Thursday, August 16, 2012

Epic Saga Of Willies Return To Home

It Takes All Kinds

Here's my rant for you on this Thirsty Thursday.  Get a refresh on your coffee: you are in for a long ride, my friend.

I worked all week and just wanted to get home.  This saga does not involve John Candy or Steve Martin, and Thanksgiving does not figure here in this mess.

This is a diatribe about the sad state of affairs of a particular airline company that is about to be merged with another, and it appears that the employees:







I had made my flight connections tight, because I wanted to get home at 5:45 pm on Friday.  That time slot matters here, and I’ll tell you why in a bit. It is never proper for one to accept only a single hour and a half between connections.  It is inevitable that there will be delays, and the first delays occur when folks ahead of you take their time stuffing their carry on (carrion?) bags into the compartments overhead instead of allowing other travelers behind them to pass on by to get to their own seats and get the plane ready for take-off.

Why do folks behave in such a manner?

It is because the overhead compartments are small, and in great demand, and will be taken by the first ones aboard.  Never look for an empty overhead behind your seat.  You will be the last one off the plane, waiting for the off-rush of folks about to miss their connections.

I usually have my snacks and water bottle in a plastic bag in one hand, and I stuff my carry-on in the other hand in an overhead compartment sometimes way up to the front of the plane.  Always memorize where it is.  Don’t be an asshole and stop the line when exiting because you passed by it.

The evening before, I enjoyed the company of my fellow American Indian Air Quality Scientists and Policy Makers until late in the evening.  Or Early.  Remember, it is late if you are still up, but early if you are waking up at that time.

Before bed, I called downstairs for a wakeup call, I'd already made the reservation for a cab for two others of us to share to get to our flights at about the same time, but on different airlines.

Sadly, all of my own flights were on an airline whose names sounds like Useless Air.  No “us” involved.  It should be called, "Fuck U Air."  That’s more like it.

I undressed, packed all my shit up, put my next day's clothing on a counter, rubbed one out, and then showered.  I'd left my ID and preprinted passes and electronics stuff for an easy grab on my way out the door.  That’s what you do.  You may wake up in a panicked state and if that occurs, then you don't have to try to think.

I set my phone for 4AM and shut off all the lights before climbing into bed.

At precisely 4:22, my awful ringtone went off.  I had overslept, after two hours of sleep.  The cab was waiting, and so were some angry Indians.

Wake-up calls, phone alarm, bedside alarm all had gone unheard, and now the awful ring tone I’d selected a couple hours ago was my savior.  Screaming voices answered me when I said, “Uh, hello?”

I answered their hollers in my ear, “Yup, be right down,” hopped out of bed, and flicked the lights on.  It was blinding.  That will get you further into panic mode.

I dressed up like a fugitive with Johnny Law banging on the door.  My only sins were that I had overslept, and I wanted to get home in time to take my wife to the coast when I landed.

We had made promises, and folks were waiting for us on the other end.  It meant everything. You will see why.

Out the fucking door in three minutes.

I buttoned my shirt in the elevator and rechecked that I had all my shit.

I did.

I ran out of the elevator, past the counter to toss my bags at my cohorts to reassure them that I was not a lost cause, and then ran back to the check-out counter.  Fuckers needed to settle my bill.  At the good places, they don’t require that.  But we had checked into a place with bullet holes in the walls, because we are frugal travelers.  Frugal here means, “Cheap-assed bastards.”

I ran back out with my bill and hopped in the cab.

Everything was going to be all right.

I reached into my bag and brought out three beers, and the cab driver just nodded.  You understand here the proper way to start a travel day.

After checking my big bag, I rejoined my two cohorts and pulled out three more beers from my carry-on. We joked and sipped while waiting in line, and other men looked upon our behavior with sudden insight.  It is not illegal to sip while in line.  Just don’t be an asshole.

Before we went through security, we said our goodbyes, and I was on my way home.

Of course, there were no more beers in my carry-on, but there is always a gate bar where tallboys are $7.  I am not talking about male Singapore whores here.  I haven’t been there.

I made my way to my gate, stopped into a Cibo on the way and grabbed a huge bottle of water and snacks, and a sammich.   $30.  Fuck.  But that’s skyway robbery for you.  You are a paying hostage to them.  I replenished my bag with my goodies. 

I looked at my phone and already knew that I had some time to sip.

After a couple “sips,” I trudged, (not staggered, don’t be an asshole) to my flight.  I got on my plane.

I sat back and relaxed.  Soon, the drink cart would be on its way.  I always pay a bit more for the aisle seat, because I have never been able to sleep properly on a plane (fuck those puffy toilet seats folks put around their necks), and I like to sigh deeply when someone needs me to get up so they can go take a piss. I’m an asshole.

