The journey home.
When we were finally disembarked, we breezed right through the whole process. After years of working with the idiot public myself, I have learned that Customs agents, ticket agents, taxi drivers, desk clerks and airline hosts and hostesses deserve to be seen as unique human beings who are doing a difficult job. I try to make their job easier with cheery greetings and humble gratitude. It usually works. We breezed right through declaring our 7 fifths of tequila and numerous t-shirts all bought in duty free shops. I was perfectly willing to pay if we had to, and the nice man was happy to tell us we didn't have to. I thanked him for his good work.
Then we had to wait for a taxi. The party ahead of us had seven people and mountains of luggage. The person in charge of taxis put us into the next taxi to arrive, and the angry man in the party ahead of us blew a fuse. As if he thought they could get all those people and all that luggage into a single taxi. Before he totally exploded, the van which had been ordered for his party arrived. Some people got no sense. We made our getaway.
DH had gone on line and paid for day passes at the United First Class lounge in Miami. Unfortunately, there isn't a United First Class lounge in Miami. He got back on line and complained. I think the money will be refunded, but we were looking forward to the wide soft chairs, ice water, snacks, and free wifi the lounge provides. We paid for 24 hours of wifi and settled in next to an electric outlet for the next five hours. Actually, it was more like six hours, because the flight crew was delayed.
I wound up chatting with one of the air hostesses, and they had had a thoroughly rotten time of it. The hotel where they had rooms reserved the night before had five, not six rooms available. At 12:30 in the darkness, the desk clerk was completely unhelpful. Doubling up wasn't really an option, because they needed to get their showers and sleep right away and sleeping with a stranger in the double bed is too unrestful. So the captain tracked down another hotel and took a cab there. The next morning, the driver of the van assigned to get them refused to go to the other hotel. When his boss was tracked down and and the side trip was authorized, he had to be directed to the other hotel. Traffic held them up for unwarranted amounts of time. When they finally arrived to take us off to Houston, the desk clerks who had been catching flack from the fretful passengers, flicked the shit right along to these poop folks who had no control over the fact that sometimes things happen.
DH had gotten us exit row seats, and it was one of those where the hostess straps in facing you. So I leaned forward, stuck out my hand, and said, "Well, we'll be eye to eye for a awhile here. I'm Roxie Matthews." Rather startled, she shook hands and introduced herself. Then she said, "I've been flying for 27 years, and that's the first time anyone has ever done that." We had a nice chat about cultural differences, how people in cities learn not to make eye-contact, how people who have never held service jobs can de-humanize their servers, and how sometimes stuff happens. I mentioned to her that we had a short window to make our next flight, and could she perhaps find out which gate we needed to run to? She went to the trouble to find out the gates for all the connecting flights, and broadcast it as we were coming in for a landing. Then she asked people who had to run to their connections to hold up their hands, and asked everyone sitting around them to please cut them some slack.
There were about 30 people on the plane with us who were connecting with the plane to Portland, so they held the flight a few minutes, and we all made it. Then we sat on the ground for fourty minutes, because the cart with our luggage got lost. So we didn't have to run after all. In fact, we might even have had a chance to grab a bite to eat.
But as it was, DH wound up buying 3 different snack boxes and between them, we had a lovely picnic. He ate the cheeses and crackery things, I got the humus and pitas, he took the chips and spicy salsa, I took the applesauce, he took the oreos, I took the skittles. It worked out very, very well. No single box contained a full meal for either of us, but by sharing, we got along splendidly!
We got home, got our bags, caught the bus to the long-term parking, found the car, and made it safely home. The cats were bewildered to see us, having grown so used to Rose who spoils them terribly. We had to start our usual going to bed ritual before they recognized us, Ben hid under the bed till about three AM when he finally crawled out, perched on DH's chest, and started purring like a diesel tractor. Pepper is curled in my lap right now, getting her belly rubbed which means I have typed most of this one-handed.
When I crawled into bed last night, the mattress cupped each familiar vertebra and rib. I sighed deeply, enjoying the melting feel as the armor of muscles across my back began to dissolve. Them I noticed happy little grunting noises. It was me. Travel is grand, but getting home again is better still.