Category Archives: Travel

Anticipation Is Keeping Me Waiting

I spent Tuesday morning watching the red carpet show at the Met Gala. I realized how much I missed sparkles and elaborate hairdos and beautiful jewelry on display. I have a coterie of friends who love couture (even if none of us can afford it) and we spent the day going through photos from the event as we had time and then discussing them in a private Facebook chat.

Watching a bunch of people absolutely delighted to get dressed up and have fun was an excellent distraction. Seeing so many people of color walk the red carpet, and sharing designs from their friends and partners livened up both the festivities and the parade of dresses. Reading about the hand-sewn dresses that took hundreds of hours of work turned them into works of art by hundreds of artisans.

Right now I need escapism. The covid situation right now in West Virginia is dire. Cases are higher than they were at the pre-vaccine peak, and more people are seriously ill. The governor, who is an idiot, refuses to do more than pathetically plead with people to get vaccinated. I’m back to staying away from people again. Many of you know the feeling.

On top of this, the last few years have been rough times for my husband and me:  job losses, a life-threatening (as in 24 hours to live if left untreated) illness that required months of recovery, a debilitating injury that is also requiring months of physical therapy. I remind myself every day that in the grand scheme of things I have nothing to complain about as these are all problems that have been or will be solved, and that I have plenty of shelter, food, medical care, etc. But as my mom once said “Just because other people have it worse than you do, it doesn’t mean that what is happening to you isn’t real, too.”

I also need a real escape. Because of all the tribulations of the last years we had to cancel vacations, and so haven’t been away since January 2013. Yeah. So in a leap of faith we decided to split a longer trip we were going to take next year into 2 parts and head to the Florida Keys in January to get caught up on vacation time and to begin the preliminary steps of our next house hunt.

Life is different when you start to have things to look forward to. I love the anticipation of a trip as much as the trip itself, and I try to learn as much as I can about where I’ll be so I can make the most of the trip, so I’ll read about the area we’re staying in, research local restaurants, bars, and music venues. I’ll learn about the unique things that you can only do there, and find the places that the tourists don’t go. My husband went to college in Florida, and he studied oceanography, so he spent a good bit of time snorkeling and SCUBA diving in the Keys, so he’s in charge of the geography lessons and the forays into neighborhoods we might like to live in.

Plus I am a parsimonious New Englander, so tracking down flights and hotel rates is one of my superpowers (you should have seen the color-coded spreadsheet I made for our wedding/honeymoon where I ranked the ships, the rooms, the ports, the number of days at sea, etc.). Because of everything we’ve been through over the last few years, I also made the decision to treat ourselves to little luxuries along the way—a more relaxed flight and the hotel I liked the best from my research. It’s a lovely property on a marina, with a beautiful pool area and the constant hum of fishing boats and pleasure boats of every size. We’re going to spend some time doing nothing, too. Ahhhh.

Of course the danger of planning so far in advance is that you have no idea how feasible the idea really is. January brings snowstorms. Covid might not die down after the Delta variant dies out. I don’t care. I’m going to enjoy my anticipation, and then I’ll enjoy my vacation. I hope that all of you who also need an escape are able to take one in the near future, too. Joy be with you all.

Assault On A Queen

Assault On A Queen Poster

I’m a sucker for a good “caper” movie. Give me protagonists with shady pasts who devise brilliant schemes to make themselves and their buddies rich and man that is just good old fashioned entertainment. This movie, ASSAULT ON A QUEEN, is a 1966…well…at best okay addition to the caper cannon. Sinatra just kinda walks through it, the plan has you wondering why they do things the way they do, never explains away nagging incongruities, and the two best acting performances are supplied by supporting characters (Franciosa and Conte). But in terms of audacious plans it’s hard to beat raising a sunken submarine, retrofitting it, and making it your get away vehicle for robbing an ocean liner at sea.

I’m sure by this point you’re probably thinking “okay where’s he going with this”. Patience. Just like a good caper movie you need all the backstory.

The film’s ocean liner is a real ship, the RMS Queen Mary. When used for the filming it was in it’s next to last year as a seafaring vessel. Soon after the filming was completed Cunard/White Star sold the Queen Mary to the City of Long Beach in southern California where it has been permanently moored for the past 54 years. It has functioned as a hotel, convention center, and general tourist attraction for all that time.

The city had leased the ship to a management company who agreed to run the facility and keep it in good shape. “Just send us the check each month” seemed to be the municipal attitude. But Grande Dames, especially those of the ocean going variety, need constant maintenance and upkeep. Constant maintenance and upkeep costs a lot of money. For as long as tourists paid their way onboard to see how the other half once traveled or conventioneers thought it was a hoot to stay on a ship instead of a Sheraton things were fine. For the last year and a half though the tourists haven’t been coming. Neither were the checks. And an independent inspection of the ship’s condition showed that it needed over a hundred million dollars just to get it back to a state that would keep it afloat for the next 25 years. It would be close to half a billion dollars to retrofit it to last another hundred years.

The management company, when informed of the repairs needed, basically said “New phone, who dis?” and declared bankruptcy, leaving the City of Long Beach holding the proverbial bag and forcing the city council to debate what to do with the ship. By the end of the debate I’m sure most of the council members were wondering why in hell their predecessors had come up with this cockamamie scheme.

Their options, according to the Daily Mail, came down to three:

Option 1: Renovate and preserve the Queen Mary for 100 years 

It’s estimated that preserving the Queen Mary until 2120 could cost taxpayers between $200 million and $500 million. Extensive repairs and upgrades would need to take place on a dry dock and could take several years to complete.

Option 2: Renovate and preserve the Queen Mary for 25 years

Experts say short-term preservation could cut immediate costs to the taxpayer. Marine engineering firm Moffatt & Nichol says taxpayers will fork out $150 million and $175 million to keep the boat viable as a tourist attraction until the late 2040s.

Option 3: Dismantle and/or sink the boat

It is estimated that either sinking or dismantling the boat could cost upwards of $105 million because metal from the 81,000 ton vessel would have to be transported to a scrap facility or moved further out into the ocean

First of all it’s a ship, not a boat. A ship can carry a boat. A boat can never carry a ship. End of naval semantics lesson.

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Welcome Home

Welcome Back to California

Some say the best part of going away is the coming home.

Well it’s certainly nice to be home. At least I know where everything is supposed to be and generally is unless of course I moved it before we left because “It’ll be so much easier to find it when we get home”.

When we left California there was still a pandemic going. When we got home…not so much. I mean it’s still going on everywhere else, but here in the Golden State it’s become as clothing optional as Baker Beach. And by clothing I mean masks. Masked up I walked out of our favorite coffee house with hot Joe to go on our way out of town, came back to find Safeway has only a few people wearing masks working there, no customers wearing them, and all social distancing signs, posters, stickers, and/or any related chazerai gone.

And I mean gone. Zero, nada, nilch, the big bagel.

Pandemic? What pandemic? Never heard of such a thing. Go on with your silly self.

The only Delta variant we know about is if DL345 JFK to SFO gets diverted to DFW and we need to XPD OTO ASAP.

Acronyms — just like words only more confusing.

I was expecting that there would be a gradual slide back to normal once the state fully “reopened”.  All the coverage I was able to read or watch on TV from afar seemed to indicate that was what was going on. Masks were still on faces, distances were still observed, and at least in the beginning things would slowly return to normal. It was going as expected so I stopped following reopening stories.

What a difference a week makes. And a state.

On our way back through Oregon it was still mass pandemic mode. Limited is still the working theme in the Beaver State, as in “we have limited seating for our limited menu and only during our limited operating hours”. But hey, Trump flags are still flying and nobody seems to be working so tell me again how this is working out for ya? It’s so bad the wife (Cruella), who had been yelling “HE LOST” at any Trump sign still up or flag still waving, had to stop it or risk losing her voice. And this in a state where Biden won with almost 60% of the vote.

But then again it’s a state whose travel industry is based on getting tourists to come up and become live bait to catch Bigfoot. Of course that might help explain their fascination with the Big Orange Julius Caesar Salad. Is it that much of a stretch to go from believing in Bigfoot to believing in The Big Lie? Both are conspiracy land creations designed to explain what to a simple mind is unexplainable. Both are promogulated by so called experts with little to no actual expertise.  And both are perpetrated by and for the enrichment of a select group of individuals. Kinda sounds like they go hand in hand.

Besides, have you ever seen a picture of Trump and Bigfoot together? As the QAnonuts say “do the research”.

Meanwhile here in California it looks like we’ve weathered germ warfare…er…I mean a once in a century naturally occurring viral explosion. Just in time to put bricks in our toilet tanks, low flow shower heads on in our showers, and watch as our lawns wither and die in the water parched summer heat. One natural disaster at a time is how we roll here in the best of all possible worlds.

“Well this living off the road is getting pretty old” Yeah Levon you got that right.

Shapiro Out

 

Notes From The COVID Road

West Coast Postcards

Random thoughts along the West Coast COVID trail

You know how in JAWS they wanted to kill the shark to save the summer holiday season for Amity Island? Well they blow the shark up (“Smile you son of a …”) and swim back to shore and…fade to black. We never find out if they saved the summer holiday season.

That’s kind of where we are right now with COVID, vaccinations, and the summer season. Some places have opened up fully for business, some partially, and some, well, it’s hard to say what they are doing. So in California the shark blows up and everyone comes flooding in. While on this trip I have booked four separate tour hosting gigs for groups coming from all over the country. Meanwhile in Washington the shark is blown up and people from Washington itself and neighboring states who are vaccinated are taking the opportunity to get out and enjoy some of what they’ve been missing for the past year and a half. Oregon? Best I can say is some people think the shark either wasn’t blown up or was never there at all. Others think everything’s fine. Totally depends on where you are and even from one town to another the rules change.

