On our way home from Maine, I decided to schedule late flights out of Maine. We had to drive four hours to the airport so I figured we might as well make a day of it and I would deal with the consequences of leaving Portland at 6pm and not arriving in Memphis until 10:30pm (which felt like 11:30pm).
We were feeling a little rushed on our way to the airport but got there an hour before the flight. Of course there was a long line to weigh baggage and they were making announcements on the speakers that a plane that had just landed was the plane to Atlanta and we should get to the boarding area. In reality, after waiting 10-15 minutes to check baggage and 10 minutes to go through security, they hadn't even started boarding yet. But once they did start boarding, Casey of course decided she had to go to the bathroom.
We had a layover in Atlanta and had to switch concourses to get to our next gate. While we were going down an escalator I was trying to tell Jack that we might be going on a shuttle to get to the next concourse. I said the word three or four times and he couldn't hear me & didn't understand what I was trying to say and I was getting very frustrated. When we got on the shuttle and he heard the announcement that it was called the "plane train", he just looked at me like I was crazy for calling it a shuttle. "It's a plane train Mommy!"
We waited about an hour for our next flight. I enjoyed some people watching. Casey acted like she was going to go to sleep but spent 15 minutes trying to get just right with her blanket and pillow, 2 minutes pretending to sleep and then sat up and said, "Good morning Mommy!" To which I meanly said, "We're not playing that game. Either sleep or sit up and find something to do."
We were among the last people to get on the plane, which was fine because I knew we had three seats together and that all our carry-ons would fit under the seat so we wouldn't be struggling to find overhead space. While we were in line, I said, "Does everyone have everything?" I glanced at all our things and it looked like we had all our bags.
While we were buckling our seat belts, Casey whimpered, "Where's Elmo?" I started to panic a little and said, "Isn't he in your bag?" A quick look around determined that he was not to be found. Casey started crying hysterically. My first thought was that it really was the end of Elmo. I said, "That's really sad, Casey." Jack chimed in with, "I'm kind of sad too because that used to be my Elmo."
That's when I realized that I couldn't let Elmo go without a fight. I asked the flight attendant if I could go search for him and she said I could as long as I had my boarding pass. I gave a brief moment's thought as to whether I should just leave my two children on the plane by themselves. I wasn't really worried about them but more about whether others would think it strange that I left them.
I ran down the ramp and out to our seat but Elmo wasn't anywhere to be seen. There was a man sitting near our seat and I asked if he had seen Elmo. He said a janitor had just come by and taken him. I couldn't see the janitor on the concourse at all. I wanted to run after him, but I didn't dare to go away from the plane. I was so dismayed after running all they way out there to rescue Elmo and I couldn't even do it.
I explained to the ticket agent what had happened. She said the janitor shouldn't have taken it but should have brought it to her, but that was all she could do for me.
I walked back onto the plane empty-handed. Casey broke down crying again and it made me start to cry. She calmed down a little and asked if she could get a new Elmo and I told her she could have any one she wanted.
Then I saw the ticket agent walking onto the plane and I saw a little flash of red in her hands. I quickly wiped the tears off my face. When she got to us, I was so thankful. She said the man sitting out there had tracked down the janitor and gotten Elmo for us!
I wish I could have run out there to thank him personally but I will never forget the kindness of that man in saving Elmo for us.