Homeward Bound

With a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call to finish packing, drink a bit of coffee, and head toward the airport, I was on my way. Anna arose at the same ungodly hour to see me off, though she pointed out that it was 4:30 a.m. in Colorado, which is her normal time to wrangle her herd of nine cats. I would kill myself if I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. every day, holidays and weekends included.

The rental car arrived at its house with only one wrong turn because the navigator didn’t give me enough warning about the exit, but I only went a couple of miles out of my way. The “cheap” gas across from the rental place was something like $3.19 a gallon, but it was less than most of what we’d seen on our various tours.

Then I had to wait, and wait some more for the other customer who was taking the van to the airport. He was engaging in some animated discussion about a GPS that dragged on far longer than it should have. Interesting to note that all the employees at the rental place, including the van driver, were young Hispanic women. The customer was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, which I found scary since the temp was about 40 degrees – or at least that’s what it felt like. The rest of us were wearing several sensible layers.

The first leg of the flight from SFO to Philadelphia was pretty much uneventful. I had an aisle seat next to a young European couple. She slept for most of the trip while he watched the movie. The only excitement occurred when a disheveled young woman with her arm in a sling took a seat across the aisle from me. One of the women in her row yelled, “Are you sick?” The young woman replied quietly, no, she just had a broken arm and that she was in pain and very tired. The yeller donned a surgical mask which she kept on for the entire flight.

I had a couple of hours before the flight to Hartford, and things began to deteriorate as soon as I arrived at Terminal C, from which my flight departed.

I ate dinner at Sky Asian Bistro where the food was indifferent and the service truly horrific. I should have read the reviews before I dined, as I just noticed that someone else called the service horrific after I had written my description. Bet it was the same waitress. At least it doesn’t look like anyone got sick from bad sushi!

I ordered a seaweed salad and a three-roll combo from the very loud American waitress. The salad never appeared, and when I told her I didn’t want it, she tried to foist it on me as takeout. She spilled some sauce all over the food of the woman at the next table. The apology sounded utterly phony. And when the man at the table on the other side asked for more hot water for his tea it took forever to arrive. She yelled at him, “I have no control over it. I have to wait for the bartender.” I began to think she had a hearing problem, perhaps occasioned by the brutal house music blaring from the speakers.

I got to the gate about 45 minutes before the flight was due to leave and discovered that it had been moved across the hall. Mind you, this was USAir, the same airline that had stranded Larry and me in Charlotte, N.C., without luggage in an ice storm. When I approached the gate attendant about whether I’d have to check my bag (usually those short distance flights have little bin space) she glanced out at the tarmac and said she didn’t know. That’s when I realized they had probably combined two flights so they could squeeze in more people.

Sure enough, when we boarded 45 minutes late, I found it was a big plane, packed to the gills. I of course had the inside seat in the very last row. I can’t call it a window seat because there was no window. And I was trapped next to a young woman who was reading some kind of religious tract but was too large to keep her thighs in her own seat. We sat forever on the tarmac without explanation. The flying time is only about 40 minutes, but we managed to arrive more than an hour late. It was a relief to survive USAir without damage to life, limb, or luggage.


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