Asked the waiter at the restaurant last night if their business has been impacted by the ferry service closing between Victoria and Port Angeles. He hemmed and hawed, finally admitting that he doesn’t pay much attention to Canada since he can’t go there (hmm, that little scrap over the illegal substance conviction must have put a damper on his pro snowboarding career). But the town has definitely suffered since there is no ferry service from Victoria to Port Angeles because of Canada’s COVID border closure. That ferry normally carries hundreds of cars a day back and forth and suddenly it’s up and gone. What few waterfront bars and restaurants are still in business (lots of empty store fronts) were busy on a Father’s Day Sunday night, but only BECAUSE there were so relatively few left. On the other hand the hotels were jammed with Olympic National Park enthusiasts eager to get out in the fresh cool air and hike, bike, backpack, and otherwise take advantage of the beauty of nature.

Washington does have a more lenient attitude toward COVID precautions. Signs dot pretty much every retail and eating location that say in effect “All employees have been vaccinated so if you don’t want to wear a mask, we’re okay with that”. And almost as a thank you for their efforts, most people will wear a mask into the building and remove it at a designated point (at a table in a restaurant, once fully inside a retail establishment, etc.). And no one barks or demands compliance with government mandates.

In general it’s the small towns that seem to be doing better than the large cities we visited. I suppose if you don’t have a lot of businesses in the first place you have less businesses to lose. Seattle in particular has a horrible problem with drug addicts on the streets downtown because they have moved into the abandoned buildings large retailers (Macy’s, Ross) and small have abandoned. At one point we walked back from Pike Place Market to our hotel along Pike Street and watched no less than a dozen junkies lighting up crack and meth and shooting up heroin, all sitting in the doorways of these abandoned retail locations. With no one caring to push them away from their front doors, Superfly’s cliental are beginning to act like they own the street. That’s not good for what retail establishments still ply their trade down there and even worse for the city as a whole. Vibrant downtowns bring not just locals and tourists but a sense of a city moving forward. Frankly it made even me, urbanite from day one, feel uncomfortable and on edge. The response from the police and city officials? A shrug and the excuse “why arrest them, they’ll just be out and back in the same space in a matter of a few hours”. I understand this has been going on pre-COVID, but the pandemic has worsened the situation.

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A Postcard From Portland Oregon

Portland Oregon Postcard

Portlanders say it’s necessary to keep Portland weird.

Sorry gang, but that horse has left the barn, the door is closed, and the fat lady has sung. The party’s over, it’s time to call it a day.

Oh I’m not saying Portland isn’t quirky. Sure it’s got it’s quirks. Except those quirks are only quirks if you have been living in a cave for the past ten years. In fact those quirks aren’t even quirks anymore. Portland has gotten less quirky as the rest of the country has turned quirky into mainstream.

Donut shop with wild flavor combinations? That trend has taken over the deep fried sugar breakfast industry throughout the land. Voodoo Donuts might have done it first, but they have been copied to the point where it’s the expected, not the unusual. Civic artwork splashed across every formally blank wall in town? Um, have you seen the Windward Walls in Miami? Or the Arts District in Los Angeles? Or the Mission District in San Francisco? Or the one in, well you name the major American city, you’ll find it. Civic engagement in the age of COVID via taking the annual Rose Festival Parade and turning it into a stationary parade of people’s front porches decorated with what would have been the parade floats? Eh, well talk to New Orleans about this past year’s Mardi Gras.

Don’t get me wrong, Portland is a beautiful city with warm engaging people. They are the kind of people who will go out of their way to help a stranger in town find the best brewpub (Deschutes Brewing in the Pearl District) or let you know about the off the beaten path ramen joint (Kayo Ramen on North Williams). They take their eating and drinking seriously in this town. But it’s not anymore serious than any other big city has become.

We’ve homogenized “weirdness” to the point of sameness across the land. Portland is no more or no less weird these days than New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles or any other urban mecca. It’s all a heady mix of coffee shops, vegan restaurants, non-traditional companies looking to shift the paradigm, etc.

OK the citizenry might have a few more tattoos but let’s face it, tattoos are soooo 2012 on the weirdness scale.

I really want to make this clear, I love Portland. What a wonderful livable city it is. Mile after mile of tree lined streets with single family houses on either side. It’s even quaint the way so many of the residential streets are barely wide enough for two cars to pass one another. Forget it if there are cars parked on the street, maybe one car can get through. And I love that the city has done it’s best to keep major chain retailers out and given room for the local guys to try and make a living. And the food scene is incredible. No matter what kind of food you want to eat there are probably a couple of restaurants serving it, complete with their own house brewed beer or locally sourced wine. And when push comes to shove, the Rose Garden in Washington Park is the place you go to shove the push out of your life for a few minutes.

But really how many pot stores do you need? I don’t mean the kind of pot you put a bird on. I mean the kind of pot that their state legalized back in 2015. There are streets where it’s literally one shop after another and arguments can be heard over which one is best. It may not be the way your town boogies, but it probably will be real soon.

Portland is not weird. Not the way they want to claim it to be.

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A Postcard From Ashland Oregon

Ashland Oregon Postcard

Greetings from balmy Ashland Oregon where the temps today will stretch all the way to the mid 70’s and the cloud cover will, well, cover the sky most of the day.

It’s an interesting change from Sonoma where the temps will hit the hundreds while we’re away. Ah, too bad. Along the drive it was astounding to see the change in topography as we sped north, from the arid brown of the Golden State to the lush green forests of the Beaver State. No jokes please, we’re woke around here.

This is our first stop as we wind our way through the PacNorWest ™. Five hours from home, it’s one of the longer drives we’ll be making. That’s a good thing as the wife (Cruella) was just about done with my bad jokes and choice of music. Apparently Gregorian chanting isn’t her thing. Go figure.

Ashland is of course home to the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Since 1935 the Festival has presented a variety of plays both Shakespearian and modern in their five performance spaces. The most famous of the theaters is the Elizabethan outdoor stage, a model of Will’s own Globe theater. Fortunately the modern audience all get seats, no groundlings allowed. The season runs from early March to early November.

Of course COVID hit the Festival hard, cancelling the entire 2020 season and forcing a drastic cut down of the 2021 season. Usually 10-12 shows are done per season, this year there will only be two, a new musical called FANNIE about the life of civil rights pioneer Fannie Lou Hamer which will be presented in the outdoor theater starting July 1 (too late for this trip) and IT’S CHRISTMAS, CAROL a gender bending take on the Dicken’s classic opening in late November.

Actually the real reason we come to Ashland is to eat at this place:

Omar's Restaurant Ashland Oregon

This is Omar’s Steakhouse and with neon like that you just know it’s going to be good. And it has been for the last 75 years. A dry martini, a fine steak, some Dragonfly Tempranillo  wine, what more does a man need? A good story to go with? It’s got that too. Seems the man who started it was named Omer and that’s what the sign was supposed to say, but Noodnick Nate the Neon Man screwed up and old Omer didn’t want to offend so he just went with it.

We on the other hand just go with the mouth watering steaks and coma inducing desserts. This is old school eating. Bring your second stomach and be prepared to fill it.

steak at Omars

Coupe Denmark Sundae

Ashland is also home to Southern Oregon University, where “artsy” children are sent by their parents who have compromised in order to at least get them to go to college and not head up to Portland to live out their coffee house and poetry dreams. That and the fact you have a Shakespeare Disney World right next door might lead you to the conclusion the town is just a tad liberal. You would be correct. But it’s a small island of blue in a sea of Southern Oregon red.

The larger city nearby, Medford, for many years has been the home of Harry and David, the gift packaged fruit kings of the world. If you’ve ever opened your door to find a gift from your Aunt Gertrude containing fruits and nuts lovingly arranged in a reusable, if you use those sorts of things, gift basket it was probably from Harry and David. They are a huge company with 8000 employees but most of that is farmed out labor. They were purchased a few years ago by 1-800-Flowers and in the midst of the pandemic closed down all their stores, laid off all the store employees and went completely online. Complaints are up, mostly about the quality of the fruit and the customer service. The company’s response? Teach your Aunt Gertrude how to use a computer.

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Why We Travel

Mark Twain on Travel

During World War II the Antifa government of the United States commissioned their great factory of propaganda called Hollywood to produce a series of films called WHY WE FIGHT. These films were the product of the best and the brightest of American cinema; written by the Epstein brothers of CASABLANCA fame, scored by the dean of film music Alfred Newman, shot by the father of the documentary Robert Flahtery, and directed by three time Academy Award winner Frank Capra. They told in a simple and easy to understand style the reasons America was in the war. In fact they were so good the Feds decided the films, which were made for the troops, should be released to the general public.

I think we need the Biden Administration to underwrite a new series of films for our times. Maybe have them star all the Marvel superheroes, they’re popular. Call the series WHY WE TRAVEL. And then get people to travel.

63% of Americans don’t have a passport. Most say they don’t need one because they don’t see themselves leaving the country…ever. Some though say they don’t feel the government should be mandating “papers” for citizens. That might account for why 43% of Americans are against the idea of a vaccine passport. Of course most of them don’t have a driver’s license either. Sarcasm.

Personally I’ve held a passport for 40 years. My oldest ones are filled with entry and exit stamps from countries around the world, some that don’t even exist anymore, some where travel by Americans was limited. I’m actually peeved now when an immigration official doesn’t have one of the old “ker-thump” style hand stamps that rattle the desk with an imprimatur of official recognition. Hell, the Swiss don’t even stamp your passport at all, your comings and goings simply noted via barcode scan sent to a central computer deep inside an Alpine mountain.

Or some goatherder’s hut on top of the mountain. The Swiss, whatcha gonna do?

Travel broadens your horizons as the saying goes. As Sam/Mark says above, it’s hard to stay bigoted about someone once you’ve seen their home. Strongly held beliefs tend to wither away in the face of actual experience. Being in the Soviet Union in 1986 gave me greater understanding of Gorbachev’s Glasnost plans and why they had to be implemented. Walking the streets of Havana is truly the only way to understand the resilience of the Cuban people. Spending an hour in a pub in Belfast brings the knowledge that though tempered, The Troubles are far from over. Exploring the back alleys of the old city of Jerusalem made me realize that all this bloodshed, all these tears, all this drama, is over a bunch of rocks.