When we got to the next city, we began to do that quiet, sneaky, fucked up thing that pilots do when you are going to be late for your connection.  The sunlight slowly swept around, through the windows, from one side to the other.  Red-eye flights suck, but this tactic is fucked.  Be honest.  Wake everyone up and say, “We are hovering, because we don’t have a gate.”

Let us get properly angry.  You are stealing our anger from us.

At least we weren’t sitting on the ground waiting for take-off for five hours, held hostage.

I hollered back at the crew in the rear of the cabin, “Can you tell us what gate we will be landing at?  I need to know how far I have to run.”

Other folks nodded and some said, “Yeah!”

Over the intercom, our answer was, “We will let you know as soon as we find out.”  Well, that seemed pretty fair.  No one had a fucking clue.  But it wasn’t any fault of the attendants.  It was the airline, and their shitty policy of overbooking flights and overbooking landings.

Don’t be an asshole to the attendants.  They are regular joes like you and me.

I sneak-checked my phone’s clock.  I might be able to make my connection if shit went well.

As the low, early morning sun shined in through the windows, circling around in our eyes as we circled, the mood in the cabin grew angry.  There were arguments between couples.

Then the pilot came on and said, “We have a gate.”

Some folks cheered.  How fucked up is that?  We should cheer for what is expected?

The attendant said over the intercom, “We will be landing at gate F-27.”  Then he read off the gate changes to each connecting flight, ending with, “If this is your final destination, then welcome to sunny Phoenix.”


My connection was at gate B-12.

I would have to run, if those assholes in first class didn’t take too much time polishing off their “free” $50 drinks.

When it was time for me to allow the old couple in the forward seats to wheeze and get up and look around for the overhead compartment, I charged forward, past them, and others followed suit after me.  Yes, I am the asshole who stands up first when the seatbelt light flicks off.  I fucking own the aisle.  Even if I have a four hour layover.  I will make my way.

Asshole, indeed.

I grabbed my bag from the forward over head compartment and got to the exit.  The attendant at the exit said to me, “All flights are already boarding.  You won’t make it.  Why not take it easy?”

That sounded like a challenge.

I flew, baby, I fucking flew.

I hollered at folks in my way these things:

“Behind you!”

“Move right!”

“Coming through!”

“Look up!”

You see, many folks were on their phones, and they could not see me even as I charged towards them.  They were texting.  Go drown in a fountain, fucker.

I ran and my legs began to feel like lead balloons.

But I made it to my gate, and I whipped out my ticket, and the gate attendant said, “You made it!”

No Shit.

Behind me I heard him say into his phone, “Yeah, that guy made it.”  Swear to gawd.  Guess they were taking bets, right?

This next flight took four hours, and after the drink cart came by, I had two drinks in my belly.  I actually fucking slept.  I dreamed of heading to the coast with my wife, to visit her sister who is on her last legs. She was cooking a feast for us.

I awoke in two hours or so, with an hour to land and go to make the last connection.  This connection would be in PHI, or, Philadelphia, which is the official hub of UselessAir.  I looked down at my ticket for the next flight.  I would make it.

The drink cart came back up from behind, went to the front again, and they started their second drink service. Gobless them.  I would have myself another sip.  Everything would be cool.

We landed, folks took their shitty time getting off, and I had a happy glow.  I wended my way to my gate, sat down and smiled.

Everything would be cool.

Here is where things got fucked.

I took a seat where I could plug in my phone.  Some gates have shiny, circular four-seated kiosks when one could dump in a dime coin and use the telephone to call someone, back when there were land lines.  Nowadays, those old black, cast-iron behemoths have been torn out, and there are electrical outlets in their place.

An hour passed, and I got up, left my shit there, and went to check the Departures flat screen.  My flight was on time.  But there was no plane at the gate, no one getting off, nothing.

Our boarding time came and went, and still no plane.  I checked the board again.  On Time.  I walked over to the dude standing behind the gate podium, and said, “Where is our plane?”

He did not look up, but said, “Excuse me, sir, I need to get all of these numbers in correctly. Be right with you.”

In another ten minutes, I walked away from him and checked the screen.  Our plane was taking off, On Time, according to the board.  I ran back to the dude.  I said, “Where is our plane?!”

Others took note.  He looked up and said, “Uh, wha?”

I repeated myself, and he said, “Oh, your flight has been cancelled.  You should head to guest services and get another ticket.  It’s at another gate section.”

I said, “Why didn’t you change the Departures board?!  Why didn’t tell us over the intercom?!”

He looked at me blankly and said, “The board is not my job.  We just figured you guys would ask.”

What the fuck!

