Had to go to Rochester, MN for the week this past week. Now this isn’t a bad thing as I hear it is really pretty in the spring and summer. The flight up wasn’t too bad, got some writing done on Prophecy, even though the guy sitting next to me nodded off and fell over on me; several times. Then he would snore and wake himself up, elbowing me in the process. He realized what he was doing and apologized, so I guess it was all good.
Thursday and Friday was like ninety below zero windchill (OK, maybe it was only seventeen degrees with a steady wind, but it sure as heck felt like I stepped out into the arctic circle). Breezed through security at the airport and got on the plane. We pulled away from the gate and stopped. The captain announced that there was “frost” on the wings and we needed to be de-iced. Hmm…frost=de-icing? Well, alright, better safe than sorry I say. So this truck that was bigger than da plane circles us spraying a pink liquid all over the plane and drove off. We were still sitting there. Maybe our tires were now frozen to the tarmac (I did say it was like ninety below, remember?) The captain came over the PA and said that the co-pilot’s communication system wasn’t working and we have to go back to the gate and de-plane and to remember to take all of our belongings with us.
Now, I realized that I only had a forty-five minute layover in Minneapolis (which, by the way is a big ass airport) and that I had to go from concourse B to concourse F, which is clear on the other side of world. So, the savvy ex-business traveler that I am, I headed directly to the podium and explained my predicament to the agent. He agreed that even if they fixed the plane in the next five minutes, I ain’t connecting in Minneapolis. So, he started punching the keys on the computer and first tried to send me to LAX (Los Angeles, CA) instead of JAX (Jacksonville, FL) which was home. Mind you, either destination was appealing at this point since both were at least a hundred degrees warmer than where I was currently. Not that I have anything against going to LA, just not today. Anyway, the guy finally figured it out and printed out my two new boarding passes as I now had to go to Atlanta and then to Jacksonville. Kinda bummed that it was no longer a direct flight and would get in four hours later then my original flight. Until I looked at the boarding pass for Altanta. I’m in seat 1A. Now for those of you who don’t travel much, seat 1A on the big planes (which this one, thankfully, happened to be – did I mention I’m claustrophobic?) is in First Class. I WIN!
OK, the engineer guy pulled up in his Dodge mini-van with he blinky yellow light on top that wasn’t blinking, jumped out tool case in hand and fixed the plane. We got ready to go back on and the co-pilot came out and wanted the engineer back because his armrest was broken (not a fan of this co-pilot now). Non-working communications panel delaying the flight, I get. Broken armrest? Seriously? So Engineer Dave went back in and fixed said armrest, we got back on, and took off for our uneventful tewenty-two minute flight to Minneapolis.
Upon arriving in Minneapolis, I realized I only had thirty minutes to go from concourse B to concourse F, clear on the other side of the city (did I mention Minneapolis is a big ass airport?) So backpack strapped to my back and carrying another small personal item (airline jargon) I pulled an OJ blasting through the airport. One of my more astute Facebook friends asked who I murdered and if I would get away with it. I, not wanting to be astutedly outdone, responded: “anyone that got in my way.” So I made it to the proper gate for the Atlanta bound flight, with every muscle (and a few I didn’t even know I had) in my old and out of shape body bitching non-stop to my cerebral cortex. After a momentary pause to catch my breath, I sauntered up and butted in front of everyone else in line and boarded the plane (remember, I’m in seat 1A, so I had the authority and god-given right to butt in line).
I took my seat in 1A, a pillow, blanket, and bottle of water waiting for me. This was nice. I need to travel in seat 1A more often, I mused. The bubbly flight attendant (they’re NOT stewardesses) asked if I would like a pre-flight drink. Since I just ran a full marathon to get to the gate, I opted for the bottle of water. The rest of the peasants finally boarded and we pulled away from the gate only to stop smack dab in the middle of the taxi way. “Oh great,” I said to my self. The captain came on the PA and announced that our weight was not showing up in the computer, but he phoned home to get the updated weights, or some such nonsense. Apparently, and my pilot friends feel free to correct me, but if the proper weight of the plane, her occupants, and all the crap said occupants have schlepped with them is not entered into the computer correctly, we could run out of runway before the behemoth got off the ground, which, I suppose, would ruin my already crappy day. Whatever happened to the days of old where pilots actually flew the damned plane instead of babysitting a computer? Incidentally, there are three computers on the plane doing the exact same thing and they duke it out in a matter of nano-seconds and whatever two of the three decide to do is what the plane does. Hopefully the rogue computer isn’t the one that is actually correct. Or maybe I’m thinking of the space shuttle. I can’t remember.
Anyway, sitting in seat 1A was a delightful experience. Shortly after take-off, I was handed a hot moist towel (not a towelette, mind you, but an actual cloth towel) to freshen up. Then I enjoyed a nice Texas Caesar Salad, a splendid cup of warm mushroom soup, and a caramel pecan brownie for lunch all served on actual china. I even had my own little salt and pepper shaker. As I was cutting the chicken that adorned the top of my salad utilizing my METAL fork and serrated knife, it dawned on me that had I brought my Swiss Army knife through TSA security, I would have been pounced on, stripped searched, anally probed, denied flight, and labelled a terrorist for all eternity. Yet looking around at the first class cabin, there were twelve of us, all heavily armed with metal forks and serrated knives. I know that if all of us tried, using what the TSA classified as weapons but conveniently provided by the airline, we could have cut through the bullet proof, bomb proof, and zombie proof door to the cockpit and taken total control of the aircraft, all before the quite capable captain made an emergency landing to a waiting platoon of even heavier armed marines, who probably didn’t share my same sense of humor. But I digress. Finished up the flight with more beverages and snacks before landing in Atlanta.
Fortunately, the Jacksonville flight was only three gates down on the same concourse and I arrived as they were finishing boarding. I presented my boarding pass to the agent at the podium because it said “Mystery Seat” on it. I was dully informed that I already had a seat assigned. I inquired as to what seat it was because it wasn’t printed on said boarding pass. To which he responded that the machine would print it out when I scanned said pass. So, the good little sheeple that I was, I got in line, scanned it, and the Madame Toussile doll cackled at me as she spit out a tiny little paper that simply said “22A”. LOSER! The guy in Rochester failed me. I was in the cargo section and was now, once again, a peasant. Scrunched against the bulkhead, two other people scrunched into the row with me, the only thing to be thankful for was that it was only a forty-five minute flight. I can handle this.
Arriving in Jacksonville, I was greeted by seventy-five degrees and overcast skies. But it was seventy five warm degrees. And there were plenty of beautiful bare legs and short shorts wandering around the concourse. Let me clarify, those were ladies wearing the short shorts and baring their legs. Short shorts on guys were only fashionable for a short time back in the seventies, and looking through photo albums (yes, dearie, there weren’t digital images back then; pictures were developed on paper) I can’t believe that I…well…never mind.