Anyone who travels, especially on business, has stories at the ready. The time you slept on the airport floor because of the blizzard, your suitcase that went to ORF instead of ORD, the screaming baby and sometimes fun things like the celebrity sighting or the flight where everyone goes a little nuts and starts singing show tunes. And yes, all those things have happened to me. In fact, my friends sort of expect it now. When Mak travels the odds of Til Eugenspiel playing some merry pranks increases. If I’m flying alone it’s no longer a question of odds, it’s just math. And yes, on occasion I’ve been known to howl at the moon or, more often call for the empty skull of the CEO to drink my Diet Mountain Dew.
There was the time in Roanoke when we got on the plane, then we all got off because of a flat tire. No problem, it’s a 15 minute fix they tell us. Of course, that didn’t include the five hours it took to drive the tire from IAD to ROA. That’s also the time the gate agent was a real drama queen, equal emphasis on both words. After four hours he stormed off. Considering that we’d been waiting for hours everyone was amazingly civil, no one had even raised their voices or cursed, we just wanted some updates now and then. After we heard that door slam we all burst into laughter. When we FINALLY got on the plane we took over the cabin staff’s job and did the pre-flight orientation ourselves with each row taking a turn–my line was the “remember, the closest exit may be behind you.”
Then there was the time I had the middle seat between one very large man who had been drinking for quite some time and was dealing with some digestive issues. The other side was a another guy from a culture that, well, doesn’t place the same value on personal hygiene as we Americans. I turned the overhead fan on full blast to keep the stench down and ended up with wind burn at the end of that five-hour flight.
I still have fond memories of the dragon lady, snapping her fingers to get the attention of the cabin staff, arguing with me whether or not Ohio and New York were in the same time zone, picking up one end of the seat belt as if she were picking up a dead mouse by the tail and dropping it on my lap “this is yours.” Complaining that she’d told the agent she wanted a window seat, which she had, but it was over the wing. That was a flight from Chicago to Honolulu so dragon lady had time to molt at least twice along the way. When she went to the bathroom I was shameless and looked through the papers in the seat pocket–she was on her way to a psychological society conference! My friend and I are still convinced she was conducting an experiment on us to present at the conference. I mean really, how can you be headed to Kauai and be in a bad mood?!
Ever been on a flight where there’s you, your buddies and about 80 people over 80? That’s when I was flying to Tulsa with a bunch of very senior seniors on their way to Oral Roberts for something. Not a single one could reach the overhead storage and they all had to carefully fold their coats, try, fail, refold and try again. Reverse that scenario for getting off the plane. Bless their hearts. Actually I felt sorry for them because they really didn’t know how to travel and I can’t tell you how many of the little old ladies I had to show how to use the motion sensor faucets in the bathroom.
There was the landing where the pilot rethought things and did a 6 Flags roller coaster maneuver. I told the terrified teen next to me that she’d have to pay big bucks for a ride like that at an amusement park.
Or the landing so sudden that all the oxygen masks fell. Pilot apologized and said Denver had raised the runway 8 inches since the last time he’d been there. Yes, he was joking, we were all just glad to get off the plane.
And the time when the wheels went down, then we heard the wheels go back up and we kept going–and landed at another airport.
Of course I’ve had the usual lost luggage, the many gate changes (record stands at 5 for the same flight), sitting out a hideous storm on the tarmac hoping lightening didn’t strike the fuselage, having to change plans completely when between take off and landing a tornado had gone through my connecting airport. One flight where the kid behind me spent the entire flight kicking the back of my seat–such an urge to break knee caps and I’m not sure there would have been a jury that would have convicted me. Oh, and the family that brought brats (as in sausage, not nasty children) on board in Philadelphia when we sat in an unair-conditioned plane in 100 degree weather. We all stunk of garlic at the end of that flight!
Oh, and the lady that pitched a world-class hissy snit when she and her husband weren’t seated together. I changed seats so they could be together but as I got up I told the stewardess in a stage whisper. “If their marriage can’t survive a 17 minute flight apart then I don’t think my changing seats can help them.”
Most of those thing I can tell myself to ‘suck it up, buttercup’ and get on with things but it’s when the airlines just flat out lie that I lose my cool. You do know that the reason they want you on the plane fast is because on-time departure means they pulled the blocks away from the tires on time. It doesn’t mean you took off on time. That’s why the 24 minute flight from South Bend to Chicago is shown as taking a full hour–it gives them 36 minutes to f*ck with you and still be on schedule.
When a flight says on time and it’s already 40 minutes past departure.
When a flight says on time and there’s no plane.
When 10 minutes before boarding they change gates and you have to hustle your butt from the F concourse to the far end of C. (Chicago).
When your suitcase doesn’t get on the plane (when the connection is long enough) because there’s paying cargo they want to transport instead but they tell you it will be on the next flight–and say that for three straight days. Ever go to an international conference without a change of underwear?
Or when the flight is already two hours late and they scold people for not getting on the plane fast enough for an “on time” take off.
Or when they’ve over-sold the flight and ask for people with flexible travel plans to take a later flight. On December 24th.
Today I’m hoping that my suitcase from the last trip shows up before I leave again in a few days. How my suitcase was able to make it to ORF when the airline couldn’t get me there I don’t know but I did have to explain that no, I was not going to drive to Norfolk to pick it up. They’d need to bring it to South Bend. “You’ll have to pick it up.” Well, driving 5 miles to the airport is a much better deal than driving 795 miles so yeah I’m fine with that.
Now, where did I put that skull……