He had been training at Ft McCoy in Wisconsin for two months in preperation for deployment. I am fortunate to have family live right in that area so when his four-day pass started we were there to get him & enjoy our own family vacation.
I flew with my boys into O’Hare airport, cutting about 6 or 7 hours out of our drive. My aunt picked us up and then we drove the additional four hours up to Wisconsin borrowing her van. It was a WONDERFUL four days. We went canoeing; did some ATV driving; had a campfire with smores; and just enjoyed the beauty of being a family again. I had never appreciated being a family of five like I did those glorious four days. In fact, we were a family of 7 as my mother- and father-in-law were with us.
Friday, the day we had to say good-bye, came all too quickly though and after saying goodbye we headed back to the Chicago area to catch a flight the next morning. Then the drama began. We checked in ok, in fact we were there two hours early after checking in. We had plenty of time to get through security and down OHare’s underground corridor. We quickly grabbed some lunch at McDonald’s and had planned on sitting at our gate and “enjoy” it. Then I looked again at the TV screenes. Our 1:00pm flight was cancelled. The gate attendent was kind, to an extent, she explained the next flight, around 4pm, had three available seats and booked my boys. I was on the stand-by list.
Back down the underground corridor we went – with three children and all of our carry-ons – to our new gate. All I could do was pray that the flight wasn’t overbooked and that I would receive a seat quickly releiving any anxieties. Sometimes my prayers just aren’t answered the way I want them.
The 4:00pm flight still hadn’t taken off at 6:00pm and now they were calling for volunteers to receive free tickets if they would come off the flight. My chances of coming off of stand-by seemed to be slim and of course my children wouldn’t be flying without me. So up to the desk I trecked. What was I going to do? What were the reprecrussions of me having a seat on the 1:00 flight and now none on the 4:00pm flight? The first flight was cancelled because of ‘crew problems’ and the 2nd was being delayed because it didn’t have a crew either. This was no ‘act of God’.
My tears had no impact on the gate-attendent. They weren’t contrived. I had been sitting in the airport since 11:00am with a 3-, 5- and 14-year older. The 14-year older was panicing that we weren’t getting on the flight; the 3 and 5 year older just wanted out of this airport. I had just said good-bye to my husband who was off to a foreign land for 9+ months. Since I was “willing” to give up the three boys seats we got three free round-trips for a future flight and $100 off a future flight for myself since I didn’t have a seat on the 4:00pm flight. We also were given a hotel room for the night and $7 vouchers for each of us for dinner. (Although, the cheapest meal in the bar at the hotel was $18 … and that was a cheese quesodilla.) Needless to say the $28 United Airlines gave us for dinner didn’t cover 25% of the bill.
We did have a flight the next morning at 6:30am; after a night of tossing and turning because of stress I was so ready to get home. We had to fly from O’Hare to Atlanta and then to our closest airport in Cleveland. The flight from Atlanta to Cleveland was delayed an hour, but that was just a drop in the waterfall of the emotions I was feeling. I will be happy to use our free United tickets (because I “gave up” the boys seats) when we take our family to Disney World in July of 2009. Any other flights I will steer clear of United. Crew problems or not I just didn’t feel anyone went out of their way to take care of their customers that trip.
So, apparently, I can’t leave Hubby without incident. I hit a deer within 20 minutes of saying good-bye after seeing him off for his two-months of training back in April. But like I told him the night before he left that I would tell him good-bye a gazillion times if it meant I would get to see him a gazillion and one times. I can only pray that if we have to say good-bye again that the transition is much smoother!