Friday, September 16, 2005

The Frustration of Flying the "Friendly" Skies


I have said it before, and I will say it again: I hate flying. Maybe it's just America, but flying is now akin to having a prostate exam: just bend over and hope it doesn't hurt too much. Why am I so angry? Well, I had the WORST traveling experience I have had in a LOOOONG time yesterday. That's why I was so tired. I started at noon in Minneapolis and finished at 3 am in Connecticut. Between dealing with annoying (and slightly hand-happy security people (I'll get there), long delays, horrible seatmates and long travel time, what should be enjoyable becomes amazing frustrating. So, here's the deal:

I had to come east for a family emergency of sorts. I don't really want to go into the details but suffice to say: I had to come East. So, with a 3 o'clock flight and no seat, I arrived at the airport early to get setup. From the moment I walked in, I knew there would be trouble. There were only two security lines open and in between them was a man with a camera (from WCCO as it were). He took one look at me, and all of a sudden, Leab had a camera in his face and was being asked questions about Northwest. I answered them honestly: "They suck, this sucks, Shelby sucks (the last I really didn't say), and I'm not surprised NWA is going under. They cut pillows for God's sake. PILLOWS to save money." The cameraman almost started laughing, because everyone else had been, "Super PC and nice about it." That's just not me. With the interview out of the way, I headed into the security line. After what felt like hours (really was around 45 minutes) I put my bag on the conveyer belt and went through the checkpoint. I didn't beep, but I had the mark on my boarding pass that said I needed to be searched. That's right: I was pulled into the little black box and had to open up my bag and be searched by a wand. The bag search wasn't a problem. Granted, they weren't happy I had a bottle wine with me, but they let it go. The problem began with (and I wish I was kidding), "a bulge in my pants." I swear to good it sounds like the beginning of a porno, but it's true. They made me take off my pants. Let me say that again: They made me TAKE OFF MY PANTS. Why? Because I had a mysterious bulge. Once the pants were removed, the bulge turned out to be....my chapstick. I forgot to remove it from my pants, and the guy was suspicious. Maybe he just wanted to see if I was boxers or briefs (boxers, thank you very much), but still, I was pissed just standing there in my underwear. A few seconds later, I was dressed and on my way to the gate.

Ah, the gate. I was in the C terminal, but no too far down. I waited there for hours. HOURS! Damn, it still pisses me off to think about it. 3 o'clock came and went, and they would not tell us why the plane was delayed. Finally, at 4:15, they tell us, "You're plane is delayed due to air traffic control in Newark. Hmm, every other flight to Newark was fine. The weather wasn't a problem, but our plane was half full. As a "convenience" to the passengers of the next flight, the two planes were merged to make a totally full flight. Sounds a little too convenient to me. Finally at 5, we board the plane. I'm in the Exit Row (great for leg room, bad should the plane go down). Unfortunately, I am sitting next to a Sex in the City reject. A short, thin brunette wearing a designer label, Manolo shoes, and a HUGE scowl. It seems that little miss investment banker was on the wait list for first class, but did not get a seat up there. So she had to sit with the rest of the plebians. Halfway through the flight, she began bitching to me about her life. I don't know this woman from Eve, but suddenly I am her therapist. She would not stop talking. I was reading, I was looking over documents, but it didn't matter. The most interesting part (to me anyway) is that she never asked me anything about myself. She couldn't have cared less who I was. I know her husband is a lousy lay, but she couldn't care less that I'm married, or tired, or even breathing.

Finally, we land, and the next part of the adventure begins. I have to get to Manhattan from Newark airport and the easiest way is (usually) to take the train to Penn station. To get to the railway, you have to take the tram to the last stop. It sounds simple, but last night the tram was completely FUBAR. That's right, FUBAR! You see I came into Terminal B, and it is 3 stops west to railway center. Sounds easy. Well, when we got to P4, the second stop, they forgot to announce that one of the trams was busted, so instead of continuing to the railway stop, we started going backwards. Now the car I'm in is pissed. We get off and run across to the other tram (which is now running) and ride back to P4. The tram stops short of the station. We're stuck. I have now missed the first train to NY. Five minutes later, the train pulls up to the station. We get out and have to run across to the other tram to continue on. The doors shut and...we go nowhere. The tram is stuck. The doors opened, and we're told to get out. Three minutes later the other tram pulls back up, and we start to get on it. An older woman moving a little slower is trying to get in my car when the door shuts on her. She's stuck, and that annoying voice is saying, "Get away from the door." She can't! So another rider and I grab the doors and force them open to help her. The conductor (or whatever she is) starts yelling at us. "Stop that! You'll break the tram. She'll be fine." The other passenger and I take a quick glance at each other and pretend we didn't hear her. The door finally opens enough so the older woman can squeeze in. After all this time, I finally get to the railway station.

Part III: Wherein I have a hot, hot, hot ride and then can't find my ride. The train was late. It's now 9:40 at night. Finally, ten minutes late, it arrives, and we board. There's no A/C, and it's a hot and humid night in New York. With a ton of people on the train, we start sweating like crazy. After getting to Penn, I attempt to contact my parents, who I will be driving up to Connecticut. No luck with my mother's cellphone or the apartment number. The plan is that If I can't reach them, I need to go to the restaurant where they were having dinner, then check the apartment. With the subway line I need down for repair, I walk to the restaurant. Tons of sweat is pouring off of me (I know, such a sexy image) as I beat the street. At the restaurant, I am told to wait outside while they check for my parents. Why? Well, between my backpack and my sweating, I would not be good for the pretty people inside. Plus, the waiter tells me later, "a darker-skinned man with a backpack who is sweating profusely kinda looks like a terrorist." Ok then. My parents aren't there, so now I have to hoof it over to the apartment. I don't have keys, so I have to wait outside the building until someone comes out and I can catch the door (takes about 15 minutes). My parents are, in fact, home. It turns out that my mother's cell phone is dead (not battery-wise, but rather the chip inside is fried), and the apartment's phone isn't working. My parents thought I never made it. Now, after a cheerful (SARCASM) reunion, I began the two hour drive to CT.

The drive was...uneventful. There was a deer that was almost hit, two cars chasing each other at over a hundred miles per hour. Oy. Still after all that crap, it was still necessary to be here. I love to travel, but man, I hate (using hate folks) days like yesterday (and this morning). Hope you all have a nice weekend (though I'll write again).

1 comment:

Boozhoo said...
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