First of all, this is going to be an epic travelogue of our trip to Ireland. Epic as in long. Not necessarily epic as in Lord of the Rings good. Nobody should ever be forced to sit through stories of somebody else’s vacation or view their slides; so in case you want to bail, here’s a link to the Hamster Dance.
Now that we’re all here voluntarily, let the journey begin. RUABelle and I were offered this opportunity a couple of months ago by one of the mills I buy paper from. We’re not their biggest customer, so our mill rep was having trouble getting permission to invite us over to Ireland. Rather than be beholden to him or his mill, I offered to pay our way over and back. The mill rep had never seen his company’s house over there or played the golf course where they have a corporate membership, so he was more than happy to arrange the deal.
We left out of Nashville the afternoon of June 24. A 1:00 pm flight ensures that you will stay out just late enough the night before to make certain that you have to travel hung over. We wanted be sure to sleep on the way over, so we figured staying up until after midnight the evening before was a good idea. We were, of course, incorrect.
It just meant that we had to scramble all over town the morning of the flight, running errands, trying to fill prescriptions and boarding the dog at the vet. All the time sweating beer and bourbon. Nice.
Check in and the flight to Atlanta was uneventful. The 35 minute flight does not allow for any sort of beverage service, so it has to be the easiest flight attendant gig ever. It’s amazing how the little things affect you as I was cranky that both Delta magazines in our seat back pockets already had the sudokus attempted. Not completed. Just f%&*ed up.
After a three hour layover in the international terminal at Hartsfield, we prepared to board the plane. And we waited. And waited. Finally, a gate attendant came up with a plausible excuse. Our plane had come in a little bit late from Paris, and it was extremely dirty. The gate crew was having a devil of a time cleaning up after those furry little Frenchmen. We could buy that.
Finally, we boarded the aircraft. And we waited. And waited. Apparently, it wasn’t just Gallic garbage that was holding us up. There was something mechanically wrong with the plane, but the pilot assured us that if he just shut down the left engine and recycled the system, everything should be fine. Great. Why don’t you just hit alt-ctrl-del and we’ll get the hell out of here.
Eventually we taxied out to the long line of planes waiting to depart. After about an hour of moving up one at a time, the pilot came back on the PA and said that the pesky warning light was on again. I was beginning to suspect that Microsoft was somehow involved. We had to return to the gate to let engineering look at the indicator.
At this point, I knew there were no later flights to Shannon departing that day. Since we were only spending three days in Ireland, I began to make contingency plans in my head. I travel a lot and RUABelle does not, so I was trying hard not to make her nervous or be that aggro traveler that nobody wants to sit next to. But I would be damned if I was gonna spend the night in a Red Roof Inn at the airport to try this again the next afternoon and spend only 48 hours overseas.
I figured we’d give it one more shot before I started to look into ways to get back to Nashville via plane, train or automobile. Unfortunately, when the pilot attempted the old recycle procedure again, it meant shutting off both engines this time. The engines power the air conditioning. Now the crowd was getting ornery. Remember the smelly folks from Paris? We could now smell where they had been steeping on the way over. The pilot promised he would hook up an external a/c unit to cool the plane, but we no longer believed anything he said. To paraphrase “Elf,” I shouted, “Mr. Pilot, you steer from a throne of LIES!” Nobody was amused.
Eventually, whatever problem they had with the plane was repaired. Or they just put black electrical tape over the indicator light. I don’t know and I didn’t care. This is what I get for flying on another bankrupt airline. You know what DELTA stands for, don’t you? Don’t Expect To Leave Airport.
After more than three hours held hostage in an aluminum tube prison, we were finally wheels up and on our way to the Emerald Isle. Two nasty meals and a tear-jerker of an in-flight movie later, we were ready to land. RUABelle has a really big soft spot for animals and tends to come a bit unhinged when one gets hurt or killed in a movie. I knew I was in trouble when the film was “Eight Below” about the guy who had to abandon his team of sled dogs in the Arctic and went back to rescue them six months later. I tried to cajole her with discussions of stunt dogs and the difference between fiction and reality, but she would not be calmed. Thanks again, Delta.
Besides the teary red eyes from the movie, both of our feet* had swelled up like banger sausages. RUABelle pointed out that you know it’s bad when you can’t get slides on your feet. We were not attractive.
Stay tuned for Part 2-We actually get to Ireland and do something.