Hi everyone and sorry. Sorry for not posting for what seems (to me at least) like forever… As the title of this post hints, it was due to a bit of traveling I was doing these past weeks. It was my intention to tell you about my impressions of the great state of Texas. It IS great, I’ll tell you that much 🙂 Three things, however, changed that plan for me… One was that I traveled for business purposes, so there wasn’t really much time to do any meaningful touring. The second thing that happened was that, since we seemed to have been going through an eternal winter around here, I got the flu… and third – I had to actually travel in order to get to and from Texas.
Now I’m no Steve Martin and I didn’t have a John Candy to drive me insane, but although I traveled more than a couple of times in my life, I wasn’t able to put into words, this experience. I believe a lot of us just keep this locked up inside for various reasons. But this time I’ll vent 🙂 So sit back, adjust your monitors and read on:
Just to clarify, I know that many have gone through way worse, but we all experienced what we normally take for granted as “the usual stuff”.
The following is just 1 leg of a 4 way trip. It is representing of the 4 pretty much.
And so it happens one dreary Friday early May 2013 that yours truly went to the Dallas international airport to board a flight to Atlanta GA. I went to the self check in kiosk (Best thing since sliced bread. Verified.), and started the self-explanatory process. numbers of pieces of luggage checked – 1. Press continue. Do not go through “Go”, Do not get 200$, pay 25$. What? Didn’t I (or for that matter my employer) just pay you hundreds of Dollars to move me from point A to point B? What exactly did you expect I’d bring with me? a little zip-lock bag with a compressed change of cloths? Yes I brought a suitcase. I did not bring a tiger in a big cage… a piece of luggage weighing no more than 15 pounds… Oh well… take the damn 25.
Boarding pass in hand and a cup of coffee later I make my way to security checks. Now, I’ve traveled to and from the US. I’ve traveled inside the US. When I walk toward the security checks I’m well-practiced. I wear my Crocs (to avoid hassle and the unpleasant odor), My belt hangs around my neck and I have the laptop out the bag. As soon as I get to these gray bins (they’re all gray aren’t they?) it’s bada-bing bada-boom, I’m ready to go! But, I won’t go through the cancer machine. The privacy is not an issue for me. It’s that radiation I’m just a tad concerned about. So no worries. I signal to the TSA officer and ask for a pat down. They pleasantly acknowledge, accommodate and very politely explain every step, offer to do that in a private room (I decline) and I get tickled for a few minutes. I have to say that all things considered, the TSA security check is the most pleasant part so far! Seriously, kudos to the guys in Newark, Atlanta, Dallas, St. Louis and Seattle.
Then come the real fun part. The one where you have to get to the other side of the airport to board a flight. Ok, there’s a nice little train. I get to the gate about 10 minutes prior to the boarding time announced on my boarding pass. Why? Because my timing is so damn good! 🙂 I look outside and something seems odd… I can see that long sleeve I’d be walking to board the plane, but what’s missing at the end of that sleeve exactly 10 minutes prior to boarding? Oh, it’s the plane!
Turns out, our pilot’s running a little late. Well, that’s just dandy isn’t it? Cause I’m not a smoker, so who cares, we’ll just wait. Oh, but come to think about it, I AM a smoker. And I do make the effort to make it on time and once you passed security, there’s no where to smoke. Or IS there?
I politely ask a guy who seems to work there and he point and says “Right next to gate so and so”. Cool beans, I’ll just chill. Cup of coffee, a smoke and back in time for the new boarding time posted on the electronic board at my gate. I step gingerly (cause that’s how a smoker steps after he finds out he CAN smoke after all) towards said location and step into what seems like the fanciest, cleanest and best smelling smoking spot in the history of smoking. Confused, I ask the nice lady where I could smoke and she smiles politely and points up “Well, if you’re a member it’s right up here”.
I give her my “whadyatalkingaboutwillis” look. “Member?”
“Yes, you can join if you pay 51 Dollars.”
Now I AM a bad smoker. I’m like a junky for tobacco. But I never smoked any cigarette that costs 51 Dollars… Nor do I plan to join a club just for a smoke. What the hell is wrong with you people? I don’t expect to be allowed to smoke just anywhere and anytime. I do respect other’s right to breathe clean air. But can’t you allocate a small little ventilated room for us junkies, Dallas?… Or is it about money? Rhetorical question, no need to answer.
Deflated, I made my way back to the gate area and hooked my laptop to a socket in the floor and watch a full episode of “Fringe” (Great series). Just to give you an idea of the wait (Remember, we’re still waiting for the plane…). I mill around for a bit, as my bones are old and weary and at long last a call to board! Who boards first? First class, as in these guys who paid extra to sit at the front.
Now I’m no rocket scientist. I do however find it more logical to board the people sitting at the very back first. That way, there are no “traffic jams” when you finally board. But then again, I’m looking for logic in an irrational environment, and these guys did pay more so there.
Do you also find it a little annoying that when you board, the air conditioning system is working, but as soon as everyone is in and it’s as crowded as it gets, after you jammed you mini bag into the mini compartment and somehow closed it, then they turn the air con off… for a few minutes… what happens next is a perspiration fest. Each one is competing with the other, who can sweat more in preparation for…. wait for it… that cold blast of air when they turn the damn thing on again.
Make up your mind! That’s how I got my flu 😦
Next comes “Seemingly aimless hanging around in the plane, part 1”, where you seemingly hang around aimlessly inside an immobile plane waiting for… something to happen. Preferably take off. The captain makes a little small talk and promises to be up in the air in a few minutes. Now, ladies, you know men. They promised to fix that sink 6 months ago damn it!
After eternity the plane moves. It actually moves and while the air hostesses do their best cabaret with these buckles and those sick looking masks it drives around the airport for about an hour. Is the captain lost? Is that why WE had to wait for over an hour to board? Don’t they get a free map of the airport when they’re assigned a route? We drive for ages until this beautiful sentence is heard “Crew get ready for take off”.
I’ll skip all the little tidbits of in flight thievery and get to the landing.
After the pilot seemed to have plunged from 34000 ft to touch down on the wet Atlanta strip, we get to “Seemingly aimless hanging around in the plane, part 2” where you seemingly hang around aimlessly in the plane as it gives you the tour d’force of the airport. For another piece of eternity the plane wanders around the airport, apparently looking for a free parking space, although the pilot told you back in Dallas with no little level of confidence that you’d be arriving at gate so and so. They even went as far as telling you how to get to the baggage pickup from that very gate.
Wow, did not mean the post to be that long… and I didn’t even get to trains or automobiles…Then again, did not expect a 1 h 40 m trip to take over 4 hours… I would think that paying hundreds of dollars for a ticket would make our time of some consequence. But unfortunately, fairly consistently it does not…
Now, back to work, back to health, back to writing!
Thanks for flying with me today.