It wasn’t a good beginning. Even before I was off the ground, things were going wrong. I was still at Yeager Airport when the heel on my shoe broke. It wasn’t completely off – just hanging. And flopping. When I walked, it made a flippity-floppity noise that caused everyone to turn to see what was making such a racket. But with my head held high, I sashayed along as if it were perfectly normal to sound like that. After “Security” was finished with me, I hurried to the gift shop and inquired as to whether they had any glue or tape that might fix my shoe temporarily. Against my better judgment, I purchased a tube of super glue. Never liked the stuff! My manual dexterity not the best, I could just imagine gluing my fingers together or worse.
But I was desperate! I knew that in less than two hours, I'd have to deal with the big, bad Orlando Airport, walk a long distance, get on and off a tram that would deliver me to the main building where I would find Baggage Claim and do just that: claim the large red suitcase that had accompanied me on many trips.
I sat down, took off my shoe and was attempting to open the tube of glue when I heard the announcement that it was time to board the plane. Throwing the glue into my purse and placing the shoe back on my foot, off I went, reluctantly, to get on the big blue plane. I vowed to fix the shoe in flight, but it was too crowded; no elbow room. Besides, I had to concentrate on praying for a safe trip. That was much more important!
I must have looked at my watch two dozen times, maybe more, in that one hour and fifty minute flight. At times, I was sure the hands on the time piece weren’t moving. We encountered turbulence several times. And I prayed.
Finally, the flight attendants came around with a little snack: Gourmet pretzels and your choice of beverage. That distracted me for a few minutes and calmed my upset stomach a little, but soon there was more turbulence. And I prayed. There were 117 passengers on the plane; why was I the only one who seemed uneasy?
It was music to my ears when the pilot made his announcement that we would be landing at the Orlando Airport in about fifteen minutes. Now I prayed for a safe landing.
Finally on the ground, I retrieved my carry-on from the overhead compartment and waited my turn to get out of the tight space that had me feeling a little claustrophobic.
At home, when I had expressed concern about negotiating Orlando’s airport, my husband had said, “Just follow everyone else; they’ll all be going to Baggage Claim.” That seemed simple enough then, but something went wrong. By the time I was off the plane and into the building, I couldn’t see anyone I recognized. Where had they all gone so fast? Everyone seems to be in such a hurry when they’re traveling!
I didn’t know whether to go right or left. Looking around, I saw a lady in a uniform. I went over and told her that I wanted to go to Baggage Claim and didn’t have a clue which way to go. She pointed to the right and said that’s where I would get on the tram that would take me to the main building.
My broken heel still clickity-clacking, I hurried in the direction she had pointed and realized that’s where everyone else was – waiting for the next tram. They had apparently walked faster than I.
After I was off the tram, it was simple to follow the Baggage Claim signs and just as I was beginning to feel confident, I saw my friend, Carol. It was so nice to see her. We hugged, shed a few tears, and started the old familiar chattering right away.
An hour later, we arrived at her house, enjoyed cold meatloaf sandwiches, potato salad and iced tea. And that was just the beginning of our wonderful four days together!
Tomorrow: Day one.