|On the way to Chicago|
Approximately 2030 hours local and I'm thinking I need to pack my bag for Sandy Eggo and perhaps get a couple hours of sleep as the plan was to be up at 0300 and on the road to the airport by 0400.
That's the airport near Providence by the way. At that time of morning it shouldn't take more than 30 or 40 minutes. The flight is at 0600. Yes, I will be tired but I've "been there, done that."
Might be a good idea to check my flight status prior to heading off to Dreamland for a few hours of rack time.
Now I live in New England, it's winter and this year it's been a fairly harsh winter by Little Rhody standards. Hell, kinda feels like the Vermont of my youth.
Last I checked they were talking 1 to 3 inches of snow. That's not bad, why is my bloody flight cancelled. Don't they know that I simply must be in Sandy Eggo NLT 1730 Pacific Standard Time?
So I called my travel agent, The WSO, to whine and complain (according to her). I am promptly accused of being old, feeble and lazy. Well, she got one out of the three. I'll let you guess which one.
She said she'd look into it and get back to me. Which she did, quite promptly I might add.
"Yeah, Dad, I got you on another flight which leaves at the same time. Out of Boston."
"Um, er, what? Did you say Boston? As in Massachusetts, as in 70 miles from Chez Sarge? That Boston?"
"Yeah Dad, that Boston."
It is now after 2100 local according to the chronometer. Damn. Instead of leaving at 0300, I need to leave around 0200. Parking being what it is around the airport given the recent heavy snowfalls, of which Boston has received more than their fair share. Not that I'm complaining mind you, they are welcome to it. Just keep it north of the Little Rhody state line.
So I quickly ponder my options.
- Go to bed immediately, toss and turn for two hours, drop into an exhausted, dream haunted fitful sleep, get up and drive to Boston. Hhmm, I should shower and shave, I'm fastidious that way. So if I get up at 0100 I can... Crap, that's like 3 hours from now!
- Tough it out, stay up all night. I can nap on the plane. (Planes actually, Boston to Chicago to Denver to Fresno. Fun, fun, fun,)
By the way, who the Hell came up with "slept like a baby" to indicate a deep restful night's sleep? I'll wager they didn't have any kids nor did they know anyone with young children. "Slept like a teenager" is more accurate. Heck, when my son was a teen, you could have marched the entire Red Army through his bedroom and he wouldn't even twitch. He'd wake up in the morning wondering why the floor was all torn up from tank tracks and why his room smelled like wet wool and Russian peasants. Now THAT'S a deep sleep.'
We get to Boston in one piece, I proceed to the wonderful little automated "check yourself in" kiosk, give it my magic itinerary number and am promptly informed "Seeing as how your flight is delayed you should look at other options."
A fair lady from the airlines tries it, same result. I have to go get in line behind (I kid you not) an entire college hockey team, a Chinese family who are in dire need of emptying some of the massive amounts of weight out of their 8000 bags, purses, satchels and other accoutrements and a European looking couple who apparently have no flight which will get them back to the obscure Balkan country from which they sallied forth for to vacation in the US of A some two weeks ago.
Three kiosks open, three. At one kiosk there is a reinforced company assisting the aforementioned hockey team. There are two people "assisting" the 300 strong Chinese family, one employee keeps pondering the Chinese family's passports, the other is listening on the phone, his lips never move so I assume he's not actually engaging the party on the other end of the line in conversation. I wonder if the conversation could be telepathic in nature. But then, why would they need the phone?
The couple from the Balkans (I assume from their Indo-European type language which could be Serbian, or Croatian, I dunno) also have two airline employees "assisting" them. One is the standard "lady typing really loudly and quickly on the computer keyboard and sighing often," the guy seems to be watching the lady type. And occasionally pointing at the computer monitor and nodding sagely from time to time.
