Like I said, I just knew the trip back to Munich would be smooth sailing. I was flying with US Airways—not the evil United Airlines who lost, then damaged, Patricia.
I checked in online the night before, went to church with my parents, allowed a bunch of jolly Methodists to pray for my safe flight home, ate a healthy lunch at Ruby Tuesday’s (if you haven’t bellied up to their salad bar, your belly is really missing something), and then swaggered over to the international airport in Nashville. (I think there’s one flight to Toronto.)
“Are you on the Philadelphia flight?” the US Airways guy asked me.
“I am,” I said.
“It’s cancelled,” he said.
“Well, then I guess the correct answer to your question would be I’m not,” I said. Ha Ha.
Roll with the punches. Roll with the punches. Roll with the punches. This is my mantra at airports. I used to hurt people—not physically: I usually stuck to merely slicing up their feelings with my razor-sharp sarcasm.
It turned out US Airways had already reworked my itinerary. Five hours later I would be flying with American Airlines to Chicago and then an hour later with Lufthansa to Munich, which meant that my parents and I had around four hours to kill in the airport. We worked crossword puzzles. Dozens of them. Hundreds. I don’t know.
When I arrived at the gate, I was greeted with the information that the American flight was going to be an hour and fifteen minutes late.
“Um, excuse me,” I said to the American guy. Roll with the punches. Roll with the punches. “I’m not going to have enough time in Chicago to make my Munich flight.”
He looked at my flight information. “You arrive in Chicago at 8:27, and your Munich flight is not until 8:45.” He actually said this.
“Yes,” I said, “and you see, that’s not nearly enough time to go from one terminal to another in Chicago. I know. I’ve hurt people before getting from one terminal to another in Chicago.” OK, I might have hurt more than feelings. “And the plane takes off at 8:45. The gate will be closed long before that.”
“Oh,” he said. “You’re right.”
I gave him my I’m always right look: it’s almost the I’m appalled look, but it has a touch of mercy for the poor fool who tried to argue with me.
“Well, we can fly you to Chicago, then we can put you on a plane to London Heathrow, then five hours later we can fly you to Munich. You’d get to Munich around 4:00 tomorrow afternoon.”
“And will there be someone there to take me to the hospital, or should I arrange to have my dead body interred?”
For a moment he looked as if he were trying to figure out which of these alternatives was better. “Ah, that’s a joke,” he said.
“Yeah,” I said. “The last 36-hour day I had was on an interminably delayed flight from Thailand. That was a blast until about the fourth hour. After that, I started hurting people.”
“I make only one joke per day, and you've had yours already. Any other alternatives there, Mr. American guy?”
“Well, we could put you on a flight tomorrow morning. You’d arrive a day late in Munich, but you’d be rested.”
“I think that’s better for everyone involved. I'll call my father and tell him to get the Scrabble board back out. We just need to get Patricia.”
“My cheap old bag.”
“Oh right. Do you have a description?”
“She’s brown, beat up, and she has clear tape around the sides where Lufthansa and United jabbed the crap out of her.”
A girl from baggage service was standing next to him. “I know your bag.”
“Who doesn’t? So will I be flying with Lufthansa tomorrow?”
“No,” American guy said. “United.”
Stick around as the Life and Times of Patricia, the Cheap Old Bag continues. I’ll probably make the end up, something with Zombies. Dunno yet.
I must be off,