me to take whatever seat is available. I get on the airplane and see that it is packed. Are there any open seats! I keep walking towards the back of the plane and finally spot one. It is center seat between two very large individuals, one male and one female. The man gets up and lets me in and I shove my backpack underneath the seat. I think I felt the man’s hand grab my ass! I turn around and he has a shit eating grin on his face. I take my seat and dig for my headphones. I am going to need them today.
You’re a right pretty thing aren’t ya. What ya’ll doin’ in Atlanta?” the red-neck said to me with a grin that seemed to be missing a few teeth.
“Earl leave the poor girl alone” came from the woman to the other side of me. I smiled and at her and nodded an appreciative thanks.
“Ah Lana, shut the hell up. I was just trying to get to know our friend here. “ The tooth less smile gets even wider and now I can now smell his breath! It was revolting. ‘Earl’ finally backed off a little after being admonished again by Lana, but I kept feeling his hand rub up against my leg. I felt like I was going to throw up right there. I tried to move closer to Lana as we awaited take off but the smell emanating from her was almost as bad. I tried to bury my head in my vest and sweatshirt, but I still couldn’t mask the smell.
As we take off, the sudden inaction hits me and all I can think about is Alexa. God, I hope she is alright. Her father is such an asshole that I can only imagine what he said to her. I have to get to her! But this is not the only thing that is on my mind now. This mental picture of Dick standing over her belittling her keeps going through my head. Between those thoughts and the smell form my seat mates, I get up as soon as the “Fasten Seat Belt Sign” is turned off. I feel Earl grab my ass once again. That’s It. I turn and slap him square across the face. “You grab my ass again Bubba I will rip your balls off.” I tell the toothless man. He wilts back a little as I move off to the rear of the plane. I can see Lana laughing as I leave, only to return once we are told we will be landing. I slide back into my seat and thankfully am left alone by Earl for the reminder of the flight.
Atlanta proves to be an absolute madhouse. This is the craziest place I have ever seen! You have husbands and wives in full out arguments. You have children screaming and crying everywhere you look, people running through the terminal trying to catch flights. I almost was run over by a young solider rushing by with his duffle bag. He was nice enough to turn and excuse himself before he had to do a pirouette around a gentleman with a roller bag. I found the departure monitors and looked up. There must be some kind of storm between here and Chicago. There were flights delayed all over the place. I found the departures for Minneapolis. Southwest does not have any flights to Minneapolis! Where am I going? MCI? What the heck is MCI? I look at the board further and find that MCI is Kansas City. Why am I flying to Kansas City? I don’t get it. I don’t have too much time to think. I see that it is leaving from Gate C51 in 15 minutes. Where am I? Gate C8! I start running to catch my flight. This is the worst ever.
Once I make it to the gate there are people everywhere. What is going on? It is then I hear the gate agent come over the intercom. “We are sorry to announce our flight will be delayed due to mechanical issues. We ask the that you do not leave the gate area as we will begin loading as soon as the issue are resolved. Thank you for your patience and thank you for flying Southwest.” Great! I run over to look at the departure board again. Maybe I can catch a flight to Minneapolis on another airline. As I am looking at the monitors, I watch as the next two flights on Delta go from ‘On-Time’ to “Delayed’. More good news! I wonder what is going on. I can’t take all this anymore. I need a drink.
The bar was crowded, all the tables were taken but I did find one stool available at the bar, next to a middle-aged man in a rumpled suit. He looked like he had been living in the suit. I gave him a polite smile as I waited for my Bloody Mary. I don’t know what was going through his mind, but I noticed him trying to work his wedding band off his finger. How disgusting. Normally I might try and tease him a little and string him on but this was not the time. To put him off I tried Alexa again but my phone was acting up and I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I had to have this thing looked at. The businessman tried to strike up a conversation but I thwarted him immediately by telling him I was a lesbian and finished my drink quickly and went back to my gate.
When I made it back to my gate they were already boarding. I was stuck at the end of the line. Southwest’s wonderful way of seating people was going to rear up and bight me in the ass again. I was going to get stuck between two big old country boys that smelled like cow manure. But luckily this time there was an open seat between what looked like a father and his teenaged daughter. I asked if the seat was open. It wasn’t long before I realized how wrong the assumption I had made was wrong. The middle-aged man turned his legs to let me move through but could care less who I was. The girl however was all excited that someone closer to her age was going to be her traveling companion. As soon as she opened her mouth, I suddenly regretted my choice.
“Hi! I’m Alyssa, but my friends call me Aly.” The teenager says to me. As I stare at the girl with a mouth full of braces I feel that there is a much larger age difference between us than the 6 years it appears to be. I try to be polite and tell her my name. “Oh my god. Like I am so excited! I have never flown by myself. I’m like 15 and my parents finally thought I could handle it myself. I am going to Kansas City to see my Grandparents. How about you? Are you like going home for Christmas?” I acknowledge that I was and began digging through my backpack for my head phones. There was no way I was going to be able to put up with this girl the whole flight. It is then she notices both my phone and my head phones. “Oh my god is that like an iPhone 7? I really want one of those. I only have a 5C. My parents won’t by the new one yet. And are those like wireless Beats? Those are like so cool!”
