Monday, January 3, 2011

First Class: Part 1

I’ve been promising this blog for a year now so, at last, here you go. There was just going to be one first class blog since well, it had only happened to me once. Alas, this past trip back to Uganda, it happened again. I'm usually the person that randomly gets pooped on by a bird or randomly selected for an intrusive pat down in security instead of something good like first class. I’m going to divide them up into two blogs since each deserves it’s own blog.

I had just had a great three weeks back in the States. On the way back to Uganda, I had a long layover in Atlanta. Originally, I was going to try to hang out with my friend Jill on my long layover but she ended up not being able to come to the airport so I had lots of time to kill. I got to Atlanta and did my traditional Atlanta airport stops: get a gyro from Great Wraps and a coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. I got to my gate for my flight to Amsterdam and within a few minutes, they were announcing that they needed volunteers to take a later flight. My first thought was, “I can’t do it. I need to get back to Uganda and have no way of contacting Kate and Kacie if I don’t come on time”. But then, I wondered if it was even possible. I packed my things and headed up toward the counter to see if it was even a possibility. When I finally reached the counter, they told me that I could do it but that I’d be on the same flight the next day.

I was stuck. I had about 30 seconds to decide. I knew that I really wanted to see my friend Jill but, since I didn’t have my American cell phone, I had no way of contacting her. It was like I heard myself saying, “I’ll do it!”. I began to question that decision for the next two hours of my life. In the meantime, I discovered that the guy in front of me was also heading to Uganda. He asked the Delta worker if he could also have first class. The Delta worker told him that he could either have first class or the kick awesome voucher. He chose first class. I chose the kick awesome voucher. They gave me all of my vouchers and I was free to go.

Panic set in. WHAT had I just done!? I am a planner…and I just did something incredibly spontaneous. I walked away from the gate and went to find a place to sit down. I wanted to find free Wi-Fi so that I could get on skype and call Jill. Luckily, Jill’s cell phone number was one of the 3 or so numbers I had memorized. There was no Wi-Fi…and my panic increased. There was a guy and girl sitting across from me and I wondered if they’d even consider letting some random girl borrow their phone. I couldn’t do it….but I was desperate so I had to do it. I asked them, they agreed and I hurriedly called Jill. I’m pretty sure the conversation went a little something like this:

Jill: Hello?
Me: JILL! It’s Sarah and I’vedonethecraziesthingintheworldIjustchosealaterflightsoIaminAtlantauntiltomorrowcanyouhangout!?
Jill: Um…what? Calm down. Say that again.

I calmed myself enough to talk slower and Jill understood what I was saying. She had to figure out what was going to be best and told me to call back in 10 minutes. I said sure…not knowing what I’d do in 10 minutes. I thanked the kind boy and girl and headed out. I couldn’t ask to use their phone AGAIN so I thought I’d wander and see if there was another place that I could get free WiFi. No dice. I found some pay phones but had zero American change on me. There were these Delta workers that were trying to sell something (a Delta credit card? Don’t remember). They kept trying to get people to talk to them so when I approached them, they were clearly excited. I asked one of them if there was a phone I could use or even if I could borrow one of their cell phones. To my surprise, they said “yes!”. I was so surprised that two people at that point had agreed to let me use their cell phone. I called Jill really quick and we confirmed which stop I was to get off on the MARTA, Atlanta’s rail system. I hung up, thanked them, and headed towards the exit. I got on the MARTA (which, by the way, at night, is kind of sketchy) and got off at my stop. I wanted to call Jill again to let her know that I was there…but how? There was this girl that was dressed like an angry rocker. She was my only option. I figured if I’d already asked two others, what was the harm in one more? I timidly asked to use her phone and she responded in the most bubbly Southern voice that I’ve heard in awhile. A voice that did not match her outfit. At. All. I called Jill quick and then waited…in the freezing cold…for a long time. Jill came and we had a great time hanging out. It so happened that Jill and some of her friends were flying to New York City the next day so I would just go to the airport with them in the morning and hang out there until my flight.

The next morning while everyone else checked into their flight, I headed over to check into mine. I got my new tickets and saw that I was in row 3. Um, row THREE? This is an international flight. There is no way that can be anything but first class…right? I didn’t want to assume anything until I was in my seat taking off and in first class so I didn’t get my hopes up. I had meal vouchers from Delta as well so I grabbed breakfast at Starbucks and sat with Jill and her friends until their flight took off. Hugs all around and they were gone. I knew that I needed to occupy my entire day at the airport since my flight wasn’t until that night. I found free WiFi in a food court and settled in. I watched a lot of American TV shows that I’d missed in Uganda. I had dinner there right before my flight, wanting to get the most out of those vouchers.

I went to my gate once again and they called my section up. I didn’t know what to expect. I got on the plane and…there it was. Row 3. First class. Unreal. I put my carry ons away (I actually had to ask the guy sitting next to me to put up my one carry on since I was carrying the entire Wal-mart store in my carry on to take back). When I sat down, I was just waiting for it. I was waiting for them to come up and say, “Ma’am, there’s been a terrible mistake. You actually belong in the back of the plane.” Instead, a stewardess came up and said, “Miss Pisney, how are you tonight? Would you like anything to drink?” She then showed me the menu (oh yes, I said menu) and encouraged me to pick out whatever I’d like for dinner that night. When the plane took off, I was finally convinced that they weren’t going to move me. The food was fabulous. They gave me a down comforter blanket and pillow even though I couldn’t sleep. The guy next to me works on oil rigs throughout the world. It was fun to see his face when I was all, “Yeah, I’m a missionary in Africa…and I have no idea how I got this seat”. He also

The problem? My next flight was from Amsterdam to Uganda. I was back in Economy where I belong. But, I knew. I KNEW what was happening those rows ahead of me.

And it has spoiled me for life.

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