My family arrived at Newark Liberty Airport last week with plenty of time to catch our 12:34pm flight to New Orleans. It was Spring Break for this family of (mostly) teachers, kids, and retirees, and we were eager to cash in on the opportunity to visit a city none of us had ever seen. Everyone stared at me while I pulled out my phone to retrieve our flight number, punching it into the check-in kiosk. I was skating on thin ice for not having checked us in the night before.
My parents looked around nervously, trying to catch a glimpse of the security gate. The lines were surprisingly dead for a Tuesday morning. As Babs (mom) stared at her baggage check sticker like it was written in Klingon, my sister swiftly tagged both of her kids’ bags and called, “Okay, let’s go!”
All six of us made our way to the security gate, where I pulled out my wallet to grab my driver’s license.
“What’s wrong?” my sister asked. She followed my gaze.
“Oh my god. Where’s your license?”
I slapped my hand to my forehead.
“In my coat pocket,” I moaned.
Her eyes widened. I had quickly put my license in my coat pocket that morning in order to move my car to a tow-free spot for the week. It was still snowing in New Jersey, and I was thrilled when I put the puffy gray jacket back on its hook in the landing of my apartment, because, hey! It was 80 degrees in NOLA! Woo hoo! Let’s GO!
“I was trying to be responsible [and not drive around the corner without a license]!” I cried. I had never bothered to be so responsible before, which is why I didn’t remember to put the license back in my wallet.
I looked over at my father, halfway to the TSA pre-check line, and thought, If looks could disown. My sister and I had planned this whole thing on his dime and now I was about to ruin it all.
Being a 3-month-old meditating guru, I suddenly thought: This is a test. Don’t cry. Breathe. Stay calm. There is no f^&$@$ way they’re letting me on the plane!!!!
“Okay, let’s get on line and come up with a plan,” my sister said, snapping into teacher mode.
I only had time to chug what was left in my water bottle before we faced security, all the while trying to ignore the exclamation points firing in my head. People in airport uniforms hated me. I was searched every time, convincing me I had either “dumb enough to carry someone else’s crack-lined luggage” or “mail order bride” tattooed on my forehead. Because of this track record, I always got nervous, which then made them suspicious, and well, it was just a vicious cycle that ended with someone getting to second base.
The agent smiled (smiled!) at my sister BECAUSE OF COURSE HE DID and once she explained the situation, he politely said he’d call his manager, asking me to provide any other I.D. I might have in the meantime.
Did…did this mean…could I possibly… Nooo. I yanked out every credit card, health insurance card, student I.D., $3.08 Borders gift card (hey, how did that get in there?), and business card I had in my wallet, little pieces of my identity fluttering out like it was Mardi Gras.
Five (or two or forty-seven, who can tell when you’re wondering why you also forgot to wear an adult diaper?) minutes later, I was sent on through without so much as a pat down. I reached my family, patiently waiting on the other side of the security gate.
“Time for a drink?” Babs asked after taking one look at my face.
“All of them,” I nodded.
But I didn’t cry! And I made it through! Bring on the Hurricanes! And bring them on we did…
…until two days later. When I started feeling…funny.
After an exciting and sleepless night followed by a raging fever, we concluded I’d come down with the stomach flu, a new friend who planned to stick around, Kato-style.
Now that the fever’s finally gone, I feel reborn
and ready to get my license tattooed on my arm. Except that my stomach is still to me what women are to men: a total mystery.
As for the rest of New Orleans? Also a total mystery.
Any other travel mishaps you care to share? Please. Make me feel better.
27 thoughts on “I Put the NO in NOLA (New Orleans)”
I am always wanting the story to go on. Hope you are feeling better.
Trust me, in this case, you really don’t. And thank you!! Feeling SO much better!
A few summers ago, my husband and I planned a three day beach weekend a few hours from home because we were poor and couldn’t afford to go anywhere. The airbnb was small but it was beachfront and beautiful. We’d been saving for months and had plans to go to nice places for dinner and have picnics on the beach. Friday was fine. We swam, I laid in the sun and read books, we drank beer and then went to a local, much lauded Mexican joint for dinner.
Saturday was fine until 3ish. My head started to hurt so I went in, got a shower and laid down for a few minutes. Three hours later I woke up and ran to the bathroom but didn’t make it. Nope. I ralphed all over the nice airbnb kitchen and into the sink (somewhat).
So I spent Saturday evening puking, cleaning up the kitchen and trying to keep saltines and ginger ale down while my poor husband had takeaway from the nice Italian (what would have been romantic date night) place down the road.
We left the next morning. Worst weekend away ever. We’re actually staying there again in a couple of months for a longer do-over. I swear to whatever if I get sick again….
Ohhhh, Steph, that’s AWFUL!!! I’m so excited for your redemption trip. But stay away from that Mexican joint!!
Take good rest and another great story.
Thanks so much, Rita! I’m feeling worlds better by now.
My best travel story is of someone in our group to Europe, not myself. In ’76 we were a choir/orchestra/chaperone group and I watched a just-graduated senior, like myself, go through luggage inspection. As the inspection officer went to open her suitcase, the post-senior hollered “No,” The latches clicked and, no joike, clothes had been packed so tightly they sprang nearly six feet straight up! Clothes everywhere. Who knew you could get that much into a 35 pound limit bag? Anyway, the second part, more strange than funny, was that she had to lower how much she took, but I swear in the 28 days, I never saw her in the same outfit.
Ha! That’s a great story. Reminds me of my sister’s giant blue suitcase, which she has lovingly named Big Bertha. We’re always crossing our fingers that it stays under the 50-lb. weight limit!
We were at a 35 lb limit…now, don’t you have must a carry on or two w/o cost?
Oh, you poor baby.
First, I can’t believe you got through without the license! That reaffirms my faith that the official world is sometimes comprised of real humans.
I had the same brief, miserable experience in Boston a couple of weeks ago – food poisoning? Stomach flu? Whatever the diagnosis, 12 hours out of my weekend was spent in misery alone in my room, thankful for a nearby bathroom.
Love New Orleans. I think I have a picture of myself in the same costume Babs is wearing at the float studio – crazy!
Now that sounds like a side-by-side photo opp we cannot let pass us by!! And it might make a good get well card for Babs, because now she has it, too!!
Ugh, so sorry you faced the ugly monster. I was very glad the worst of it came before and after the plane ride, not during…
Find that picture, Peg! And Jules. Thanks. It was the first alcohol-free night I’ve had in a long time. I may even have lost my +4 after a week of Beignets and Hurricanes. At least my stomach problems only lasted a day!
I don’t know if this is gonna work…
Jules, make this show up somehow, will ya? Hope you feel better soon, Bab.
OK, I didn’t want it to be bigger than the entire blog post. I am hopeless. But you get the drift. 🙂
Ohhh Peggles, at last, we can fix what was really wrong with this trip!!
Oh I feel your pain.
I’m torn between being glad we can relate on another level, and very sorry that anyone knows this pain!
Too many past mishaps to go into here…
But maybe I can tell you about a future one?
Once upon a time, three crazy girls traipsed across Maine in search of holy donuts and Allagash White and (barely) lived to tell about it.
Yessss!!! My sister and I went and got Allagash White on Saturday and sat outside drinking it, pretending you were there. We also may have already picked out what we want to buy from the gift shop.
Cool sorry bro. Gotta watch that karma kid.
I think this is spam, but it’s so appropriate that I’m going to leave it.
I’m cracking up so hard right now.
Best comment ever! Thank you, Erika! I just started reading your blog and can definitely say: Likewise!