Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sleep Deprived in Seattle

Having the attention span and maturity level of a 7th grader has made finishing "text heavy" books very difficult over the years. So in honor of my finally finishing the book "On the Road" (which is about Jack Kerouac's cross country adventures), I am documenting 24 hours of my own cross country adventure to visit my sister in Portland. But instead of taping all pages together so that he could type for hours on end (see below), I just wrote incomplete sentences and included lots of pictures.

Also, instead of hitchhiking and taking odd jobs to make it all the way across the country, I am just taking a nonstop flight..... so I guess its really not that similar. The important thing to remember from this story is that I finished a book. Please make a note of it.

Also, before I begin the highlights of my trip, please note that I realize that I don't literally have the worst travel luck or the craziest travel stories of everybody you know. It turns out that almost everyone has a recent story about travel plans gone wrong..... like Steve in accounting. However, if you want to hear Steve's crazy travel story, you will not only hear about his crazy flight to Iowa but also his theory on how fiberglass fishing poles work better for catching Bluegills.

So, unless you have a strong interest in long fishing stories or find sitting in accounts receivable more comfortable than your current chair, I suggest just briefly skimming the highlights below and then reminding yourself not to take a trip with me:

7:30am – Wakeup and do my daily affirmations in the mirror - "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and for once I will reach my travel destination on the same day that I planned"

Strangely enough, I was wearing the same cardigan as Stuart Smalley

9:01am - Receive email from friend saying “Good luck with your flight, hope it doesn’t get cancelled like the last time…. Or the one before that where someone has a heart attack and another person urinated on themselves because of how bad the landing was”. So after reminiscing on the last few travel adventures, we decided that as long as my flight wasn't cancelled, then the trip would be a success.

9:02am – Receive email saying that my flight is cancelled. But the silver lining is that farther down the email it explains “Good News, you may qualify for a Free Transfer to a different flight”, which seemed like a small consolation to not accomplishing the 1 thing I paid the airline to do. But then I remembered the old phrase - “when the airline industry closes a door, it opens a window .....that will most likely take you a long time to get out of and will bring you to a totally different city than you planned on”. Its amazing how accurate old sayings are.

9:04am – I click on the email link to find that my cancelled flight does not qualify for the “free transfer”, so I’d like to formally take back the small consolation part.

9:47am – I finally get through to a Jetblue Customer Service Representative, who is very friendly and proceeds to complain about her day, then tell me my name is “beautiful”, and then "can't believe that my flight really wasn’t eligible for a free transfer?!?”. This is my problem, I can’t stay mad at someone as nice and incredibly confusing as this old lady. By the end of the call, I somehow was no longer mad about my inexplicably cancelled flight to Portland, and was happy with a flight to Seattle two hours later with no compensation for rental car or arriving in the wrong state.

Well played crazy customer service lady. Well played.

12:45 – Decide that flight troubles, government stimulus check, and trip to see cute niece are the three signs that I need to buy the small and expensive camcorder that I saw online a few weeks back. I really believe that ignoring these signs would be like the ancient Egyptian pharaoh ignoring the 10 plagues in biblical times. I hope that doesn't come across as too dramatic or sacrilegious because the camera is really cool, and I really needed a good justification to buy it.

And you thought Family Circus the most controversial cartoon.....

2:00 pm – Check online and see 1st delay for my new flight to wrong state.

6pm – Leave work to get to the airport on time via two trains, an airtrain, and a walk that rivaled Tom Hanks in the final scene of Green Mile in length and morale level.

Just realized this is the 2nd reference involving Tom Hanks. From now on, the only
reference of his I will make is Mr. Short Term Memory from SNL

8pm – Get through security and check departure screen to find flight is delayed until 10pm, with consolation being that every jetblue sign says “check out our new terminal that is spacious and state of the art”

8:12pm – Look closer at signs and realize that it says to “check out the new terminal in fall 2008". For now, I can “check out” a temporary terminal that requires an extra jetblue shuttle out in the middle of nowhere and drops you off at an airplane hangar that has been converted to resemble the 4th layer of hell. For those of you not familiar with all 7 layers of hell, the 4th layer is the one where there are 4 people per square foot, no air conditioning, and hundreds of signs for a new layer of hell that will be coming soon and will be much roomier and state of the art.

