The Big Pond

Saturday, March 29th, 2008, 7:32 pm

The flight from Charlotte to LAX seems about a month ago. And what with the time difference and passing over the date line, maybe it was. I sat between two teenagers–a dude who read surfer mags and did Sudoku and a girl maybe 13 who wore fuzzy sweats the color of Tweety Bird. I managed to keep a firm hold on my sanity during the nearly 5 hour flight, knowing full well that I was merely working my way up to the main event.

I’ve never been to LAX before, and if I go back again the next billion years it’ll be too soon. It has all the design charm of a maximum-security prison and is populated with people of worse disposition. I took a different flight than most of the folks in our group and had to bully and bluster my way through a security checkpoint when one TSA employee told me to go one way and another told me to get back in line. "I was ORDERED to get in this line" I snarled and I think that word, "order", did the trick. I was allowed to stay in that line and have my bags, laptop, shoes, belt, and body examined by electromagnetic radiation for the second time that day. Then all I had to do was (almost literally) hack and slash my way through the crowd to my gate. The thoroughfares at LAX are about 13 inches wide and what with all the people sitting along the wall with their computers and luggage I thought I might have to trample someone to get past. And if that happened, well, it had to happen. As did the near-death of the schmuck in front of me, who insisted on pulling his carry-on behind him on it’s wheels even though the case hung up against someone’s legs or bag every five feet. I finally shouldered by him and hit my gate.

I understood that we’d be flying in EWA’s modified business class, which features more legroom and cushier seats. But my ticket said plain old "economy" and that’s where the ticket agents herded me. I careened towards ultimate lifetilt as I imagined a 14-hour flight crammed into a coach class seat like the one I’d just taken to LA. "Be calm," I said as I chewed my lower lip, "wait till you get on the plane before you give into the rage."

Got on the plane, and it looked like I was indeed sitting in coach. But no, my seat was in the very last row of the second-best class. I think our 777 taxied from LAX to San Diego before we reached our departure runway, and once in the air Don and I (we were the only two who didn’t fly with the rest of the group) enjoyed a tasty dinner before getting situated. I popped a Lunesta, snuggled into my seat…and woke up 7 hours later, feeling quite refrested. The wonder of drugs. I fumbled through some spicy beef soup with chopsticks, watched No Country for Old Men, listened to my book on tape (Young Stalin, by Simon Sebag Montefiore) and counted down the miles till touchdown. Some bumps as we came through the clouds, and then we landed. Piece of cake.

A few pictures to follow…if I can find a place to plug in. Charging the iPod before our 3-hour hop to Saigon. Just a quick hop across the South China Sea.

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3 Responses to “The Big Pond”

  1. Janetta Says:

    Hi! I am the wife of a fellow traveler of yours… Ed Mihalacki. Glad you’re almost there. I’m following along with Noreen too. I am pleased to be tracking your whereabouts.

  2. Darx Says:

    Wow, what a wonderful experience you are having already! Thanks for writing it all down for us. I’m enjoying your travel vicariously.

  3. Proto Says:

    Dude, you are going to have to start flying first class.

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