Chaoatic Departures (Flying to America, Pt I)

Have you ever had one of those days where nothing goes right?  And no matter how hard you try, you just can’t make it any better?  Well we had the good fortune to have three of them in a row! To make it even better, it just so happened to be while we were moving from Germany to the US last January.  So sit back and allow me regale you with a tale of frustration, misfortune, and “In Flight” peanuts.

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First off, the day before we left we were way behind on packing.  The suitcase that ripped while zipping it up didn’t help either. So we ended up leaving Trier about 3 hours later than planned, which effectively killed the pleasant afternoon drive to our hotel with my wife’s dad, sister, and brother-in-law.  The evening went nicely though, thanks in no small part to the 1/2 liter bottles of Bitburger my brother-in-law and I drank while waiting for the pizzas.  Traditionally we drink a stubbi* when we walk from my father-in-law’s house to pick up Döner* for everyone. But hey, pizza takes longer to make so a bigger beer makes more sense, right?  As a bonus my brother-in-law also brought Bitburger from home to go with the pizza.  End result, a nice evening of beer, pizza, and quatschen* that ended with us only getting 3 hours of sleep.

1The next morning we were naturally wrecked tired, but we still got up and out the door just fine.  We got to the Frankfurt Airport a few minutes later than the recommended 3 hours for international flights, but still with plenty of time to spare.  Plus, I had checked us in for the flight the evening before with my trusty airline app, so we should have been good to go.  Then Murphy’s Law reared its ugly head and we got the slowest damn baggage-drop line I have ever been in. Ever.  We waited for literally over an hour in a line that wasn’t even particularly long.  One lady was at the counter for over a half an hour, just to check one little 11 kilogram suitcase! I don’t know what she had going on, but she wasn’t even the worst.  No, no.  The worst was the older couple who jumped into our line just to check their bags with some other couple they were travelling with, and then proceed to ask 1,000 questions.  I thought I was going to strangle them.

Since the baggage line fiasco used up all the time we had planned for a nice cup of coffee with the family, we had to rush our goodbyes. That sucked.  Both saying goodbye and the fact that we had to rush it. I hate goodbyes and I suck at them, monumentally. I thought the hardest part of it all was watching my wife say goodbye to her (only) sister. That is until I saw my five-year old boy tearfully say goodbye to his aunt and single favorite person in the entire world.  Up to that point he hadn’t shown any signs that moving was bothering him at all, but it must have taken the airport to finally sink in.  That was the absolute saddest thing I have ever seen, hands down. It’s times like those I wish my wife and I were from the same country, or at least the same continent.

These 2 look much nicer than who we dealt with

After our goodbyes we had the pleasure of meeting the probably rudest Zoll* guy ever.  He didn’t use any more words than required, and I am pretty sure he didn’t even look at us.  I know Germans aren’t big on small talk, but even by that standard he was rude.  Just past the Customs booth we had one last teary wave to the fam, and then off we hurried to our gate.  Unfortunately we didn’t get 50 feet down the hall before the next catastrophe ensued when our son tripped and fell.  He didn’t just fall mind you, he fell so hard that he busted his two front teeth on the floor, loosening them and making his mouth bleed like water from a faucet. While running around like a decapitated chicken on crack trying to figure out what to do I managed to arrange for medical personnel to meet us at the gate.

Once at the gate we discovered that we were later than we thought and weren’t going to make the plane if we waited for medical assistance to arrive. Luckily the bleeding had stopped and we were able to phone-a-friend (a.k.a. my brother- and sister-in-law the paramedics). After a thorough consultation it was determined that the teeth were just loose and there wouldn’t be any serious damage so we should get on the plane. So down the jetway we go, full of a million emotions, but a little relieved that we would be able to relax on the plane.

Businessman Running to Catch a Flight --- Image by © Larry Williams/CORBIS
© Larry Williams

Wait. Where’s the third carry on? Oh shit. No, no, no! Not possible. How in the world could we forget one carry on after managing to get 12 suitcases plus a car seat into checked baggage? Better yet, where in the hell is it at? And off I run with airline personnel, leaving my on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown wife in the door of the plane, to find the bag. Aaaaaaall the way back at security I narrowly rescued our suspicious package from being blown into a thousand bits by the bomb squad. Then spriiiiint back to the plane where the flight attend was literally closing the door as I slid through. What I later discovered is that while I was running the airport dash they had closed the plane door where my wife was waiting (without telling here there was another one open), inching her ever closer to total meltdown at the thought of taking off without me. That was something straight out of the movies man.

Bitte ein Bit! Delta’s donation to my quest to de-stress

So we finally settle into our seats, ready to have a nice peaceful flight. Not too much to ask, right? Well, it was actually pretty uneventful, except for my son playing with the video screen so much that he somehow froze the plane’s entire entertainment system. But thanks to my going away present from Delta Airlines (right), it barely registered a 4 out of 10 on the interesting scale. Oh yeah, and there were peanuts.  Join us next time to find out how the rest of the trip went!


  • Stubbi = Stubby, also a short bottle of beer
  • Döner = Turkish fast food, meat & vegetables in flatbread
  • Quatschen = shooting the bull
  • Zoll = Customs

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