Salute to Spouses Blog

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The PCS From Hell

We've all got one. The story of that PCS move that was a nightmare from beginning to end.

Ours came last December. After what felt like a tussle every step of the way, from clearing housing to checking in and out of hotels, we decided to fly from Hawaii to the mainland, on Christmas Day. Sure, the airline was right - the plane, the airport - both were empty. Each of our five children had an entire row of seats on the jet to themselves to spread out across.

But an empty airport means security is all about you. That means security opens every one of your carry on bags. That means the cat gets out of her cage and runs to hide under the x-ray machine. Which means your children will run in circles, giggling and screaming with delight as they try to catch their beloved pet, only making her hunch deeper into the darkness under the machine.

Which means the head of security, does not much like you. 

And when we reached Atlanta, on Dec. 26, the entire nation had mobilized to resume their normal, non-Christmastime lives. With five kids, one dog, one cat, 26 suitcases and 12 carry-on bags, including one that was leaving a trail of pretzels and fruit snacks as we walked, we began the slow journey to change planes.

It took us almost the full two hours to cross the airport: I'm hungry. I have to go to the bathroom. The dog has to go to the bathroom. There is no bathroom for the dog. Now I have to go to the bathroom. Can I let the cat out? Don't let the cat out. You already let the cat out. Security!

Our plush, sweet, spacious ride across the Pacific led us to a mini-jet with three seats across and nowhere near enough space for all those carry-on bags. Our 90-pound golden retriever was kicked under a seat in front of us. The cat was in an overhead compartment, I think. It was 8 a.m. here, 3 a.m. where we came from in the Pacific. The kids were overtired, over-hungry and at least two decided they had to pee as soon as we sat down.

As the younger three began to scream and cry, and nearby passengers shot me looks of disdain, a stewardess marched toward me down the aisle. I mentally prepared myself for the, "please get the hell off our aircraft speech" and quickly tried to calculate how many hours it would take us to drive from Atlanta to our hometown.

She leaned in, I winced. And she whispered, "vodka or rum?"

"Umm, what?"

"You look like you could use a drink. What can I get you?"

I stammered something, I'm not even sure what. She was away and back within minutes with an alcohol-laden drink so strong I couldn't even finish it by the time we landed. She handed it to me with a smile and whispered, "Merry Christmas."

Best. Stewardess. Ever.

Our kids eventually cried themselves to sleep and I had 40 minutes of peace and vodka before we touched down in North Carolina. Smooth sailing. We had survived the PCS from hell.

Everyone woke up in a better mood. We gathered our bags, pried the dog out from under the seat and headed up the ramp, into the concourse. We were home and done with our journey.

And the dog could hold it no longer.

He squatted and took the longest pee I have ever seen. Right next to the line of people waiting to board our now empty aircraft.

And I swear when he was finished, he looked at me, and smiled.

Happy travels, where ever your orders may lead you this PCS season.

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