Monday, December 05, 2011

Peter's Travels: Thanksgiving 2011

I flew the family out to Maryland for Thanksgiving. The flight to Houston was bumpy but not scary; the flight to Baltimore was fine. We got to the BWI car rental complex, then things started to suck. First, Mrs. Peter noticed that one of the bags I had grabbed from the carousel was the wrong one, as we were getting off the shuttle from the airport. I had to take the shuttle back to the airport, wait for some attendant to show up, be embarrassed for being such a dumbass, then take the shuttle back. (In my defense, Mrs. Peter had the brilliant idea to tie bandanas to our two suitcases--a red one on the red case, a lilac/purple one on the dark blue case. The bags I grabbed had the red and purple bandanas on them, but the dark blue bag was the wrong one. The bandanas were identical; the bags were not. Yes, I should have checked the numbers, but the bags were right next to each other. The attendant promised me she'd extend my apology to the other unfortunate soul who thought a purple bandana was a good idea..) We got past the counter alright, having reserved and paid for the car on-line, but when we got to the car, there were no child safety seats in or near it. Back inside.

The lady at the counter got on her radio and tried to talk to William or somebody who was supposed to have dealt with the seats. She got no response, so she got on the PA to get his attention. He must've been high or sleeping or both; there was no sign of or word from good old Mysterious Disappearing William. One of the counter ladies took it upon herself to get the seats for us. She brought us one that was missing some parts, then another that was soaking wet. After twenty minutes of a fruitless, futile search, she came back and said she had to go borrow one from Avis. That one was okay, if somewhat ghetto compared to the ones we have at home, so Mrs. Peter installed it, then we put the boys in and rolled out.

We were on the BW Parkway when I noticed an alert on the dashboard telling me tire pressure was low. WTF? I thought they were supposed to check stuff like that. I got off the parkway and spent 75 cents for air at a gas station. All four tires were at least 10 psi low; one was down 25! Crap! My family's safety is of paramount importance to me, so I didn't mind too much making sure all was right. Spoiler alert: That last sentence is foreshadowing...

Our stay in MD was great; everybody got along, and we ate and drank very well for eight days. On our way back, on the flight from BWI to Houston, we found ourselves across the aisle from one of those scraggly OWS types. He sniffled and sneezed a couple of times; he didn't even acknowledge my blessing, which I conferred on him despite the fact that he didn't do very much to contain his expulsions. The flight attendant (or a recording) announced that it was time to turn off all electronic devices. Stinky, scruffy, snot-nosed scofflaw decided that it did not apply to him. As the flight attendant made her way down the aisle, I made a point of pointing him out to her. She reminded him to turn his Nano and Crackberry off; he grunted his assent and went right back to texting!

I thought for a minute about what this could mean. I've heard there's no proven danger in using these devices on a plane, but I had put mine away in accordance with the rules. Was this guy a terrorist? I did not want to take the slightest chance with my family's well-being, so after about another minute I leaned over and remarked, "You gonna turn that shit off?" I must have said it pretty loud and forcefully, because people several rows up turned around to see what the fuss was about, and I'm sure I heard at least one old lady gasp in astonishment. He grunted assent again and tapped some more on his device.

I started to get really upset; I thought to myself, "What would Corky do?" I was planning to roll all Walker Texas Sky Ranger on his sorry ass: punch to the nose, knee to his jaw... I was wondering how many of his teeth that second blow would knock out, and if the authorities would throw him or me off the plane, when he shut all his shit off and defused my powder keg. He has no idea how close he came to having a very bad day--two hundred pounds of pissed off Irishman looking to protect his family is not something anyone should trifle with. The rest of that flight went off without incident.

The flight from Houston home was delayed for over half an hour due to some unspecified staffing issue. The flight attendant apparently couldn't make it (on time?), so we had to wait for the airline to get it straight. I imagined that the flight attendant was trying to take advantage of her fifty-something-year-old pilot lover's Cialis-induced priapism; who knows? [The TV spot advises men to see their doctor if that should happen (an erection lasting over four hours). I don't know; I think first I would go see Alice and Beth and Cindy and Delilah and Elaine and....]

I was not sure whether to view our flight attendant as a villain or a hero--was she the one running late for no apparent good reason, or was she the unselfish stand-in for the other? I figured I had had my day's fill of assuming the worst of people; she got the benefit of the doubt and the most polite treatment from me that I could muster.

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