Thursday, August 03, 2006
Kauai and Tomatoes
It’s lousy getting stuck in Hawaii. Nobody feels a bit sorry for you.
It was raining Monday morning. Pouring, actually. You haven’t seen rain until you’ve seen a tropical outburst. Driving, pounding, seizing rain. The world goes white. Then the clouds blow over and the skies clear. Then—boom—the bucket’s loosed again.
We’d jogged about a mile and a half away from our room when the bucket tipped again.
Hey, no sweat—literally. It was nice to jog without getting so hot. And the rain is warm. Nothing like the bone-chilling rain of northern California.
We got to our room utterly soaked. I wrung out my jogging clothes over the sink. Thank goodness we’d saved a bunch of plastic bags from various stores. We stuffed our shoes and sodden clothes into those bags—packing them in the suitcase at the very last, just before leaving for the airport.
Let the fun begin.
The rain starts up again as we load the car. My husband puts a plastic bag on his head—half just to make me laugh.
The monitor at the airport says our plane’s on time. Good show. We’ll leave at 1:20—4:20 California time. Arrive in San Francisco around 9:20 p.m. We watch our bags go off to loading and make our way to the gate. The plane loads and all is well. We call our daughter, telling her to be on time at the airport.
Plane’s aren’t quiet as you sit in them at the gate. The air conditioner’s running from the auxiliary power, and it causes quite a whoosh. You don’t notice this—until it stops.
Oops. The pilots get it going again.
It goes out again.
This is not looking good. The plane isn’t allowed to take off if anything is wrong on it—including auxiliary power for air conditioning at the gate. Never mind that the jet engines work just fine.
Well, we can’t sit in the plane while they see what’s wrong, because that hunk of metal is sitting in the summer tropics, and it’s heating up right quick. Everybody’s told to get off—and take your stuff.
We cool our heels at the gate. No big deal, it’ll be fixed soon, we’re told. And if you want to leave the gate area and go to the restaurant for food, do make it quick.
Hubby stays while I go to fetch us a hamburger and salad.
At the cafeteria line, the Hawaiian gal (the first I’ve seen without a smile) asks what I want on the hamburger. She asks me if I’m flying to the mainland, and if I want the food to go. Yes and yes. Well then—no. No tomato on the hamburger, that is. Tomatoes can’t be taken to the mainland.
I’m not planning on taking it; I’m planning on eating it. At the gate. While the plane gets fixed. No can do, she says.
Fine, whatever. Leave off the tomato. I ask also for a salad. Gals says fetch one already made up from the fridge. I do. It has tomato wedges in it. She doesn’t seem to care. So neither do I. I pay for the food and hotfoot it to the other end of the terminal.
Back into the gate—where you have to send your purse through another security thingy. The gal at said security thingy asks me what I’ve ordered. She takes one look at the salad and says I have to take off the tomatoes.
Okay, maybe it’s me, but by now this is getting funny. The plane’s broke, right? I’m not going anywhere for awhile. We’re planning on eating—right now—because we’ve already been told there’s no food on the plane. (Whatever there was has probably spoiled in the oven-like heat that’s spreading through the un-airconditioned plane.)
The gal says she can’t let me through with a tomato in the salad. I look around, both hands full, and see the trash can on the other—exit—side. What am I supposed to do? The gal lays down a napkin. Put your tomatoes here. Very serious. Like being told to lay down your weapon. Okay, fine. I put down one wedge—real slow and easy like—and before she can react, I stuff the other one in my mouth. Hah, take that! Good thing we weren’t in a duel to the death.
Besides, what can I say—suddenly that tomato was looking like the most flavorable bite in the world.
My purse goes through the security thingy unblemished. Apparently the gal saw no tomatoes hidden in there. The guy behind me has bought a fresh fruit plate. No way is fresh fruit getting in the gate area. It CANNOT go to the mainland. He’s on my flight. The plane’s broke. He’s just taking it to his family to eat. Sorry. No way. Put down your fruit—NOW. (I’m waiting for the “put your hands on your head” line next.) The man has to leave the whole thing behind. And he’s—how shall I say this? The gentleman doth not command my sense of humor.
I approach hubby and hold out the salad. He peers at it and looks up at me, questions on his face. I hold up a hand, palm out. “Don’t ask.”
We eat. Throw our trash away. And wait. And wait. Someone gets on the caller thingy and says they can’t fix the auxiliary power. They need a new part. Problem—said part is in Honolulu. We’re in Kauai. Fortunately, they can fly one over. Unfortunately, it’s now four o’clock, and the flight from Honolulu just took off. We have to wait for the five o’clock flight. Which arrives at 5:30. Fifteen minutes to install the new part, they say. We’ll be outta here by six.
I’m thinking how many tomatoes I could eat in the next two hours.
Five-thirty. The part arrives. They put it in. It doesn’t work. They tinker.
Six o’clock. Six-thirty. Seven. A gal gets on the caller thingy. Well, I’ll be honest folks (you do want me to be honest, don’t you?) I’m thinking what is this, a stand-up comedian? Honest Gal says the part ain’t working. The plane ain’t working. And it’s 90 degrees inside it. Nobody’s flying in the thing.
I quit thinking about tomatoes long enough to picture our wet clothes in our suitcases—sitting in that metal oven belly. The thought’s not pretty.
Everybody book new flights, we’re told. ’Cause this one’s going nowhere fast. Next straight flight to San Francisco? Tomorrow at noon.
Okay, so how about getting our bags off the plane since we’re stuck for the night?
No can do.
People start calling hotels.
They’re all booked.
A long line forms to get to the two—count ’em—TWO—ticket agents who must rebook some 150 passengers. I call our daughter and tell her we’re stuck. She has the nerve to make some sarcastic comment about our deplorable state--in Kauai.
She’s just still ticked ’cause we didn’t bring her. I remind her it IS our 25th anniversary, and this IS the first time we’ve taken a vacation without her since before she was born. I almost start in about tomatoes, but realize that would take some time to explain, and she has a very important teenage life to lead.
Hubby stands in line—while calling his company travel people (they must work 24/7). They rebook us before he gets to the head of the line. On the flight next day at noon. Great. No hotel, no car, no bags. No tomatoes. It’s still raining outside. What are we supposed to do?
Daughter calls. United has phoned our house with an automatic rebooking, she says. We’re on a flight to L.A., then up to S.F. Great, but we’re already out of line. We whip our heads around. The L.A. flight is boarded up and about to close the door. We don’t have boarding passes. Hubby manages to get some help. At the last minute—we’re in.
First class seats. Oh, man. At least we’ll get to sleep a little.
In first class, they still feed you. Chicken, noodles, carrots. No tomatoes.
We land in L.A. at 5:00 a.m. Fly out at 6:30 and arrive at 7:30. Daughter picks us up, and we arrive home around 8:00. No luggage, of course. Do you have any idea how many hours those wet clothes have now sat in those suitcases? When do we get our bags, we ask at baggage claim. I hope tonight, is the answer. Around 9:00.
We get home. I find some pizza left in the refrigerator. Like finding gold. Before I hit bed, I just have to heat up a piece. My daughter catches me licking off the tomato sauce, a big smirk on my face, and rolls her eyes.
I don’t even try to explain.