In that same vein I highly encourage anyone who is anti-immigration to spend some time in Central or South America. Or someone who is against socialized medicine to spend some time in any country that has it. Or anyone who can’t understand why African Americans don’t just do what the nice police officer who pulled them over for no reason says to do to spend some time in a third world country like the Philippines or Nigeria and learn what it truly means to have no power over a situation.

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Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “I Me Mine” edition

Shortest “Obsession” post in my history here at First Draft :

“I Got Mine” Won’t Work Anymore
Posted on 5/1/2021, 9:03:47 AM by DIRTYSECRET

Okay my friends.How do we fight the catch phrases like ‘income inequality’? Makes us the defensive right off the bat. They just have to point to the obvious wealth out there to say it’s unfair. ‘No one working 40 hours/week should live in poverty.’ Blowing them off doesn’t do anything for the younger generation-communist. They’re lost. College loans, putting off marriage, investing in Obamacare they don’t need. Major surgery is needed and the poverty pimps have an easier time stroking resentment while we quietly go about our business. What’s the solution?

1 posted on 5/1/2021, 9:03:47 AM by DIRTYSECRET
I hereby present to you – right-wing nutcase-ism, Trumpism, and Republican party-ism, all in one neat little package with a bow on top :
To: DIRTYSECRET

Okay my friends.How do we fight the catch phrases like ‘income inequality’? Makes us the defensive right off the bat.Not really. Not my problem.

What’s the solution?

I got mine and don’t care that they didn’t.

5 posted on 5/1/2021, 9:09:26 AM by Sirius Lee (They intend to murder us. Prep if you want to live and live like you are prepping for eternal life)
And there you have it.
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And now I’m going to go all Adrastos on you, and let Long John and the Silver Beetles wrap it up.
Click on the “Continue reading” link below for some spectacular photos from our trip to Big Bend / Terlingua.

 

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Drinking Again

Subway Portrait by Walker Evans

The weather roller coaster continues in New Orleans but nobody cares because the Saints are playing the Rams in the NFC championship game tomorrow. Our loud fans are bound to blow the roof off the Superdome and it’s going to be raucous everywhere in town. There’s some overconfidence among the fans but very little on the team itself. I still refuse to say Who Dat but I will say Geaux Saints.

In other local news, the Rolling Stones are playing Jazz Fest. I’ve seen the Stones 6 times, but I’m not shelling out $185 for their special day, which is especially expensive. I may just have to listen for free from my top-secret location nearby. Here’s my  only comment on the continuing gentrification of Jazz Fest:

This week’s theme song, Drinking Again, was written in 1962 by Johnny Mercer and Doris Tauber. We have versions by two of the greatest singers ever: Aretha Franklin and Francis Albert Sinatra. Bottoms up.

The song was reworked in 1968 by the Jeff Beck Group:

I hope you’re not too tipsy to jump to the break.

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Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the Yucatan – Dave’s REALLY not here, man!

Hi all – the Barbara and I are currently defying The Darnold’s wall-eyed wishes and crossing the border into Playa Del Carmen.  This is the most beautiful (but definitely not the most expensive) resort in Playacar – the Iberostar Quetzal.

Instead of paving over the jungle with concrete and marble columns, they built this place around the jungle, leaving it and its wildlife as the centrepiece.

Enjoy these pics from previous trips there – adios!

IberostarJungle

 

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Playin’ around in Playacar

As promised last week, pics of previous trips to the Iberostar Quetzal in Playa Del Carmen. Some pics from this trip next Monday,  then back to the depths of Hell  Free Republic.

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More below the fold, if you like…

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Other People Aren’t Your Tourist Attraction

On seeing Cuba “before it’s ruined.” 

I appreciate good art direction just as much as anyone else, and I see that Cuba looks like a beautifully destroyed photo op. But it’s not your photo op. The old cars are not kitschy; they are not a choice. It’s all they have. The old buildings are not preserved; their balconies are falling and killing people all the time. The very, very young girls prostituting themselves are not doing it because they can’t get enough of old Canadian men, but because it pays more than being a doctor does. Hospitals for regular Cuban citizens are not what Michael Moore showed you in Sicko. (That was a Communist hospital for members of the Party and for tourists, and I, for one, think Moore fell for their North Korea–like propaganda show pretty hard.) There are no janitors in the hospitals because it pays more money to steal janitorial supplies and sell them on the street than it does to actually have a job there. Therefore, the halls and rooms are covered in blood, urine, and feces, and you need to bring your own sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and mattresses when you are admitted. Doctors have to reuse needles on patients. My mom’s aunt had a stroke and the doctor’s course of treatment was to “put her feet up and let the blood rush back to her head.” That was it. And this is in Havana, the big city. I can’t be sure, but I’d imagine things there are a lot better than they are in more remote parts of the country.

I get the desire for an authentic experience of a place. I do not understand the people who eat their way through the world one Hard Rock Café at a time, who go somewhere else and bitch it’s not home. When Mr. A and I went to Jamaica we stayed, on purpose, in a locally owned hotel. When we went to Paris I was comically excited to be shacking up in someone’s rented apartment instead of in a Comfort Inn (and not just because it was a fraction of the cost). I get the desire to really see a place as it is, and not just as the brochures present it.

But there’s a line you cross when you decide what “authentic” is, and publicly pine for a backdrop for yourself, ignoring the desires of the people populating that backdrop for the 51 weeks out of the year you’re not there. Your vacation doesn’t trump someone’s daily life. Your vacation photos will survive.

Would it be sad to see a Disney Store in downtown Havana? We have one in downtown Chicago, and it doesn’t seem to have done dick for anyone living south of the Loop, so I’ll leave it up to the Cubans as to what they want where. If I need poverty porn for my Instagram there will always be somewhere miserable for me to pose.

A.

 

Planes, Complaints and a Prick Named Gary

Occasionally, I’ll read a story like this one, where a woman was removed from a flight for singing “I Will Always Love You” at the top of her lungs for three hours. Or one like this, w here a guy was apparently throwing “gang signs for Jesus” on an aircraft. I often wonder what the hell is wrong with these people.

Now, I have figured it out.

When an extremely rigid set of rules are combined with massive quantities of ineptitude and arrogance, it is possible to feel completely justified in taking a shit in the middle of an airport and flinging it in the general direction of the counter help.

I took a trip to San Diego last week to participate in a student media convention. The group that was bringing me out there had booked my travel and had set me up at the hotel. It was a good gig and a chance to meet with other advisers and kids who seemed to benefit from time away from their newsrooms, working with others of their ilk to improve their publications.

The flight was a split flight, so I took Frontier to California and a U.S. Air/American Air jet home. The flight home was to leave at 4:30 and head to Phoenix, where I’d have an hour to change planes and head to Milwaukee with an 11:57 p.m. arrival. Not ideal, as I had a two-hour ride home and an 8 a.m. to teach the next day, but passable. I’ve done worse.

I got to the airport with three hours to spare. I checked in with the U.S. Air terminal. There was nobody around except a women’s sports team from Ole Miss and one other lady who was checking in. Crowding or time crunches weren’t even a consideration. Keep that in mind.

The lady checking me in was quite nice, but having trouble with her printer. After trying a few computer terminals, she said she managed to “force print” my boarding passes and check my luggage through to Milwaukee. I looked at the passes and there was nothing unusual about them. Had my flights, my seats and my gates. Standard stuff.

Still, for some reason I asked, “Is there anything else I have to do before the flight?”

“No,” she said. “You’re fine. Have a great trip.”

I got through security with no problem and found a seat at the gate. Everything was normal until I tried to get on the plane.

As they called our “zones” (We apparently can’t be trusted to board by rows any more. Now we’re in “groups” or “zones” for some reason.), I looked for my zone and found that I was in the very last one. For once in my extremely impatient life, I decided “the dude abides,” so instead of pushing and cramming my way to the front, I hung back and waited until it was relatively empty. After all, I have a seat. There’s no reason to be a dick.

When the lady scanned my boarding pass, she handed it back and I was two steps away when she said, “Oooh… Wait a minute. We just need to fix a little thing. Please step over to the counter.”

OK… Fine…

Thus I met The Officious Prick Named Gary.

Gary was in his early 50s and bore a striking resemblance in stature, attitude and behavior to Tim Gunn from Project Runway, especially after Tim is shown a “halter-dress diaper.” His nametag noted that he was a “supervisor,” which is apparently U.S. Air parlance for “I’ve outlasted people who wanted a better life.”

Gary took one look at me and gave me the “up and down” glance before looking at my tickets and sneering, “These are not valid.”

I wondered if a lifetime spent huffing jet exhaust had allowed him to develop a strange sense of humor. “Excuse me?”

“These are for Frontier. You can’t board our plane.”

I looked at the boarding passes again, wondering if the lack of sleep or sheer terror had me misreading something. Nope. The passes said the right airline, the right flight and even had a seat number.

“It says right there that these are for your plane, including the flight number.”

“Well,” he said with a dismissive wave. “These need your original hardcopy tickets from Frontier.”

“They were e-tickets,” I protested, handing over my phone, with the email outlining my trip including the “Please check in with U.S. Air” line highlighted. I also was wondering how the hell they managed to check my bags onto this flight if I didn’t have a ticket. For all the shit they tell you about “Don’t take a package from a stranger,” the airline would have seemed to done just that, if The Officious Prick Named Gary were correct.

By this point, everyone was on the plane, sans a few stragglers who were busting ass to our terminal from a late connection. Gary was placing these people on the airline while his underling took pity on me and was trying to figure out what the hell went wrong.

“I have got to get on this plane,” I pleaded with the both of them. “I have to teach in the morning.”

Gary looked at me the way a mean child with a magnifying glass looks at an ant. He strode slowly and yet purposefully to the jet-way door and closed it smoothly. He then looked at me and said, “This isn’t our fault.”

It was at that point that fear turned to anger, that panic turned to horror and that “We’re all people” turned to “gang signs for Jesus.'”

“Well, it sure as hell isn’t my fault,” I said through gritted teeth.

