TGR: Airport drama

Me thinks: I’ll tell you straight up. Two words: it sucks.

Today was a bad day for commuting. I suppose someday I will look back and think it wasn’t so bad after all, possibly even good, but for now, I am sitting at home in my pyjamas with a store-bought ready meal of chicken noodles when I should have been on a plane to New York, so yes, it’s shit.

It all began when I got to New Cross Gate station half an hour early for my train to Gatwick, which was good. Always better to be early. Once, in Prague, we turned up at the main train station for our (Rather expensive!) train on to Berlin, only to find out the train was leaving from another smaller station a half hour train ride away. It was a mad rush but we made it, only because we’d been early. Lesson well learnt. Anyway, the train finally arrived, but at the exact same time as the train on the other side of the platform, and I think the excitement must’ve gotten to my sensibilities because I happily got on the wrong train. All I could do was stare mournfully at the train I was suppose to be on as we pulled slowly out of the station. I ended up at London Bridge, rushed to get a ticket, and thankfully made it to Gatwick just 10 minutes later than I would’ve from New Cross Gate.

I figured that the worst was behind me; went straight to the Norwegian Air express check-in machine (no check-in bags), tried twice to scan my passport but it either didn’t register or said that my name didn’t match the ticket. I had to go to the counter instead, and the nice lady there looked through my documents, then asked for my Visa. I told her I didn’t need one to get into the U.S., so she asked for the ESTA document (note: if you have a Visa waiver into the U.S., you need this still!). Then she asked for my documents for leaving the U.S., and I felt my heart pound extra hard. I didn’t have any of those. I’m supposed to be on a subload ticket back and those don’t need to be booked way in advance, so my dad hadn’t fully settled it or sent me the ticket yet. I had absolutely no evidence that I was leaving the U.S. next week. I told her so, my mouth dry and the words tumbling out nervously. A look of uncertainty rippled across her face; now that I think about it, when I saw that look a part of me already crumbled, already knew things would not work out. The manager (I assume) came over and also very gently told me that the documents were necessary, and without them I could not fly. Okay, I said, let me make a call, and what time does check-in close? 10 minutes. My heart was racing. I called and I called but noone at home seemed to be picking up. To be fair, it was 1am back home, and, as I found out later, my dad was on a flight, so of course he couldn’t take a call. He was also the only person who could’ve sorted out the ticket for me, so my hopes were about as solid as the air his plane was suspended in. When, about 10 minutes later, I’d spoken to my mum and it became clear that I wasn’t going to get that ticket, I walked back to the counter, and from the look they gave when they saw me I knew they’d kept it open specially for me. I still didn’t have the documents, it was impossible to get them, and was there any way I could get around it and could you please let me fly? My voice was quivering and I was choking back the tears. They offered me sympathetic looks and looked full of regret, but they had to say that no, nothing could be done. At that moment it sank in deep that I wasn’t going anywhere today, and my heart broke. I struggled to retain my composure in front of these kind counter people but I could already feel the hot tears rolling down my cheeks. I motioned to say I was okay – I must’ve really scared them, I was getting so emotional – and quickly walked away.

I stood in a corner and sobbed for abit, spinning impractical options out of thin air. Come on! I yelled at myself in my head. There must be SOME way! But there wasn’t. Or at least there wasn’t anything I knew to do, except to get my flight changed to the next one … on saturday. Two days gone, when they should’ve been spent on the start of my dream holiday. And for an additional £120, too. The girl at the tickets counter took my card, typed in the details, then frowned slightly and told me the payment wasn’t going through. I swear, at that moment I was so frustrated at the spate of unfortunate events that I nearly murdered the plant standing next to me. Thankfully, thankfully, she tried again and it worked.

This may all seem rather dramatic, but you must understand, I’ve been dreaming of this trip since I was old enough to realise the world was bigger than the tiny island I lived in. NYC is everything I dream about, even a little more so than London (which is already very, very awesome). For the past week, every time I thought of how I would be in New York in a matter of days, there was a fluttering of excitement in my gut. And now this.

I can’t say I handled it very well … what happened next was that I stashed my new travel documents in my bag, sat on one of those airport benches, and sobbed. I was (am!) so disappointed, and so frustrated. Every cell in my body wanted to be on that plane. Flying on saturday means I’m not going to be able to meet a great friend tomorrow (she flies back to Cali on saturday) and that my trip is cut short by 2 days. And that’s alot when you’re only there for a week. I took out the cookies I’d baked for the friend who was going to host me tonight and tomorrow, and ate them all. Then I ate the ham sandwich I’d bought for dinner on the plane. Then I ate both my bananas. And I felt a wee bit better, but then again not really.

So i sat there crying and eating (and eating somemore) for about an hour, after which I decided that I just couldn’t stay in the airport any longer, so I went to get tickets back. Well, I guess it’s in line with the rest of the day’s luck that the last direct train to New Cross Gate had left while I’d been moping and demolishing innocent cookies, so I had to buy a non-direct trip instead. Ugh. UGH!!!!! Nothing seemed to be working out.

So now I’m home and I’ve just eaten a microwave dinner. I can still feel the aching pressure of tears behind my eyeballs and I still feel like shit. The next 2 days are going to be the longest wait of my life.

Somehow I feel like all this must have happened for a reason. It’s just too coincidental that so many hindrances can happen in one day; it’s like all the bad luck of the past year combined and put into the past 8 hours. I just hope that whatever it is, it’s worth it.

Very sulky post but you gotta let me have my sulk just for today.

Me Thinks (continued): My stance is always not to get too caught up with things that don’t go the way you want them to, that 1) it almost always happens for a good reason and 2) it’s likely an infinitesimal hiccup in the course of a life. Trying to forcefully adopt that positivity today. Also, Norwegian Air is doing insanely cheap flights to New York; I got my 1-way ticket for £239. In fact, it was £209 when I first saw it, but went up by 30 quid by the time I bought it a few days later. If that’s not a steal I don’t know what is!

Look out for The Great Review: NYC! That’s supposed to start tomorrow but I guess not … let’s hope we have a good review of that to end the week, yesh?

Cheers (even when things aren’t all that cheery!) x


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