Flying the (not always) friendly skies
A weekend away from home
Warning :The character depicted in this story is deeply flawed and mostly clueless, so he has to be real. Any similarity with an existing person is absolutely not a coincidence. The names of the locations have not been changed in order to protect anyone, and the story has not been formatted to fit your screen...And if you experience smiling while reading, it is not a side effect of whatever you had yesterday, it was intended that way.
I haven't had any summer vacation yet this year. For a reason ! See, I'm going to be a grandfather , for the first and probabyl only time, sometimes during the first week of January. So, I postponed my trip to Europe, where my son lives, until that time. Which will give me the opportunity to spend the holidays in Europe. an experience I haven't had for about 28 years now. In the meantime, I decided to take a short trip. Short in time, that is, and not in distance as, me living in South Florida, I am going to visit a friend in Northern California. For the weekend !
Being a good boy, somewhat organized (yeah, right !), I purchased my plane ticket about one month before the trip. Got the feeling I got ripped off, but with everything going up in price, that has happened to me a lot lately. My flight is scheduled to leave Orlando at 2.00 PM, and I live about two hours away from there, so I depart from my place aroud 9.30 AM, just in case I'd get a flat tire, explode the engine of my car, or run over an alligator (I almost did once, an eight footer too!) Being a guy, I have packed the smallest possible bag, this way I won't have to check it in, thus avoiding the always nerve wracking wait at the final's destination carousel, thinking :" Well, you are here, do you know where your luggage is?"
I get to the airport well in advance, So what ? Even though I have always admired the busy people who calculate everything they do down to the minute, I am not one of them. I proceed to the counter where I am directed to a computer and told I have to check myself in. This is a new experience for me, but I'm not too surprised. After all, when I reconfirmed my flight the night before, I spoke to someone from Djakarta. Or was it Kuala Lumpur ?
Now is the time to go through my favorite part : security check ! So, I take my shoes and my belt off, empty the content of my pockets of loose change, cell phone, wallet, etc. into a plastic bin, and all my prized worldly possessions go through the scanner thingy. Bingo ! we have a winner ! I have been singled out for some reason and my bag, no matter how small it is, is going to be searched. By now, everbody is looking at me as if I am Bin Ladin's kid brother ! So I wait to the side, barefoot and holding my pants up as I lost a few pounds lately. Turns out, my shaving cream container is too big according to regulations, as is my bottle of after shave and, go figure, my tube of toothpaste. So, those three items are duly confiscated.
So far so good ! I patiently, though boringly read a newspaper purchased by someone else and left on a seat, waiting to be called into the costly privilege of boarding the airplane. Then comes the announcement that the plane is going to be 100% full, therefore there will not be enough space in the overhead compartments for everbody, so we are "invited" to check-in whatever luggage we had no intention to part with in the first place. I figure with my luck, if I keep the bag with me, I'm going to end up travelling with it in front of my feet, and I have long legs, so thanks, but no thanks. So, I cave in and check the stupid bag. What can I say, you have to live dangerously sometimes ! And by the way, why is it with some people that they don't seem to understand about ONE cabin piece of luggage ? ONE doesn't mean ONE bag on the shoulder, ONE on wheels, ONE laptop and ONE make-up case ! One means one. Total ! Oh, and by the way again, the reason why the airlines have those little bins bolted down to the floor nearby the check-in counter is for you to realize that if your cabin luggage doesn't fit in it, it's just too big ! How nany Phds does it take to figure that one out ?
Now, if I start sounding like a grumpy old geezer, it may be that I am one, even though I will deny it under torture ! So, there we are, all packed up like sardines in the Boeing, on time so far. Turns out I could have kept my bag after all, as there is plenty of space left in the luggage bins. Before I know it, we are up in the air, me looking out from my window seat, going through the usual thoughts : what if one of the wings detaches itself from the plane, what if one of the reactors falls out, is the plane still going to fly ? And for how long ? What if there is a terrorist on board, and I start to look suspiciously at everybody as far as I can see. Then comes the reassuring thought that the pilots, providing they're sober, don't want to crash either, so I know they'll do everything they can to get us there safely, and guess what ? They did !
We land in our first port of call, Minneapolis-St-Paul some three hours later. after having enjoyed the luxury of the choice between peanuts, pretzels or cookies ! What a life ! And as I walked out of the airplane, I suddenly experience the feeling the astronauts must have felt when they first landed on the moon ! I don't know where I am ! I look desperately for information about my connecting flight, but it is nowhere to be found. So let's call a cat a cat, I am completely lost !
It is a universally known that men in general never ask for directions. Not this guy ! I figured a long time ago that if I have to humiliate myself into asking for directions, the sooner will be the better and I can put the whole shameful experience behind me, and keep my head up ! So I ask, having to admit I would never have steered myself in the right direction, and I finally reach the waiting area to my next flight...
To be continued...if we don't crash...
Copyright 2012 by Austinhealy, his heirs and assigns