The woman was still on two phones trying to figure out what had happened. Gary stood there, winding up some baggage claim stickers. The plane pushed away from the gate.

I have yet to experience a sicker feeling than standing there, watching a flight I had tickets for leave, as I could do absolutely nothing about it.

At this point, Gary walked away.

The lady at the terminal was still banging away, trying to figure out how it was I managed to get through the entire security network without an actual ticket. The guy at the TSA even checked me through the “Does Not Need to Take His Laptop Out or Belt Off” line without a blink.

Suddenly she hit pay dirt. The lady at the ticketing counter had failed to notice how the tickets were set up. All she would have had to do was print the extra tickets, staple them to my boarding passes and I would have been on my way to Phoenix. The tickets were paid up, everything was fine, but she had “forced” the pass print, thus giving me only the boarding passes.

Everything was OK.

Y’know… Except for the whole “The Plane You Need Is Gone” thing.

Now it was about 4:45. All of the major flights were gone. The woman was working through about a dozen iterations, including a two-stopper that would land me in Chicago at about 3 a.m. and allow me to rent a car and drive in. In desperation, I agreed. Turns out, that wasn’t going to work, either.

The only way to get me home was to flying me on an overnight flight to Charlotte, N.C. that left at 10:35 p.m. local time. I would then catch an 8:45 connection to Milwaukee and land around 10:30 a.m.

Having no actual option, I took it.

As the lady printed out my tickets, she told me, “You are so lucky this happened to you here instead of in Phoenix. They wouldn’t have been as nice.”

Yeah. That’s me. Luckiest fucking kid on my block.

As she handed me my tickets, I had to ask her, “Look, I know you’re telling me I’m getting on a plane in six hours, but how do I know that for sure? I was supposed to be in Phoenix by now according to what your airline told me earlier.”

She looked at me with an understanding nod, “I will be working the gate over there tonight. You will be getting on the plane.”

Unlike the other airlines that have stranded me, I got no food vouchers. I spent my time editing book chapters and wandering around. I also emailed my first two classes and told them to skip class the next day. I wasn’t going to be there. I still had to make it home for academic advising by 12:45 and a 2 p.m. class that was all test prep. I promised those kids I’d make it in time for their needs.

During all of this, I got a sobbing phone call from The Midget, who was inconsolable.

“You’re never coming home!” she wailed. I almost had to agree.

At 10 p.m., we began boarding. The flight was one of two left in the terminal at that hour and the people waiting had that, “I have been fucked with to the nth degree” look on their faces. The lady who had printed my tickets was around, but she was working with another gate. The person checking tickets had the look of “mid-40s overlord with way too much makeup and perfume” going on.

After she boarded the Super Gold Deluxe Special Carpet members and the Super Extra Frequent Flyer Program members and the Extra Special Doubly Special Special Flyer members, she called Zone 1. I was at the front of the line. I’m getting on this plane.

The lady scanned me, handed back my pass and let me go. I was halfway down the jet way when I heard her calling out a mangled version of my last name.

I turned around as she leaned in the doorway of the jet way.

“Yes?”

“We need you to come back.”

“I’m not getting off this plane,” I told her not moving an inch and feeling every muscle fiber in my body tense.

She beckoned me with the finger wave usually reserved for grade school children being called to the front of the room.

“Sir, we just need you to step back here.”

It was at that very instant that I felt the branch I was clinging to start to crack. It was like the old “Incredible Hulk” TV series, when David Banner’s eyes got that pure white color. I held the fort for just one more sentence.

“If you are taking me off this plane, you need to call security.”

The look on her face changed. It was like she realized she was about to deal with a wounded animal.

“I won’t take you off the flight. You’re getting on this flight. I need to have the ticket that’s stapled to your boarding pass.”

“OK. Come and take it.”

She walked purposefully and yet tentatively toward my position, took the ticket and returned to the gate. I was on the plane.

The flight was about 112 hours of me not sleeping, for fear of what might happen next. An optimist would say, “Hey, you’re almost there.” An airline traveler in my shoes would say, “Until my ass is in my recliner back home, I’m nowhere.”

The flight landed with plenty of time to make the connection. The people in Charlotte started lining up early and everything was there: the pilots, the crew, the plane and the staff. Life looked good until about 15 minutes before the flight was getting ready to leave.

A woman and a man who were both in wheelchairs arrived and took advantage of the preboard. No complaint at all on my end. The only problem is we were boarding from the tarmac, not a jet way, and the woman, while telling the airline that she was in a chair failed to inform the good folks at U.S. Air that she was immobile. While her traveling companion could get out of his chair and ride in a smaller chair (or as he did, hop up the steps), she was unable to be moved.

The crew then tried to use something called an LPD or something that put her up the stairs. As she was well over 300 pounds, this thing didn’t work. As I was unable to see from my position in line, I relied on the views of others, one of whom noted that they were apparently bringing “a crane” over to lift her into the plane.

I was furious and doing my best not to direct it at anyone, especially this lady. I’m sure she wasn’t happy that 100 people thought she shouldn’t be on the plane (actual conversation going on behind me) or that people were now late because of her. I’m sure if she had her druthers, she’d be able to run the bases at a church softball game as opposed to having complete strangers view her as a giant, doughy third base.

The lady running the gate appeared exasperated as passengers began to gripe.

“You know,” she said. “This is not our fault.”

Hmm… Where have I heard that before?

After about 92 false starts, they finally got her onto the plane.

We were now about an hour behind schedule.

We landed around 10:45 and via my “O.J. Simpson routine” (in that I mean like him running through the airport quickly, not killing people who pissed him off) I managed to get into my car at exactly 11 a.m. I did the 2 hour drive in 1:40 and walked directly into my office in time for my first appointment.

I was dressed in the same clothes I’d worn for two days, complete with a T-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap. I reeked of recycled airplane air and rage. Still, I did my job, which was more than I could say for U.S. Air.

I told them as much in the complaint I filed, outlining all of this and the general stupidity that led to me writing this post. The response I got was classic:

USAir2

Don’t worry U.S. Air. I will always love you…

Planes, Complaints and a Prick Named Gary

Occasionally, I’ll read a story like this one, where a woman was removed from a flight for singing “I Will Always Love You” at the top of her lungs for three hours. Or one like this, w here a guy was apparently throwing “gang signs for Jesus” on an aircraft. I often wonder what the hell is wrong with these people.

Now, I have figured it out.

When an extremely rigid set of rules are combined with massive quantities of ineptitude and arrogance, it is possible to feel completely justified in taking a shit in the middle of an airport and flinging it in the general direction of the counter help.

I took a trip to San Diego last week to participate in a student media convention. The group that was bringing me out there had booked my travel and had set me up at the hotel. It was a good gig and a chance to meet with other advisers and kids who seemed to benefit from time away from their newsrooms, working with others of their ilk to improve their publications.

The flight was a split flight, so I took Frontier to California and a U.S. Air/American Air jet home. The flight home was to leave at 4:30 and head to Phoenix, where I’d have an hour to change planes and head to Milwaukee with an 11:57 p.m. arrival. Not ideal, as I had a two-hour ride home and an 8 a.m. to teach the next day, but passable. I’ve done worse.

I got to the airport with three hours to spare. I checked in with the U.S. Air terminal. There was nobody around except a women’s sports team from Ole Miss and one other lady who was checking in. Crowding or time crunches weren’t even a consideration. Keep that in mind.

The lady checking me in was quite nice, but having trouble with her printer. After trying a few computer terminals, she said she managed to “force print” my boarding passes and check my luggage through to Milwaukee. I looked at the passes and there was nothing unusual about them. Had my flights, my seats and my gates. Standard stuff.

Still, for some reason I asked, “Is there anything else I have to do before the flight?”

“No,” she said. “You’re fine. Have a great trip.”

I got through security with no problem and found a seat at the gate. Everything was normal until I tried to get on the plane.

As they called our “zones” (We apparently can’t be trusted to board by rows any more. Now we’re in “groups” or “zones” for some reason.), I looked for my zone and found that I was in the very last one. For once in my extremely impatient life, I decided “the dude abides,” so instead of pushing and cramming my way to the front, I hung back and waited until it was relatively empty. After all, I have a seat. There’s no reason to be a dick.

When the lady scanned my boarding pass, she handed it back and I was two steps away when she said, “Oooh… Wait a minute. We just need to fix a little thing. Please step over to the counter.”

OK… Fine…

Thus I met The Officious Prick Named Gary.

Gary was in his early 50s and bore a striking resemblance in stature, attitude and behavior to Tim Gunn from Project Runway, especially after Tim is shown a “halter-dress diaper.” His nametag noted that he was a “supervisor,” which is apparently U.S. Air parlance for “I’ve outlasted people who wanted a better life.”

Gary took one look at me and gave me the “up and down” glance before looking at my tickets and sneering, “These are not valid.”

I wondered if a lifetime spent huffing jet exhaust had allowed him to develop a strange sense of humor. “Excuse me?”

“These are for Frontier. You can’t board our plane.”

I looked at the boarding passes again, wondering if the lack of sleep or sheer terror had me misreading something. Nope. The passes said the right airline, the right flight and even had a seat number.

“It says right there that these are for your plane, including the flight number.”

“Well,” he said with a dismissive wave. “These need your original hardcopy tickets from Frontier.”

“They were e-tickets,” I protested, handing over my phone, with the email outlining my trip including the “Please check in with U.S. Air” line highlighted. I also was wondering how the hell they managed to check my bags onto this flight if I didn’t have a ticket. For all the shit they tell you about “Don’t take a package from a stranger,” the airline would have seemed to done just that, if The Officious Prick Named Gary were correct.

By this point, everyone was on the plane, sans a few stragglers who were busting ass to our terminal from a late connection. Gary was placing these people on the airline while his underling took pity on me and was trying to figure out what the hell went wrong.

“I have got to get on this plane,” I pleaded with the both of them. “I have to teach in the morning.”

Gary looked at me the way a mean child with a magnifying glass looks at an ant. He strode slowly and yet purposefully to the jet-way door and closed it smoothly. He then looked at me and said, “This isn’t our fault.”

