Slam the Clam. Or: How to Sustain Bodily Injury In Order to get Home for Christmas

A friend recently described my blog as “tragic and hilarious.”

To which I said, “Story of my life, bro.”

That “tragic and hilarious” description has never been more accurate than during my flight home for the holidays. This is the story:

By mid-December, I had been living abroad for four months. It had been fun, but also exhausting.

I was eager to fly back to the States and rejuvenate with some hometown lovin’ from my fam and friends.

I had set up the perfect travel plan: BCN to JFK to MSP.

To start the journey, I went to Plaza Espanya to take the airbus, which goes directly to the airport.

However, Plaza Espanya must have been playing hide-and-seek with the airbus that morning because I could not find the darn thing for the life of me. Plus, I’d never ridden it before, so I actually had no idea what I was looking for.

I wandered around to a couple of different people, asking “WTF, mate?” with my super fluent Spanish skillz until some guy took pity on me and pointed out the bus stop.

The wrong bus stop.

It was definitely not the airbus. Although, to that dude’s credit, it did take me to the airport…forty minutes later.

My late arrival at the airport was quickly followed by 1) a trip to the wrong terminal and 2) a genuine inability to open a door like a normal human being (long story).

So, by the time I actually got to the right terminal, I was rather flustered.

The layout of the BCN airport did not lower my anxiety. The exact opposite, in fact.

The airport signs said, “100-600’s are over there!” and “700-800’s are the other way!”

Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “What are these numbers? No one gave me a number. What’s the deal? I’m just looking for Delta. Hmm, Delta, Delta…Umm, where the f**k is Delta?!”

At this time, I ran into Phillip, who is a German in my class.

I said something like, “I’m lost!”

To which he said something like, “Who the f**k are you?”

Ok, he didn’t really say that.

But his face did.


You know those moments when you run into someone and you think, “Oh no, they’re talking to me. Apparently, I am supposed to know them…crap.”?

Yeah, he was definitely having one of those.

It was hilarious.

Or it would have been, if I hadn’t been distracted by my desperate search for the Delta.

I abandoned Phillip and went to the information desk where they pointed me towards the Delta check in counter, in the 600s.

I scurried up to the Delta desk and asked the woman, “Did I miss something? How was I supposed to know you were over here, in the 600s?”

“Oh, it’s simple, honey,” the Delta woman said in a sweet, sing-song voice. “We’re always here.”

Great. Thanks. Real helpful.

So, passed through BCN security, got on my plane, and flew across the Atlantic.  And I landed in JFK.

I will admit, I was a bit worried about the JFK airport. I had been told that place was a hell hole and I needed to go from there to my home in MSP.

And I only had two hours to catch that connecting flight.

At first, JFK was – surprisingly – smooth.

I sailed through customs, transferred my check bag, and re-processed with Delta.

Then, I got in line for the JFK security check.

Because after BCN security and US customs, I clearly needed a third security a check with JFK.

I waited in line for thirty minutes. Then, I got to the part of the line that has a clock to tell you how much longer you would have to wait for the security check.

Another sixty minutes.


I threw a panicked hand in the air and waved down a security guy.

“Hi,” I said. “My flight is boarding. Can you help me cut this line?”

“Sorry, miss,” he said. “I’m only the security guy. You’re going to need to talk to a Delta representative.”

Really? The security guy can’t help me cut the security line?

Fine, whatever.

So, I left the line, ran to the woman at the Delta counter, and explained my situation.

“Oh,” she said. “For that, you’re going to need a Delta representative.”

“Who the f**k are you?” I asked.

“Well, technically, ‘Delta representatives’ are the people by the Kiosks.”

Fine, whatever.

So, I technically ran to the Kiosk guy and I explained the problem.

“Oh,” he said. “I don’t know why security would tell you to come to me. They told us that we can’t help people cut lines anymore.”


At that point, I pulled out every card that I possess:

1)      The “I am not late, this is not my fault, it’s a connecting flight” card…Didn’t work.

2)      The “If I do not make this flight, then you will have to put me up in a hotel and get me a new flight, which is more work and money for you” card…Didn’t work.

