Last month my family and I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of our cousin in New York. The wedding was gorgeous--a beautiful ceremony in a small Greek Orthodox church on Long Island (My family isn't Greek; my cousin married a Greek girl) and let me tell you, it was probably one of the most fun weddings ever attended. Granted, I had only been to two other weddings at this point, but the one thing I learned was that Greek people sure knew how to throw a good party. And even more so, I learned that New Yorkers knew how to throw and even better party. So basically this wedding was like an explosion of awesomeness. (SIDE NOTE: we learned why they call it "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". It's because they literally feed you from the moment you walk in the banquet hall. People from the Midwest are used to pigs-in-a-blanket type of horderves and cocktail hour. Nope. Full open bar for the over twenty-oners. Five buffet stations for appetizers--not regular appetizers, either: Chefs cutting fresh steak, lobster, oysters. Mini hamburgers. Caviar. CAVIAR. (Which by the way does not lead up to the hype. There's just something about eating fish eggs.) Mini milkshakes for the kids. Crazy right? That's not even the main meal though. A full salad. A choice of filet, duck, chicken, some veggie option and a kid's menu. I mean come on people this was seriously some high class food. I just kept eating my filet even though I was full because it was so darn good and I didn't want it to go to waste. Then dessert. Oh Lordy. The wedding cake. A dessert bar AND a chocolate fountain. Great, right?! Mouthwatering great.)
Anyways, after the wedding we spend another three days in the city and I fell in love with all the lights and buildings and history. But I'm getting ahead of myself, let me back up a bit.
The wedding took place on a Saturday, and my family and I were going to arrive on Friday morning because my younger sister Maggie had been asked to stand up in the bridal party. Our flight was to leave at 6:10 a.m. that morning, so we pulled into the parking garage at just about 4 a.m. Right as we pulled in, the shuttle for the airport was leaving. Just our luck. But, it's okay, the shuttles run every fifteen minutes right? Nope. Thirty minutes later a shuttle pulls up to the curb and tons of angry people get on.
We arrived at the airport, and I'm still dragging this insanely heavy garment bag, because my mom had insisted that we take all our wedding clothes on the plane with us so they wouldn't get lost in some random airport. So we walk in the airport to get our boarding passes and check in our baggage. That was mistake and mishap number one. The line queue was overflowing with people who hadn't printed out their boarding passes either--people like my family and I. So my mom, Mags and I get in that excruciatingly long line while my dad tries to print our boarding passes out at a kiosk so we can go in the express line. Now comes mishap number two. The 'boarding passes' printed, only they weren't boarding passes. Did we know that when my dad ushered to us from the start of the express line? Of course not. So we get out of line and some lady tells us that what my dad had printed didn't qualify as boarding passes since we had arrived less than two hours before our flight was to leave.
Okay great. That's cool, right? So we just get back in the now longer line of people to check in. AWESOME. By then there's only forty-five minutes remaining before our flight and my family is starting to lose faith. My dad I think is going to blow a gasket and my sister gets an attitude because I'm bossing her around trying to get her to move faster in the line. My mom and I are trying to stay calm and stay positive, well at least as positive as we can given our circumstances. Then comes mishap number three.
The check-in lady takes our info from my dad and promptly says, "Since you're checking in with forty-five minutes or less remaining before your flight is to take off it's not guaranteed that your luggage will make your scheduled and will arrive on the next available flight to your destination." Okay lady seriously stop talking and let's get going 'cause we obviously have to make a flight, yeah? So after my disgruntled dad takes care of that we race to the security lines where mishap number four begins.
I kid you not those lines were even longer than the check-in lines. GREAT. My dad, sister and I get in line while my mom tries to see if we can get in through the handicap wheelchair line. When my mom waves us down, we have to deal with a rude security officer who is like, "I never said you could come through here! Why did you bring your family here?!"
"Well because this gentleman here said we could go," my mom says as she points to some business guy in a suit in the beginning of the line next to us.
