Back To Reality

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008, 2:03 pm

Wrote up a little post when I got home last night…and didn’t click that little ‘ol publish button. I’m assuming you don’t want to hear about how tired I was last night and chances are you don’t wanna here about how tired I am today. Actually I feel a’ight. I was a good boy in Vegas–a couple of times the wheels were wobbling and threatening to come off, but I stepped back from the abyss. That’s not something I’m exactly proud of–leaping headfirst into the abyss is rather the whole point of Vegas–but at least I don’t feel like death right now. And that’s something.

Getting to Vegas was half the fun, if by "fun" you mean "irritating hassle". I serindipitously bumped into my friends Sharon and Emily in the security line, and after chitchatting merrily with them before we went our separate ways I headed for my gate. When it was my turn to board I was told that my carry-on would have to be checked. I was boarding in Zone 4, meaning only about 60% of the people were on the plane. And already the bins were ALL full? I was seriously cheesed off, but since complaining wouldn’t help I held my tongue. I marched to my seat and seethed at the bags and gear that was stuffed in the overheads. If there are FAA rules about the size carry-on luggage, why do they let people bring huge duffel bags and awkward suitcases on board?. In the bin above my seat there was a gym bag big enough to hold a canoe…and a woman’s purse. That was it. There oughta be a law. There’s already a rule. You try taking a 3.25oz stick of Old Spice through security and it goes in the trash, you wear a belt buckle with more than trace amounts of metal you gotta strip in front of dozens of strangers, but if you wanna push your furniture into the middle of the room, fold your Persian rug around the lot, and lug that onboard, that’s kosher. I exaggerate, but only slightly. I took my seat hating my fellow travelers. Hating them. Not a promising start.

About 45 minutes after takeoff I was almost asleep when I heard a flight attendent speak on the intercom. I didn’t catch everything he said but I heard the words "full attention" and "important announcement" and I slapped off my headphones. When I’m seven miles in the air and there’s an important announcment, I give that announcement my full attention. That’s when we learned that our flight was being diverted because there was a crack in the cockpit windscreen. The situation wasn’t serious, we were assured, but we needed to land. Right now. In fact we didn’t know yet where we were going to land, even though we were descending at a slow but steady rate. The captain came on and in the traditional airline pilots laconic style said that the cockpit windows have double panes, but with a crack in the outer pane they couldn’t safely fly at altitude. He sounded bored and vaguely irritated. I decided follow suit. Cracked windshield. I drove with a crack in my windshield for something like two years. No biggie. True, I didn’t drive at 175mph at 10,000 feet, but if he wasn’t gonna worry I wasn’t going to either.

We landed at O’Hare without incident and deplaned. We had to queue up to get tickets for our new flight, an exercise that got my teeth to grinding. Look, the goddam plane broke. Shit happens. So long as an airline gets me to my location in one piece, I cut them some slack. I don’t bitch. But other people sure do. I was in the front third of the line and it took over an hour to reach the counter because people wanted to vent and angle for refunds and try to get on some mythical earlier flight. One guy was whining that US Airways should pull a plane out of the hanger and put us on that. Yeah, that sounds peachy, rush onto a plane that hasn’t been thoroughly inspected. Hey, I was impatient too, I wanted to get to Vegas. But I don’t want to fly an airline that thinks, "If we divert this flight it’s gonna cost us $10,000 in refunds…ahh, it can make it with a cracked windshield". If I’m gotta endure an Act of God I want it to be one that briefly delays my drinking instead of one that kills me.

It’s like when I was leaving Aruba, you have to clear through a full security checkpoint (shoes off, laptop out) and after you pass through you have to…clear another full security checkpoint. I’m not sure why this is (I think the first is the Aruban version of the TSA and the second is the U.S.) but to some people going through the second checkpoint was akin to being asked to perform the 12 Labors of Hercules. Yes, it’s a bit of a pain. Yes, taking off your shoes is demeaning. But you gotta do it, no amount of complaining is going to alter the situation, so deal with it. Don’t make the situation worse by throwing a tantrum. And don’t waste my fricking time. In Chicago it was taking people 10 minutes to get their new tickets to Vegas because they were being pains in the ass. It took me 45 seconds and I was on my way.

Incidentally that crack in the windshield was like a foot long. Uh, yeah, I think landing was a good call.

Written all this already and I haven’t even gotten to Vegas yet. I got some photos to upload, so I’ll just post this and write a bit more later.

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One Response to “Back To Reality”

  1. Otis Says:

    Your experience was something straight out of Henry Rollins spoken word. If you haven’t heard his riff on the laconic pilot voice, download the first three tracks of The Boxed Life. You will appreciate it.

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