I am home from my trip to Texas, and if there’s anything I’ve learned in my half-dozen years of blogging, it’s that the crappy and embarrassing experiences are far more interesting than the good ones, for the most part. So although it was a fabulous trip and I got to hang out with people I love and met a slew of new, cool folks, you don’t care about any of that, right? (Although: How much do I love Karen Walrond? SO MUCH. She worked her camera magic, and when I saw my own face looking back at me in her Beautiful Faces of Mom 2.0 post I gasped. Karen is lovely inside and out, and I feel and am prettier when I’m with her. LOVE.)
More importantly, though:
1) Now that I’m home, I’m sick as a dog. OF COURSE.
2) I remembered why I sort of hate flying.
3) I am waiting for the TSA to come arrest me. So that’s fun.
It all started last week, before I left. I was flying Airtran, because I’m cheap, and they allow you to check in online and print out your boarding pass at home, which is awesome. Except that on Wednesday I discovered that my printer was printing garbled, barely-gray print, and I decided that it needed a new ink cartridge before I could print my boarding pass. I was feeling extremely smug about it because I actually happened to HAVE another ink cartridge on hand, which NEVER happens.
The first problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to open the printer to GET to the cartridge. And then I was able to open it, but I couldn’t get the cartridge OUT. Once I finally extracted the cartridge, I realized that it felt plenty full… like, still sloshy kind of full. So I shook it up and put it back. And proceeded to start through the “troubleshooting” options the readout offered me.
Yes, my printouts are gray and blurry, I told it. It informs me that the printer heads might be misaligned, and that it could realign them for me. So it printed out a page of weird code and then made me tell it which line looked the best, after which it made a whole lot of noise and informed me that everything was great, now. So I went ahead and printed my boarding pass, only now instead of being gray and blurry it was so faint it was illegible.
So I went back through the troubleshooting menu, refusing to respond to the ominous I CAN’T LET YOU DO THAT, DAVE that issued forth, and told it that yes, my printouts are faint! Well, it said, clearly the nozzles need cleaning. Please wait. I waited while it made a terrific racket, and then after it was done I printed my boarding pass. Which was still illegible.
So I saved my boarding pass as a PDF and made my husband print it out for me, because I am smart. Fine.
Thursday I got to the airport and made it through security in record time and then boarded the airplane just in time to watch a large group of men who were seated in the back of the plane bring their luggage up front and put it in the overhead bins in the business class area. A flight attendant saw them do it and smacked them down ruthlessly and efficiently, and they came back up, retrieved their bags, and then put them in the bins as far forward as possible that weren’t in business class. Meaning, they filled up all the bins near where I was sitting. So, I was seated in row 14, but the nearest available bin for me was back in the 20s.
WHY these gentlemen seemed to feel their bags belonged somewhere other than where they were sitting, I have no idea. I asked another flight attendant for assistance and she looked at me like I had 12 heads and told me just to put my bag further back where there was room. Thanks, lady.
Bag situated, I went and sat down. And after a few minutes a lady came and sat down beside me. Except she didn’t so much sit as she disassembled; she took off her coat, she shoved her earrings into her purse, she shoved her purse under the seat in front of her, she unwound a scarf, she rearranged things in her tote bag, she brushed her hair; she did fifteen different things, it seemed like. And then she realized she was in the wrong seat and got up and moved.
Then a flight attendant came along and started talking to the three men seated in the row across from me, and offered the man in the middle the seat next to me so that they could “spread out a little.” He agreed, enthusiastically, and once he moved into the seat next to me I could see that his beard was painted on. PAINTED ON. Sure, he had a little actual scruff, but he also had what looked like someone had taken a bottle of black shoe polish and drawn a line from one ear, down his jaw, across his chin, and back up to the other ear. I couldn’t stop staring. I was MESMERIZED. But then the flight attendant went away and came back and took him somewhere else, leaving me alone again.
Other passengers were looking at me and giggling. “Did I forget to put on my deodorant today?” I asked no one in particular, a little too loudly. There were a few more giggles and then people stopped staring. We flew to Houston without further incident, and I enjoyed having the extra space next to me. (Though after we landed I did duck into a bathroom and reapply my antiperspirant.) I made Angry Eyebrows at the guys who’d moved their luggage way up front when I had to work my way back to my suitcase, but whatever.
Fast forward a couple of days, and it’s time to print out my return boarding pass. So I go to the concierge at the hotel and ask them if they have a business center where I can do that, and the nice lady behind the desk offers to print it out for me. See, this is why the Four Seasons is so swanky—their boarding passes print out flawlessly the first time. I thanked her and went on my merry way.
The morning of departure, I realized I had a problem. I hadn’t checked my bag on the way in, nor did I have any desire to check it in the way back. But after countless hours of discussing curly hair issues over Instant Messenger, Karen not only took some lovely photos of me in Houston and proved to be an awesome tour guide, she’d also brought me some hair product she’d deemed insufficient for her hair but that she thought might work for me. In fact, she’d brought me the entire bottle. A bottle which was way more than the legal 3.4 ounces allowed on board the plane.
Airtran charges $15 to check a bag. The bottle of hair product Karen gave me costs $12. It was simple math, really.
I packed my suitcase, then put the bottle of curl spray into my purse. I figured it wasn’t impossible that a person could stick such a thing in one’s purse and forget about it, and if it was flagged I would surrender it. No big deal.
Well, the security line going back through the airport on Sunday morning was insane. I’d gotten there plenty early (thank goodness) but it was very crowded and the security people didn’t look like they were having much fun. I figured I was going to be nailed and in my head I practiced saying, “Oh my gosh! I totally forgot I had that. I am SO sorry. Please, just throw it away. My apologies.”
I was still practicing when I walked through the scanner and my bags unceremoniously plopped off the conveyor belt in front of me.
My first reaction was: WOOHOO I DID IT! AM A ROCKSTAR LAW-BREAKER!
My second reaction was: Um, what else got missed in the security scan that’s now being taken onto my flight…?
I guess you could say it was kind of a bittersweet moment. (Hey, at least I could rest comfortably with the knowledge that if terrorists blew up my plane, at least I’d go down with my hair looking really nice.)
Once on the plane, I found myself in the middle of a seating dilemma that involved someone sitting next to me because someone was in his rightful seat, but then they switched around, but then it turned out that neither of them were assigned to the seat next to me, but then someone else entirely came along and took that seat and proceeded to loudly call someone on his phone to report that the security line was ridiculously long and he’d almost missed the flight and man, he was still trying to catch his breath, you know? Later he offered me a piece of gum. I offered him some curl spritz.
But now I’m home and snot-filled (you’re welcome) and really looking forward to not getting on another plane for a while. I think it’s time to retire from my (brief) career as a smuggler—it seems to have taken a lot out of me.