The flight this am was interesting. As we boarded onto the Delta 738 flight, I sat near a woman who I later found hailed from Buffalo. We spoke very little over the first few hours, mere niceties, Spartan courteous comments about the in-flight movie (an excellent film, August Rush) or the turbulence.
Silence is golden.
The seat next to me was occupied by a cliché—a very heavyset woman in a flower print muumuu. Her right arm was at the perfect rib-jabbing height, and I consequently held my own awkwardly over the next 3 hours, as well as a slight grudge with her over her ease at relaxing amidst my discomfort. Thankfully, Mrs. Buffalo was understanding in her taciturn nature, and adjusted enough in her seat to view the ceiling mounted LCD display where our movie was playing. I took some of her space, my elbow claiming the armrest.
We landed, and I had my only conversation with muumuu lady for the entire flight—the touch down was rough, and upon her comment, I laughed with her and made mention of how nice it was to get a free roller coaster ride. As soon as we stopped, she stood and I lifted her previously claimed armrest and took the previously occupied chair over, amoeba-like.
I made small talk with Mrs. Buffalo as we waited for the cabin to empty (we were situated on row 31 of 36 on the 738), our exchange of four sentences revealing she was from Buffalo and was headed home. Finally the aisle cleared and I bid her safe travel.
I met up with my colleague Jeremy Larsen (who I realized, despite the early-flight-rush stupor fo this am, is married to an old friend from Nephi—what a small world), and we walked to a bookstore so I could buy a couple of paperbacks by Frank Herbert. He’s a recent discovery for me, his 40-year-old writing about the world of Dune fresh and new. After the bookstore, we made our way to a sit down restaurant called Max & Ermas. The chain is somewhat of a Cincinnati staple. I found the ambience agreeable with its tarmac views and pilot memorabilia on the walls. I had an excellent fish sandwich, the daily special (which I never pick and always feel a tad guilty about since the waitresses spend the time rattling it off), my colleague had a blue cheese hamburger. We hastily ate, hastily paid and ran for the terminal, only to arrive (albeit unknown to us at the time) outside the boarding time for flight DL6313 to Raleigh. Delta states we must be on board 6 minutes before the flight leaves. Plan ahead people! The doors were shut and I should’ve known something was fishy, but instead I answered a more basic call and went to the bathroom, as I detest the necessity of using a toilet at 21000 feet. Man wasn’t made to poop mid-flight like a bird.
After voiding said bowels, I sensed something was amiss, mostly due to a change in the destination on the marquee above terminal A22 instead of any innate sense and it’s subtlety. The flight hostess at the desk was not pulling a joke on me when she informed me we’d missed our flight, as I was initially wont to believe. She was in somewhat of a bit of ill humor, but upon viewing my incredulous face, had compassion on us. She steered us to a courtesy booth between gates A3 and A4. Thankfully, the lady behind that booth (who was walking out the door, presumably for home—she sounded ill) was very helpful and helped us to get re-booked for a 4:45 flight to Raleigh. She helped us with narry a comment or condescending eye, and I wished her well in her getting over her cold. She seemed genuinely surprised that I noticed she was suffering from a stuffy nose and responded very brightly when I noticed.
We walked now, a bit abashed now at our previous Hollywood-esque run for the airplane, for the C terminals. Our flight was no longer located in the A terminals, instead we had to cross to the far side of the airport. We caught a shuttle and rode the tarmac at bug eye level to the taxiing planes. Very cool. I like to think it was a heightening of the overall experience, something I would've missed out on had we been on time. The C terminals were all at ground level, and we got to walk out to the smaller ERJ plane, like reinacting a scene from Hawaii Five-O (minus the leis and the grass skirts, and also the baggage handler smelled like mushrooms and had a look on his face like he wanted to hurt me).
The smaller plane accelerated and decelerated faster, it also had prevalence for bouncing across the rougher air pockets. The up side was that I now had a barf bag (the bigger 738 didn’t), and a couple of copies of Sky and SkyMall to read. There's nothing quite like imagining how I’d look under that cool LED lit sunshade while bouncing at 21000 feet above the earth’s surface.
We got to the Raleigh/Durham International Airport without any incident; in point of fact the landing was downright smooth. The pilot was pleased with the flight and he met all the passengers at the door to greet them with a little southern hospitality and wish us well in our trip to the area. We found our bags without any trouble, and even picked up the rental car without any trouble (amazing considering the last business trip I went on had a two hour delay in both those departments, damn LaGuardia). The absolute bonus of it all was when the Avis guy asked if a two door would be OK. I was amiable to say the least, and he gave us a convertible Chrysler Sebring. Score! We drove to the hotel with the top down and 75 degree air whipping past.
Thus far the trip has been a success. The glitch in missing our flight was not a problem at all. The check in with the TGA, the rental car, the hotel, everything has gone off without a hitch. And to top it all off, I get to be in a city/state that is experiencing a full-on late spring feel, complete with spring peeper frogs calling, 70 degree balmy humid air, actual leaves on the trees and a great bunch of people at NetApp.
What more could a guy in training ask for? OK...maybe one of those LED lit hammocks that also trim off excess nose hair from the SkyMall catalogue.