July 22nd, 2002


Beach Weekend, Part I

Spent the weekend at the beach with the momz. While this resulted in my missing the 4th annual Frankenfest, I did have a great time. Par for the course, however: the getting there was far more eventful than the being there. Shall I begin?

Friday afternoon my flight was at 3:30. Arrived at National at 2:30 and was checked in and ready within ten minutes. Was "randomly" chosen to be searched at the gate and after putting my shoes back on, walked out the gate door only to walk right onto a shuttle bus that was taking us, much to my surprise, to a *propeller* plane waiting on the tarmac. I was the second to last person who managed to squeeze onto the non-ventilated diesel bus, and after driving us all of twenty feet to the airplane, we stop and wait because our stewardess is late and we for some reason cannot board until she is there. Fifteen stodgy minutes later, I'm off the shuttle and run into an old friend from college working as a traffic director on the runway. What are the odds.

Arrived in North Carolina with little fanfare, but I will say, for a place that people tend to use their cell phones rather frequently, you'd think they'd put a Sprint tower close enough to Raleigh-Durham International Airport so that a signal could come through there. Mom and I head east to Wrightsville Beach and stop at what she has learned is the last exit for over an hour that has any restaurant other than a McDonalds for dinner. There was a thirty-minute wait for the Cracker Barrel, so we went across the street to the mysterious Smithfield's Chicken and Barbeque, and were pleasantly surprised by the quality cooking we were served.

She and I stopped at the Food Lion to pick up some Bartles and James' and stuff for the next morning's breakfast. She and I wandered around the store, picking up snacks and bottles of water and made our way to the checkout line. Mom says "so...you want to get some trashy magazines?" I say sure, and we pick up a People and an Us. I start unloading our stuff onto the conveyor belt and mom says "so..." and sheepishly looks down and starts picking at her fingers "...you wanna get some cigarettes?"

My mother. Cigarettes. I have smoked in varying frequency since I was about sixteen and have hid it from her with 90% success since. She smoked when I was around eleven and at the time I used to draw skulls and crossbones on her cigarettes just like the kids on sitcoms and stuff. Then I became a teenager and whenever I came home reeking of smoke (it was *soo* smoky in that pool hall, mom. You could see the cloud hanging from the ceiling), she'd say, "I would think the girl who used to campaign against me smoking would know better." Suddenly, mom wants a pack of smokes. And she was specific about it too: she wanted Marlboro Lights 100's. Apparently, she was hanging out with some of her friends and one of them is a smoker and she, like many of us, was reacquainted with the reality that drinking is better when you smoke. First the Osbournes, now this. She amazes me every time.
  • Current Mood
    lazy lazy

Beach Weekend, Part II

Saturday was spent lounging on the beach, swimming and lounging some more. Mom's friend came out for the afternoon and the three of us got in our low-to-the-ground beach chairs and parked them right where the water was ebbing. As the tide rose, the water got deeper and soon we were being washed up to our waists with every wave and getting knocked over, so we'd pick the chairs up and move them back a few feet every once in a while. Great relaxation. Mom and I had the exact dinner that we were hoping for at this steakhouse, came back to the hotel, drank some more wine coolers and crashed early. Sunday we checked out of the hotel, did some more beach lounging, hit a beach crap store on the way back to Raleigh, showered, and got me to the airport an hour before my 6:50 flight. Here's where it gets frustrating.

Check in to the flight, no problem. I was booked on what I was told was the last available flight out of Raleigh into National on Sunday night, but it had an hour layover in Charlotte. However, while walking around the terminal waiting to board, I found a direct flight to National. I asked if I could get on standby for it, but she said since the two flights left at the exact same time, if I missed out on the standby, I might miss out on my flight and be screwed.

My flight chose to search more people (myself included) than time allowed, thereby through no one's fault but their own, delayed the flight by about twenty minutes. I also noticed that boarding that flight and the one I took in, the only people who got randomly searched were 18-30 year old young people and older women. In the interest of salvaging some sort of efficiency, they have the woman run me over with the metal-detector wand while I'm waiting for someone to free up to check my bags.

