Staring at the big board, the faces contort across a spectrum from bemusement to irritation to disgust and despair. There’s a foot stomp, a couple-ah eye rolls and an occasional silent mouthed “f#$k.” The faces are black, white, brown, burka covered and often red as the 42” LCD’s turned on their sides deliver the news: “Cancelled”
My journey on AA is driving me to AA. My delayed Vegas flight caused a missed my 7:05 connection in Chicago and I didn’t make the stand-by cut for the 8:45. I now have a confirmed seat on a 10:25, but weather is delaying and cancelling flights all over the grid. I shouldn’t gripe, but you want me to. You know you do. You want me to rant and rail about how much airline travel sucks today and how I bitch slapped one apathetic employee after another who just doesn’t care anymore. I won’t and of course I didn’t. These poor folks are at the bottom of the corporate food chain, and every day they’re eating what makes lobster taste so good. Most of the airlines today are squeezing the life out of their people so they can squeeze out a few more points of margin to deliver to their shareholders. I’m not sure this is what Adam Smith had in mind. I think my days of customer loyalty to AA are over. The Southwest experience is so much better.
The Starbucks in the Vegas airport looked like the Baghdad Starbucks. It was open and items were out in the open for the taking. Behind the counter, it looked like it had been ransacked and abandoned with only trash and spilled coffee manning the station. I wanted to buy a water, but there was nary a soul to take my dinero. I placed the bottle back in the refrigerated case and then noticed a Starbucks-green clad human approaching at a very slow pace. “Hi. Can I buy this?” I asked the molasses paced 3rd shifter in a subdued 1am tone. “I don’t have any money, and those are cameras up there so if I give it to you I’ll get fired.” I see. I snailed my way down about ten gates to an open store and acquired the precious Aquafina, securely bottled in a petroleum-based plastic.
I’ve been up since 6:30 Pacific Time Tuesday. I guess that’s one more hour than a typical Jack Bauer day, but my day’s not done and is unlikely to end with me saving a city. I’d settle on getting to one. I did grab about 2 hours of z’s on zee plane. I would have likely achieved REM sleep had it not been for the woman I met in 19A. I don’t recall her name, but she works in publishing sales for a magazine targeted at nursing directors. She lives outside Grand Rapids, Michigan, has two younguns, a live-in nanny and a great marriage. It was a nice chat to pass some time before nappy-time.
I have no idea where to take this post, so I’ll take it where I want to go: home.
Update: We arrived at the gate 20 minutes early from Chicago then sat in the increasingly hot tube for 30 because they couldn’t connect the jetway. Upon entering the baggage area, there were hundreds of bags from the earlier flights and mine was among them. That was fun, as was finding my car after searching 4 different levels of Central Parking… Yeah, I forgot to write down my location. After searching for about 45 minutes, I asked a garage attendant. “Look at your receipt.” I don’t know how they tell you where you’re parked, but they do. Oh, and I got charged an extra $6 for the time I spent looking for my car!
Hours spent in airports and planes since 11pm Pacific Tuesday night: 12
Hours spent looking for my bag and car: 2
Memories of my worst business trip ever: Well, you know the drill.