I am getting ready to leave to lovely east valley of Phoenix — Gilbert, Arizona, to be exact. Aside from an odd encounter at Rubio’s and the insane heat, this has been a great visit. The flight to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport on US Airways was ridiculous. I recommend avoiding this airline. Although the encounter at Rubio’s is disconcerting, I cannot in good conscience recommend avoiding the establishment. I look forward to frequenting each time I visit — awesome fish tacos.
My sister, my boys and I were eating lunch at the wonderful Rubio’s. I think it was my third visit there already and the woman who takes your order at the cash register, Graciela, recognized me when I entered. When I began to request my usual fish taco plate, she said, “same as yesterday?” This happens to me a lot. People remember me. I want to be anonymous, but it usually does not work out that way. I guess I should never commit a crime because I could be easily identified (note to self).
Graciela brought our food out to us at our table. She slowly looked at me, my sister and my boys and then turned and went back to the counter. About five minutes passed and Graciela returned to the eating area under the guise of cleaning tables; however, no one had left and so there were no tables to clean. She walked slowly past our table toward the back of the eating area. Then she turned to come back. On passing the table the second time, she inquired, “are these you [sic] kids?” She was looking at my sister.
My sister answered, “she is their mom,” pointing toward me. Graciela then presented a perplexed expression, looked at each boy — back and forth at least twice — then said to me, “they you [sic] boys?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Really?” She seemed incredulous.
“Yup” (now will you leave so that I can enjoy my fish taco?).
She gave me a disbelieving look and slowly walked away. My sister and I exchanged a few words in an attempt to ascertain her motivation for harassing me about my children. We could not really come up with anything solid, but thought maybe…
- she thought I had kidnapped them
- she thought that maybe she should call the police so that I could “show their papers”
- she thought I was lying
- she had nothing to do
I do not know. But, I think maybe, sadly, it was the difference in skin color between the boys and I. I hope not, but it seemed as such.
Anyway, I really want to write about US Airways. Aside from overly expensive tickets, $50 to take two bags, $45 each to “upgrade” our seats so that we could sit together, absolutely no food service (not even a measly bag of peanuts or pretzels) and generally bad service, I had this experience:
Traveling by plane with two young boys is difficult, at best. By the time we get to our seats and I get everyone situated — blankets and pillows out, games ready, coloring ready and such — I am exhausted and relieved to finally sit down in my cramped little seat. Whenever I travel by air with the boys, I bring their car seats (initially I did this to insure that I could contain the youngest, but now they like to sit in their booster seats so that they can see out the window better). I have both boys seated in their booster seats and excited for departure. The flight attendants begin the “what to do in the unlikely event of an unexpected landing” performance as the plane taxis to the runway. Right after they finish, a shrewish, thin flight attendant approaches me and asks, “Are those seats FAA approved?”
“Huh?” I ask.
“Are those FAA approved?”
“I have no idea. We travel with them often and I have never been asked that question.”
“Well, if I had noticed sooner, I would have stopped the flight to check.”
“Uh, well, we travel often and have never had a problem. Besides, what’s the difference, really?”
“I know. But, it is FAA regulation. Anyway, how old is he? Seven?” She points at my oldest, Roberto.
“Umm…he is six, soon to be seven.”
“Yeah. That’s what I thought. He doesn’t need a car seat — after seven or (some number I do not remember) pounds, they no longer need a car seat.” She declared.
(“Uh, no. Incorrect,” I said in my head). I just look at her.
“Well, when we land, you should look to see if they are FAA approved.”
I nod. She leaves. Finally. I want to swear and call her names and eloquently and with verbosity explain what an idiot she is, but I cannot because I have only my children with whom to converse. So, I save my story. But, it does not end there.
We are in the air and the flight attendants begin the “in-flight drink service.” I rarely drink alcohol. Airline travel is one of those rare occasions. My luck holds and the same caustic flight attendant — I will call her ‘Betty’ — is serving us. I ask for a Vodka and Cranberry Juice, my standard in-flight drink. Betty openly assesses me and squints her eyes. “Can I see some ID?”
I think she is kidding, perhaps an attempt to cajole me from any potential hard feelings I might have over her schooling me about my kids’ car seats. Wrong.
“Seriously?” I ask. I have gray hair and two kids. I am 40+.
“Yes,” she answers a bit harshly with emphatic self-righteousness.
“Okay,” I say, as I take out my wallet and produce my driver’s license.
She takes it and studies it for a while, looking at it and then back at me. Suddenly, her attitude suddenly shifts drastically. She smiles. “Oh, are you their mother?”
“Ha ha. I thought that you were an older sibling and I was wondering why you were traveling alone…” she states, seemingly, with an attempt at lightheartedness.
I smile, with some effort. I can be generous. Sometimes. She gives me my drink and even comes back later to inquire if I would like another (no). At the end of the flight as I attempt to gather my things, my boys’ things, the booster seats, and the boys so that we can get off the plane, Betty comes by again and asks, smiling, “Did you get a chance to look at those seats to see if they are FAA approved?”
“Well, check. It should say right on the bottom if they are FAA approved.” (I bitch slap her in my head.) Then she merrily moves on as I continue to struggle to gather up all of our gear. I suppose I should feel flattered somehow that Betty thought that I was younger than twenty-one years old. I am not. I am more concerned about the disparity in treatment between the time she thought I was quite young and the time she found out I was indeed an “adult.”