I Miss Your Heart…and the Body It’s In
That’s what the TSA agent at our local airport told me when he pulled me aside to pat me down. Yeah, little ol’ me in my dress shirt and pants, I posed a horrible threat to the wellbeing of the tiny commuter jet I was scheduled to get on. It wasn’t a big deal, though. A few pats, a look through my computer bag, and I was on my way. I think I know why I got picked, though. I didn’t take off my jacket or take my iBook out of its bag. Why not? I didn’t know I needed to as there was no instruction at the security checkpoint. I know now, though.
I bet you, my loyal reader, are wondering what I was doing in an airport all dressed up, huh? This past Friday I flew to Vegas. I was supposed to fly on Thursday, but Chicago decided to be a little bitch and keep me home another day.
So 0630 Friday morning saw me boarding a CJ200 to Denver, CO. The hour-and-a-half flight at 31,000 feet was my first ever. Yeah, I somehow made it to 25 without ever flying on a plane. It was a boring ride, really. I double-checked my last few web projects and wrote a bit of my novel. Oh, web projects. Yeah, I was flying out for an interview. Swanky, huh?
Denver was cold. But not amazingly so, just a bit nippy compared to the Arkansas I had just left. Sat in the terminal for an hour to catch my next flight, this one much bigger, to sunny Las Vegas. The AirBus…something…was packed. Another hour-and-a-half filled with SkyMall and ‘The Simpsons’ on tiny TVs that dropped from the ceiling and I was in Sin City. Strangely, there was plenty of color. Miller must not have been paying attention to this part.
Ever had to get a cab at the Las Vegas airport? First you have to walk past some ten thousand slot machines, take a tram to the main terminal, then walk in a queue for fifteen minutes. The cab driver didn’t know the address, so I had give turn-by-turn directions multiple times. But I got there pretty quick and he got a nice tip. Well, I guess it was nice. It was my first cab ride, too. Is $8 on a $27 fare good?
The building was awesome. New construction, still going on, even. The logo was big and stark against the building, a landmark that helped my cabbie quite a bit, actually. The elevator was a shiny stainless steel box…except for the plywood floor. Like I said, still under construction. Up to the 3rd floor and I pass through two massive steel doors. Totally awesome doors, by the way. Sit for a bit with the receptionist then I’m whisked off to interviews and lunch and more interviews and a tour.
Oh the place was awesome! Elaine has gotten me hooked on modern interior design and this place was full of it. Almost every room had me thinking “God, I hope I get this job so Elaine can see the place.”
Lots of hand-shaking and “thanks for having me out” and I’m back at the airport waiting for my flight back to Denver. Las Vegas’ airport is the only one that I was in that had free wifi (well, here might have had it, but I didn’t have time to try it). That alone is reason to go through Vegas for me!
Something was up, though. The flight didn’t get in until some 30 minutes late. By the time they emptied out the AirBus and its hold, cleaned the lavatories, and refueled, it was almost an hour late for boarding. Seating 1, seating 2, seating 3, seating 4 and I’m on the plane, my carry-on shoved under the seat in front of me, hoping we get to Denver quickly. “We’ll make up time in the air,” the pilot says.
So you’d think it’d be a faster flight, right? An hour instead of an hour-and-a-half. Maybe just 45 minutes. No, I think it was actually closer to two hours as we had to sit in line to take off. Did you know it takes awhile for seven other planes to take off? It does.
Also, the Denver airport must be a level of hell. Both times I landed there, I landed on the far west(?) end of the concourse. My flight was, of course, on the far east(?) end. I’m a young guy, but not knowing exactly where I’m going + shit-tons of people + shin-splintering stops after the moving walkways + painful dress shoes (even if there were softer slip-ons) == a long time between terminals. Oh, and did you know the TSA or FAA or whoever won’t let you on a plane less than fifteen minutes before takeoff, ticket or not?
So the plane was closed and I was stuck. OK, not too much of a problem, I’ll got to customer service and maybe there’ll be another flight tonight. If not to home, maybe to somewhere else that I can catch a ride home from. Chicago, Kansas City, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas…anywhere. Maybe?
The answer, I find out, is “no”. I only find that out after standing in line for a couple of hours, though. They could have just yelled that at everyone in line, really, since that seemed to be the default. We would have bitched and moaned less, probably.
Since I can’t go anywhere, and it wasn’t my fault the plane was late and I missed my connection, I get meal vouchers and put up in a hotel for the night. To get to the hotel, you have to go to the main terminal (halfway back through the concourse, down two flights of escalators, and two tram-rides away) and call the hotel from the courtesy desk. I get told what door to go through and what island to stand on to wait for the bus.
They really, really shouldn’t call them “islands” in Denver. Tropical words that evoke thoughts of bikini-clad islanders with poi and tattoos don’t even begin to describe a concrete slab in Denver in the middle of an early March night. Thirty minutes — or was it forty? — later and I’m on a bus with drafty windows speeding down the highway toward a hotel. There are no hotels next to the airport in Denver. None. You have to drive on the highway for some 20 minutes to find one. Well, I did see one near the ‘port on my way back, but it doesn’t count since I didn’t get to stay there.
OK, so I’ve been up since 0400 CST. It’s now around 2230 MST. I just want a warm meal, a warm bed, and maybe some mindless television. Reasonable, right? Well, I got 1.5/3. The hotel restaurant, and thus room service, closed at 2200. The deli is open, but I don’t find that out until I’m in my room and getting dressed again doesn’t really appeal to me. So screw the dinner meal voucher, I’ll just go to bed. Which, like everything else in Denver, is cold. At least the heater worked.
Know what sucks about traveling and being exhausted from running and line-standing and being hungry? You can’t sleep. At least I can’t. So I spend most of the night tossing and turning. I probably would have slept better if I had turned the heater back off, but, well, I’m lazy.
The morning came and I got dressed and back on the drafty bus. Which drove me from my hotel to another one, then back to mine, then to the airport. Some funky programming there in Denver, let me tell you.
A mile-long (to go with the mile-high city) security line later and I’m back in front of the same damn terminal that I missed my flight from the night before. Today, though, the marquees aren’t working so the workers are just writing signs that say the flight number, city, and departure time. These, of course, don’t get updated very often.
The flight is on time this time, though. We have to go out in the chilly morning to get on the stairway to get in the plane, but that’s not the worst thing ever. I settle down into this slightly-bigger-than-the-first-plane plane and start reading the novel I brought with me. An hour-and-a-half later I’m back in Arkansas, setting down on the runway.
A bit of family drama waits for me in the parking lot. Monkey has soiled himself in a grand fashion and is super-upset. Apparently he doesn’t like it when Daddy gets caught in Denver either. But now, a few days later, everyone is back to normal and safe and happy.
Happy? Oh yes, very happy. As of last night, when I emailed back my signature, I’m the Interactive Developer for an awesome advertising company in Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ll be moving in a couple of weeks, so things might be even more slow on the site than they have been. It’s a real move up for us, though, so it’s worth whatever craziness I had to, or will have to go through.
But I hope I never fly through Denver again.