"Ma'am that man has no authority to let you go there. Get back to the end of the line now."
"But he's being a Good Samaratin and we're going to miss our flight!"
"Half these people in line are going to miss their flight too ma'am get to the end of the line."
I swear I thought my mom was either going to burst into tears or start screaming at the security officer. Before she could do either, I started walking her to the end of the line before we got put on a no fly list. So we start asking people to go ahead of them, and we get pretty far up in line. By this point it's 5:45 a.m. and the rest of the before us are in the same predicament. So we wait. And wait. And by the time we get to the security I.D checkpoint, everyone in my family already had their shoes, jewelery and belts off and identification in hand. Easy breezy from here on out, right? Nahh. Murphy's law had become a part of our family by now.
By the time we get go through security and bag search it's like 6:05 a.m. and guess what gate our flight to LaGuardia leaves from? The second to the last gate. So there I go, backpack on my back dragging a garment bag on the floor behind me as I run as fast as I can through the terminal of Midway Airport so my family and I can make our flight. I'm running and running and running and I swear I could hear the Final Countdown playing somewhere but by that point I was going crazy and I could hear my family running behind me: my sister not too far on my tail and my parents behind her, my mom shouting, "Go Hannah, go!"
I raced as fast as I could, and I heaved and I hoed that darn garment bag along the cold tile passing the McDonald's and crying inside because I knew I couldn't stop for some sustenance. I could feel the dirt piling under my freshly pedicured feet. It's gonna be like Home Alone, I think. We're going to make our flight.
I finally reached the customer service desk. Through exasperated breaths I was able to get out, "We're here....the plane...New York...is it still here?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"
The lady gave me the worst fake sympathetic look ever. "The plane's gone."
"Well what do you mean it's gone?!?!?!?!?!?!?!" I was still trying to catch my breath.
"The plane left."
I looked at the clock. It was 6:12 a.m. That flight didn't even bother waiting for us. By that time my parents and sister were walking up behind me and I seriously almost told the lady, "WELL BRING IT BACK!!!!!!!" but I knew it would be futile and she probably would have given me some hooplah about how there's nothing more she can do for me. I walked away from the counter so my dad could do the talking now and the only thought going through my head were the beginning pages from Jake Wizner's Spanking Shakespeare: WHY GOD WHY?!?!?
So here's mishap number five: The airline had overbooked just about every flight to New York LaGuardia until 5 p.m. that evening. So, we were put on a standby list for every flight to the Empire State until our assured flight later that evening.
After spending a long thirteen hours in the airport (I did end up getting my morning McDonald's sustenance) in which I, a nineteen year old girl, slept openly with my dolphin pillow pet named Kevin, complained to people via text message, Snapchatted wayyyy too often, read the New Yorker and got beat by my little sister a total of six times in a row at UNO, we got on a standby flight at like 2 p.m. by some beautiful and lovely miracle, which leads me to mishap number six.
LaGuardia had a ground stop so we had to wait on the runway in Chicago for another forty-five minutes. So there we are, sitting on the runway and my only entertainment is the couple sitting next to me who won't stop talking to each other in baby voices. Come on people, really? What are you in high school or something? No, you are on a plane that has been on ground stop and you choose to torture me with mushy gushy baby voices. SO. NOT. COOL.
As it turns out, leaving Chicago to New York is really a beautiful view, even though I would have thought anything but my beautiful home would be a beautiful view as long as I was up in the air on my way to New York. But for real though...the view leaving the Windy City from the clouds is stunning.
So here's mishap 6.5: LaGuardia has another ground stop while we're still in the air. Yay, we get to circle the city for another forty-five minutes. Sarcastic as that may sound, I was able to see yet another spectacular view because of this circling.
See that little island there? That green human looking thing? Yea, that. That's the Statue of Liberty standing tall on Liberty Island. So I guess you could say that sitting by a mushy gushy couple for the past few hours after being stuck in an airport for almost half a day was made up for by seeing this beautiful icon and symbol of freedom and liberty.