Life Lesson: Airport Security "Officers" have no sense of humour. He mumbles the obligatory, "may I search your bags?" and I say, "okay...as long as we can go back to your place later and I can go through your drawers." Apparently this flopped joke got me, and I quote, "this close to keeping you off the plane" (include your own thumb-and-index-finger measure here).
  • Current Mood
    calm calm

Beach Weekend, Part III

Once I got onto the plane after being tied up with Funny McLaughsalot, I find that there is no more room in the overhead compartments anywhere near my seat, so I'm reduced to putting them about six rows back. There are two different times listed on my E-ticket and my boarding pass for the flight from Charlotte to DC--8:10 and 8:40. I grow more and more concerned that the delay, combined with the fact that I will have to wait for the majority of the plane to unload before I can get my bags, may strand me in Charlotte if the next flight does in fact leave at 8:10.

Turns out the correct flight time was 8:40, and they delayed it ten minutes to make up for our self-inflicted delay in Raleigh. Traveling, particularly by air, leaves me with this strange sensation in my stomach that may very well be mild nausea, but I always dismiss it as hunger. I picked up a Burger King Veggie Burger (but they're still better in England for some reason) from the Burger King that time forgot. Or at least the supply clerk. They were out of diet coke. When I asked for a diet coke, what I considered a reasonable request, the cashier looked at me and rather sternly corrected me, "we don't have diet coke. Had she explained that they were simply out of diet coke, I probably would have refrained from the "bizarro hick world" comment and would not have asked her why they have a fountain for diet coke if they don't have it. While someone two or three customers ahead of me is reading out their order, a guy in the kitchen yells "fries is out!", and the cashier tapes a laminated sign to the register that says "we apologize for the inconvenience, but we are temporarily out of fries blah blah we will give you onion rings blah." They had a LAMINATED SIGN behind the cash register that says they're out of fries. This happens enough for them to LAMINATE it.

Board the plane. Apparently 18-30 year olds are immune from search in Charlotte, but old women are not. Find my (center) seat and begin looking for a spot to put my bag in the compartment. I bend down to pick it up just as a guy also in the aisle jerks his elbow upward and he clocks me square in the eye. The pain of impact and the confusing stress of the situation and the day nearly bring me to tears. He says, "hey...I didn't do it on purpose." I said I understood that but it didn't stop it from hurting. I guess I was more pissed at the possibility of having a black eye because it stopped bothering me when a more immediate problem arose.

The airplane cabin, quite like the shuttle bus from friday, was not being filled with conditioned air. The pilot acknowledged this and said that as soon as we got moving, it would kick in. We prepare to back away from the gate, the TV screens drop and the safety movie begins playing. The plane stops, the TVs retract, and the air conditioning is still not on. The pilot comes on the loudspeaker again and says that he's having a "little trouble getting the engine started" and that we were going to use an auxiliary power source to start it while we were at the gate so that it would be going once we hit the runway.

Our fears of a crashing death were not assuaged by the clouds of foul-smelling smoke that began filling the cabin. An airplane mechanic came on board to check out the situation, and concluded, as the pilot informed us, that the smoke was coming from the outside power source that we were using to get the engines started and again, once we were moving, it would be okay. Just sit tight and we'll get this mechanical failure sorted out and on our way.

A few passengers trickled up to the front of the plane and asked to be taken off of it and booked on another flight. The captain promised that the repairs would only take a few more minutes (we by now had waited forty) and it would be in our best interest to just wait it out. More passengers asked to wait out the repairs off the plane as the smoke was making them sick. The captain comes on again and says "if you would like to wait out the repairs at the gate, you can deplane if you want to."

Nearly everyonestands up and begins removing their stuff. He comes on the intercom again and says that he really thinks we should just wait in the plane, but a few minutes later, he comes to the conclusion that we probably shouldn't take the smoke-filled plane that needs a jump, and we all get off. I head to the nearest bar, bum a cigarette off someone and order what turned out to be a $2.45 diet coke (Note: while National Airport has signs around that say the prices of their concessions are competitive to businesses outside the airport, Charlotte Airport does not). They decide that an entirely new plane will be needed, and once they can find a free one, we'll be informed as to which gate we'll have to move to. A new plane arrives, a new gate is found, and my 8:40 flight takes off at 11:20.
  • Current Mood
    accomplished accomplished