Tag Archives: Flying

Lookie Me- All Random ’n Shit

It’s been a week. Again. I haven’t had the time or mental bandwidth to really focus on my art, which is what I like to call this blogging thing. I like to refer to it as art when I’m talking to Mrs. S as a counter to her referencing it as a “waste of time”. See what I did there? Clever eh?

I find my best posts come from conversations I have with myself, sometimes really good conversations. I don’t know of that makes me brilliant or a candidate for anti-psychotic drugs, or maybe both. I had a really good conversation with myself this very morning. What I really need is a third personality in my head, one I’ll call the “note taker”. His or her responsibility – will be to record the conversations so I can write about them later. I’ve forgotten more good material than I’ve ever written by about 10 fold.

So, lezzee-

I’m not buying into this cruise from hell deal. No water in the toilet and no way to recharge your iPad is hell? Titanic was hell. Hitting a rock off Italy and flipping a ship, that’s hell. Drifting off the Yucatan on a boat filled with booze, that’s inconvenient. Matter of fact.. Gawd damn cruise company claims they sell memories, Shee-it. Those folks have memories and cocktail party conversations for the rest of their lives. I vote no refunds. Cruise Company delivered exactly what was promised. Except maybe they weren’t as pampered as they could have been. But hell with ‘um they were stranded in the Caribbean not the gawd damned North Sea!!! They got their sun tans, just had to shit in bag, again, inconvenient.

A meteor exploded with the power of 20 atomic bombs and there is no catastrophe? Really? City of a million people gets hit with a meteor that equals 20 atomic bombs and only 1000 people are injured? I need another liner to my foil hat for space rock protection.

But in the scheme of things…I wonder what that little fellow in North Korea, Kim Jong Douche Waffle is thinking testing an atomic weapon because his country is being ignored. When exactly was the last contribution to humanity made by someone with a Korea and a North on their passport? I can’t come up with anything. But you know I didn’t pay all that close attention to physics back in the day, ’cause I ain’t that smart when it comes to things like math and science, things that “matter”. But I always figured 20 A Bombs hitting a city of a million would do more than injure 1000 people or so. I would have expected double that at least. Shows you what I know. I wonder of the NoKooks are reconsidering as well?

Saw a piece about a dude on a Delta flight slapping a baby sitting next to him? For real? The FBI is involved? It’s Delta, so I have to ask, are we sure he wasn’t trying to slap a stewardess and missed, hitting the kid instead? If you use Occam’s razor I’m say ‘n that’s the most plausible answer.

Flying makes me crabby as hell; Delta makes it exponentially worse thanks to endless nickel and diming. I could see where a guy would be pretty wound up having to be on the airlines being served by a bunch of mean women who are perpetually upset about a union givebacks and a bad vocational choice they made when they were still young and hot. And could travel the world with equally young and hot husbands who 30 years later… look like me. I get it. They’re pissed, they take it on you by giving you a 10 minute dressdown for asking if you could have the whole can of coke.. its’ frustrating for everyone.

However on further review, Delta is off the hook here, fellow is racist douchebag. Good news is I’m pretty sure he’ll never fly again, as the airlines will put him on their “not welcome in any seat” category. That is after he gets out of jail for assault and after he realizes that he can’t afford to fly anymore because he’s going to pay off the civil suit for the rest of his life. Justice is a good thing when applied properly.

You know what they say, Mean people suck. That’s a great axiom I’ve believed in for decades. Right up there with No good deed goes unpunished and No such thing as a free lunch. Something about airplanes brings out the worst in people, yours truly included in that list. Maybe it’s the stress of traveling coupled with being sealed up in a metal tube for hours on end, and when you don’t like people to begin with…

And if you don’t like people not exactly like you…

On the other hand, and I’m not trying to justify that assholes actions, I’m simply going to point out that sitting next to a screaming kid while sealed into that metal tube sucks. Don’t care how nice the family is, how cute the kid is, it sucks. For EVERYONE.

I know I had to sit next to a screamer once a flight from Dallas to San Francisco, kid in the seat next to me literally cried and howled the entire two and a half hour trip. Mrs. S had it worse though, she was holding the thing. Loathe to admit it at the time, I will now tell you that genetically the kid was mine. I may not have even admitted that I was married to the women holding the human bag pipes either, given how loud he was. It was so bad that the other guy in our row was given a free bottle of wine and a 500 mile voucher by the sky waitress right before we landed as a compensation for his trouble.

I felt bad for the guy, for me, for my wife, for our son, not for the sky waitress however she was a bitch and we were not on Delta at that time. He, however, was nice about it; after all there was nothing anyone could do. There were probably some things other people would have wanted to do, but you know, most of them would be illegal and result in FBI investigations.

