Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Give me the Loop, Give me the Loop!

This Memorial Day weekend I flew down to Virginia to see my family. Because of my experience on the flight down, I can come to no other conclusion than I must have done something terrible to upset the airplane g-ds, something so horrendous as to leave me sentenced to a lifetime of crazy plane stories. As if my continuing to get on planes weren't crazy enough.

I had a connecting flight in NY that would have put me in Virginia at around 9:30 p.m. Thursday night. The time between flights was so tight that I was a little nervous I wouldn't make the connection. My nerves were temporarily calmed when we touched down in NY with an hour to spare, but I quickly became anxious again when half an hour passed and we were still lolling about on the runway. By the time we finally exited the plane, I had 20 minutes to get to my next flight.

Of course, the gate I needed to get to was on the opposite end of the airport and it was so big that one could possibly have taken a flight to the other end. I ran so fast I defied the laws of physics; sparks flew from my rubber flip-flops as I checked the boards to see if my flight had left without me (as they so often do). The first board I whizzed past read: Departure time 10 p.m. Even though my flight was supposed to leave at 8, I did not slow down my gait, thinking it a clever ruse by US Airways to lull me into a false sense of security, thereby keeping me off the flight and saving themselves the cost of free soda and pretzels. (This actually does make sense when you're in a panic.) The second board I whizzed past read: Departure time 11 p.m. The third read 11:20 p.m. It was like US Airways thought that by pushing back our departure time in 20 minute increments, nobody would notice that we wouldn't make it to Virginia until the following day.

We screamed, we cried--some of the angrier ones got vouchers--but in the end, we ate our stale Cinnabuns and read our crappy celebrity magazines (thank you, Lindsay Lohan for making up for Britney's upsetting lack of antics), and waited. There was nothing more we could do.

By the time we boarded at 11:30, we were the only flight left.

"Woohoo! Let's hope we're first in line for take off!" a guy in front joked. The plane started to move and we slowly, ever so slowly, did an entire loop around the aiport.

"Uh, folks, this is Captain Smith from the cockpit. Uh ... traffic control asked us to loop around the airport. We're not really sure why, but we're now first in line for take-off and should be departing shortly."

As if I weren't nervous enough that our flight was delayed due to plane maintenance, now I had the added stress of worrying about why we needed to do a lap around the runway (a last check to see if any parts would fall off?) and why on earth the pilots would admit that they had no idea why we would do such a thing. Lie to us! Tell us we have too much fuel and needed to burn some off! Tell us our pilot lost a contact and wanted to circle around to look for it! But for the love of all that's good and light, do not tell us you have no friggin' clue why our plane had to do an entire lap around a deserted airport. Freaks us the fuck out.

Lucky for me, though, the kid next to me threw up on himself just moments before take-off.
The proximity to the noxious fumes knocked me out for the duration of the flight.

When I came to, we had mercifully landed. It was 12:30 a.m. Since our plane was a small prop plane, we had to wait outside on the runway for them to bring us our carry-ons that had been stored below deck. Of course, mine was the last one off the belt. As I grabbed my bag and made a mad dash for freedom, I heard the pilots and flight attendant scream, "Have a good night!" behind me. They actually had the nerve to be upset with me for not kissing and hugging them goodbye and trying to make it to my family before Memorial Day had actually passed.

I turned around just long enough to scream back, "Good morning!" and vowed never again to travel on US Airways ... starting right after I've used that free voucher.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Time to Get Chill

I recently watched an episode of The Real Housewives of New York, in which Kelly, some sort of cracked out socialite, schedules an appointment with someone and arrives 30 minutes late. In another, she arrives more than an hour late to her own party. Her own party! If anything, I'm around simply so no one walks off with a bottle of wine.

I've never understood people who are consistently late, as I go into a state of panic if I'm so much as one minute late to any type of event, be it a work meeting or my eleven-year-old nephew's birthday party. A couple of weekends ago, I had a flight to Virginia scheduled to depart at 7. I left work at 4, a good three hours before my departure, just so I wouldn't stress over the time.

Of course, the 4:00 bus turned into the 4:30 bus. I stepped on, and instead of seeing an ocean of empty seats, like I typically do being one of the first stops on the line, I saw no less than 10 old people with a various assortment of walking aids all scattered about in the back of bus, just to piss me off, I had no doubt.

I still had an hour and a half to get to the airport, though, so I tried to relax. The bus rolled to a stop at the next stop and the next ... and the next. And all the people getting on looked like they'd been AARP eligible for 20 years. I was confused. Where were they all going? Had I inadvertently stumbled onto the Wide World of Sports Bingo Tour bus?

I was getting nervous--and annoyed. My leg starting bouncing up and down at a faster rate than the bus was moving, and I was starting to sweat. If any of my fellow passengers hadn't needed bottle-thick eyeglasses, they might've thought I was on my way to the methadone clinic--a popular stop on my line.

To make matters worse, when one old person would get on, another would have to get off at the very next stop, a process that seemed to take a year to complete, due to all the walkers and canes in the way of the door. A sweet-looking old lady--she might've been 90--looked at me and remarked, "Wow, this bus is really full!" I was in no mood for chit chat, especially with a retired Capitain Obvious. I looked at her like she had just told me she wanted to take me out with her cane and returned to staring out the window, sighing, and tapping my foot violently. I felt like a complete jackass.

"I'm sorry," I said. "It's just that I'm trying to make a flight and I'm really nervous I'm not going to make it."

"Oh, well what time is your flight?"

"Seven."

I looked down at my cell phone. It was 5 o'clock.

"Well," she said, patting my arm, "I'm sure you'll be okay."

Great. I thought. Grandma thinks I'm Looney Toons. But I had enough to worry about. When the bus finally rolled into the T station, where I would then have to jump on the train and then wait for a shuttle to take me to the airport, it was 5:30. I ran to an open cab.

"How much is it to the airport?" I screamed.

"Thirty bucks."

"I have a 20."

"Get in," the cabbie said. And we were off.

"Can you get me to the airport in half an hour?" I asked in a panic.

The cabbie took a look at the gridlock we were facing.

"I'll do my best. I know a shortcut!"

He slammed his foot on the accelerator and swerved violently to the right, riding the shoulder at 90 miles an hour before turning onto a residential street. I felt like I was in a scene right out of The Fast and the Furious, except for the fact I wasn't drag racing ... and I was in a smelly cab with a guy who looked like Rob Schneider on a bad day and not a Ferrari F355 next to a really hot Paul Walker ... okay, so it was nothing like the movie, but I felt like a bad ass just the same.

"Are you okay?!" the cabbie screamed to me behind his shoulder.

"Yes! Yes!" I screamed back as we came dangerously close to taking out a squirrel. "Do what you need to do!"

Ten minutes later, we came to a stop outside the United terminal.

The cabbie handed me a fistful of business cards, which I gladly took. This guy was so good I could probably call him to take me to DC and he'll make it in an hour, for fifty bucks.

Of course, due to United's evil and confusing ways, although my boarding pass said my flight was with United, it was operated by US Air, my arch nemesis, so I needed to get to the US Air terminal. Which was all the way on the other side of the building. Damn it! I yelled as I broke into a run that would've put Forrest to shame. What seemed like days later, I was finally sitting at my gate, still huffing and puffing from my one-woman race through the airport. I looked down at my cell phone. It was 6 o'clock.

Seeing as I had so much time to kill, I took out my laptop and started Googling rehab centers for people with serious time management problems.