You'll notice that I never wrote about our flight home from Orlando. That is because I am in real danger of branding myself a seriously crazy lady if I continue to wax prolific on my utter hatred for fellow air travelers. Seriously. Also, it was both flattering and embarrassing to recently receive an email from the lovely fellow who runs the website www.flightsfromhell.com enquiring whether he might publish my blog on his website. Of course I happily agreed (the prospect of inspiring empathy on a grand scale was too much to refuse), but it does beg the question about whether I may have actually crossed some sort of line?
Anyway, I showed up a the Virgin Airlines check-in desk with one motive and one motive only...TO LAND MYSELF A BULKHEAD SEAT. There was NO way I was going to get back on that plane, with the monsters, and have a repeat of the hellish outward journey. The pretty young hispanic girl behind the counter went against form and instead of rolling her eyes with the usual, "I'm sorry all the bulkhead seats are taken", she calmly listened to my mini rant about my previous journey, nodding sympathetically in all the right places. Even though she possessed hips that had not yet gone through the rigamorole of childbirth, she miraculously empathised and disappeared for a short while to see what she could do.
About twenty minutes later she returned and politely ignoring a now pissed off screaming Dumpie in my arms, said that she had managed to get me bulkhead seats. I nearly leapt over the counter, took her in my arms and kissed her with gratitude, but then i realised that such unhinged behavior might land me in the position of not being allowed to board the flight on account of being under the influence of crack or crystal meth or something...
A teary good-bye was said at the gates (it only gets harder as the years go by - not easier) and I began the laborious process of getting a two year old, a four year old, two teddy bears, another stuffed toy, three pairs of shoes, a pushchair and five carry on bags through the x-ray area.
(If you're wondering why I was loaded down with so many carry-ons it was because both Dumpie and Eggie insisted on their own heaving sacks of toys, sweeties and games...and my sole suitcase had been too heavy (a whopping 31 kilo's!) so I had been told to take out approximately 7 kilo's worth of 'stuff' and put them in a carry-on instead. This had of course been done in full view of a whole hall of people who no doubt enjoyed the brief distraction of watching me on my hands and knees, pulling out kitchen implements, toys, foodstuffs, etc., manically trying to figure out what weighed the most and what I could ditch. It was of course humiliating and left me looking like a sweaty jogger - disheveled and anxious. However I did it in the end, and of course I was still riding the high of having been granted bulkhead seats so I took it in fairly good grace...well for me anyway.)
Now, as regards the flight home - let me just say that it was better than the flight out...but not by much. It was a night flight, and Eggie and Dumps were rather well behaved. That is more however, than I can say for the fellow and his wife sat directly behind us. You would have thought that they had never been on an airplane before the way they gleefully surveyed all their onboard flight materieal, commented loudly on how much wine they were going to drink, and emptied out a large bag of puzzles, books and games (and might I mention they were traveling sans children). After the evening meal, the cabin lights went off and there was a general winding down as the stewards all left to go and gossip in the galleys and everyone cozied up in Virgin's red blankets and reclined their seats. All except for me and Dumps.
I tried for half an hour to push our seats back but to no avail. I didn't understand it. No matter how hard I pushed the button it wouldn't recline. To make matters worse my television was broken but even the complimentary dvd player they brought didn't help my mood as Dumps and I appeared to be stuck uncomfortably bolt upright, while all around us others dozed. Then I turned around and realized that this was not entirely the case. The couple behind us were WIDE awake, chatting away in barely disguised whispers, laughing uproariously at their movies and were the only ones with their lights turned on. It wasn't until one of them got up to go to the toilet a little while later that I tried one last time to recline my seat and miracle of miracles...IT WENT BACK!
So it wasn't broken after all. Instead, that nasty pair had been jamming their knees against the back so I couldn't recline. Of all the nerve! The fellow when he returned to his seat was none to happy to see his space diminished, and I heard him tell the woman something to the effect of 'We'll see about that", as he climbed back into his seat and violently jerked my seat forward into upright position with his knees. Moments later Dumps had his seat shoved upright as well, with enough violent force to wake him and start him screaming. Poor little guy.
Suffice it to say, the next several hours were spent in a bizarre seat pitch tug-of-war, as I would gain a few inches through sheer deliberation (using my legs on the bulkhead as leverage to press back) and then as soon as I relaxed for a second they would take advantage of the slack and shove my seat right back up again. Whether it was total lack of any bloody sleep, or the fact that Dumpie kept drifting off only to be jerked awake moments later - I wanted to kill them. I truly did. I was honestly out of my mind with rage and it was a struggle of wills which they won - given that I was just not up to an 'air rage' incident - and that is undoubtedly what would have occurred if I had stood up and had it out with them.
At any rate we finally made it, and Jay was waiting for us outside the gates. Dumpie had done a welcome poo-poo for Jay in baggage claim and as a result came hobbling out, legs stretched apart like a cowboy, screaming after me, 'Maaaamaaaaa...poooooo-poooooo!' in case the stench alone hadn't been enough of a clue to alert me to the situation. When boarding the escalators to get down to the train platform, Jay realized a moment too late that he had left Dumpie at the top by himself and thus let go of the 30-odd kilo suitcase he had been holding, and I watched in horror as it fell in slow-motion down towards me, turning twice in the air, where I was precariously balanced with a pushchair piled sky high with carry-on bags. I don't know how I managed not to go toppling and break my neck, but I bore the brunt of it on my arm as the suitcase came crashing into me. A bruised, slight bloody arm later, I stumbled onto the train wondering whether my homecoming could have gotten off to any worse of a start (sigh).
Anyway, we've been home for almost a week now and already our trip is a distant memory. I have had to wean the boys off "Nay-Nay's" (sweeties) and 100% attention, and Eggie has expressed several times this week his dismay at having to go to school instead of playing on the beach. "Tell me about it Egg" I say to him as we bundle up for school and I glance down at yet another heating bill and think anxiously of my ever-growing to-do list...
To be honest, Dumpie has been the one keeping my spirits up this week as he is learning words at an incredible rate and is making me laugh. The other night Jay came home drenched in perspiration from his usual bike ride home. Jay went to cuddle him and Dumpie said, "Dada nink-ne"(stinky)! I laughed very hard and now as a result Dumpie goes around telling anyone who will listen, not only that he intends to "Play football Dada" this weekend in the park, but that his Dada is "Nink-ne".
Jay, as you can imagine, is not terribly amused...