9:02pm – After glancing every few minutes at the departure board, I notice the time has been changed from 10pm to 9:25pm. Oh, and its also been changed to the gate 3 that I passed on the way to the shuttle back in the 3rd layer of hell.

Judging by the angle of this photo, I assume it was taken by George Muresan

9:14pm – Get to gate 3 in record time after pulling a Constanza and giving a mean stiff arm to an aggressive 90 year old woman who was attempting to cut me in line for the shuttle. Don’t kid yourself ..... much like cows, if the elderly got the chance, they would eat you and everyone you care about.

(sorry, just realized that less than 1% of people would understand the Simpsons reference, so click HERE to see that i have nothing against the elderly and why its dangerous not to eat large quantities of meat)

9:15pm – Look at gate’s departure time and laugh that it has been changed to 10pm. It feels so good to laugh.

9:16pm – We are now boarding in a rushed fashion, even though the departure time still says 10pm. I can only assume there is a flight attendant that no one likes in the bathroom and we are trying to leave before she gets back. Either that or they are filming a new elaborate reality show where Jamie Kennedy makes you think your flight is delayed, and then quickly leaves when you go to the wrong gate. Either way, I’m glad to be on the right side of the practical joke.

9:32 – Board and realize that my tv isn’t working. Normally I would make fun of someone complaining about their satellite television not working on a flight, but we have 6 hours to go and the baby and snoring man in my aisle are having a duel for highest decibel level that rivals the excitement of Michael Jordan vs Dominique Wilkins in the 1988 Slam Dunk contest.

9:50 – Announcement from captain “Good News! JFK is currently using 2 runways, when the airport usually only uses one.” And then a casual sidebar “We are currently 18th in line, ad will take off in around 30 minutes.” Jeblue is all about managing expectations. I make a note to email about what exactly it means to have “good news”. I think I will just send a clip from Princess Bride with Inigo Montoya saying "you keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means".

"He's climbing the mountain by himself..... Good News!!!"

10:02 – The snoring guy wins with a sound that rivaled Michael Jordan's free throw line dunk…..and my tv is still broken

Believe me, the ability to make as loud a noise as this guy did without waking himself up was equally as impressive

4am (eastern time) Land, rent car, and in the process realize that talkative people are still talkative at 4am. Normally I would welcome a discussion on the fairness of moving the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City, but right now I have a 3 hour drive ahead of me.

4:37 – Finally on the road after getting car and a meatball sandwich from a 24 hour subway, also known as my new favorite restaurant in the world.

6:17 – I finally hit that overtired stage of sleep deprivation where you are still awake, but mildly hallucinating with the only images that my subconscious has of Portland…. Which are Rasheed Wallace yelling at referees and a fat Shawn Kemp struggling to make it up and down the basketball court. The good thing about these hallucinations is that its easy to tell the difference between the reality of a dark open interstate and a fictional Greg Oden shooting free throws on top of clouds.

"Hey Ref, I can't believe Adrian couldn't find a picture of a fat Shaun Kemp on Google Images!"

7am – Pull into driveway and am surpised by greeting from brother in law. I guess he lost the coin flip with my sister, which makes 237 consecutive coin flips that she has won in a row. I suggest to him to not let her use Harvey Dent's coin from the new Batman movie.

7:30 am – Finish the 24 hour adventure and get into bed with consolation that I would have a full 3 days before repeating this whole adventure again.

So this concludes my one day diary of bad travel luck. So please take life lessons with you when you travel , which is that you should never travel with me and while I may not have the most dramatic travel stories of anyone in your office, you can easily scroll through my travel adventures without having to nod and smile and listen to how fiberglass fishing rods are the most effective when fishing for Bluegills.

And that's one to grow on.

Tootie from the Facts of Life always knows best