The Trip There:
National Airport is just one stop away from us on the metro, so of course I ended up with a flight out of Dulles, the airport I try to avoid if at all possible (long story short, it was like $300 cheaper out of Dulles)(I guess we now know how something about the marginal value that a flight out of National holds for me).
For folks without a car, like myself, there are buses that run to Dulles. I got myself up very early in the morning, grabbed my rather large, somewhat-heavy suitcase, and caught the metro to the station where the bus picks up. When the bus showed up I paid my three dollars, and lugged my rather large, somewhat-heavy suitcase up the steps of the bus, through aisle, bumping my way past the people who'd already filled in most of the seats, all the way to the back bench, where I had a clear shot, down the aisle, out the front of the bus. My rather large, somewhat-heavy suitcase sat in the aisle in front of me. It was early, I was tired, and about the time we got on the Dulles toll-road, I decided to catch a quick nap.
The next thing I new, I was jolted from my nap when the bus driver suddenly slammed on the brakes! I went tumbling off the seat, into my rather large, somewhat-heavy suitcase, which itself had gone flying down the aisle. I looked up, straight out the front window, to see why the driver had slammed on the brakes. Apparently she had decided to get off the toll-road, possibly without paying the toll. All I know is that the arm-gate-thingy was down, blocking the exit. The bus driver must have realized that slowing down wasn't an immediate solution to this problem, and so she stepped on the gas. I got myself back into my seat as we approached ramming speed, and had a perfect view as the bus driver, I kid you not, rammed straight through the gate, shattering it into pieces. As the driver continued on, as if nothing had happened, the lady sitting next to me, turned to ask, "we just drove through that, didn't we?" To which I responded, "Oh, most definitely."
It was like that movie with the bus that can't stop. You know, Animal House.
After that everything went smoothly, until I got onto the plane. I was seated in the very last row of the plane, in the left aisle seat. After they had closed the door of the plane there was a small commotion somewhere in the middle of the cabin, but I couldn't see what exactly was going on. It didn't take me long to figure it out, as the commotion kept coming near and near to the rear of the plane. Apparently a mother, her two young children, and their grandmother had misread their seat assignments. Guess where they were really sitting? Yup, next to me. Well, grandma was next to me. Mom and the two kids were up one row, and across the aisle.
This was apparently a family of African immigrants, and Grandmother, who clearly didn't speak much English, had a different view on personal space than your typical American. Because she certainly didn't have a single problem spreading out as far as she could the minute she sat down. She was actually a very thin woman, but she still had herself almost halfway into my seat. I actually leaned as far into the aisle as I possibly could, just to keep her from continuing to elbow me.
To complicate matters, Grandma had kept all of the snacks they were planning on giving the little kids, and so kept reaching all the way across me, and through the aisle to pass candy to the two little 'uns. I offered to switch spots, but she either didn't understand me, or just decided she'd rather continue to reach across a complete stranger.
After the flight attendants asked us to put our trays up, one of the little girls wanted her "juice." By "juice" she apparently meant "Coca Cola" because that's what she got. If there was one thing these loud, bouncy, irritable children did not need, it was sugar. They were horribly behaved when we got on the plane, and about 2 hours into the flight there was nothing that could be done to settle them down. Plus, their mother seemed to have absolutely no idea why they would be acting so poorly, and clearly she didn't believe in any sort of discipline. The children kept shouting, and demanding things, and the mother in turn was rude and demanding to the flight attendants. It was a disaster. Anyways, as grandmother prepared to pour the Coke for her grandchild, she reached across my lap again, to grab the sippy-cup from the kid. Then, instead of using the tray on the back of the seat, since those had to be up, she proceeded to use my lap as a tray. Both of her elbows were resting on my legs, and she unscrewed the top of the cup, poured in the Coke, and put the lid back on, all while using my lap for her personal convenience. I sat there, completely unsure of how to react. My eyes grew wide, my arms spread out in a gigantic shrug that said, "WTF?!?" I think I mustered a baffled, "Excuse me?" but she certainly didn't respond.
The first chance I got, I switched seats. Unfortunately, I was moved to the only open seat, one row in front of the poorly behaved children. Half the flight had turbulence and crying, the other had crying and seat-kicking. Good stuff.
Thankfully it's only a 2 and a half hour flight to Minneapolis. I don't think I've even been so happy to land in my home state.
Never made it up to Minnesota