Once Mommy was flying to Moldova, which is a country that used to belong to the Soviet Union but is now independent. It is to the east of Romania, and not very many airlines fly there. So, Mommy had to fly Moldovan Airlines. When she was about to get on a plane from Moscow to Moldova, part of the plane's propeller fell on the runway right near where she was standing. Some man emerged from inside the plane and told people that they were having a little trouble at the moment. Mommy very quickly figured out what the "little trouble" was.
Another time Mommy was consulting in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, which is on the boarder of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in Central Asia. Uzbekistan is another of those countries that people have trouble finding on the map and that were part of the former Soviet Union. Not very many Americans go there because you have to be able to speak either Uzbek or Russian, but Mommy goes there a lot. Usually she has few travel problems, but once it took her six days to get from Bukhara to Houston, Texas.
People told her not to take Bukhara Air, but she did not listen. She took the flight from Bukhara to Tashkent on Bukhara Air—and it was a perfect flight. She stayed overnight in Tashkent and got up in the morning to take another airlines from Tashkent to Moscow, en route to New York City and Houston. Unfortunately, that plane had fallen apart en route to Tashkent, so there was no plane to use to get people to Moscow. That is Mommy's kind of luck: planes falling apart.
Mommy stayed in Tashkent two more days. Then, when she did get a flight out, she had to talk her way past the border guards in Moscow because she no longer had a valid ticket from Moscow out of the country and no visa for Moscow. That is Mommy's kind of luck: no visa when it is needed.
After making it into Moscow, Mommy stayed a couple of days until she could get a flight to New York City. The flight, when she finally got it, was uneventful. Mommy was now feeling rather fortunate. She should not have been. In New York City, she got on the flight to Houston and relaxed. She should not have. Bam! The plane shook. Mommy knew what had happened because she had felt this sensation once in leaving Houston, when the baggage-loading vehicle ran into the side of the plane and damaged the baggage door. This time the food truck servicing the plane had run into it and put a hole into its side. Now it could not fly. Everyone had to get off and take a plane through Atlanta to Houston. That is Mommy's kind of luck: Planes getting damaged by loading vehicles running into them.
There was a man in the waiting area for the Atlanta flight. He overheard Mommy telling someone that this was her sixth day, trying to get to Houston from Uzbekistan. He listened to everything that had happened to Mommy. Then he got up and walked over to the gate agent.
"I would like a different flight," he told the agent.The agent laughed, but the man did not. He made the agent put him on a different flight.
"Yes, sir," she replied. "What flight would you like?"
"Any flight that she is not on," he said, pointing to Mommy.
Mommy seems to have a bad influence on the travels of people around her. So, perhaps the man was right to get on a different plane. I can give you a couple of examples.
Mommy's sister, my Aunt Victoria, was traveling to see us when she was 15. At the time, she was living with my grandmother in Maine, and we were living in Washington, D.C. Grandma took Aunt Victoria to the airport and waved to her as she boarded the plane. However, she never showed up in Washington. Mommy looked and looked. The she had the airlines page Aunt Valerie. When the airlines learned that Aunt Victoria was only 15, they searched real hard for her. They found her, too — in Columbia, South Carolina. Since she was coming to the District of Columbia, she felt that it made sense to get on a plane headed for Columbia.
A different kind of travel problem happened to one of Mommy's students. A very nice but absent-minded lady once took a course that Mommy was teaching. She came all the way from Japan to take the course. Mommy tried to tell her that it is cold on the Central Coast of California in the summer time, but I guess she did not believe Mommy because she brought a lot of summer clothes with her. She could not wear the summer clothes because it really was too cold. So, she thought that she would make her travels easier by mailing the clothes to her home address in Japan. That did not make things easier for her, though, because she left her passport in the pocket of her shorts. Oops! Goodbye, passport! Mommy, of course, is used to passport troubles, so she helped her student get a replacement passport fast.
Conclusion: If you want an easy time traveling, avoid Mommy!
This story is excerpted from a collection of vignettes that I helped Doah, my severely mentally challenged youngest son, to write and publish several years ago (copyright 2003). It was my attempt to help him understand literacy and the purpose of writing and reading.