“to travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
“Sit next to a McMuffin-noshing, sparkly, snoring Miss Ross as you travel cross-country, and let me know if you still feel the same way miss fancy pants best-selling author who probably flies first class.”
― Becky Rice, Not Eating, Seldom Praying, Hard to Love
I really thought my string of bad luck while traveling was over. I mean, I’d certainly paid my dues during our family’s Thanksgiving trek to West Virginia to visit my in-laws in 2010, and with my bus trip to Pittsburgh earlier this year. Evidently, the universe isn’t done with me just yet.
This October, I was once again traveling for work — flying east to west coast — to attend a large convention near Sacramento. The conference took place over the Columbus Day holiday. This should have been my first clue the travel gods would not be kind. You see, this is what was in store for me:
Diss’ed by the Bus: I arrived in the airport parking lot and waited for the courtesy shuttle bus to take me to the terminal. The not-so-courteous bus barreled toward the stop, but did not slow down. In fact, is passed right by myself and the three other people waiting. It was 5:30am and even in the blurry haze of the bus passing us by, I was able to see it only had 3 people on it. So, my fellow early-rising travelers and I walked to the other side of the parking lot, where stop #1 was located. We waited 10 minutes for the next bus. Which was courteous. And did stop.
“SANG IT”: Upon arrival at the terminal, I went to the airline counter and handed the not-so-perky airline employee my boarding pass and checked bag. She was having trouble scanning my pass as she slapped the “Stupid-Ass-No-Good-Idiot-Thing” (SANG IT – her acronym, not mine) that was supposed to electronically check me in. Once she finally got the desired beep from the machine after whacking it on the side a few times, she informed me that I needed to “hustle on down” to the security line.
Security screening line: So, I hustled. I got to the start of the security line, only to find that it wound down a very long hall, around the corner to a slightly shorter hallway, then around another corner, back into the main area of the terminal and down the hall. It seems there are a lot of people who take the early flight out of town. On a Friday. Of a holiday weekend.
I made a mental note to kick myself in the ass for not realizing this when I booked my flight. Nothing says good morning like a bunch of under-coffeed travelers who have at least a 20 minute wait from this point to get to the start of the security line:
Security body scan device: When we finally did get through security pre-check and to the body scan devices, the device for my line totally shut down and decided to reset itself (“Why yes, please send me through the machine that has a mind of its own!”). For about 10 minutes, the
PhD BS HS GED recipients who were staffing this area walked around the machine trying to figure out why it had reset itself and why it was taking so long to reboot. Meanwhile, the passengers waiting to be scanned were getting antsy, as the line for security was backing up even further (if that’s possible). The under-coffeed mob was in no mood to be delayed. Finally, one of the travelers in line said “why can’t we use the old style scanner until the full body scanner comes back online”. I believe I actually saw the lightbulbs go off over the heads of each of the security people after this suggestion was made. Order restored, we used “old school” security scanners, and the great traveling masses were once again on their way.
Poor Larry Putterman: As we were getting ready to board the plane leaving Baltimore, I was standing in the line at the gate behind Larry Putterman and his wife. How did I know it was Larry Putterman, you ask? Well, because the ID tag on the backpack he had slung over his shoulder told me so. And here’s what else I learned about Larry as I stood in line behind him and his
shrew wife, down the long jetway and onto the plane.
- Larry had booked a sub-par hotel in Mrs. Putterman’s evaluation, and under no circumstances was she going to go to Miami next month if she wasn’t staying at a 5-star hotel because of his incompetence (I had to wonder whether or not Larry booked a non-5-star hotel on purpose)
- Larry had no business wandering off in the terminal and leaving Mrs.
Crotchety-PantsPutterman by herself at the gate. Larry attempted to defend himself saying that he needed to go to the bathroom, but Mrs. P wasn’t interested in his “problems”.
- Even though Larry had wandered off without permission, he had come back with a Starbucks and a muffin for his wife. He had the nerve to only bring her 1 Splenda, so how was she going to manage with only 1 Splenda?
- And finally, Mrs. Putterman exclaimed loudly (and repeatedly) that under no circumstances was she going to share the inheritance her father had left her because it was her money, and Larry wasn’t going to get his paws on it under any circumstances.
Welcome to the friendly skies, Larry.
Sausage, sparkles, and snores: We were told the flight was full. However, once I got on the plane, there continued to be an empty seat in the middle (score!) between me and the person in the window seat as the last few passengers found their seats. Until the really last (and very late) person and her son boarded the plane. Evidently, the sparkly traveler had stopped in the name of
love the love of a sausage egg McMuffin, which was the reason for her late arrival to board the plane. Miss Ross took her seat in the middle with her entourage (marvelous hair extensions, bag of McBreakfast, large fancy purse, and zebra-striped carry on) and proceeded to chow down on her breakfast. Eventually, she fell asleep. And snored loudly until we passed over Albuquerque. Baltimore to Albuquerque is a long damn time to be listening to snoring. Trust me.
I did eventually arrive in Sacramento. If you get the chance, check out their sculptures in baggage claim — there are two of these floor-to-ceiling creations:
We had a fabulous conference over the weekend and began our trek home on Columbus Day, with our flight departing Sacramento at 6:00am.
When we arrived in Phoenix to pick up additional passengers for the continuation of our flight home, we were asked to disembark due to mechanical difficulties. The problem could not be fixed, so we were diverted to another aircraft to get us home.
I used the delay to purchase an over-priced sandwich (but still cheaper than what they would charge me on the plane), snacks, and some juice. Before we left the airport, I decided I would use the bathroom.
I bolted out of the bathroom and headed right back to the gift shop, because … well, let’s just say that in addition to the travel gods not smiling on me for this trip, the Playtex Products, LCC gods were smiling (a week early, damn it) because of me.