It was at that point that fear turned to anger, that panic turned to horror and that “We’re all people” turned to “gang signs for Jesus.'”

“Well, it sure as hell isn’t my fault,” I said through gritted teeth.

The woman was still on two phones trying to figure out what had happened. Gary stood there, winding up some baggage claim stickers. The plane pushed away from the gate.

I have yet to experience a sicker feeling than standing there, watching a flight I had tickets for leave, as I could do absolutely nothing about it.

At this point, Gary walked away.

The lady at the terminal was still banging away, trying to figure out how it was I managed to get through the entire security network without an actual ticket. The guy at the TSA even checked me through the “Does Not Need to Take His Laptop Out or Belt Off” line without a blink.

Suddenly she hit pay dirt. The lady at the ticketing counter had failed to notice how the tickets were set up. All she would have had to do was print the extra tickets, staple them to my boarding passes and I would have been on my way to Phoenix. The tickets were paid up, everything was fine, but she had “forced” the pass print, thus giving me only the boarding passes.

Everything was OK.

Y’know… Except for the whole “The Plane You Need Is Gone” thing.

Now it was about 4:45. All of the major flights were gone. The woman was working through about a dozen iterations, including a two-stopper that would land me in Chicago at about 3 a.m. and allow me to rent a car and drive in. In desperation, I agreed. Turns out, that wasn’t going to work, either.

The only way to get me home was to flying me on an overnight flight to Charlotte, N.C. that left at 10:35 p.m. local time. I would then catch an 8:45 connection to Milwaukee and land around 10:30 a.m.

Having no actual option, I took it.

As the lady printed out my tickets, she told me, “You are so lucky this happened to you here instead of in Phoenix. They wouldn’t have been as nice.”

Yeah. That’s me. Luckiest fucking kid on my block.

As she handed me my tickets, I had to ask her, “Look, I know you’re telling me I’m getting on a plane in six hours, but how do I know that for sure? I was supposed to be in Phoenix by now according to what your airline told me earlier.”

She looked at me with an understanding nod, “I will be working the gate over there tonight. You will be getting on the plane.”

Unlike the other airlines that have stranded me, I got no food vouchers. I spent my time editing book chapters and wandering around. I also emailed my first two classes and told them to skip class the next day. I wasn’t going to be there. I still had to make it home for academic advising by 12:45 and a 2 p.m. class that was all test prep. I promised those kids I’d make it in time for their needs.

During all of this, I got a sobbing phone call from The Midget, who was inconsolable.

“You’re never coming home!” she wailed. I almost had to agree.

At 10 p.m., we began boarding. The flight was one of two left in the terminal at that hour and the people waiting had that, “I have been fucked with to the nth degree” look on their faces. The lady who had printed my tickets was around, but she was working with another gate. The person checking tickets had the look of “mid-40s overlord with way too much makeup and perfume” going on.

After she boarded the Super Gold Deluxe Special Carpet members and the Super Extra Frequent Flyer Program members and the Extra Special Doubly Special Special Flyer members, she called Zone 1. I was at the front of the line. I’m getting on this plane.

The lady scanned me, handed back my pass and let me go. I was halfway down the jet way when I heard her calling out a mangled version of my last name.

I turned around as she leaned in the doorway of the jet way.

“Yes?”

“We need you to come back.”

“I’m not getting off this plane,” I told her not moving an inch and feeling every muscle fiber in my body tense.

She beckoned me with the finger wave usually reserved for grade school children being called to the front of the room.

“Sir, we just need you to step back here.”

It was at that very instant that I felt the branch I was clinging to start to crack. It was like the old “Incredible Hulk” TV series, when David Banner’s eyes got that pure white color. I held the fort for just one more sentence.

“If you are taking me off this plane, you need to call security.”

The look on her face changed. It was like she realized she was about to deal with a wounded animal.

“I won’t take you off the flight. You’re getting on this flight. I need to have the ticket that’s stapled to your boarding pass.”

“OK. Come and take it.”

She walked purposefully and yet tentatively toward my position, took the ticket and returned to the gate. I was on the plane.

The flight was about 112 hours of me not sleeping, for fear of what might happen next. An optimist would say, “Hey, you’re almost there.” An airline traveler in my shoes would say, “Until my ass is in my recliner back home, I’m nowhere.”

The flight landed with plenty of time to make the connection. The people in Charlotte started lining up early and everything was there: the pilots, the crew, the plane and the staff. Life looked good until about 15 minutes before the flight was getting ready to leave.

A woman and a man who were both in wheelchairs arrived and took advantage of the preboard. No complaint at all on my end. The only problem is we were boarding from the tarmac, not a jet way, and the woman, while telling the airline that she was in a chair failed to inform the good folks at U.S. Air that she was immobile. While her traveling companion could get out of his chair and ride in a smaller chair (or as he did, hop up the steps), she was unable to be moved.

The crew then tried to use something called an LPD or something that put her up the stairs. As she was well over 300 pounds, this thing didn’t work. As I was unable to see from my position in line, I relied on the views of others, one of whom noted that they were apparently bringing “a crane” over to lift her into the plane.

I was furious and doing my best not to direct it at anyone, especially this lady. I’m sure she wasn’t happy that 100 people thought she shouldn’t be on the plane (actual conversation going on behind me) or that people were now late because of her. I’m sure if she had her druthers, she’d be able to run the bases at a church softball game as opposed to having complete strangers view her as a giant, doughy third base.

The lady running the gate appeared exasperated as passengers began to gripe.

“You know,” she said. “This is not our fault.”

Hmm… Where have I heard that before?

After about 92 false starts, they finally got her onto the plane.

We were now about an hour behind schedule.

We landed around 10:45 and via my “O.J. Simpson routine” (in that I mean like him running through the airport quickly, not killing people who pissed him off) I managed to get into my car at exactly 11 a.m. I did the 2 hour drive in 1:40 and walked directly into my office in time for my first appointment.

I was dressed in the same clothes I’d worn for two days, complete with a T-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap. I reeked of recycled airplane air and rage. Still, I did my job, which was more than I could say for U.S. Air.

I told them as much in the complaint I filed, outlining all of this and the general stupidity that led to me writing this post. The response I got was classic:

USAir2

Don’t worry U.S. Air. I will always love you…

Planes, Complaints and a Prick Named Gary

Occasionally, I’ll read a story like this one, where a woman was removed from a flight for singing “I Will Always Love You” at the top of her lungs for three hours. Or one like this, w here a guy was apparently throwing “gang signs for Jesus” on an aircraft. I often wonder what the hell is wrong with these people.

Now, I have figured it out.

When an extremely rigid set of rules are combined with massive quantities of ineptitude and arrogance, it is possible to feel completely justified in taking a shit in the middle of an airport and flinging it in the general direction of the counter help.

I took a trip to San Diego last week to participate in a student media convention. The group that was bringing me out there had booked my travel and had set me up at the hotel. It was a good gig and a chance to meet with other advisers and kids who seemed to benefit from time away from their newsrooms, working with others of their ilk to improve their publications.

The flight was a split flight, so I took Frontier to California and a U.S. Air/American Air jet home. The flight home was to leave at 4:30 and head to Phoenix, where I’d have an hour to change planes and head to Milwaukee with an 11:57 p.m. arrival. Not ideal, as I had a two-hour ride home and an 8 a.m. to teach the next day, but passable. I’ve done worse.

I got to the airport with three hours to spare. I checked in with the U.S. Air terminal. There was nobody around except a women’s sports team from Ole Miss and one other lady who was checking in. Crowding or time crunches weren’t even a consideration. Keep that in mind.

The lady checking me in was quite nice, but having trouble with her printer. After trying a few computer terminals, she said she managed to “force print” my boarding passes and check my luggage through to Milwaukee. I looked at the passes and there was nothing unusual about them. Had my flights, my seats and my gates. Standard stuff.

Still, for some reason I asked, “Is there anything else I have to do before the flight?”

“No,” she said. “You’re fine. Have a great trip.”

I got through security with no problem and found a seat at the gate. Everything was normal until I tried to get on the plane.

As they called our “zones” (We apparently can’t be trusted to board by rows any more. Now we’re in “groups” or “zones” for some reason.), I looked for my zone and found that I was in the very last one. For once in my extremely impatient life, I decided “the dude abides,” so instead of pushing and cramming my way to the front, I hung back and waited until it was relatively empty. After all, I have a seat. There’s no reason to be a dick.

When the lady scanned my boarding pass, she handed it back and I was two steps away when she said, “Oooh… Wait a minute. We just need to fix a little thing. Please step over to the counter.”

OK… Fine…

Thus I met The Officious Prick Named Gary.

Gary was in his early 50s and bore a striking resemblance in stature, attitude and behavior to Tim Gunn from Project Runway, especially after Tim is shown a “halter-dress diaper.” His nametag noted that he was a “supervisor,” which is apparently U.S. Air parlance for “I’ve outlasted people who wanted a better life.”

Gary took one look at me and gave me the “up and down” glance before looking at my tickets and sneering, “These are not valid.”

I wondered if a lifetime spent huffing jet exhaust had allowed him to develop a strange sense of humor. “Excuse me?”

“These are for Frontier. You can’t board our plane.”

I looked at the boarding passes again, wondering if the lack of sleep or sheer terror had me misreading something. Nope. The passes said the right airline, the right flight and even had a seat number.

“It says right there that these are for your plane, including the flight number.”

“Well,” he said with a dismissive wave. “These need your original hardcopy tickets from Frontier.”

“They were e-tickets,” I protested, handing over my phone, with the email outlining my trip including the “Please check in with U.S. Air” line highlighted. I also was wondering how the hell they managed to check my bags onto this flight if I didn’t have a ticket. For all the shit they tell you about “Don’t take a package from a stranger,” the airline would have seemed to done just that, if The Officious Prick Named Gary were correct.

By this point, everyone was on the plane, sans a few stragglers who were busting ass to our terminal from a late connection. Gary was placing these people on the airline while his underling took pity on me and was trying to figure out what the hell went wrong.