Finally it is our turn. The Chinese have departed. The Balkan couple have piled into a wheel chair (they were like me, somewhat old and decrepit and apparently no longer capable of self-locomotion, my theory is that they were just waiting for the wheel chair for most of that long delay). The hockey team has also moved on, they kind of slipped away quietly when no one was looking. The reinforced company has suffered considerable attrition in dealing with the hockey team, there are only three survivors, but they man up two new kiosks.
The nice lady calls us forward. Puzzles mightily over why the system wouldn't check us in. Makes a phone call, apparently to another telepath, then checks our bags and prints our tickets. We are on are way!
We get to Chicago, where it is a bitter cold yet sunny morning. In Chicago we discover that our flight to Denver will be late. It will arrive in Denver approximately ten minutes after our connecting flight leaves for Fresno. The gate where our flight is supposed to be is empty, unmanned and rather forlorn looking. I accost an airline employee who logs onto her computer, types loudly and rapidly, makes many sighing noises, then directs me to "Customer Service."
The so-called Customer Service is a long desk with about 10 stations, manned by three people, trying to sort out the travel issues of 20 some odd disgruntled customers. I am one of them.
As I wait in line I check the airline's web site for the status of my missing flight to Denver. The web site disavows all knowledge of said flight and suggests I fulfill some missing requirement which is "listed below."
Um, there is naught listed below. Nada, bupkiss, diddly-squat.
Back on the horn to The WSO. Again she accuses me of incompetence. I tell her of my inability to make the tiny keys on my "smart" phone do my bidding and my total inability to actually converse on the phone with a "Customer Service Rep" as there are those small handicap carts whirring about everywhere, blowing their weird sounding horns, buzzes and various and sundry other noisemakers and the frequent admonitions over the airport PA system to "Please don't leave your bags unattended. Airport police are mooning the ducks out by the pound. Winston Churchill please report to Gate 3.2A-1/5. This is the final boarding call for flight umpty-squat leaving for Cleveland yesterday."
Yes boys and girls, those messages are totally garbled and undecipherable without massive computers and highly sensitive listening devices and filters. All of which are in my checked baggage which is somewhere at the airport. Somewhere, I know not where.
Eventually The WSO tells us to "just get on the flight to Denver, I'll sort things out and let you know when you're on the ground in Colorado."
So we do precisely that, halfway to the gate, The WSO postulates that perhaps we should actually get back in line.
Nope, not gonna happen I tell her. We lost our places and the line has grown exponentially since we walked ten feet away. My grandchildrens' grandchildren would not get to the front of that line in time to sort the Denver situation out. Hell, we could probably walk to California in the time it was taking to fly there.
Eventually everything seems sorted out. The WSO has convinced United to switch us to a US Airways flight proceeding to Phoenix and then on to Fresno. It will get there approximately seven hours after our original predicted time of arrival.
I realize at that point that I am never going to see a bed or get any sleep any time soon.
The adventure continues. As I type this, I have this view off my port beam.
Arrived in Phoenix, no mention of flights being cancelled, delayed, rerouted to Singapore or any such nonsense.
No, at Phoenix the location of our gate became this game of three card Monti.
You're leaving from Gate 9.
No, it's been moved to Gate 21.
I mean Gate 5.
Just kidding, go back to Gate 21, do not pass Starbuck's do not purchase coffee. Twenty-one is the number, the number of the gate is One and Twenty.
Gate 5, no really, we're serious this time.
Finally, we boarded our bird (at Gate 5, really) and began the flight to Fresno. (Hhmm, good movie title that Flight to Fresno, starring Burgess Meredith, Robert Mitchum and Jerry Mathers as "The Beaver.")
I swear, the cabin temperature on this flight is not much higher than the outside air. At 28,000 feet.
But enough of that. We're airborne, we're headed in the right direction and should be in the bosom of our family soon.
Forty hours with no sleep. Three cross-country legs with lots and lots of drama.
A six hour drive to Sandy Eggo awaits us on Friday.
After Thursday, it should be a piece of cake. A real milk run.
Oh crap, I just jinxed us, didn't I?
Did I mention that they lost our bags?