I will start by saying I am going to refrain from referring to my wife as the General. Honestly, Treva has not been offended by the reference. In fact, I think she likes it because it provides the perception that I recognize her as a power broker. However, from time to time friends have commented they are uncomfortable with my using the term. They perceive it to be denigrating. Certainly, that has never been my intent.
Since perception becomes one’s reality, I’m choosing to drop the rank and simply refer to her by name or as my wife. Ours is a healthy loving relationship and the banter we exchange daily keeps us both on our toes. I will continue to report the facts and you can predictably count on the banter and the laughter.
Treva is pretty clever. She sent me a post around 11:00 p.m. Thursday night. She closed it with a smiley face. I smiled when I read it. She wrote, “Well since this is not Motel 6 and you aren’t coming home tonight, I am turning the porch light off. Embrace the adventure. It’ll be great blogging material.”
I should have entitled Friday’s post “The Longest Day.” As you may recall, yesterday’s blog chronicled the difficulty I experienced getting to Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. on Thursday for my flight back to Austin. As it turned out, the difficulty getting the airport was only a precursor of things to come.
Terminal “A” at Reagan is very small. It is located in a circular configuration and it was totally packed with people when I arrived. Did I mention that every seat in the place was taken? I guess you could say there was standing room only. People were sitting on the floor of the terminal. Personally, I wasn’t that brave. It looked like you could pose a fall risk to someone attempting to step over you. Of equal concern, someone could step on you. Okay, I admit it. At some level self-interest and safety becomes a variable to consider.
I looked around me at the crowded airport terminal with the thought that the common denominator we all shared was an innate resistance to being clustered together like a can of sardines. I’m not sure from whence came that thought. I can’t truthfully say that I’ve never eaten sardines and crackers, but I remember my dad occasionally ate them. I intuitively knew they were not for me.
I wish I had of had that same level of awareness concerning anchovies. It must have been late 1969 or early in 1970, Treva and I were living in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metropolis while I was in school. We opted to make a quick trip to visit family in Odessa. It was late on a Friday evening when we got as far as Abilene. Most restaurants were already closed, but we found a pizza place that was still open. I can’t remember if we picked out the ingredients for the pizza or if they were scripted on the menu, but our pizza came out covered with an over-abundance of anchovies. Prior to that night, I thought anchovies were a spice. How could I have been so wrong?
Thursday night’s experience reminded me of what it would have to feel like to be a fish shoaling with a lot of other fish in a very small aquarium. I also have no interest of being a “big fish in a small pond” so to speak. I am more of the mindset of Roy Rogers and the Son’s of the Pioneers singing, “Don’t Fence Me In.”
At some point there was a shift of people and a few seats opened up. In addition, I was able to negotiate a place to stand near a ledge where electrical outlets were available to charge electronics. Why not work on my blog for the next day? I was immediately lost in thought chronicling the day’s activities. At some point my train of concentration was broken. An announcement was being made over the intercom. Incoming planes were being diverted to Baltimore. Flights were going to be delayed for at least two hours because of a thunder storm in D.C. Actually, I welcomed the news. That would give me time to work on my blog.
At some point, I remember looking at my watch. It was 6:15 p.m. My flight should have left at 5:30. Then it hit me, I was standing at the gate for an outbound flight to Austin. Obviously, I had “STUPID” written all over my forehead. My scheduled flight was not direct to Austin. I had a connecting flight in Nashville. To say that my heart skipped a beat is an understatement. Had I inadvertently missed the outbound flight to Nashville? With a sense of panic, I quickly moved from the Austin gate to look for the Nashville gate. Fortunately, I am sure my blood pressure plummeted when I saw the Nashville gate was packed with people. I had not missed my flight. In fact, they were making another announcement concerning delays due to the weather.
Since the sense of panic related to possibly missing my flight dissipated, I did have a question about whether or not I’d miss my connecting flight. I got in line to talk with the travel agent. I wanted to make sure I’d get to Nashville in time for the scheduled departure. Finally, I was the third person in line from the agent. The man she was talking with appeared very upset. Actually, she wasn’t talking. The man was doing all of the talking. It was almost as though he was screaming. I almost felt guilty hearing bits and pieces of their conversation. He was really letting her have it. His arms were folded and body language said, “Smoking mad”!
I thought that the man needed social skills training. You never serve yourself well if you to talk harshly or loudly with a demanding tone. Chances are, you are going to lose the battle because someone in decision-making authority is being treated with something less than civility or respect. The travel agent didn’t mirror his demeanor, but she calmly held her ground. From what I heard of the conversation, the man was not departing on the flight he had hoped to be on.
Okay, I had two hours. Why not get something to eat? Guess what? Terminal “A” doesn’t really have anywhere to eat. There were several vendors with snack food, but nothing that appealed to me. The folks selling pieces of pizza looked like they were doing well. At least 40 people were standing in line. I wasn’t that hungry.
I took a short cut and opted to just buy a Snicker’s candy bar. Hopefully, there would be a better selection of restaurants in Nashville. I was surprised when the clerk said the price for the Snicker’s candy bar was $3.75. It may have been strictly coincidental, but I did get choked eating it.
As the evening wore on, the subsequent time for departure for both the Nashville flight and the Austin – direct flight got pushed back. I stood in line to talk with the ticket agent again. “No, I could not get on the Austin flight. My scheduled connection through Nashville was still good.”
You can probably imagine my surprise when the Washington-to-Nashville flight arrived four hours late. The airport looked deserted when I walked into the terminal. I quickly made my way to the monitor to look for the gate for the Austin outbound flight. It wasn’t hard to find since Atlanta was the only other city above it in the alphabetical line up. Actually, I blinked. There had to be a mistake. The next scheduled departure was 9:20 a.m.
I found a ticket agent and explained my plight. She couldn’t have been more pleasant. She handed me a printed boarding pass for the 9:20 a.m. flight. I calmly asked, “Do you have a suggestion what I should do in the interim?” She replied that since it was a weather delay, finding lodging would be my responsibility. Unlike the man in Washington who was “smoking mad”, I opted to do it differently. I calmly shared that I was confused since I had asked the travel agent in Washington twice about the Nashville connection and had been told it wouldn’t be a problem. I had even asked to be placed on the direct flight to Austin and was told I needed to stay with my original reservation.
The lady said, “I can certainly understand your position, but it really is weather related and that’s our policy. I very calmly replied, “I appreciate your giving importance to following agency policy. I wouldn’t ask you to violate it. Is there someone else I can talk with?”
She didn’t seem threatened by my request. She stated, “I agree with you. We should do something. You asked the gate agent in Washington the right questions and followed the instructions you were given.” She subsequently telephoned someone and got authorization to issue me a voucher for lodging near the airport. She suggested that I stop by baggage claim and pick up my luggage.
According to the man in baggage claim, no luggage arrived for me from Washington. He checked my claim ticket on the computer and said it was not in Nashville. He suggested they might have routed it on the direct flight from Washington to Austin. If there was an upside, the luggage was heavy. I won’t even go into the downside, you can only imagine.
Like my wife suggested in her text, I embraced the adventure and scripted the story. I can also tell you the experience was a first ever for me. I had never flown in the “C” group before. I don’t recommend it. It leaves you with too few options.
All My Best!