I looked around at the others who were watching me, and  I  repeated this important information to them.  That was my folly.  Always be an asshole, you see.  Fuck everyone else.   It was a mad scramble, and now, they were my competitors, racing to the finish line.

I fucking ran.

We all showed up at the guest services counter, and found a loooong line.

My friend, I swear to gawd, it took two and a half hours to get to the head of the line.  I called my ticket service (Expedia, which is my favorite, and they did their best to help me, but they could not, you will see why) while I waited.  There was plenty of time to do so.

My ticket service was put on hold, because there were many, many people whose flights were cancelled. It was due to weather somewhere else, but since it was cancelled flights not coming in, the airline had no responsibility to put anyone up for the night in a hotel.

 Damn, were folks pissed off.  Chicks sat when their legs grew tired, others asked folks to watch their bags while they went to take a shit or get some food, and conversations happened.  Friends were made.  I just wanted to get home tonight.  Fuck 5:45.  That time had come and passed.  My wife was angry at the airlines.  I was beyond angry.

Towards the front of the line, two things occurred.  One was that the dude at the gate who told me “We thought you’d just ask” showed up behind the counter to assist.

The second was that a new line formed.  They lined up on the other side of the black nylon ribbon connected to the shitty little shiny posts that held us there, hostage for two and a half hours.  They lined up before the fuckhead dude.  He was assisting a short line of folks, who suddenly appeared out of no where.  They were evidently “Very Important People.”

Fuck that shit.

My new friends all began to call bullshit on this.  I nodded, and now I would be the Asshole.  I looked them each on the eye and said, “Fuck This.”  Swear to gawd, I did.  I charged up to fuckhead and explained how he had taken his sweet old time punching in numbers and made us miss important line-waiting time for two and a half hours, and now he was assisting some VIPs right in front of us?

Yup, a large dude in TSA duds came up and got in my face.  He threatened to take me away.

Fuck.  I was furious, stuffing it down, and I was a whipped dog.

I just wanted to get home tonight.
I went back and folks were not in a good mood.  They told me to take the next counter person available, for whatever reason.

When it was my turn, I looked down at the tiny chick on the other side of the counter, and she was polite.  You know, it wasn’t her fault.  She was just doing her job.  Helping out.  She was not the fuckhead.

I stuffed it all back down, and I was polite back to her.

She said, “I’m very sorry sir, but while you have been in line, all of the next available flights have taken off.  The next ones have all been booked for tomorrow.  There is a flight for tomorrow evening.  11PM.  Do you want to book this?  You will be on standby.”

I swallowed my rage. I took a moment.  I could feel the heat of stares behind me from others for taking so long just to get a flight.

Then I had an idea.  I would drive home.  I needed a flight to Boston.  I would rent a car from there.  I would make it home at five in the morning, but I would have to drive.

Hell, at least I might be home come daybreak, instead of risking getting on the last flight Saturday night and most likely flying out on Sunday, some time or other.

I said, “Yes.  Please help me out.”

Don’t be an asshole.

She got me the flight.

I thanked her, and told her to “hang in there.”  She appreciated that, poor thing.  Fuck that airline.

I drove from Boston and arrived in my driveway with the birds chirping and dogs barking, and I got three hours of sleep before we headed off to the coast.

My lady let me snore while she drove.

When we arrived, it was early in the weekend.  I felt relief that we would have our time with her sister, who is on her last legs.  Time is short, yup.  It can't be wasted.  Every moment matters.  Live it up.

Sometimes, you have to be an asshole when it counts.  But there is nothing, no excuse ever, for being a fuckhead.  Do your fucking job for those who depend upon you.

It could make a difference in someone else's life.

Here are your LINKS

Here’s a link for Richie, because he like sharks, and wishes Shark Week was better.  You should see yesterday’s post, because he wrote some funny shit, yo!

Don’t be an asshole when folks don’t do their job well like that fuckhead in my true tale above.  Others do their job well, like that tiny chick at her console who got me my escape flight.  Like this.  Treat them folks well.  Encourage them.

She was kinda cute.

These folks were kids a while ago, and they had hoped that the world would be better with computers.

Don’t be an asshole to them.  Be smooth.

Or go ahead, be an asshole.

Don’t be an asshole in the wrong way.

If you are going to be an asshole, do it up correctly, Zoomba Doomba style…

Or, you could be a true badass, like Christopher Walken.  I will buy this movie.

Perhaps you will read another chapter of my Weekend AtWillies tale?  It won’t hurt, much.

God Help You.

God Help Us All.

---willies out.

OK, One More For You.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Talking Heads have been channeled from their collective, or mass, grave.  Or, shamelessly copied.  David Byrne, where are you?


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