“I have got to get on this plane,” I pleaded with the both of them. “I have to teach in the morning.”

Gary looked at me the way a mean child with a magnifying glass looks at an ant. He strode slowly and yet purposefully to the jet-way door and closed it smoothly. He then looked at me and said, “This isn’t our fault.”

It was at that point that fear turned to anger, that panic turned to horror and that “We’re all people” turned to “gang signs for Jesus.'”

“Well, it sure as hell isn’t my fault,” I said through gritted teeth.

The woman was still on two phones trying to figure out what had happened. Gary stood there, winding up some baggage claim stickers. The plane pushed away from the gate.

I have yet to experience a sicker feeling than standing there, watching a flight I had tickets for leave, as I could do absolutely nothing about it.

At this point, Gary walked away.

The lady at the terminal was still banging away, trying to figure out how it was I managed to get through the entire security network without an actual ticket. The guy at the TSA even checked me through the “Does Not Need to Take His Laptop Out or Belt Off” line without a blink.

Suddenly she hit pay dirt. The lady at the ticketing counter had failed to notice how the tickets were set up. All she would have had to do was print the extra tickets, staple them to my boarding passes and I would have been on my way to Phoenix. The tickets were paid up, everything was fine, but she had “forced” the pass print, thus giving me only the boarding passes.

Everything was OK.

Y’know… Except for the whole “The Plane You Need Is Gone” thing.

Now it was about 4:45. All of the major flights were gone. The woman was working through about a dozen iterations, including a two-stopper that would land me in Chicago at about 3 a.m. and allow me to rent a car and drive in. In desperation, I agreed. Turns out, that wasn’t going to work, either.

The only way to get me home was to flying me on an overnight flight to Charlotte, N.C. that left at 10:35 p.m. local time. I would then catch an 8:45 connection to Milwaukee and land around 10:30 a.m.

Having no actual option, I took it.

As the lady printed out my tickets, she told me, “You are so lucky this happened to you here instead of in Phoenix. They wouldn’t have been as nice.”

Yeah. That’s me. Luckiest fucking kid on my block.

As she handed me my tickets, I had to ask her, “Look, I know you’re telling me I’m getting on a plane in six hours, but how do I know that for sure? I was supposed to be in Phoenix by now according to what your airline told me earlier.”

She looked at me with an understanding nod, “I will be working the gate over there tonight. You will be getting on the plane.”

Unlike the other airlines that have stranded me, I got no food vouchers. I spent my time editing book chapters and wandering around. I also emailed my first two classes and told them to skip class the next day. I wasn’t going to be there. I still had to make it home for academic advising by 12:45 and a 2 p.m. class that was all test prep. I promised those kids I’d make it in time for their needs.

During all of this, I got a sobbing phone call from The Midget, who was inconsolable.

“You’re never coming home!” she wailed. I almost had to agree.

At 10 p.m., we began boarding. The flight was one of two left in the terminal at that hour and the people waiting had that, “I have been fucked with to the nth degree” look on their faces. The lady who had printed my tickets was around, but she was working with another gate. The person checking tickets had the look of “mid-40s overlord with way too much makeup and perfume” going on.

After she boarded the Super Gold Deluxe Special Carpet members and the Super Extra Frequent Flyer Program members and the Extra Special Doubly Special Special Flyer members, she called Zone 1. I was at the front of the line. I’m getting on this plane.

The lady scanned me, handed back my pass and let me go. I was halfway down the jet way when I heard her calling out a mangled version of my last name.

I turned around as she leaned in the doorway of the jet way.

“Yes?”

“We need you to come back.”

“I’m not getting off this plane,” I told her not moving an inch and feeling every muscle fiber in my body tense.

She beckoned me with the finger wave usually reserved for grade school children being called to the front of the room.

“Sir, we just need you to step back here.”

It was at that very instant that I felt the branch I was clinging to start to crack. It was like the old “Incredible Hulk” TV series, when David Banner’s eyes got that pure white color. I held the fort for just one more sentence.

“If you are taking me off this plane, you need to call security.”

The look on her face changed. It was like she realized she was about to deal with a wounded animal.

“I won’t take you off the flight. You’re getting on this flight. I need to have the ticket that’s stapled to your boarding pass.”

“OK. Come and take it.”

She walked purposefully and yet tentatively toward my position, took the ticket and returned to the gate. I was on the plane.

The flight was about 112 hours of me not sleeping, for fear of what might happen next. An optimist would say, “Hey, you’re almost there.” An airline traveler in my shoes would say, “Until my ass is in my recliner back home, I’m nowhere.”

The flight landed with plenty of time to make the connection. The people in Charlotte started lining up early and everything was there: the pilots, the crew, the plane and the staff. Life looked good until about 15 minutes before the flight was getting ready to leave.

A woman and a man who were both in wheelchairs arrived and took advantage of the preboard. No complaint at all on my end. The only problem is we were boarding from the tarmac, not a jet way, and the woman, while telling the airline that she was in a chair failed to inform the good folks at U.S. Air that she was immobile. While her traveling companion could get out of his chair and ride in a smaller chair (or as he did, hop up the steps), she was unable to be moved.

The crew then tried to use something called an LPD or something that put her up the stairs. As she was well over 300 pounds, this thing didn’t work. As I was unable to see from my position in line, I relied on the views of others, one of whom noted that they were apparently bringing “a crane” over to lift her into the plane.

I was furious and doing my best not to direct it at anyone, especially this lady. I’m sure she wasn’t happy that 100 people thought she shouldn’t be on the plane (actual conversation going on behind me) or that people were now late because of her. I’m sure if she had her druthers, she’d be able to run the bases at a church softball game as opposed to having complete strangers view her as a giant, doughy third base.

The lady running the gate appeared exasperated as passengers began to gripe.

“You know,” she said. “This is not our fault.”

Hmm… Where have I heard that before?

After about 92 false starts, they finally got her onto the plane.

We were now about an hour behind schedule.

We landed around 10:45 and via my “O.J. Simpson routine” (in that I mean like him running through the airport quickly, not killing people who pissed him off) I managed to get into my car at exactly 11 a.m. I did the 2 hour drive in 1:40 and walked directly into my office in time for my first appointment.

I was dressed in the same clothes I’d worn for two days, complete with a T-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap. I reeked of recycled airplane air and rage. Still, I did my job, which was more than I could say for U.S. Air.

I told them as much in the complaint I filed, outlining all of this and the general stupidity that led to me writing this post. The response I got was classic:

USAir2

Don’t worry U.S. Air. I will always love you…

Planes, Complaints and a Prick Named Gary

Occasionally, I’ll read a story like this one, where a woman was removed from a flight for singing “I Will Always Love You” at the top of her lungs for three hours. Or one like this, w here a guy was apparently throwing “gang signs for Jesus” on an aircraft. I often wonder what the hell is wrong with these people.

Now, I have figured it out.

When an extremely rigid set of rules are combined with massive quantities of ineptitude and arrogance, it is possible to feel completely justified in taking a shit in the middle of an airport and flinging it in the general direction of the counter help.

I took a trip to San Diego last week to participate in a student media convention. The group that was bringing me out there had booked my travel and had set me up at the hotel. It was a good gig and a chance to meet with other advisers and kids who seemed to benefit from time away from their newsrooms, working with others of their ilk to improve their publications.

The flight was a split flight, so I took Frontier to California and a U.S. Air/American Air jet home. The flight home was to leave at 4:30 and head to Phoenix, where I’d have an hour to change planes and head to Milwaukee with an 11:57 p.m. arrival. Not ideal, as I had a two-hour ride home and an 8 a.m. to teach the next day, but passable. I’ve done worse.

I got to the airport with three hours to spare. I checked in with the U.S. Air terminal. There was nobody around except a women’s sports team from Ole Miss and one other lady who was checking in. Crowding or time crunches weren’t even a consideration. Keep that in mind.

The lady checking me in was quite nice, but having trouble with her printer. After trying a few computer terminals, she said she managed to “force print” my boarding passes and check my luggage through to Milwaukee. I looked at the passes and there was nothing unusual about them. Had my flights, my seats and my gates. Standard stuff.

Still, for some reason I asked, “Is there anything else I have to do before the flight?”

“No,” she said. “You’re fine. Have a great trip.”

I got through security with no problem and found a seat at the gate. Everything was normal until I tried to get on the plane.

As they called our “zones” (We apparently can’t be trusted to board by rows any more. Now we’re in “groups” or “zones” for some reason.), I looked for my zone and found that I was in the very last one. For once in my extremely impatient life, I decided “the dude abides,” so instead of pushing and cramming my way to the front, I hung back and waited until it was relatively empty. After all, I have a seat. There’s no reason to be a dick.

When the lady scanned my boarding pass, she handed it back and I was two steps away when she said, “Oooh… Wait a minute. We just need to fix a little thing. Please step over to the counter.”

OK… Fine…

Thus I met The Officious Prick Named Gary.

Gary was in his early 50s and bore a striking resemblance in stature, attitude and behavior to Tim Gunn from Project Runway, especially after Tim is shown a “halter-dress diaper.” His nametag noted that he was a “supervisor,” which is apparently U.S. Air parlance for “I’ve outlasted people who wanted a better life.”

Gary took one look at me and gave me the “up and down” glance before looking at my tickets and sneering, “These are not valid.”

I wondered if a lifetime spent huffing jet exhaust had allowed him to develop a strange sense of humor. “Excuse me?”

“These are for Frontier. You can’t board our plane.”

I looked at the boarding passes again, wondering if the lack of sleep or sheer terror had me misreading something. Nope. The passes said the right airline, the right flight and even had a seat number.

“It says right there that these are for your plane, including the flight number.”

“Well,” he said with a dismissive wave. “These need your original hardcopy tickets from Frontier.”

“They were e-tickets,” I protested, handing over my phone, with the email outlining my trip including the “Please check in with U.S. Air” line highlighted. I also was wondering how the hell they managed to check my bags onto this flight if I didn’t have a ticket. For all the shit they tell you about “Don’t take a package from a stranger,” the airline would have seemed to done just that, if The Officious Prick Named Gary were correct.