I put on my headphones and begin playing music. I notice two things as I am looking at my phone. One it was still in airplane mode. UGH! No wonder I couldn’t call Alexa. The second was my battery was almost dead. There is no way I am going to make it all the way to Kansas City with this phone. So off goes the phone, but what now? I check my backpack and all I have in it is a copy of People and a copy of Cosmo. I do have my laptop, but I know that is almost dead as well. This is going to be a long flight. I decide it is best to try and ease back and I lose myself in the People. It is difficult however as the teenager will not stop talking! I don’t want to be mean to her, but I do want to be left alone. It seemed like she was reading over my shoulder and commenting on every article. “Like Oh My God! Chris Hemswoth is so hot!” and “I like, love those Kardashians!” Finally, I looked over at her and asked.
“Would you like to read this? I already have read it.” I thought it might work to get her to leave me alone for a little bit. And it worked! For the first time today, something has gone right!
“Like Oh my god! You are so nice! Thank you, Jenny! And as I handed her the magazine I knew I would have at least a half an hour where I would be left alone and I closed my eyes and thought about Alexa. I could see her now curled up on the couch, crying her eyes out. I wanted to tell her everything would be alright. I wanted to dry her tears. Mostly I just wanted to hold her and tell her that I love her. I had to get to her. I was scared she would do something. I don’t know what I would do if something happened to her.
I was awoken by an announcement being made that our arrival would be delayed into Kansas City due to weather. I looked at my watch and then at my itinerary. I realized that now I was not going to make my connection to Chicago. Great! This trip was turning worse every minute. I looked over to my young seat mate who was also waking from her slumber. But it was like the switch turned on. “Does that mean we are like going to keep flying around?” she asked. I just nodded in response. “What happens if we start running out of gas. Can we use the bathroom? I saw the stories on TV.” I tried to ignore the young girl and try and figure out what was next on my little adventure.
After I get off the plane I race to the departure board to search for a flight, any flight to Minneapolis or Chicago. Delta has nothing to either destination and Southwest has only one flight left to Chicago that leaves in 3 hours. And it already is delayed. I instantly run to the Southwest counter to try and see if there is anything I can do. I get to the counter and greeted by a line about 50 people long. And from what I can hear, there is nothing that the airline can do. Frustrated, I tried to call Lex again, but I couldn’t get my phone to power up. I dug in my back pack looking for my charger. Where is it! I start to think back and realized I must have left it back in Florida. Could this day get any worse! But by luck I see a cell phone place down the hall. I practically sprint done the corridors of Kansas City International only to find a store that had closed for Christmas. Well at least my luck hasn’t changed. I check the newsstand next to the cell phone place and they do have some charges, but of course they are out of ones for iPhones. Perfect. Just perfect. At least this place was still open. I look for something to read for the rest of the day and settle on some trashy romance novel. At least it will keep me occupied.
As I leave the newsstand I realize I am starving I look over the concourse and see a sign for something called “The Farmer’s Market” That sounds good. Anything would be better than the Burger King right next to the Newsstand. My stomach is starting to rumble as I reach the restaurant. Closed. Is everything closed! I look at the menu and see so many appetizing things. A Garden Salad, A panini with turkey, tomato, avocado and sprouts. My mouth was watering. Everything looks so good. Why does this place have to be closed! I continue to look around. Every restaurant I see is closed. I am pretty much left with Burger King or getting a bag of chips from a vending machine. I suck up my pride and head to Burger King. I don’t think I have been to one since I was about 15. Looking at my options I realize there is nothing that appeals to me, but I know I must eat. I see a cooler at the side which has the words “Salads to Go” written across it. I open it up and find 3 containers of wilted, browning lettuce that look like they had been sitting there for a week. I return to line and suck it up and order a Whopper Jr meal with fries and a Diet Coke. I look at the food as the tray is handed to me and feel like those kids you always see in movies who just been handed a bowl of gruel. I take one bite of the burger and instantly spit it out. How do people eat this garbage? My grumbling stomach kicks in again. I force another bite down but that is it. I throw it away but keep the fries and Diet Coke and head off looking for a place to hole up and read.
After hours of reading and I finally hear my flight being announced and I board. At least this time the flight is a little more open than the last few I have been on. I had borrowed someone’s phone while waiting and had tried Alexa again and still no answer. My worries mounted as the flight attendants came through the cabin to make sure we were belted in. I must have looked like hell, as I nodded at the flight attendant as she moved towards the front of the plane. I noticed her glance back at me a couple of times. She has a concerned look on her face each time she looked at me. I must be worse than I thought. As we begin to take off I just sat back and thought of Alexa. I hope she is alright. Thoughts of her doing something bad to herself kept rolling though my thoughts.