On the other hand, the nasty old bitch that sat in front of us one time on a flight.. Here’s a good mean people scenario.

Team Sank is on their way to Arizona. As we were settling into our seats my kid kicked the seat in front of him. This nasty broad with an apparent hair trigger when it comes to kids, put down her Isaac Asimov magazine, turned around and said in a bit of growl, “Please keep that
child from kicking my seat”. Obviously she had no experience with children, when you tell a kid not do something well… on her third time turning around she glared at me with dagger eyes, albeit made a little less effective coming through cats eye frames with a chain on them. Anyways, she literally snarled with her teeth bare, “I’ve asked you several times now to stop that child..: ” blah blah blah…

My answer “Wasn’t the ‘child’ grandma, it was Me.” and I smiled. “Tell you what; I’ll switch seats with him so I can kick your seat for a while.” And as we switched I’m pretty sure we hit some turbulence as I fell forward on her head rest.. She exploded, complained the stewardess and had the nerve to ask of the people behind her to could be relocated. Thankfully the stewardess pointed out that moving one is easier than five and made her move. Mrs. S might have given her a bird shot as she passed us, but I can’t remember perfectly. Later on when we were on the ground I got to have some fun at the baggage check when I stood behind her pretended to have a conversation in my cell where words like “Bitch” “bitter” “fat” “angry” “had a fucking mustache” could be overheard.

Having lived in a Minnesota for while at that point I was pretty good at being passive aggressive. Matter of fact I excelled at it that day. And I assure you it was great fun, abusing mean people is very rewarding.

And with that mess of unconnected thoughts perhaps a Thorozine is in order. See you later.

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The Suicidal Tourist

Viewing the country from 35,000 feet, Pink Floyd’s Animals blasting in my headphones, looking out on the vastness that is the American West all I can think about is that there sure are a lot of neat places to kill yourself in this country. Once spot that I happened to really like, and I’m not quite sure where exactly it is, pilots don’t seem as quick to point out the sights on the left and right side of the airplane like they used too, some really picturesque and quite deep canyons with really nice vertical cliffs. Of course looking on them from my vantage point, I’m not sure how you’d even get them, there doesn’t seem to be a road or a building or town anywhere in sight.

The west is still pretty empty all things considered.

So uh, why in such a good mood. Putting aside the obvious, the kids and I are flying to a funeral I for one am expecting to be the saddest day of all of our lives.

So far anyway, which I hope isn’t tempting fate.

No, I’m in a particularly surly mood simply because I am flying. And flying these days… lemmie put it this way, if flying was a pain in the ass 15 years ago, before the TSA and when traveling with kids still required their weight in baggage and accessories, if that was a pain, and I’m pretty sure I thought it was, now-a-days.. it’s the equivalent of a dry prison rape, at least on by the Pain the Ass Scale.

It’s so bad that I’m really thinking twice before I go anywhere via an airlines.

It started with the ticket purchase experience. Granted I’m still living in the grand old days when a flight from Minneapolis to San Francisco was about $250.00. Lets say 2000 or so. And I get it, last minute travel is always expensive. But.. imagine the jaw dropping that happened when my initial pass an itinerary came in at $1200 per person. I don’t think there’s anywhere on planet worth a $1200 ticket. I’m cheap I’ll move on.

Still… Since we were travelling on short notice to a funeral I thought maybe bereavement fares might work for us. To book a  bereavement fare you have to call the airlines and talk to an agent. If you can figure out where to find the number to call, and can successfully navigate the intricate code of numbers on symbols that unlocks the secret “human” option, you probably don’t need bereavement fares because you probably know how to find secret $5.00 fares to anywhere in country.

After much trying, lots of pushing buttons and a few false starts I was able to find our local former hometown airlines bereavement policy, which after reading the fine print, we did in fact qualify for. The page was very informative up until the part where it tells you how to actually get the fare, other than “call”. Call who? What number?

My first of many F-words in this process.

Finally after a day and half of looking I got an agent. She was very nice, very sympathetic to our families situation, sorry for our loss and sorry that we had to travel under these circumstances. I had hope again. Unfortunately it is airline policy not to issue bereavement fares until they’ve had every opportunity to sell out every seat on every flight that we might need.

“Well, I don’t show anything available yet.. I would suggest that you call back the day before you need to travel and we’ll see what’s still open at that time”. I’m not that much of a gambler frankly, so back to online booking.

