Monday, June 18, 2012

Begrudged Serendipity

Two ways to ruin my week are to put a hitch in my plans or throw me a curveball. By that I mean, A. cause something to in my life to change, or B. take control away from me. I do not do these things well. Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where Elaine discovered she didn't have any "grace?" I would love for people to think I have grace too but, much like I think Elaine is, I am one of those people that gives purposely audible sighs of frustration in the check-out line at the grocery store when the cashier is taking too long. Once you're that person, you can't not be that person. I'm sorry, everyone.

That being said, I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't share the story of our layover flight in Canada on our way to Ireland, otherwise known as the Great Maria Breakdown of 2012. If you've brought along your sympathy-for-Aaron cap, do put it on now.

We had successfully endured a layover at Newark Airport, which is like the knock-off brand of Cool Whip of airports. It's so sad there, like one of those houses that got to be on some home makeover show but then you go back a couple of years later and there's newspapers stacked on the chaise lounge and cats ate all the potpurri. So we boarded our plane for Belfast with all of the obligatory squeals of excitment that I DIDN'T CARE WHOSE BABY THEY WOKE UP, LADY; WHO BRINGS A BABY ON AN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT ANYWAY AND I BET THOSE OVERALLS WILL BE COVERED IN PUKE BY THE TIME WE LAND, AND IF IT'S NOT THE BABY'S PUKE MAYBE IT WILL BE MINE and can you believe the anger I already had, just upon boarding? This is called foreshadowing and if you're taking notes, this is the time to write "Exhibit A: Crazy" in your margins.

About an hour and a half into our United Airlines flight, a comically calm pilot came on the sound system, interrupting my viewing of "Man on a Ledge" to which I give two stars but I was happy that Elizabeth Banks' hair was normal, and said "Hi everyone! The de-icing mechanism on our engine is broken! We are going to make an emergency landing! Thanks everyone!"

So we landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is Canada, you guys. Then an early-90's sitcom began to play out in front of our very eyes, as a three-hour wait to get a hotel room was followed by a hand-written "free hotel voucher" from the airport lady whose computer was "broke", but who was rather keen to enjoy a visit from a big-bellied security guard with a bright yellow vest and quite a loud snore.

After we waited for our "voucher" and then waited for the shuttle to take us to the hotel and then laid down in bed at 4:30 am, steam was coming out of my ears and not the good kind. It was at this point that Aaron said "Maria, set your alarm. In the morning we are going to go see the Titanic cemetery."

You see, as our flight emergency landed all up in this joint, I sarcastically remarked to my husband, "oh hey. Halifax is where everyone is buried. The wreck's only a few hundred miles away. YAY I'M SO GLAD WE'RE HERE."

That's when Aaron's brain started cookin' and by the time we woke up the next morning, he had a map in one hand, money for the bus in the other and a goofy grin that only a crazy person could have after spending the night with Maria Whose Plans Were Just Interrupted.

I whined. I pouted. I gave sarcastic glares. When the United Airlines guy said "we'll board in about an hour" the next day, I said "Is that like, a real hour or like, your fantasy-world definition of an hour? Because it was "an hour" about 3 hours ago, and since "an hour" implies 1 hour and 3 hours is not 1 hour but 3, I feel I can't rely on your current notion of '1 hour.'" And he said "Have you heard of an "engineer's hour"? And I said no, but if you're about to tell me it's going to be longer than a real person's hour, you probably shouldn't, and now I'm thinking about the term "baker's dozen" for some reason but the only thing people have here in Canada is freaking Tim Horton's and I really don't feel like a day-old cream-filled donut, and now I'm not only angry about the 3 hours but also about the lack of good food.

You guys,  before we finally took off for Ireland  about 40 hours later they made us wait an extra 3 hours so they could give us sandwiches on the plane. Cold ham sandwiches from Tim Horton's. All I could think was, "this is what I bet it looks like behind the scenes at the Pentagon." Total counter-intuitiveness, impatient people, a lack of willingness to take responsibility, and too high of a priority placed on sandwiches.

But here's the moral of the story: we went to the Titanic cemetery. And I was emotional, and it was beautiful, and though I couldn't give in at the time, I can't believe how serendipitous it was that our emergency landing sitcom happened in Halifax, where I probably would have never had occasion to go otherwise.

Now, excuse me, but I am about to go all Toyota up on an unsuspecting United Airlines customer service rep. But with GRACE.

More Ireland stories coming soon...

Do you have a travel nightmare story? Do share.


  1. I'm glad you got to see the graves even if was under such frustrating, horrible circumstances :) We're actually going to be going to see them as well in July so it's kinda nice to get a sneak preview from your trip ;) Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip!! It sounds like you had a fabulous time based on the pics on Facebook!

  2. Meghan that's awesome! Are you guys going to Nova Scotia on vacation? Halifax was such a great place - I actually told Aaron I'd like to go back there some time, on purpose. :)

  3. I finally read your entire blog and I need you to write on soon, Maria. Do not shut up, please ;) Evelyn

  4. :)

    I finally registered at wordpress, so I can leave non-anonymous comments and get notifications. So this is me - Evelyn. Take care & read you soon!

  5. You were not in Curacao...where it was 1 billion degrees, smelled like dirty tampons and once we actually got on the plane the stewardess, who was a man, was large and sweaty and could hardly fit down the aisle to deliver our warm, greasy, slimey ham sandwiches. Also, we were stuck then in Miami and then in Chicago with a 32 year old man who had cancer and no meds...nightmare does not even describe it my friend...comical but awful at the same time...memories that will last a lifetime