Two trips to the hometown in one year! Wow! I mean, wow. I actually mean, meh. No really, blah. So, to summarize the best/worst highs/lows of the trip, here we go.
Before I even left for the airport, six hours before my flight, my flight was delayed. The flight was already a late one at 7:00pm, now it was 7:30. When I got to the airport, they announced, “your plane will not be arriving until 8:00.” A very odd way to announce a delay, but that’s what they did.
The TSA experience on the way out wasn’t too bad (oh, just you wait for this one…). A couple new regulations (aren’t there always?) to deal with. Everything electronic larger than a cell phone must be taken out and all liquids must be out as well. Ok, no big deal, a couple of Kindles and shampoo. I went on with my life.
At my destination, I went to pick up my rental car at the ungodly hour of 11:30. When I went up to the counter, the agent just stared at me with a big smile on his face. I said, “Hi, I have a reservation” which seemed to break his trace and he said, “that… is awesome.” And I understood. It was my shirt – “Quattro Gato”. Basically, this image here on the right, colorized and duplicated four times over. The agent asked me if I liked cats, had a cat, what type of cat, etc. Naturally, cat people are awesome. And awesome cat people get… Mustangs! Or at least that’s what he believed. Me paying for the cheapest rental car, and wearing a cat shirt, means I get upgraded to the sports car category. I guess I’m ok with that.
I got my car in the lot. There are SO many goddamn buttons on the console and steering wheel. What the fuck. I don’t touch anything. I try to get GPS directions out of the airport to a familiar highway (I always take the wrong route), but my phone has no signal. Finally, I get a weak signal and a route. I leave the airport and immediately get in the wrong lane and miss the proper exit. GPS simply changes the route, without even scolding me with “ROUTE RECALCULATION!”. Not sure exactly how much time I lost in that, but I made it to the motel and fell into bed at 1:30am.
I thought I had everything planned out well for this trip, which meant little to no personal time for me. In the end, I had way too much personal time because my brother kept bailing on our plans. So I saw and did everything I could think of. That’s a very short list in a very small town. And I ended up sitting in my upgraded rental, parked downtown for extended periods of time.
Everything’s closed in the wasteland. The mall lost Sears and JCPenney anchor stores, leaving only The Bon Ton. I asked a couple people I visited, “where do you buy clothing?” The only options were KMart, WalMart, and the Bon Ton. One said Amazon, the other said the outlets (a 45 min drive). How can you live like that?
After only two days, I was ready to get back home. My outbound flight was at 3:30, a time where you either get to the airport super-early, or risk being late. I chose the former, since there was nothing else to do. I got to the airport, returned the car, and chilled in the airport lobby for an extended time, reading.
When I got up to get some lunch, I found out all the food was behind security, so I guess I’m going through security now. I was ready. I remembered the changed regulations, even though none of the agents were making announcements about it. Ha! I was ahead of the game. I put my laptop and kindle and shampoo in a tray and confirmed with the agent that was right. He said the laptop had to go in a tray by itself. Fine. Anything else? Shoes. Oh crap. How did I forget that? Shoes on the conveyor. Then over to the scanner.
I got chided last time about doing a body-building pose when they told me to lift my arms, so I kept it simple. I got out and the guard stepped in front of me. “Anything in your pockets?” I patted my pockets. Oh fuck. My phone. I usually put my watch and phone in my carryon while I’m in line. I forgot. I pulled out my phone and handed it to him.
“Anything else?” I patted again. I had my handkerchief, which I didn’t think was any big deal, my passport, which I sometimes have in my hand when I get scanned, and oh crap, coin change. I pull the change out sheepishly and hand it to him. “Anything else?” Ok, I’m stressing now. My passport? He takes that too. “Anything else.” Uh, a handkerchief? He has everything now. He calls for a bowl from the other agents and sends everything off to get scanned.
“So, you want me to go through again?” I ask. The agent replies in a very annoyed tone, “No. Since you had so many things in your pockets, you’re going to have to be patted down.” Ohhhh FUCK. The agent then goes into a very long and detailed description of all the different ways he’s going to feel me up. I’m somewhat in shock, so I don’t hear much of it. He asks if I want a private room or just do it here. I said here is fine, as if I give any sort of a shit right now.
I have to take off my belt (which should have come off earlier, I guess), and hold it. Not much to say. I got groped plenty around my balls and swiped and rubbed. That might be bad, but hey, they gotta do their job. But here’s the stupid thing. They wiped my hands with some sort of device that probably was checking for explosive residue or similar. Now, if I was a “t-word”, would I have been so stupid to leave my pockets full going through the scanner? Bad guys are smarter than that. I’m just an idiot, and you’re checking me for residue?
I pass with flying colors, gather my shit and get the fuck out of there. The experience ruined my day completely. I tried to eat lunch but ate very little. I wasn’t upset or scarred or anything. Just mad at myself that I was so focused on the details I totally forgot the basics.
The flight back was much less fun than the flight up. Much more turbulence and many more passengers. Two very large women in my row. Idiot children in front of me, and a baby across the aisle.
But I did make it home safe and my cat was thrilled to see me. That’s enough travel for a while, I think.