Tuesday, June 24, 2008

space-a nightmare

Except that it wasn't night at all, but 3 long, grueling days of sitting in a hot, overcrowded air terminal in horridly uncomfortable chairs, with the sounds of screaming children incessantly battering my eardrums.

Ok, I dramatized a little, but really, only a little. The concept is a good one, a really good one. And I could see that it would be great, in the fall or spring, to save some money and fly back home for free. It's a large air terminal, with a lot there to help make things easier on people. There's a Subway right there in the terminal, and a kid's play area, and a family play area for parents with very small children, and a USO with snacks and computers and stuff... But the chairs are still uncomfortable, and it was still devilishly hot.

And, since school just let out only a few weeks ago, there is a mass exodus of people trying to get back to the States. Most of them are the spouses of soldiers down range, who want to spend the summer at home with their families instead of staying alone in Germany with the kids. Who can blame them? And, who can blame them for not wanting to have to purchase air fare for themselves, and each of their children? And almost all of them had at least two, most had 3 or 4. But the end result was a madhouse of grumpy people waiting in a stuffy room for a chance to get on a flight that may or may not come.

It was not pleasant.

When I got there, I found that some of the people waiting had been waiting for a week, sometimes more. There were a pair of girls that had been waiting 9 days. I was there for three days, and about lost it. In that time, I'd only gone from the middle of the bottom half of the third page of the waiting list, to the middle of the top half of the third page. Why? Because anyone with higher priority than me--and that was pretty much everyone--got plugged into the list ahead of me, and got called to board ahead of me. And that's how it should be. An active duty soldier with only 9 days of leave should get to go first. The same goes for someone who has had a death in the family, or any other emergency. But it still sucked for those of who simply stayed at the bottom of the list.

*sigh* It was just one frustration after another, really. I hit a nasty patch of traffic on my way to Ramstein AFB, extending a 2 hour drive into one that took 3 hours. When I did get there, it was only to be informed that all flights to the States for that day had been canceled. So I got the info on the area hotels, and called to book a room. But of course the one on RAFB was full, so I had to drive to one of the others back in Kaiserslautern. One that happened to be so convoluted and confusing, that you had to have a map just to get off the base. But before I even got the chance to be boggled by that, they shut down all exits to RAFB for a good 30 or 40 minutes, so I got to sit, gridlocked in the traffic trying to get off base, for that period of time. Luckily I found my way to Vogelwey (the other base) easily enough, and was able to follow the signs to the Inn.

It was simple, definitely old, but it was just what I needed: a bed, a bathroom, and a shower. The main frustration there was that my room, the only one available, was on the 4th floor. And there are no elevators. So I got to haul all of my luggage up 4 flights of stairs that night (and back down again the next morning). Luckily for me, I was able to get a room on RAFB last night, and it was only on the 3rd floor, instead of the 4th. And, there was plenty of choices of food for me on base, so that wasn't a problem either. Enough for variety, even.

As for my time at the airport itself, it was a mixed experience. I'd brought a lot of stuff along to keep me occupied. In the time that I was there, I crochet a scarf start to finish, read 2 books, and made a new friend. Andrea is a little older than me, kind of soft spoken, and very sweet. She had her 10 month old daughter there with her, and that child is just as cute as can be. We chatted a little Monday, and I helped her keep her speed-crawling youngster from escaping the area. Today, she came and sat by me, which I thought was really cool. We spent the day talking, taking turns with babysitting the luggage, and with entertaining the baby. Anja (An-ya) is the sweetest little baby. She's petite, with big hazel eyes, long eyelashes, and a head full of golden brown hair. She took right to me, and I loved it. She might do that with everyone, but still, it made me feel special. I don;t know if I'll see them again, but I gave Andrea my e-mail address, so hopefully she will drop me a line.

And....I have spent sooooooo much more time on this than I had intended to. Really, I was just going to say, "summer space-a sucks" and leave it at that, but then, I can never be succinct, can I? So yeah, I'm going to bed.

Oh, did I mention that I bought round trip airfare to go back home, and that I'm leaving in the morning? Well, I did. Hooray for an itinerary!!


  1. I was really afraid of this happening to you, but I didn't want to scare you. I don't know how my family of six did it. Sorry! Have a great vacation!

  2. Ok, so ... you never got on space-a? You just bought a ticket? Man...

  3. I give you an A+ for effort. You lastest two days longer than I would have! NOW you can start having fun.