I’m back…

So tired.

I thought about sitting down and writing a travelogue. I thought better of it. The only part worth telling is the last leg of the flight, where I sat next to an “unaccompanied child,” in this case a five-year old named Destiny who needed a big, helpful friend more than I needed sleep, but I’ve already told all the details to Sandra.

Sooo tired.

I need to stay awake, though. Right now it’s 12:30am in Johannesburg. If I take a nap, I’ll be back up at 1am, and nobody wants that.

Sitting here in front of the computer is uncomfortable. In the last 36 hours I sat for at least 30. My fat bottom is one big coach-class bruise.

In other news, I’ve gained 6 pounds.


16 thoughts on “I’m back…”

  1. Welcome back!

    Early to bed tonight, right? Ya done good. That poor kid, with a name like Destiny. I shudder at the thought of a 5-yr-old unaccompanied on a flight that long! And an international flight, to boot.

    Big hugs, welcome back. What’d you end up doing with the boot money?

      1. Re: Welcome back!

        Gah, and you beat me to the correction.

        You would have gotten met the Atlanta terminal, except I didn’t know how much time you had between your over-an-hour-late arrival from Sal Island and the Atlanta->SLC leg. Particularly with Customs added to the equation.

        1. Re: Welcome back!

          A meet-up wouldn’t have worked anyway. I never got out of the secure area. Flight 7799 (Joburg->Capetown->Isla do Sal->Atlanta) was 90 minutes late, and by the time I cleared customs my original Atlanta flight was 10 minutes from departure. When I rechecked my bag I got onto a different flight, and STILL only had about an hour at the airport.

          That hour was spent decompressing. The 21 hours aboard DL7799 were pretty rough. Even the sleep sucked.

          At any rate, thanks for the warm welcome. I’m feeling much better now.

  2. Geesh. It makes me want to found a service to make those unaccompanied kids accompanied by college-age adults. Get it partially underwritten by the airlines, so the cost would be like half that of a normal ticket. Of course, we’ll have the screen the adults.

  3. I wouldn’t let a 5 year old unaccompanied on a bus let alone on a flight….
    In the UK it would be illegal to allow a child of that age to look after itself at home…..
    What provision is there to keep the kid OK?

    And Mr Tayler Sir…you done good. Sleep well

  4. Clarifications…

    Airlines already make provisions for unaccompanied children. They’re looked after from airport security through to the plane, and then they’re handed off to the flight attendants who make sure they’re looked after during the flight and correctly handed off to airport staff at the destination. That staff then delivers the child to the named guardians at the destination.

    Typically the airlines put a special button on the child’s clothing so everyone can immediately tell the child is unaccompanied. Destiny had a button on her sweater, but she got too hot so she took it off. All that meant was that of the six flight attendants on DL 705, only two of them knew which child was the UC at first, and I ended up buying some stackable potato chips to share because the gal who brought the meal cart by wasn’t one of the two.

    Destiny told me “I want some potato chips,” obviously because she could see them on the cart. I thought to myself that I could EITHER ask the stewardess if there was an allotment for the UC sitting next to me, or I could just buy the chips since I was feeling a little munchy myself ANYWAY. So I chose option 2, and shared my chips with Destiny.

    (Note: It feels weird to say things like “I shared my chips with Destiny.” Poor girl will be getting that for the rest of her life, I’m sure.)

    I didn’t mind. I did feel a little foolish when the stewardess asked me if I wanted more chips just for me. She thought the little girl was with me, and while not falling all over herself to apologize, was having a go at finding a way to comp me SOMETHING. My long list of things I needed had two items at the very, very bottom: 1) a ruckus, and 2) more damn chips. Thus I smiled and said “no, it’s fine, really. I would have shared anyway.”

    The only point at the trip where I approached a line that I knew I was not allowed to cross was when she had to go to the bathroom. The stewardesses were nowhere in sight, and rather than run get one (see above — Howard needs no ruckus) I just got up and walked her to the bathroom. She was not tall enough to reach the door latch, and had never used an airplane toilet before (I knew this based on the fact that she told me she’d never been on an airplane before) so I was taking a bit of a chance. I figured if she got into trouble in there, I could go ahead and grab a stewardess. (THAT’s the line, right there. I know how to potty small children, and I don’t potty kids who don’t belong to me.) I stood outside the unlocked bathroom and made sure nobody walked in on her.

    I needed to get up and walk around anyway.

    For most of the flight Destiny played with a chunk of kneaded eraser, smashed potato chips, blew bubbles in apple juice, and babbled almost incessantly. I let her keep the eraser, because by the time we landed it was at least 20% carbohydrates and 10% saturated fat.

    At the end of the flight the folks across the aisle told me I was a saint. I told them that two months ago my wife flew with our four kids, ages 9, 6, 3, and 1, and everybody was nice and helpful with them. I figured on this flight I was just paying the universe back, and that the more I thought about it the more I figured I still owed the universe three more of these.

    Destiny is carrying a caricature of herself and a Schlock business card with my name and phone number on it somewhere in her bag of coloring books and potato chip crumbs. I’m not sure what her parents/relatives/guardians will make of her tale of our flight together, but if they really want to know, they’ll figure out how to reach me.

    I really hope they just email me rather than sitting down and reading the Schlock Mercenary archives first. The last thing I need is a ruckus.


    1. Re: Clarifications…

      See, this is why we all really, really like you, Mr. Tayler. Not just ’cause you write the best comic strip on the web (IMNSHO) but ’cause you’re such a good fellow.

    2. Re: Clarifications…

      I’m personally wondering if they’ll send a restraining order or just a nice letter, myself. These days, with some parents, you never know. :/

    3. Re: Clarifications…

      Well done that man!

      I used to have some ‘unaccompanied minor’ flights to visit parents when I was younger (11-13 yo), having someome to talk to makes the flight go a lot faster. But I can vouch for the effectiveness of the system.


    4. Re: Clarifications…

      I’ve had to cross that line….

      I worked with my church’s preschoolers, and you’re supposed to accompany the kids to the bathroom, and help them wash their hands and stuff. You’re also supposed to wear gloves whenever you do anything. It’s kinda crazy. I just got lucky that I never had to take a girl to the bathroom. That’d have been weirder. I assume we’d have used the men’s bathroom, but still, it’s weird.

      And this was several years ago, and I’m STILL not old enough to have my own kids. Though I am 21….

      1. No, you didn’t.

        You didn’t cross the line. You were in an official position of responsibility with those kids. Their parents EXPECTED you to help them to the toilet, and to wipe their bottoms if necessary.

        In my case I was not only not expected to do that, I was expected NOT to do that. As far as Destiny’s parents were concerned, I was a complete and total stranger and would have had no business whatsoever in a bathroom with their five-year-old while her pants were down.

        That’s the line I didn’t cross. Even when you’re trying to be helpful, you can get into BIG trouble going there without explicit permission.


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