May 25, 2003

Jolene's Oh-So-Wild Trip Report

So, last week, I was away for a few days. Did you miss me? Aww, of course you did. I was planning on posting my write-up a little sooner than this, but life has this unfortunate habit of getting in the way. Sigh.

Now, before I start in with the recounting of my myriad madcap adventures, let me just say how much I recommend, if you have to travel for business, making sure your employer sends you to places where your friends also happen to live. Because visiting your out-of-town friends and not paying for it? Rocks.

There were probably two main themes to last weekend’s trip: 1) rain; and 2) transportation follies. Be forewarned: this post is extremely long, mostly because I have quite a talent for blathering on and on about nothing. I debated cutting it up into several shorter posts, but then I thought that was dumb, because even if it’s not visibly broken up by hand-dandy graphical dividers, there’s no reason you can’t still read it in sections, if you’re so inclined. Or if you have a short attention span. And I’m not judging. I have a short attention span myself. You don’t actually think I wrote this in one sitting, do you?

So. Anyway.

Friday morning, I dragged my ass out of my warm bed, packed, and was ready to face the world at 5:55 am, five minutes before my cab, the one I’d arranged for the day before, was supposed to be there. I was quite proud of myself for being not only on time, but a few minutes early, because I am famous for being a chronic oversleeper. A morning person I am not. So, there I am, all ready to go, watching out the window for the cab to show up. 6:00 passes with no cab. 6:05. 6:10. Nothing. I call the cab company and get a recording. Wait a few more minutes. Decide to call another cab. Before I can dial, my phone rings, and it’s the driver. He has overslept. He apologizes profusely and says he’s about 10-12 minutes from my house, but I should feel free to call another company if I want to. Since getting another cab will take at least that long, maybe longer, and also because this company is a fancy one my company pays for, so it’s preferable to the grimy regular cabs, I tell him I thought there would still be enough time to get to the airport, and he should still come.

But instead of being 10 minutes away, it was more like 25, and then he drove by my house before realizing he’d gone too far. By the time I was in the car, it was 6:40. I got to the airport 25 minutes before my flight, which ordinarily would have been enough time given that the airport wasn’t crowded, but for some reason known only to god, who is apparently trying to get back at me for my heathen ways, my flight was boarding not from a normal terminal, but from this weirdo satellite terminal I had no idea existed. Getting to it required taking a shuttle bus across vast expanses of tarmac, and the bottom line is that I missed my flight.

This was decidedly not cool, because I was supposed to be on the same flight as my boss, and we were both supposed to be attending the same meeting at our destination, and driving to it in the same rental car. Even worse, I had somehow neglected to bring his cellphone number, and no one was in the office yet for me to call because it was so early in the morning. I managed to get on the next flight, and luckily got in touch with my secretary ten minutes before boarding. She found my boss’s number for me in my address book, which was of course a much better place for it to be than, say, saved in my cellphone. Sometimes I mystify myself with my own stupidity. But then, not really. I consider myself very lucky that my boss was not only not upset, but actually quite amused over the fact that I had missed my flight.

Because nothing on this trip was allowed to easy, I was stopped and searched at security. It wasn’t a random search, either. They took me out of line after x-raying my bag because they thought they saw something suspicious. An overly-agressive securitywoman proceeded to rifle through my bag and remove a number of metal objects, none of which could be remotely useful as a weapon. What annoyed me most was not that this had to be done in the first place (although I suppose it should have), but that the woman, after she was satisfied that I posed no threat, didn’t put anything back in my bag in the same place she had removed it from. For the most part, this annoyance was corrected by sitting down for five minutes and moving everthing back. What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that she had put my keys in a pocket I never use, one which has no zipper. I only found this out when I arrived home at the end of my trip and thought I had lost my keys, because they weren’t where they were supposed to be. I am incredibly lucky that they never fell out of that unzippered pocked, because that bag was thrown around and held upside down numerous times.

The flight was mostly uneventful, except for the fact that there was this really mean stewardess. She yelled at me, and then at another guy, for opening up a closed overhead bin, because apparently it was being used for crew storage, or something. How we were supposed to know we couldn’t use it escapes me, because it’s not like it was marked “crew only” or “do not open”, and it looked just like all the other overhead bins. I don’t begrudge her the use of the bin, but she could have been a little nicer about it, is all I’m sayin’. She also totally came just short of bitchslapping a guy who wouldn’t stop talking on his cellphone while the plane was about to take off. He did kind of deserve it, though.

I arrived at my destination to be greeted by a torrential downpour, which would continue through the rest of the day, and off-and-on into the rest of the weekend. I think I must travel with a black cloud over my head, because every time I visit this particular destination, the weather is absolutely horrible. The last time, I arrived at the same time as a massive blizzard which shut down the entire city and trapped my friend and me in her apartment for three days.

One thing I love about visiting people is that you get to eat lots of yummy food. Tops on this trip included soft-shelled crab, duck, sangria, and super-garlicky green beans. Not all at once, of course. We also had brunch at a French chain restaurant. The first thing we were greeted with upon entering was a prominent sign emblazoned with an American flag, which said something to the effect of “Proud to be an American company for twenty years.” Okay, I understand why they felt like they had to do this, and I know this subject has been thoroughly beaten to death by countless people already, but it really pisses me off. Even more than making me angry, it just makes me sad that such ignorance exists to make this sign necessary.

What else can I tell you? Well, it’s lucky I made it back alive, because we came close to getting caught the in the crossfire of urban violence. We were walking down the sidewalk and saw a cab cut off a bus. At the next intersection, the bus driver actually got out of his bus and went up to the cab and started yelling at him. I’ve seen road rage before, but it never escalated to the point where someone actually exited a vehicle. Like I said, you’re lucky I’m still here to be writing this. (Okay, yes, I’m being a little dramatic, I know. But please, let me have my little fantasies, won’t you?)

Saturday night, I went with my friend to a party for the friend of her friend, and met a cute boy (and possible potential suitor!). This party was actually chock full o’ cute boys. Honestly, it wasn’t fair. The parties where I live never have a selection like that. I think I need to move.

Whew, this is long. I think I’ll end it just like I began it - with transportation woes. For my return flight, I managed to make it to the airport plenty early, which didn’t matter because the flight was delayed an hour. There had been a jet fuel spill on the tarmac right by the gate, so they had to park the plane at some far-off location and drive us over to it in, what else, a shuttle bus. They herded us down the jetway and then had us line up to wait for the bus. The bus wasn’t there yet, though, so we had to wait there while the official airline woman rushed back and forth in and out of the jetway trying to appear useful, but not appearing to do much of anything. After about fifteen minutes, she figured out that standing there breathing in jet fuel fumes was probably not healthy, so she suddenly appeared with a stack of surgical masks. We all put them like good little soldiers, but I’m not really convinced they did much of anything, because the smell was still just as strong. But at least we looked cool. Except not.

Still, it was all worth it just for the priceless looks we got from the passengers who were entering the jetway. They had just gotten off the shuttle bus, and the plane, we would soon be getting on. It was truly hilarious to see their faces go from the standard haggard traveler look of “Omigod, I’m so glad we’re finally off that plane” to “Omigod, has there been an outbreak of SARS???? Why in god’s name are these people all wearing masks????”

When we were finally allowed to board the bus to our plane, the official airline woman asked us all for the masks back, and I sincerely hope they weren’t going to reuse them. Even more importantly, I really hope they hadn’t been reused on us. Because that’s just gross.

And that was my trip, in a nutshell. If the nut was the size of house. I did tell you I was good at blathering on about nothing.

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