By this point, everyone was on the plane, sans a few stragglers who were busting ass to our terminal from a late connection. Gary was placing these people on the airline while his underling took pity on me and was trying to figure out what the hell went wrong.

“I have got to get on this plane,” I pleaded with the both of them. “I have to teach in the morning.”

Gary looked at me the way a mean child with a magnifying glass looks at an ant. He strode slowly and yet purposefully to the jet-way door and closed it smoothly. He then looked at me and said, “This isn’t our fault.”

It was at that point that fear turned to anger, that panic turned to horror and that “We’re all people” turned to “gang signs for Jesus.'”

“Well, it sure as hell isn’t my fault,” I said through gritted teeth.

The woman was still on two phones trying to figure out what had happened. Gary stood there, winding up some baggage claim stickers. The plane pushed away from the gate.

I have yet to experience a sicker feeling than standing there, watching a flight I had tickets for leave, as I could do absolutely nothing about it.

At this point, Gary walked away.

The lady at the terminal was still banging away, trying to figure out how it was I managed to get through the entire security network without an actual ticket. The guy at the TSA even checked me through the “Does Not Need to Take His Laptop Out or Belt Off” line without a blink.

Suddenly she hit pay dirt. The lady at the ticketing counter had failed to notice how the tickets were set up. All she would have had to do was print the extra tickets, staple them to my boarding passes and I would have been on my way to Phoenix. The tickets were paid up, everything was fine, but she had “forced” the pass print, thus giving me only the boarding passes.

Everything was OK.

Y’know… Except for the whole “The Plane You Need Is Gone” thing.

Now it was about 4:45. All of the major flights were gone. The woman was working through about a dozen iterations, including a two-stopper that would land me in Chicago at about 3 a.m. and allow me to rent a car and drive in. In desperation, I agreed. Turns out, that wasn’t going to work, either.

The only way to get me home was to flying me on an overnight flight to Charlotte, N.C. that left at 10:35 p.m. local time. I would then catch an 8:45 connection to Milwaukee and land around 10:30 a.m.

Having no actual option, I took it.

As the lady printed out my tickets, she told me, “You are so lucky this happened to you here instead of in Phoenix. They wouldn’t have been as nice.”

Yeah. That’s me. Luckiest fucking kid on my block.

As she handed me my tickets, I had to ask her, “Look, I know you’re telling me I’m getting on a plane in six hours, but how do I know that for sure? I was supposed to be in Phoenix by now according to what your airline told me earlier.”

She looked at me with an understanding nod, “I will be working the gate over there tonight. You will be getting on the plane.”

Unlike the other airlines that have stranded me, I got no food vouchers. I spent my time editing book chapters and wandering around. I also emailed my first two classes and told them to skip class the next day. I wasn’t going to be there. I still had to make it home for academic advising by 12:45 and a 2 p.m. class that was all test prep. I promised those kids I’d make it in time for their needs.

During all of this, I got a sobbing phone call from The Midget, who was inconsolable.

“You’re never coming home!” she wailed. I almost had to agree.

At 10 p.m., we began boarding. The flight was one of two left in the terminal at that hour and the people waiting had that, “I have been fucked with to the nth degree” look on their faces. The lady who had printed my tickets was around, but she was working with another gate. The person checking tickets had the look of “mid-40s overlord with way too much makeup and perfume” going on.

After she boarded the Super Gold Deluxe Special Carpet members and the Super Extra Frequent Flyer Program members and the Extra Special Doubly Special Special Flyer members, she called Zone 1. I was at the front of the line. I’m getting on this plane.

The lady scanned me, handed back my pass and let me go. I was halfway down the jet way when I heard her calling out a mangled version of my last name.

I turned around as she leaned in the doorway of the jet way.

“Yes?”

“We need you to come back.”

“I’m not getting off this plane,” I told her not moving an inch and feeling every muscle fiber in my body tense.

She beckoned me with the finger wave usually reserved for grade school children being called to the front of the room.

“Sir, we just need you to step back here.”

It was at that very instant that I felt the branch I was clinging to start to crack. It was like the old “Incredible Hulk” TV series, when David Banner’s eyes got that pure white color. I held the fort for just one more sentence.

“If you are taking me off this plane, you need to call security.”

The look on her face changed. It was like she realized she was about to deal with a wounded animal.

“I won’t take you off the flight. You’re getting on this flight. I need to have the ticket that’s stapled to your boarding pass.”

“OK. Come and take it.”

She walked purposefully and yet tentatively toward my position, took the ticket and returned to the gate. I was on the plane.

The flight was about 112 hours of me not sleeping, for fear of what might happen next. An optimist would say, “Hey, you’re almost there.” An airline traveler in my shoes would say, “Until my ass is in my recliner back home, I’m nowhere.”

The flight landed with plenty of time to make the connection. The people in Charlotte started lining up early and everything was there: the pilots, the crew, the plane and the staff. Life looked good until about 15 minutes before the flight was getting ready to leave.

A woman and a man who were both in wheelchairs arrived and took advantage of the preboard. No complaint at all on my end. The only problem is we were boarding from the tarmac, not a jet way, and the woman, while telling the airline that she was in a chair failed to inform the good folks at U.S. Air that she was immobile. While her traveling companion could get out of his chair and ride in a smaller chair (or as he did, hop up the steps), she was unable to be moved.

The crew then tried to use something called an LPD or something that put her up the stairs. As she was well over 300 pounds, this thing didn’t work. As I was unable to see from my position in line, I relied on the views of others, one of whom noted that they were apparently bringing “a crane” over to lift her into the plane.

I was furious and doing my best not to direct it at anyone, especially this lady. I’m sure she wasn’t happy that 100 people thought she shouldn’t be on the plane (actual conversation going on behind me) or that people were now late because of her. I’m sure if she had her druthers, she’d be able to run the bases at a church softball game as opposed to having complete strangers view her as a giant, doughy third base.

The lady running the gate appeared exasperated as passengers began to gripe.

“You know,” she said. “This is not our fault.”

Hmm… Where have I heard that before?

After about 92 false starts, they finally got her onto the plane.

We were now about an hour behind schedule.

We landed around 10:45 and via my “O.J. Simpson routine” (in that I mean like him running through the airport quickly, not killing people who pissed him off) I managed to get into my car at exactly 11 a.m. I did the 2 hour drive in 1:40 and walked directly into my office in time for my first appointment.

I was dressed in the same clothes I’d worn for two days, complete with a T-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap. I reeked of recycled airplane air and rage. Still, I did my job, which was more than I could say for U.S. Air.

I told them as much in the complaint I filed, outlining all of this and the general stupidity that led to me writing this post. The response I got was classic:

USAir2

Don’t worry U.S. Air. I will always love you…

Planes, Complaints and a Prick Named Gary

Occasionally, I’ll read a story like this one, where a woman was removed from a flight for singing “I Will Always Love You” at the top of her lungs for three hours. Or one like this, w here a guy was apparently throwing “gang signs for Jesus” on an aircraft. I often wonder what the hell is wrong with these people.

Now, I have figured it out.

When an extremely rigid set of rules are combined with massive quantities of ineptitude and arrogance, it is possible to feel completely justified in taking a shit in the middle of an airport and flinging it in the general direction of the counter help.

I took a trip to San Diego last week to participate in a student media convention. The group that was bringing me out there had booked my travel and had set me up at the hotel. It was a good gig and a chance to meet with other advisers and kids who seemed to benefit from time away from their newsrooms, working with others of their ilk to improve their publications.

The flight was a split flight, so I took Frontier to California and a U.S. Air/American Air jet home. The flight home was to leave at 4:30 and head to Phoenix, where I’d have an hour to change planes and head to Milwaukee with an 11:57 p.m. arrival. Not ideal, as I had a two-hour ride home and an 8 a.m. to teach the next day, but passable. I’ve done worse.

I got to the airport with three hours to spare. I checked in with the U.S. Air terminal. There was nobody around except a women’s sports team from Ole Miss and one other lady who was checking in. Crowding or time crunches weren’t even a consideration. Keep that in mind.

The lady checking me in was quite nice, but having trouble with her printer. After trying a few computer terminals, she said she managed to “force print” my boarding passes and check my luggage through to Milwaukee. I looked at the passes and there was nothing unusual about them. Had my flights, my seats and my gates. Standard stuff.

Still, for some reason I asked, “Is there anything else I have to do before the flight?”

“No,” she said. “You’re fine. Have a great trip.”

I got through security with no problem and found a seat at the gate. Everything was normal until I tried to get on the plane.

As they called our “zones” (We apparently can’t be trusted to board by rows any more. Now we’re in “groups” or “zones” for some reason.), I looked for my zone and found that I was in the very last one. For once in my extremely impatient life, I decided “the dude abides,” so instead of pushing and cramming my way to the front, I hung back and waited until it was relatively empty. After all, I have a seat. There’s no reason to be a dick.

When the lady scanned my boarding pass, she handed it back and I was two steps away when she said, “Oooh… Wait a minute. We just need to fix a little thing. Please step over to the counter.”

OK… Fine…

Thus I met The Officious Prick Named Gary.

Gary was in his early 50s and bore a striking resemblance in stature, attitude and behavior to Tim Gunn from Project Runway, especially after Tim is shown a “halter-dress diaper.” His nametag noted that he was a “supervisor,” which is apparently U.S. Air parlance for “I’ve outlasted people who wanted a better life.”

Gary took one look at me and gave me the “up and down” glance before looking at my tickets and sneering, “These are not valid.”

I wondered if a lifetime spent huffing jet exhaust had allowed him to develop a strange sense of humor. “Excuse me?”

“These are for Frontier. You can’t board our plane.”

I looked at the boarding passes again, wondering if the lack of sleep or sheer terror had me misreading something. Nope. The passes said the right airline, the right flight and even had a seat number.

“It says right there that these are for your plane, including the flight number.”

