Posted by: morrowsl | February 22, 2010

Midwinter Blues

Snow out my window

The snowfall of February 2010 will not soon be forgotten for myriad reasons.  Along the east coast it will be remembered for devastation and damage.  In Texas it is on the books as the second greatest snowfall recorded.  For me personally it is the reason for a pretty sucky trip to a really cool event in a beautiful area of the country in the company of incredibly talented musicians and great friends.  It’s those people and that event that kept me on an even keel during an otherwise totally screwed up day.

It all started with the snow.  Normally I love the idea of snow falling for even an hour in North Texas.  I’ve been known to stand in front of the TV during a weather forecast predicting any measure of freezing precipitation yelling “BRING IT!!!” with a huge smile on my face.  And I may even have done as much this time; I don’t recall it but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.  I know I did watch with some dismay and much concern as the east coast got hammered.  And I’m sure I was less than enthusiastic when the timing for our own storm slipped closer and closer to my departure date.  But once the snow started coming down and I’d been out to drive around in it, I wasn’t really worried at all.  The airport in Philadelphia closed for a short time but reopened and resumed business without a hitch.  Calling the shuttle service for a ride from the airport to the hotel was very encouraging; they were busy and happy to have me.  There were airport delays and cancellations, but mostly in DC.  I thought I’d dodged a bullet.

“We’re not running shuttles on Friday until after noon” said the nasally-voiced man on the other end of the phone.  This would be my ride from the house to Love Field.  Amazing.  Philly got better than four times the snow Dallas had and yet I was going to miss a flight because I couldn’t get out of my house!!

Turns out my flight wasn’t going anywhere either.  So, I opted for Plan B which had me leaving Dallas on Saturday after Mike dropped me off.  No worries; I would miss the Friday night festivities but there was still Saturday and Sunday.

The airport was almost deserted.  The line for check-in was quick and painless.  The line for security almost too easy.  In no time at all I was buckled in my seat and ready for the short trip to Houston and the real flight to Philly.  Row five, aisle seat, nobody in the middle, sleepy lady in the window seat.  SWEET!!!  Doors locked, engines on, wheels rolling back and back and… stopping.  Wheels rolling forward.  WTH??!!!  We’re going the wrong way!!  Wheels stopping.  Flight attendant says there’s an indicator light that won’t go out.  My mind flashes with the scene from Madagascar II where the red fuel-indicator light is blinking:

Kowalski: Skipper, look.
Skipper: Analysis
Kowalski: It looks like a small incandescent bulb, designed to indicate something out of the ordinary, like a malfunction.
Skipper: I find it pretty and somewhat hypnotic.
Kowalski: That too, sir.
Skipper: Right. Rico, maunal! (catches the manual and smashes the bulb with it) Problemo solved.

Roughly an hour later I’m boarding my second flight of the day heading to Houston.  Luckily, I’ve got another great seat and I’m still stupid enough to think it’s going to be a great day.  You know, ignorance really is bliss.

The chatty flight attendant asks what I’d like to drink.  “A gallon jug of sweet iced tea, please.”  The flight attendant replies “hot tea” and when I start to protest informs me it’s a short flight, they’ve only got 30 seconds to get each order and still make sure we all get our drinks and if I want something I need to be direct.  I meekly reply that ginger ale will be fine, thanks.  The lady in the next row exclaims “I LOVE your watch” and the nasty piece of business taking drink orders blows a good three minutes of order time by explaining that it came from Target and she loves it too!!!

Landing in Houston we are told that, yes, we are flying on to Philly on the same airplane but, no, we are not allowed to stay on the plane while those passengers at the gate board.  Seems we aren’t the real passengers and they are so we must deplane and re-board in the order as dictated on our new boarding passes.

Oh.

Determined to maintain the idea that there is a silver lining in all this I do as instructed and, as amazing as it may seem, find my third just right seat of the day on row three, aisle seat, nobody in the middle, sleepy man seated at the window.  The doors lock, the engines roar and we begin the boring instructions regarding water landing when someone knocks on the hatch door…  eh?  You’ve got to be kidding me!!! Again, my twisted mind races to the scene of (insert the cartoon character of your choice) hanging on as the plane taxis down the runway.  Flight attendant stupidly reopens the door and the voice on the other side says they’ve located our missing passenger.  Uh…

Apparently the only time they won’t stop a plane is when I am the one that missed the call to board!!

Flight attendant informs me that I’m going to need to move to the center seat.  I inform flight attendant that what I really need is to pee and she explains that we’re pulling away from the gate.  Really?  That’s funny ’cause I’m pretty sure we’re waiting on a lost passenger.  When said passenger finally boards the flight his walker is the first thing across the hatchway.  The second thing I notice is a pee bag.

Somehow I’ve shot the finger at Karma again and didn’t realize it.

I decide that this is a test.  I am being tested to see if I can remain gracious and kind to an old man who is likely a war vet and certainly someone’s father.  I take my center seat and watch as he is being lowered into his aisle seat.  I practice my Kegels like a good girl and tell myself that it’s not so far to Philly really.  I’ve held it longer drinking beer…

The old man turns to me and says “Hot dogs and sauerkraut.”  I ask if he’s hungry and get no reply.  He fidgets with his pee bag hose.  I determine that Karma can have the other finger and pop in my iPod earbuds and attempt to fall asleep as we gain 30,000 feet and the bell ding-dongs.  The sleeping man at the window snores and his head rolls my way.  I’m lost in a fog of disgustingly bad breath.

I need another finger.

Somehow I managed not to hyperventilate while breathing through my mouth.  I felt sort of sad about the old vet but after he ordered a whisky I fully understood how he became lost and realized I was wasting perfectly good sympathy on the wrong guy.

Finally, I feel the plane begin its descent.  I am once again buoyed by the excitement of Midwinter and music and friends and beer (well, maybe not with the Zpack prescribed to rid me of the three week old cough) and begin to tidy my area for landing.  The landing gear drops and my spirits lift.  Then the landing gear pulls back up and the plane turns for the Canadian border.  WHAT??? I’m outta fingers here and running on damn little patience.

“Folks, this is your Captain speaking…” and of course my mind is now replaying the scene where King Julian is asking for his nuts on a silver platter.  Somehow even juvenile humor isn’t helping me now.

It was a bit “too crowded” below so we super-stress the aircraft up to an altitude that will afford us a chance to circle and try to land again.  Frankly, I saw our captain.  He looked pretty young.  I think he got cold feet.  If he does it again I’m going after him.  Karma be damned.

It is after 6:00 when I finally make it to the hotel.  I have missed a lot of great music but more importantly I’ve missed several people who came out for the one day and have left already.  My relationship with Karma is shredded.  My pits are overworked.  My eyes burn.  And to top it off the mountains of snow in the parking lot left no room for the shuttle to turn around and I’ve had to hoof it up from the lower parking area to the hotel lobby only to be met by a swarm of Indian (dots, not feathers) people who apparently don’t realize that there are other places to collect besides the front door!!

At last I am standing in front of my hotel room door.  I insert the key card and get a red light.  I turn the card over and try again.  And again.

Somehow, as I drag my bag back onto the elevator and push the “L”, all I can do is sigh.


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