Being that it was a night flight; the flight attendants had dimmed the lights and stated going through the cabin asking if anyone needed anything. The same blonde flight attendant that had talked to me earlier came up and asked if I needed anything. I nodded and asked if they had any white wine. Once again the look of concern came across her face. As she went forward I started digging through my back pack looking for some money. It was then I found a picture, I had forgot it was in there. It was the same picture of Alexa and I that sat in the living room of our apartment. Looking at the picture, I realized how much this special person had come to mean to me. This was early in our relationship but I could already see the love the two of us shared. I started to cry as the thoughts of Alexa being all alone in our apartment raced through my mind. The flight attendant came back with the wine and placed it on the tray table for the center seat. Then in an unusual move she sat in the aisle seat. “Are you ok?” She asked. I looked over at her and even though I tried to pull it together I failed. I broke down in front of the woman. She reached over and simply touched my shoulder attempting to give me some comfort.
“Would you like to talk? Not much going on right now. I’m a good listened. My name is Jessica by the way.” And she moves her hand from my shoulder and offers it up for a handshake.
“Jenny” I say as I continue to fight back the tears. Jessica looks down and sees the picture of me and Alexa that I had been staring at.
“Did you two just break up?” Jessica asks.
“No. Trying to get to her. Her father just found out about her.” I instantly realized what I said. The crazy part is that Jessica didn’t flinch at anything I had just said. She just keeps giving me the same concerned look. Without even thinking, I begin to rattle on about my day from hell and the concern I had that Alexa might do something to hurt herself. I can see that Jessica has begun to sympathize with me.
“I’m sorry you have had such a tough day. I know if anything ever happened to Paul, my fiancé, and I was flying I would probably hijack an airplane to get home to him.” The comment made both of us giggle and for the first time today I felt I had made a friend. The two of us continued to talk about everything under the sun from relationships, to bad airport food, to how annoying cell phones can be. I don’t know how long we chatted by suddenly Jessica looks at her watch. “Shoot I have to get back to work. It was nice talking with you Jenny. I don’t get a chance just to hang out and chat. Don’t worry this little adventure is almost over. I’m sure that Alexa is fine and you being there will make her day. It was a pleasure talking to you. Good Night and have a Merry Christmas.” I wished her the same as she moved off. I looked down and the picture again and this time instead of tears I smiled. As we are deboarding the plane, I made sure I was the last one off. I gave Jessica a quick hug and thanked her again for the talk.
I enter my fourth airport of the day and look for the departure board. My next flight isn’t for another hour and 40 minutes so I begin to wander around looking for something to do. I find a bar that is open and I go into grab a drink. Feeling much better than I did when I was in Kansas City I begin chatting with some of the others at the bar, but my joy is short lived and soon this place closes. I notice everything is closed for the night and here I am, in an airport with no one to talk to and nothing to do. I wander around and look at some of the various pieces of art and learn about the Battle of Midway as I work my way to the gate. When I arrive at the gate, I learn of my latest hurdle. Our flight was going to be delayed as the flight crew had exceeded their flight hours and that our flight was on hold. The airline was working on a replacement crew, but it would be some time. Feeling a little dejected I find a seat in the gate area and drift off, dreaming of cuddling up with Alexa.
I am awoken from my sleep by an announcement being made that the airline has located a flight crew and that we will begin boarding shortly. Yes! My luck is beginning to change, but that is when I notice the time. It is 3:15 AM. I have been asleep for almost 4 hours! But I didn’t even care because I soon was walking down the jetway and getting ready for the last leg of this long journey. The flight home turned into one the longest hour and half’s I have ever spent. I was so wound up I was practically bouncing around the plane and realized every minute I was closer to seeing the love of my life. When we landed, I raced to the baggage claim area and grabbed the first taxi I could to take me home. I probably could have flown home with all the energy I had now. I wanted to tell the driver to floor it but thought better and soon I was standing in front of our apartment building. I gave the driver a $50 bill and thanked him and told him to keep the change. At this point I didn’t care. I race up the stairs and soon found myself opening the front door of our apartment.
As soon as I opened the door, I knew Alexa was OK. I saw that the TV was still on and went over and turned it off. I took note of the half empty wine bottle sitting on the coffee table and giggled a little. I made my way back to our room. The sound of the very soft snoring that I loved to tease Alexa about greeted my ears. I looked down at Lex and couldn’t feel any happier than I did at the moment. I sat down in the chair at the vanity/desk and reflected on the last 22 hours of my life. 4 flights, 5 airports, mechanical delays, weather delays, annoying teenagers and all the other little adventures I had encountered. And I would do all of it all over again if it meant it would mean being with Alexa. As I sat there I could see her slightly stir. After a minute, she rolled over and when our eyes met, I could only think of one thing to say.
“Merry Christmas babe.”
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