“Well,” he said with a dismissive wave. “These need your original hardcopy tickets from Frontier.”

“They were e-tickets,” I protested, handing over my phone, with the email outlining my trip including the “Please check in with U.S. Air” line highlighted. I also was wondering how the hell they managed to check my bags onto this flight if I didn’t have a ticket. For all the shit they tell you about “Don’t take a package from a stranger,” the airline would have seemed to done just that, if The Officious Prick Named Gary were correct.

By this point, everyone was on the plane, sans a few stragglers who were busting ass to our terminal from a late connection. Gary was placing these people on the airline while his underling took pity on me and was trying to figure out what the hell went wrong.

“I have got to get on this plane,” I pleaded with the both of them. “I have to teach in the morning.”

Gary looked at me the way a mean child with a magnifying glass looks at an ant. He strode slowly and yet purposefully to the jet-way door and closed it smoothly. He then looked at me and said, “This isn’t our fault.”

It was at that point that fear turned to anger, that panic turned to horror and that “We’re all people” turned to “gang signs for Jesus.'”

“Well, it sure as hell isn’t my fault,” I said through gritted teeth.

The woman was still on two phones trying to figure out what had happened. Gary stood there, winding up some baggage claim stickers. The plane pushed away from the gate.

I have yet to experience a sicker feeling than standing there, watching a flight I had tickets for leave, as I could do absolutely nothing about it.

At this point, Gary walked away.

The lady at the terminal was still banging away, trying to figure out how it was I managed to get through the entire security network without an actual ticket. The guy at the TSA even checked me through the “Does Not Need to Take His Laptop Out or Belt Off” line without a blink.

Suddenly she hit pay dirt. The lady at the ticketing counter had failed to notice how the tickets were set up. All she would have had to do was print the extra tickets, staple them to my boarding passes and I would have been on my way to Phoenix. The tickets were paid up, everything was fine, but she had “forced” the pass print, thus giving me only the boarding passes.

Everything was OK.

Y’know… Except for the whole “The Plane You Need Is Gone” thing.

Now it was about 4:45. All of the major flights were gone. The woman was working through about a dozen iterations, including a two-stopper that would land me in Chicago at about 3 a.m. and allow me to rent a car and drive in. In desperation, I agreed. Turns out, that wasn’t going to work, either.

The only way to get me home was to flying me on an overnight flight to Charlotte, N.C. that left at 10:35 p.m. local time. I would then catch an 8:45 connection to Milwaukee and land around 10:30 a.m.

Having no actual option, I took it.

As the lady printed out my tickets, she told me, “You are so lucky this happened to you here instead of in Phoenix. They wouldn’t have been as nice.”

Yeah. That’s me. Luckiest fucking kid on my block.

As she handed me my tickets, I had to ask her, “Look, I know you’re telling me I’m getting on a plane in six hours, but how do I know that for sure? I was supposed to be in Phoenix by now according to what your airline told me earlier.”

She looked at me with an understanding nod, “I will be working the gate over there tonight. You will be getting on the plane.”

Unlike the other airlines that have stranded me, I got no food vouchers. I spent my time editing book chapters and wandering around. I also emailed my first two classes and told them to skip class the next day. I wasn’t going to be there. I still had to make it home for academic advising by 12:45 and a 2 p.m. class that was all test prep. I promised those kids I’d make it in time for their needs.

During all of this, I got a sobbing phone call from The Midget, who was inconsolable.

“You’re never coming home!” she wailed. I almost had to agree.

At 10 p.m., we began boarding. The flight was one of two left in the terminal at that hour and the people waiting had that, “I have been fucked with to the nth degree” look on their faces. The lady who had printed my tickets was around, but she was working with another gate. The person checking tickets had the look of “mid-40s overlord with way too much makeup and perfume” going on.

After she boarded the Super Gold Deluxe Special Carpet members and the Super Extra Frequent Flyer Program members and the Extra Special Doubly Special Special Flyer members, she called Zone 1. I was at the front of the line. I’m getting on this plane.

The lady scanned me, handed back my pass and let me go. I was halfway down the jet way when I heard her calling out a mangled version of my last name.

I turned around as she leaned in the doorway of the jet way.

“Yes?”

“We need you to come back.”

“I’m not getting off this plane,” I told her not moving an inch and feeling every muscle fiber in my body tense.

She beckoned me with the finger wave usually reserved for grade school children being called to the front of the room.

“Sir, we just need you to step back here.”

It was at that very instant that I felt the branch I was clinging to start to crack. It was like the old “Incredible Hulk” TV series, when David Banner’s eyes got that pure white color. I held the fort for just one more sentence.

“If you are taking me off this plane, you need to call security.”

The look on her face changed. It was like she realized she was about to deal with a wounded animal.

“I won’t take you off the flight. You’re getting on this flight. I need to have the ticket that’s stapled to your boarding pass.”

“OK. Come and take it.”

She walked purposefully and yet tentatively toward my position, took the ticket and returned to the gate. I was on the plane.

The flight was about 112 hours of me not sleeping, for fear of what might happen next. An optimist would say, “Hey, you’re almost there.” An airline traveler in my shoes would say, “Until my ass is in my recliner back home, I’m nowhere.”

The flight landed with plenty of time to make the connection. The people in Charlotte started lining up early and everything was there: the pilots, the crew, the plane and the staff. Life looked good until about 15 minutes before the flight was getting ready to leave.

A woman and a man who were both in wheelchairs arrived and took advantage of the preboard. No complaint at all on my end. The only problem is we were boarding from the tarmac, not a jet way, and the woman, while telling the airline that she was in a chair failed to inform the good folks at U.S. Air that she was immobile. While her traveling companion could get out of his chair and ride in a smaller chair (or as he did, hop up the steps), she was unable to be moved.

The crew then tried to use something called an LPD or something that put her up the stairs. As she was well over 300 pounds, this thing didn’t work. As I was unable to see from my position in line, I relied on the views of others, one of whom noted that they were apparently bringing “a crane” over to lift her into the plane.

I was furious and doing my best not to direct it at anyone, especially this lady. I’m sure she wasn’t happy that 100 people thought she shouldn’t be on the plane (actual conversation going on behind me) or that people were now late because of her. I’m sure if she had her druthers, she’d be able to run the bases at a church softball game as opposed to having complete strangers view her as a giant, doughy third base.

The lady running the gate appeared exasperated as passengers began to gripe.

“You know,” she said. “This is not our fault.”

Hmm… Where have I heard that before?

After about 92 false starts, they finally got her onto the plane.

We were now about an hour behind schedule.

We landed around 10:45 and via my “O.J. Simpson routine” (in that I mean like him running through the airport quickly, not killing people who pissed him off) I managed to get into my car at exactly 11 a.m. I did the 2 hour drive in 1:40 and walked directly into my office in time for my first appointment.

I was dressed in the same clothes I’d worn for two days, complete with a T-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap. I reeked of recycled airplane air and rage. Still, I did my job, which was more than I could say for U.S. Air.

I told them as much in the complaint I filed, outlining all of this and the general stupidity that led to me writing this post. The response I got was classic:

USAir2

Don’t worry U.S. Air. I will always love you…

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Cheesy Burgher in Paradise edition

Morning, everyone!

Barbara and I are currently cooling our heels in Playa Del Carmen at an AI that stands alone in not paving the jungle over –the Iberostar Quetzal !

Instead of vast expanses of marble and concrete, they built around the jungle in a U-shape, leaving the center full of Agouti, Coatamundi, peackocks, flamingos, Swans, iguanas, and several famalies of howler monkeys. I

t’s like walking through a zoo, only the animals roam freely to look at the amusing people.

Combine that with an incredibly intelligent long-term planning decision by Playa Del Carmen to prohibit buildings taller than three stories (and a perfect white sand rockless beach), and you have a pretty nice place to hang out for a couple of weeks.

Enjoy some pics (below the fold) from previous trips :

Tagged

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – Cheesy Burgher in Paradise edition

Morning, everyone!

Barbara and I are currently cooling our heels in Playa Del Carmen at an AI that stands alone in not paving the jungle over –the Iberostar Quetzal !

Instead of vast expanses of marble and concrete, they builtaround the jungle in a U-shape, leaving the center full of Agouti, Coatamundi, peackocks, flamingos, Swans, iguanas, and several famalies of howler monkeys. I

t’s like walking through a zoo, only theanimals roam freely to look at the amusing people.

Combine that with an incredibly intelligent long-term planning decision by Playa Del Carmen to prohibit buildings taller than three stories (and a perfect white sand rockless beach), and you have a pretty nice place to hang out for a couple of weeks.

Enjoy some pics (below the fold) from previous trips :

Tagged

BAAAAAACK

*pokes head in door*

Hi, guys!

Tommy called me on the super-seekrit First Draft sat-phone and told me somebody tried to smuggle a komodo dragon into the crack van “to feng shui it,” and last he checked on Claire she was drinking Jude’s bong water while Doc fed Riot all the Doritos and peanut butter I was saving for my lunch. He also said Adrastos let some hippie camp in the yard. I assume that’s where the goat came from.

I HOPE THAT’S WHERE THE GOAT CAME FROM.

In all sincerity, thanks for your patience while I made a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to drink South Florida dry. I could pack all my shit and move to Key West tomorrow. It was like Madison with a beach. I saw a half-naked dude riding a rickshaw around and the back of it said, “where the weird go pro.” You are my kind of place, KW.

I see that while I was gone BOTH SIDES DID IT, and John Kerry continued to be awesome, and the president said something dorky, and we’ll have lots of words on the first thing because JESUS TITS AND GOD AMERICA, I was listening to MSNBC on the radio and the coverage made me want to get on a raft and paddle to Cuba. I made a list on the plane home, of things to write about, and things I am not allowed to throw to feel better about writing about them.

This vacation in no small part was to celebrate being done with the second job that took me away from you all, as well, so hopefully when I am around here from now on I will be less likely to snap at you when you ask me reasonable questions like, “Is there a way to get Nutella off the ceiling and if not, can you pretend I never said anything?”

A.