Ruminations from The Road

These entries will be snippets and observations from the road trip I took with my brother last week. We covered 1600 miles, five states and every subject under the sun. I'll post these as long as I can remember them. Enjoy...

Entry Eight
Kyle dropped me off at the St. Louis airport Sunday morning so I could begin my long day traveling home. My flight had a scheduled layover in Tampa before delivering me to Jacksonville where I would then drive the two (plus) hours home to Tallahassee. The small airport was a madhouse. People were finding any place they could to sit, lie down or lean against a wall. I walked to my gate, made sure the flight was still on time and began my search for a place to wait the hour before boarding.

All airports have one annoying characteristic that I would love to know the origins of: they all blare CNN 24/7 in the waiting areas. (What is this, 1984? Do we have no choice but to listen to the announcements of Oceania? I do not understand why they can’t have a Bloomburg-type screen broken into quadrants, quietly displaying news, sports scores and Wall Street tickers. Unobtrusive yet informative. But I digress...) This particular morning in this particular airport the televisions were loud. So loud that there was no fringe area to get away from the blasting of Sunday morning talking heads. And this particular morning they were discussing the economy and the near “recession” and our countries inevitable stumble toward “another depression.” I looked around. There were no seats in the airport and barely any floor space. This was the fourth airport I had been in over the last week and every airport was just as busy. The irony was not lost on me. (Besides, I was no economics major but I know that a recession happens when the country suffers two straight months of negative economic growth. We haven’t even had one yet... but I rant. There is more to the story and I should get on with it before I burst into flames.)

The more the heads on the television yelled their inane commentary, the more aggravated I got so, instead of yelling at the screen (like I do at home), I pulled out my iPod, popped in my earphones and got lost in some music of my choosing. At eleven a.m., I noticed the line forming at my gate, preparing for my flight that departed at 11:20. I put my things away, found my boarding pass and queued up, entered the plane and found a seat in the back. (It was a Southwest flight—no assigned seats). I was jarred from my usual ignoring of the mundane pre-flight rituals of the airline staff when they welcomed all of us to “Southwest flight 85 to Louisville.” What? I looked around and no one else seemed alarmed at this news. Unfortunately, the door was closed and we were preparing for departure. I was heading to Kentucky and it was CNN’s fault!

Apparently there had been an announcement in the terminal about a different flight using our gate and I had missed it trying to drown out the babbling T.V. I eventually found out the flight was going from Louisville to Tampa so at least I would end up in Florida at some point. Minimally, that helped quell the panic. After we landed in Louisville, I confessed to an airline attendant my mistake and, at first, she seemed nonplussed, assuring me that we would be landing in Tampa in time for my connecting flight to Jacksonville but she would double check for me before we departed. Then the ramifications of what happened seemed to finally reach her brain and she realized that I had just flown on a completely full flight, had my boarding pass scanned, occupied a seat and not one Southwest employee seemed to notice. She asked to see my boarding pass and then had me wait as she scurried off to pow wow with other personnel on the plane. She returned and quizzed me some more about “how I got on the plane” and I finally said, “Listen, you guys can have a staff meeting about your security issues tomorrow. I just need to know if I can make my connecting flight to Jacksonville.” She assured me I would and I hurriedly found an empty seat in the bulkhead before the new passengers started scrambling for seats. I wanted to be first off the plane when it landed. I was ready to get home.

This photo of the dogs displaying Penelope's balletic urinating stance has nothing to do with this post. Or does it?...

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