Microsoft has their fare predictor engine, I’ve used it successfully a few times. According to the predictions, fares were going to drop substantially in the next day or two. More than $100.00 according to the little arrow, be patient. Now, I also noticed that the dropping fares were now $50.00 higher than they had been the day before. More insult, in addition to paying that kind of money, my flight to San Francisco would be through Chicago and Denver. Or I could go through Pheonix and LA, or fucking Quebec City, Gatwick, Moscow, Taipei, Honolulu Vancouver and then straight into SFO. That one was $11.00 cheaper.

Want a direct flight? $2000.00 per ticket. F-bomb.

After 5 days the prices had completely skyrocketed off the charts and the arrow was still showing wait. Where’s the usefulness of this site?

Well, some things, like a beloved parents funeral, well, you just can’t mess around too much. If this were a family vacation however plans would be changing, we’d go the damn Dells instead of flying anywhere.

I took a look at Amtrak. Amtrak from MPLS to San Jose was actually $100.00 more than flying and took 56 hours longer than the flight. Each way. Greyhound? Super cheap, 8 hours faster than the train.. but I couldn’t get enough candy and nuts on the bus to sustain life for that long.

After much looking, changing the date to come home a day later than I wanted to, and using a Ho Chi Minh Airlines I found a fare that only made me nauseous as opposed to fully vomiting, and fighting every fiber of my desert heritage that told me not to do I pushed the “buy” button and charged my clean credit card $3200 in airfare for a three day trip.

This for my wife’s Dad, I would go if it was $10,000 he was the most important influence on my adult life, it just hurt a bit, in my sensitive wallet area.

Fine suck it up, buy the ticket.

The day before travel I received an email from Ho Chi Minh Airlines that it was time for “pre-checkin” print the boarding pass at home, one of the very few truly useful advancements in air travel in the last 50 years, I think the last one was making flights non-smoking.

According the email, if I wanted to select my seats now would be the time. Yeah. OK here’s where I want to hire a witch to put a pox on someone’s house. Seat fees. Really. $15.00 if you want to pick a window seat, $25.00 for an aisle seat. Middle seats are free.

F-word flying, I selected the seats. The daughter, who gets nervous about sitting next to strangers asked me if were sitting in next to each other. “yes, but you have to think vertically, not horizontally”. Son looked curious, “what does that mean”. “Well, we’re all in the same row kids, we’re in row ‘B’”. hmm?  I’m in 11B, Daughter is next to me in 12B, son #1 is in 13B and the middle kid gets the end 14B. “We’re in a vertical row”.

Now, none of the kids wants to travel. If you wanted to pay an extra $50 for seats just charge me upfront asswipes. Next up my favorite, the bag fee. $20.00 for the first bag online, if you wait until you get to the airport it’s going to be $30.00.

Again, where is that witch when you need her?

Stuffed and loaded we waited anxiously for travel day.

Early morning departure, my brother from another mother pulled into the driveway at 4:45. I love that man. I do the same for him of course, but I’m going to say now, pre-5:00 am rides to the airport are a great litmus test for friendship.

Zombie kids were ready to go; I made a pot of coffee, quaffed some raisin bran and listened to my almost adult children argue about what snacks were purchased for the trip.

Daughter was in charge of the traditional Target run to load up crap to eat on the plane. This is a holdover for when they were like 3 or so. But I indulged, this is going to be a rough trip, a little trial mix and couple bags of M&M’s weren’t going hurt anyone. So, off she went, with brother, to Target to buy some snacks for a 4 hour flight.

4 hours. What they came back with.. $45.00 later.. all I could say “if the Donner party had this much shit when they got snowed in on their trip to California, lets just say we wouldn’t know their name today. They’d have all be diabetic but they would have survived 5 months in the snow with no problem.”

As we loaded up the dog decided to take himself for an early morning walk. He hasn’t been out front in a while thanks to a bully bulldog across the street that attacks him at every opportunity, so he was looking for chance to crap on the neighbors lawn. Chasing a dog down at 5:00 in the morning is no way to start a trip. He came back about the time I said “fuck it, leave him we’ll get a new dog when we get back,” He’s clairvoyant that way.

The one good thing, so I thought, about Ho Chi Minh Airlines, we get to use the smaller and “faster” former Humphery Terminal at the MSP. Now known as Terminal 2. On arrival we checked our bag, prepaid check, and went upstairs to security. We had about 90 minutes to get through security. I wasn’t sure we’d make it.

The line went through the crowd weaver to the back of the parking ramp, and back to the escalator. The only good thing, I was hoping we would see people in line, on the escalator have to treadmill it to stay in line, or a pile up at the top. Heh heh.

