*Written on 4/16/2012*
I’m pretty sure at this point you guys know my experience with flying. If there are ranks in experience, I can say that I’m a senior flyer. My flying experience is heavy: Airlines from Delta, U.S. Air Ways, American, United, Continental, AirTran, to China Airline, All Nippon Airways, Eva, Melanesian Airline, and Korean Airline. I’ve been in 1 hour flights and 18 hour flights, small aircraft from CRJ to large Boeing 777, and all the cities I’ve been through including Tokyo, Taipei, Chicago, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, Charlotte, Louisville, Atlanta, Huston Washington D.C., New York City, Rochester, Memphis, I mean, you name it, I’ve been it!
I started my first flight when I was 3, and second flight being 8, third flight being 12, and then after 14 through 20, which I am now, I fly internationally every year. After sophomore year in college, I started travel domestically.
The only thing that prevents me from being a VIP experienced flyer is that- I have never been on flights other than economy class. Well, as you can see, I’m only 20, and I don’t have a full time job. It’s really tough being in economy class.
Premium economy class is okay, but anything below that is just like a concentration camp but with seat cushion. It’s hard to get the flight attendances’ attention. There are ALWAYS crybabies, and there is always someone kicking your chair. Of course, I don’t even want to think about any of the a neck breaking moment.
It might not sound so bad after all, but when you’re the only person you know, it really gets scary. Starting 16, I’ve been flying by myself. The Model UN trip is really breaking the habit, and I sensed sort of a “culture shock,” if you will.
There have been times when I lost my important traveling documents, when I ran into a unfriendly officer, when I didn’t manage to have someone to pick me up from the airport, when I had to go through the security for 4 times, when I talk to strangers, when my baggage was lost and damaged, when I have to be on standby for 2 times, when I was kept in a waiting room for 3 hours for “security purposes,” when I missed flights, when I was forced to change seats, when I vomit on an airplane, when I only had 15 minutes before the next connection flight………………
Even now I think of it, it gives me goose bumps on my back. I do not want it to ever happen to me again. Here is a piece of my dairies back when I was still in High School.
I was alone this morning. I saw no one I know. August 4th, 22 days before my 17th birthday, I left Taiwan and returned to the U.S. I felt nothing while I was packing and I smell stinky clothes that were still wet and the gifts that were not for me to keep but for me to deliver. I did not want to put it in, because the more I put in the gifts, the more of my own stuff that I needed to take out.
My suit cases were ragged, full of cat scratches and fur balls. I did not feel that I was leaving. I did not feel like I was going to a happier place.
This morning was for me, me alone. My room was a mess. I wanted to take everything with me, but I got no space. At night, I was at the airport, leaving this country alone. The airline officers told me that my flight was yesterday……….I was in shock. That night was long, long in waiting. I saw worries in my mom’s and my sister’s faces. I couldn’t see myself, but I bet I looked just the same. Later on, they made me a brand new flight schedule.
The trip to San Francisco was wonderful. The flight attendance didn’t forget to serve me food like last time, but I did not have a good time with squeezing myself between two full-grown men. It was late when I got on the plane. I was tired, cold, and still lonely. I covered a jacket and a blanket on my shoulder, falling into a deep sleep.
Unfortunately, my respiratory system did not want to cooperate. With all the congestion, I could not breath and I was forced to get up every 5 minutes to blow my nose. Later, I feel a neck pain and headache. I hugged myself, curling and taking as little space as I can, bearing through the longest flight of all flights that I must take.
The night did not leave me. The sky was never bright after that morning.
The arrival to San Francisco was just another beginning of a flight. The next stop was to Atlanta. I went to the baggage claim and got my stuff, walked a few miles to the Delta office and check them in again. I received my boarding pass to Atlanta. The flight was scheduled at 10:25 p.m.
Would things go as planned? Not a chance, trouble ever comes alone.
I rushed myself a little, worrying that I might not catch my next flight. However, when I arrived at the boarding gate, I was notified that my flight was canceled. There was a whole bunch of people waiting. I was part of them, standing there like a tree, feeling numb, but eyes contain an indescribable frustration. Therefore, I waited for another hour, grabbing on my knees and shivering in the cold. Everybody was talking, but I was muted with no one else to talk wit. I couldn’t do the soliloquy thing like I do at home.
Gladly, my new flight to Atlanta arrived. When I finally got on the plane, it was already midnight. However, my misfortune did not stop there. I saw someone sitting in my seat. The scariest moment came to me. I looked around and found no other seats. I raised my courage to ask the stranger to leave. She made a deal with me. She wanted to have a seat exchange and she was already in my seat so I had no other choice. I asked the flight attendance to tell her to leave. I knew I was temporary at peace as I sit. This 7-hour ride was sincere, no serious running nose, no coughing, and no tears.
Nevertheless, I expected myself to go through more misfortune. I must wait for my last plane to Augusta. The time between the connection flights was Ten. Hours. Well, a car ride from Atlanta to Augusta would only take three hours. Ten hours of waiting would be worth triple that car ride.
“For God sake, I’m going to be alone for another 10 hours!” I thought to myself.
Yes, I agreed that I wished for a lonely time, but not lonely time on waiting. I would totally drive back to Atlanta if I was old enough and rich enough to rent a car.
Surrender! Ten hours for waiting could be ten hours of planning for me. As a rising senior in high school, I needed to make plans for my schedules. I planned on taking some AP classes: AP Chem, AP Psychology, for which I have finished 60% of the summer assignments. If I push myself hard enough, I can finish my homework before summer vacation ends. The other plan that I made for myself was to forbid any video games. It has been true that computer games destroyed my junior year. Junior year was conundrum since I was complacent over the games. I shall not repeat the same mistake again.
During the 10 hours of waiting, I was thinking about manga and anime. There were air planes flying by, too many that I could not count. Although it was tempting for me to go outside the airport, I was still scared. Nevertheless, I could still look up to the sky and imagine that I’m passionate at the same time I understood that bodies get rusted too. I could not pretend to be as passionate anymore, but I can still think passionate. Looking up to the bright side, I told myself that it’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to cry, and it’s okay to make life full of emotions. I will be like sunshine in my senior year.
Imagining this wait to be like the moments I spent a whole day at the library in National Chiao-Tung University(NCTU), where my mom forced me to stay during final exam week. I was at a pretended peace.
Around 2 p.m., 7 hours after I arrived in Atlanta, I reported to my boarding gate. I believed that I was just purely unfortunate. I was told that Lakeside High School’s Open House is today. Things started to go in a hurry in my mind. I don’t like to be waiting when I know that I have something else I need to do. The fact as, literally, everything was being retarded. My flight was delayed— again. I lost my calm, finally, after 8 hours of waiting. I wanted to scream, bounce, and yell, but my determination ceased me. Even though I was hiding my anger in committing physical actions, my face was showing my attitude.
Perhaps my headache came from anger or perhaps it came from dealing with jet lag. I was angry, sad, tired, scared, and hopeless. It was the most agonizing moment in my life where I thought to myself —O Jesus in heaven, I am going to cry.
It was really a serious problem for me now. I realized why my nerves were broken. I have been carrying burdens and worries for way too long. And I’ve been telling myself that I’m fine. When I walked in between the crowds, I always think about being erased, and nobody will ever know. Well, I hated to be in the crowds. I like the place where nobody is near, but I hate to be alone, especially alone on waiting.
The needles on the clock ticked slowly. I wished to disappear at this place. For the love of God, I’ve been waiting for 10 hours now, and I have to wait even longer!