My boss called me into his office. I knew this could go either 1 of 2 ways. 1: I would get the week off I requested so I could go home for the holidays. 2: I would be stuck here in San Jose and spend Christmas alone. I knew it was a lot to ask to have this time off. Working at Wal-Mart, there was no time given off between November and January. It was the busiest time of the year and they couldn’t afford to let anybody have a day, let alone a week off.
I walked into his office and sat down. I mentally prepared myself for the worst. I conjured up a speech that I would ramble off if he said no.
“Christin, you know the holidays are a busy time, but I understand your situation—so I’m letting you have the time off”
I breathed a sigh of relief.
“But—there are things that need to be done in your department before you go. Get with your assistant and she will give you a list.”
I thanked him and quickly walked out.
I was going to get to go home for Christmas.
It’s a good thing too because I had already bought my plane ticket.
It was the day before Christmas Eve. I was running around trying to get my department notes finished. I was almost done for the day. A few last things needed to be done and then I had to do some last minute Christmas shopping. I finished up and clocked out. As I was heading to electronics to pick up the Nintendo 64 that I knew my brother just had to have for Christmas, I ran into Freddie. Freddie and I had become good friends in the last 6 months and had been on exactly 1 date at this point. He pulled a big, red card from his back pocket and gave it to me. I had instructions not to open it until I got to the airport. He told me that he had looked at the weather report for Washington and that it was snowing hard and to be careful on my trip home. Duh, it’s Washington. A little snow wasn’t going to hurt anything—so I thought. I laughed it off and gave him a hug good-bye. After finishing up my Christmas shopping, I went home and began packing.
Christmas Eve day I found myself sitting in the San Jose International airport, anxiously awaiting the boarding call. I hadn’t been home in 5 months and I missed my family terribly. I was looking forward to homemade cookies and candy that my grandma made every year and spending some time with my little, mischievous brother. I was pulling out my boarding pass when I saw the big, red envelope. I pulled it out and read it. Smiling like a fool, I tucked the red envelope back into my bag. My flight was boarding. Goodbye sunny California- hello home. The two hour flight to SeaTac was virtually uneventful. I read that card about 10 more times and made a mental note to myself that I needed my aunt (who was a hair stylist) to give me a spiral perm. (Don’t judge me, it was the late 90’s). As we were landing at Sea-tac, the snow was coming down hard. Everything was covered in white. My nerves were a little rattled because I knew the planes from here to Yakima were a lot smaller. The “LaBamba” planes (If you saw the movie, you know what I’m referring to) were a lot smaller and more susceptible to turbulence. Great. Just my luck. I was going to die on Christmas Eve, in a LaBamba plane in a snow storm before I got to see my family or have my 2nd date.
After finding my connecting flight, I decided to grab some lunch. I quickly ate a sandwich and returned to my concourse. I looked up and saw my flight was delayed. Assuming it was for the weather, I went to the nearest pay phone and called my mom.
“Mom, my flights going to be delayed because of the snow storm….don’t worry…I’ll be okay…no, mom, I’m fine…I will be home soon”
Great. Now what?
I strike up a conversation with some ladies sitting nearby. Turns out they were in the same predicament I was in. Wanting to get home for Christmas to be with their families. We joked about all of us renting a car and trying to make it over the pass but what if the pass was closed? It most likely was with the amount of snow that was falling.
An hour or two went by with no change. The snow was coming down even harder. As I looked up to the screen, the “delayed” turned to “cancelled”.
My plans of spending Christmas Eve with the family went out the window. No dinner at Great-grandma’s house, no midnight mass with the family. No Christmas music, no opening presents, nothing.
After reading my Christmas card from Freddie for the 100th time, there was an announcement. They would be providing a greyhound bus to transport people to Yakima.
The day began to turn to night as we all piled into the bus. Not exactly how I saw me spending my Christmas Eve. On top of the bus heater not working well, I realize I didn’t dress for this 20 degree freezing weather. When I left sunny Cali it was a 75 degrees and here I was in jeans and a t-shirt with a light weight jacket in the middle of a snow storm. If it couldn’t get any worse, the bus was going a mere 15 mph. At this rate, a 3 hour trip would take 8 hours.
And it did.
I couldn’t feel my toes or fingers upon arriving at the Yakima Airport. I pulled my jacket close around my body, hoping to feel some warmth. It didn’t work.
We pull into the Yakima airport around 2am. I looked out the window, hoping to see my mom or my grandparents. I wiped the frost off the window to see my mom, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins standing outside, waiting for me. I felt a wave of happiness when I saw them all waiting for me. I stepped off the bus to “Are you okay? Are you cold? Are you hungry?” Yes, yes and yes. I was so happy and relieved to be home, in one piece and alive.
What started out the worst Christmas Eve of my life turned into the one of the most memorable.
Unfortunately this wouldn’t be my last travel blunder.
You will have to stay tuned for those doozies.