3)      The last – but not least – Damsel in Distress Card…Still didn’t work.

I’ve never quite mastered the art of manufacturing tears.

Suddenly, my stubbornness went into high gear.

“I will be damned if I miss my flight home for Christmas!” I thought.

So, I (mentally) gave the middle finger to the security guy, the Delta woman, and the Kiosk dude and went back to the line and asked the average American citizen if I could cut the line.

“Oh, sure, honey, happens all the time,” they said. “Happy to help.”


Now, imagine the longest snaking line in the history of mankind.

Was I going to follow that snake along and ask one billion people if I could by-pass each of them? Hell to the no.

I cut that b*tch down the center. After all, I now had just twenty minutes to get to my plane!

Unfortunately, there were physical barriers in place, to give shape to the snaking line.

And double-y unfortunate for me, they were not the rope kind of barriers that you can push down and step over. Oh no.

These barriers were half walls that I had to climb over. Tall half walls.

I was like a giraffe doing the hurdles in a 100 meter dash.

Except that I’m not a giraffe.

And I’ve never run the hurdles.

God may have given me long legs, but not that long.

So, I’m scrambling over these half wall barriers, and I am slamming my crotch on each and every one, in my desperate attempt to make it to the front of the security check point.

“Excuse me…ouch!…Is it alright if I?…ouch!…I’m so sorry, but I…ouch!”

Talk about slamming the clamshell.

Fiiiinally, I reach the front of the security line. I whip off my boots, throw my backpack on the conveyor belt, and run through the scanner, yelling, “I’m not a terrorist!”

I get to the other side and start tugging on my boots when a security guy pulls a water bottle out of my backpack and says, “You’re going to need to go back and throw out the water from this water bottle.”

Oh, did I mention that, throughout this ordeal, I’m f**king sick?? And that I had filled up my water bottle in the BCN airport?

I raced to the other side, dumped out my explosive devises, threw the water bottle back at him, and dashed through the scanner again, yelling, “I’m still not a terrorist!”

Along with some other profanity that I managed to keep under my breath.

As I was yanking on my boots, I said to the security guy, “Look, I’m really flustered, my flight leaves in fifteen minutes, and I don’t think I’m capable of reading signs right now. Can you just point me towards gate B49?”

“No problem,” he said. “Just go down the stairs, take a left, and it’s all the way at the end.”  

Well, that doesn’t sound good.

I flew down the stairs, took a left, and got stopped by a Delta woman.

“If you’re headed to gate B49, you’re going to want to grab one of these golf carts,” she said.

With ten minutes to go, I jumped on a silver steed and yelled, “Hi ho, Silver! Away!”

…and we proceeded to go two miles an hour.

That’s when I realized that the golf carts are not for people who are rushing to get to their gate. They’re for people who are not physically capable of getting to their gate.

But I couldn’t get off the cart. It was a mile from the security check point to my gate. I couldn’t have run that healthy, much less sick.

So, I was forced to putter through the airport in slow motion as the driver attempted to weave through a mass of cell-phone-staring zombies.

The driver politely honked her horn a time or two.

I whipped out my mega phone and busted some Ludacris lyrics: “Move, b*tch! Get out the way!”

At last, we neared my gate. I jumped off the golf cart, tossed the driver a peace sign (or the middle finger, I can’t remember which) and ran the last stretch of my journey.

As I neared the gate, they announced, “Last boarding call for…”

I came to a screeching halt in front of the podium, gasping for air.

“Here’s…my…ticket,” I panted.

They took my ticket, shoved me down the runway, and nearly slammed the plane door on my ass.

The flight attendant took one look at me and said, “Would you like a water bottle, dear?”

“Yes,” I said gratefully. “I left my own explosive devices back at security.”

I settled into my seat, thrilled to be on my way to Minneapolis. When we landed, I discovered that Delta had lost my check bag. The one with my Christmas presents.


But I shrugged it off, it didn’t really matter. I was finally in Minnesota, wrapped in the warm embrace of the cold tundra.

I was home.