Nope, not even a little joy for me this fine morning. In line I was treated to several lectures about travelling with liquids. I was not aware that there were this many people in this country who haven’t traveled with liquids before. This observation based on the fact that literally 3 out 4 listened to the TSA lady, and THEN unpacked their bottles of hairspray, tooth paste, Prep H and lighter fluid and proceeded to put into little bottles and plastic bags.

The only bottles that I will EVER travel with in a bag are the 6 1.5 oz bottles of Jim Beam I’m gonna need to survive the flight back damn it.

50 minutes later we made it to the top of the line where.. we were told to stop and wait. The TSA dude who looks at your license and makes the secret note that says “cavity search” on your boarding pass, the same boarding pass that never gets looked at again, had us stop while he accommodated 6 parties from the First Class line, who had just walked up.

I may have to look into that Occupy Wall Street thing that I’ve been ridiculing up until that moment. “Why are we waiting Dad?” the girl asked. “Because we’re in Steerage dear. When the ship sinks we don’t get a lifeboat.” She was confused.

Then the shoeless dance where we take the laptop out of its case, remove the belt and colostomy bag, watch, hip implant, and push all the stuff through the X-Ray.

For the first time in my life, I set off the alarm. “Please empty your pockets”. I’ve traveled enough, and am so annoyed with the experience BTW that I intentionally go to the airport with nothing in my pockets. Nothing on my person what so ever except; my drivers license, my glasses and my soul. I know better and I can’t stand being stopped.

“I have nothing” I told the guy. “I find myself completely destitute”. He didn’t know what that meant. Took off the glasses, pulled my bowie knife out of my sock and somehow got through. My son.. not so lucky.

His carry on was, for some reason, singled out for further screening. The TSA guy pulled it aside and put it on a table for this purpose. He said something into his walkie that I can only hope was “need help on lane three”, but I have my doubts. For the next, and I kid you not, for the next number longer than 15 minutes, and I know this because I started tracking and got to 15 minutes, which means it was more like 25 because I’m sure it took 10 minutes to get me that pissed off, the bag sat. And sat, and sat. Everyone in while TSA man would see it, make a call and then go back to annoying other passengers.

And, every once in a while an agent would walk over, get directed by the same TSA guy to “check the bag” and, I can’t lip read but the old “Not my job” motions are universal, would look at the bag, look at the dude and laugh a bit and walk away.

Damn good thing we weren’t late. Yet. About to lose my mind I yelled to my kid, “Hey, leave bag we’ll buy new clothes when we get there”. He looked at me like I was crazy, which I was, “MY computer and iPad are in there”. Fine. This got me a few looks from the TSA and finally the dude with the Tucks pads came over and wiped down the bags. We were explosive AND hemorrhoid free and.. free to go.

Time elaspsed in TSA creening, 75 minutes, or 1/3 of the time we would actually spend in the air flying 2000 miles. Weird huh.

And, just to put shit in perspective, at no time, not once did one of the TSA dumbshits ever talk to me or to anyone. If was nervous, anxious, worried about the 64 balloons of heroin I was muleing to San Francisco in my colon, nothing.

I’m just going to say, flying out of Israel, the didn’t even open a bag or look at my travel document, other than a passing glance. What they did do, engage me in a 5 minute conversation about my trip and the nature of my travel. A conversation I learned later with a trained profiler who knows what to look for.

Maybe it wouldn’t work here because, by the time you get to the TSA, you’ve been nickled and dimed, have waited in a couple endless lines and are so pissed off that every other emotion would be lost.

This isn’t the case where the terrorists win, this is a case where we’ve put an elaborate show of security that really, doesn’t do what we think it does. Sorry gang, profiling is the only secure way to do it.

After a 20 minute wait in the coffee line, the vantage point from which I could see them boarding my flight and my three panic stricken kids staring at me.

I remember being in my teens and 20’s and enjoying flying. One of the reasons, the air-waitresses, aka stewardess were hot. That’s why PanAm might work as a serious. They had some cute gals back then. Now I’m pushing 50, those 30 something flight attendents all have 40 years on the job and are still working, only now.. they’re a little bitter about the vocational choice that had them essentially fetching cokes and acting out safety announcements three times a day for almost half a century. They’re a little scary now. Like your mean old bitter Grandma, the one with no sense of humor. Like my Grandma, who can best be described as “tough”, and that’s about as nice as I can get with that broad

Honestly, when the lady came over and asked me if I wanted a breakfast sandwich, after my experiences with flying these days, can you blame me for reacting with “Now what’s that gonna cost me”.

She wasn’t amused.

Well, after all the drama we arrived, but I gotta tell you, I’d be happy to never fly again, sad too it used to be so fun.

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