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November 27, 2021

Window on the World Column | The Adventures Continue

“I’m a traveler,” I brag, as people wow at my ability to whoosh through time zones without a care or jet-laggy attitude in the world. Well, mostly. I remember a pilot friend of mine telling me that anytime you land where you intended to land and everyone is still in one piece, that constitutes a good flight. I really took that onboard; if you know what I mean.

I had enjoyed a successful week with father and sister, also their friends and family on the Isle of Man in the middle of the Irish Sea. I would say that was a bit of a howling success also, since the weather was mild for the time of year, not overwhelmingly wet; and, also, no one killed one another. (I jest, but you know how families can be.) In fact, it was very pleasant indeed. The more I get to know the island, the more I like it. Especially when the sun shines. Some very quaint ports, delicious fish and seafood, lovely beaches and kind people. I highly recommend it. (You’re most welcome, Isle of Man tourism board!)

Prior to my family adventures on the island, I also enjoyed some selfish time at the theater (or theatre to you British), whereby I managed to acquire tickets to two West End shows in one day. I was a little shy on time, but that number was a particular record. I have to say they were both excellent (“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” if you happen to be jetting over there anytime soon). I continued the selfish fiesta thereafter with a late-night dinner in a local Greek restaurant after the last play. Yes, a table for one please. I felt like a young girl about town.

Leaving the island was a little bittersweet, because, when your father is 92, you do have to wonder; but I had already determined in my mind that I would be returning in March for the “Spa Day” he had kindly purchased for my sis and I for Christmas; so that made me feel better. Must-have dates in the diary! In fact, thanks to modern technology, I was able to book said tickets before I had even stepped on the plane away from the island. All was going along swimmingly, except when I looked up from all my international flight-booking and noticed that I could not actually see the airport very much or the sea beyond. No one seemed to be that bothered though, so I sipped on my coffee and patted myself on the back for another trip well taken.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the flight to Gatwick at 12:25 has been delayed.” Oh, here we go. I had just seen a plane flying, close to landing, or so I had thought. People started getting huffy. The flight was delayed to 2:20 p.m. Oh well, I’ll just pop into the gift shop and prop up the economy a little more — that’s always helpful.

Found a nice Isle of Man/TT hat for my daughter’s boyfriend, so I commended myself on that. I then got caught in the rather long line for more coffee, where a lady was yelling at the poor barista. “We are stuck here for two more hours, and YOU don’t have any food left!” She did not look as if she was really lacking in food, but that’s a whole other issue. The poor barista did not know what to say; she just flushed through her face and neck and gazed into the coffee grounds for help.

Just as karma can bite sometimes, the next delay was announced loudly, before the barista had even served the lady. “The flight to Gatwick is delayed to 4:30 p.m.” Oh no, everyone was really falling about now. Other flights were being called and actually leaving (this is a miniscule airport we are talking here) but not ours.

I praised myself for packing my book and a notebook. If I were a videographer, I would have made a funny tape of all these grown adults creasing up because their flight was delayed and there were not many food choices available. Lordy. As luck would have it, the 4:30 p.m. delay turned to 5:30 and then 6. I had a Covid test waiting for me at Gatwick Airport that I needed to get in order to fly back home. I was a little concerned about that; but I knew I would figure something out if I couldn’t make it that day.

Part of the flying Zen is you must go with the flow. There is nothing I can do about our flight delay, so may as well find a spot to chill and read my book. By now it was about 100 degrees in the small airport lounge and the windows were all fogged up with huffy people sucking up the oxygen in the room and barking at the baristas. It was truly a shameful gathering of the world’s most entitled.

At around 6 p.m. a very apologetic crew announced that the plane was indeed here and ready to board all these irritated passengers. In fact, they never stopped apologizing the entire flight. Once, gratefully, at Gatwick airport, I retrieve my bag and find the dragging handle component is bust, as is the zip. Hmm. I stagger with said disabled bag to the Covid testing joint that was 10 minutes away from closing. I squeezed my way in, shunting said about-to-be-exterminated suitcase against my legs and was so relieved that I had made it that far. It had been one of those days.

All tested in almost every bodily orifice, and I was off to catch my pre-paid bus to the other airport. I found the bus area with great glee, only to discover that the next bus would be in 90 minutes, and it would take me another two hours to reach my destination. I could not conceive, at this point, how late that would be. Not usually careless with money, I threw myself into a taxi and told him to take me to my hotel at the other airport, the other side of London. I didn’t even feel badly about it. Some days you cut your losses, go with the flow and give yourself a break. The shower I had that night in my hotel will always be up there with the best.

From there on, I had a fabulous reunion with a friend who I hadn’t seen since we were both 21 — and yes, we are both still the same. I then caught a crazily full flight from London to San Francisco that went off without drama, except that I left my beloved parka jacket on the plane, and I am still trying to figure out how the heck I get it back. The adventures continue; oh boy, do they.

Lucy Jensen
Soledad Columnist
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