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  • Writer's pictureJenna Beall Mueller

Uber, Planes and an Automobile

I am writing this post from the Denver Airport. Terminal B to be exact, the United Airlines terminal.

For the record, I am typically a very loyal Delta Airlines girl (#keepclimbing as Ed Bastian would say). But since Delta doesn’t fly from Cincinnati to Santa Barbara, this is where fate would have me.

I just spent the most marvelous weekend with three of my closest friends, a sort of hybrid bachelorette celebration and belated 30th birthday getaway, in California. The ocean air was balmy and delightful. The conversation and laughter was nonstop. The wine looked and smelled sensational, and now I want a glass of Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir as my first post-baby drink.

My flight was scheduled to leave Santa Barbara at 5:20 this morning. Brutal. But that would get me home by 2:30 EST, which sounded super. Who doesn’t like a buffer afternoon for laundry, organization, and some relaxation after a trip?

I scheduled an Uber for 4:05–4:15, set my alarm for 3:30, and had a fitful night of sleep. Between the anxiety of oversleeping and my nocturnal pregnancy peeing habits, I must have only slept three hours. And maybe we were telling scary stories last night that left me, well, spooked. It was all quite the concoction for a poor night of shuteye.

My Uber driver, Marco, called me at 3:50am to say he was outside.

Frazzled that he had shown up 15 minutes early, I tried to sound breezy and cheerful as I reported, “You’re 15 minutes early! Ha ha.” You know, don’t-rock-the-boat-but-level-set.

“Take your time,” Marco assured me.

First crisis—fear of Marco leaving without me—avoided. We were good.

When I arrived at the Santa Barbara Airport, the TSA line was long, but everyone seemed too tired to be grouchy. That was, until I requested a pat down in lieu of the x-ray machines, which make me a bit nervous with the baby.

The TSA woman glared at my stomach and gave a heavy sigh that said, “Good gravy, you’re high maintenance.”

Thankfully, two other women performed the pat down. It was the one woman’s first week on the job, and since she was in training, it admittedly took a bit longer than expected. My flight was already boarding by the time I made it to my gate.

The gate agent was asking for volunteers to check their bags and save overhead bin room. Gladly, I approached the desk, thrilled to get rid of my carry-on bag for the morning.

Once on the plane, I took my aisle seat beside a neat-and-tidy couple and opened my book, excited for that eventual beverage cart black coffee and Biscoff.

Unfortunately, here is where things took a turn.

One of the pilots came over the intercom and informed us that we had a mechanical issue. This is NEVER GOOD! First of all, it is anxiety-inducing. Who wants to hear that the aircraft they’re about to take flight on is on the fritz? Second, mechanical issues are rarely fixed quickly.

“Since it’s 5am on a Sunday, we’ll have to give the mechanic a call and rouse him from bed,” the pilot confirmed.

It was charming language for a junky situation.

(Also, what an awful way to begin the day for that poor mechanic.)

We sat on the plane for 90 minutes. I texted Adam, my mom, and my friends because I wanted their sympathy and pity. (Plus, maybe “St. Nick” would feel especially sorry for me and fill my stocking with more treats tonight!) I read my book. I realized there was no way I was making my connecting flight in Denver.

Denver is a big airport, I reasoned. I’ll be able to get another flight this afternoon and be home in time for a Skyline Chili supper.

But guess what? Joke was on me since the next United flight wasn’t departing until 5:25pm. BLERG.

Also? Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to part ways with my carry-on bag. Is that duffle going to make it to Ohio? I honestly don’t know.

So, here I sit in Terminal B.

I’ve been here almost five hours now. I used my food vouchers within an hour on Qdoba and a minty blended drink from Caribou Coffee, so now all I’m left with are my water bottle and Clif bars. Dire.

I wonder if they called my name over the intercom when I was somewhere in the air between Santa Barbara and Denver. “This is the final boarding call for Cincinnati: paging passenger Jenna Beall.” The thought is satisfying and sort of thrilling.

I bought Ann Patchett’s newest book of essays, and I met the chubbiest dachshund I have ever seen. I can’t wait to kiss my own dachshund (and Frenchie, and golden retriever) and nestle my nose in my husband’s hair, which is my favorite scent in the world.

This is all very much a first world problem, being stuck at the airport like this. I am fortunate that I got a ticket for the evening flight, and that I’ll be home to my tudor adorned with colorful Christmas bulbs tonight. But I’ll tell you what, I sure as heck feel like Steve Martin in Planes, Trains and Automobiles right about now.

Maybe it’s the Christmas music blaring over the PA. Maybe it’s because I relish any opportunity to feel like my life is a movie.

No matter the reasons, it will feel so darn good to touch down in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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