Travel Plans: The Flight of Miss Clavel

I am polishing up my travel plans for the Institute for Genetic Genealogy conference in DC next month, and thought you dear readers could use a vacation from Y-DNA Q talk. Here then is the story of how I came to be put off of an airplane as known to only a few of my closest friends.

In the summer of 2005 my plans to visit my sister, Michelle, in Gulfport, MS were squelched by Hurricane Katrina.

By the time I could arrange vacation time again it was well into Midwestern Winter. This proved to be fortuitous as a couple of weeks after the hurricane a stray cat wondered into my sister’s barnyard. Michelle called me.

Michelle, “We cannot keep another cat. We will take her to the shelter.”
Rebekah, “I don’t know. They have to be over whelmed right now. What if they do not think she is adoptable?”
Michelle, “She likes people and the dogs. She is cute.”
Rebekah, “I do not know. Maybe you should keep her. Oh, her name is Miss Clavel.”

The next day Michelle called me back.

Michelle, “You were right.”
Rebekah, “That you still argue with me….”
Michelle, “The cat has issues with faces. She is fine until you get your face too close. Then she mauls you.”
Rebekah, “She cannot go to the shelter. They will not think she is replaceable.”
Michelle, “No.”
Rebekah, “She can come home with me when I visit.”

A couple of days before I was scheduled to come home the temperature dropped in Iowa. It dropped much to low for Delta to allow pets to fly cargo. I got a pet carrier and measured and remeasured it to be sure it would fit under the seat. I had her vet signed certificate of health. I had everything planned to a T.

It was in the security line that I discovered that they do not let pets go through the X-Ray machine in their carrier. So there Clavel and I stood in the hand wand area. I had her pinned to my chest, one hand firmly in the scruff of her neck, one hand supporting her, and I prayed. I prayed that she would not flip out and get loose. I prayed that she would not notice that she was ever so close to my face.

When I noticed that everyone in line was staring at me, I was puzzled. Then one of the security people passed me a container of sanitizer wipes. I had bloody distraught cat discharge all down the front of my acrylic sweater. Sanitizer wipes are not the best tool for cleaning off acrylic sweaters. I cleaned. I got her back into her carrier.

I was waiting at the gate when the Delta manager walked up to me. She was exceptionally nice. She offered to help get Clavel and I to a state where she would let both of us onto the plane. She worked on the carrier. I worked on Clavel. I thought we did a good job. It is a little hard to clean a cat though with one hand firmly in the scruff of their neck.

I had been on the plane about two minutes when the manager came down the isle. She flagged me off of the plane. At the gate, she kindly explained to me that one of the stewardesses noticed the smell. She was very sorry but she could not let me fly. She helpfully re-booked my flight.

As my luck would have it, my sister had already left the airport.

So that was how I came to be put off of an airplane and Miss Clavel came to live the good life in California where she sleeps at the end of my mother’s bed every night.

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