Hello Virtual Travel Buddies; oh how I’ve missed you so. I know that in my recent article The End. . . ? I sort of said goodbye. Still, there was that question mark. Was it my fear of commitment? Perhaps. More-so, it was a battle between my fear of not honoring our contract, and my desire to continue the project as well as providing some useful travel info. while story-telling, with a touch of snarky humor mixed in. Drop Me Anywhere (DMA) was begun as an interactive travel reading and writing site. It’s a partnership between me and you, the readers and voters of Drop Me Anywhere (also known as my Virtual Travel Buddies or, VTB’s, for you newbies). What I’ve found is that I miss you. And it’s been really lovely to find out that many of you also miss me. I received comments and messages from people wondering why I wasn’t planning to continue to write on DMA and asking me to write about the experience of returning to the U.S. after traveling around the world for nearly ten months. It’s also exciting that, even after publishing that article, some new Virtual Travel Buddies have joined us by subscribing to DMA. As I explained in that recent article, I am a writer and, therefore, I must write.
So here’s the deal; Drop Me Anywhere will continue. Since the last vote, I’ve traveled to Mexico, Chicago and Phoenix, and am now on a plane to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Drop Me Anywhere will continue with stories, advice and information about traveling. I’ll also include the funny stories, conflicted feelings and random observations about returning, if only for short periods, to the U.S. And watch out for future votes on locations and other things for which I require decision-making assistance. Of course any great volunteer opportunities I encounter will, as always, be featured on Rebel-With-A-Cause.org. While the articles might not be as frequent as previous Drop Me Anywhere trips – I am, after-all, a bit busy writing the book – they will be just as snarky.
So, now I continue the story about traveling from Chicago to Phoenix which was originally published on My Own Adventure – on which I’ll continue to share my snarky observations on the non-travel-related world.
By the way, it sure is nice to chat with you again.
When I arrive at my gate I wait in line for the desk agent to arrive. Another gentleman is ahead of me and we chat while waiting. The gate agent arrives and, both myself and the man in front of me being frequent flyers and knowing better, wait three-steps back from the counter understanding that we need to allow her to get settled in or we will have no chance in reaching our individual goals when we actually speak with the agent. Others don’t quite understand this and, though we gently protest, they step in front of us, lean on the counter and attempt to get the agent to help them as they’re told by said agent that she’s not quite ready to assist them. They continue to talk as if to say, “But you obviously don’t mean me.” I, and the man in front of me, simply stand there and snicker.
When the agent is all tucked-in and the man in front of me is taken care of, I step up and, by some miracle, she’s able to issue me a boarding pass for the USAir flight I’ll connect to, but she cannot change my seat assignment which I’ve not had a choice in since I booked the flight. Within minute, an announcement is made that the incoming American Airlines flight is late and, therefore, my outbound flight will be delayed. Through the man I’d chatted with at the counter, I find out that USAir and American are in two different terminals at LAX and, therefore, I must go through security again when I land in LA. So glad USAir and American merged as it’s so much easier than. . . aw, just forget it. I choose to check my carry-on bag as, due to my delayed inbound flight, as well as changing terminals and getting through security with my apparently explosive hands and backpack (see The Story Continues), in order to stand a chance in hell of making my next flight.
Eventually I board my flight and take my seat, not in my preferred window-seat, but in an aisle seat as the gate agent was able to move my seat up towards the front of the plane so I can make a speedy exit once we arrive and stand a fighting chance at making my connection as long as security doesn’t, once again, assume I’ve been working with the Coyote at the ACME TNT factory in hot pursuit of the Road Runner.
I sit and observe the Americans; again, I’m now observing as an outsider. Who are these funny people and why do they complain so much? Though he appears to be American, the man next to me apparently does not understand English as he continues to check his E-mail long after they’ve requested that phones be put into airplane mode and we’re taxiing towards the runway. He slips it between his legs while he scrolls through, assuming we can’t see, just like a kid who closes his eyes and shouts out, “I’m invisible!” A few minutes after take-off he finally puts away his phone while pulling a large Monster Energy Drink out of his bag because, apparently, this sitting still in a cramped seat for three-and-a-half hours will take lots of energy. As we’re now in the air and he’s put away his phone, I’m pretty sure that, like the germy -lady who looked over my should as I was writing and she was spreading her cooties, only to infect me with her nasty cold (read Virgin Germs), this guy is also looking over my shoulder. (Hello, Mr.! How are you enjoying the flight so far?)
As the gate agent assisted me in moving further up towards the front of the plane in order to expedite my deboarding (is that a word?) process, I’m now seated in Premium Class. This means that, though the large man next to me seems to take up half my seat, my knees are only hitting the seat in front of me and not pressed up against my ears. In moving me forward, she likely saved lives as, if I have limited time to catch my next flight, I might have to mow-down any of those dawdlers who seem to forget where they put their carry-on bag, need to don their coat, turn on their phone, call their husband, and ask the flight attendant about their next flight, all while standing in the aisle. You know who you are.
We land at LAX right on schedule (apparently the pilot took the carpool lane) and, though we have to wait another ten minutes for our gate to be available (a regular irritation for most frequent flyers), we soon park (dock?) the plane and I head over to catch the shuttle to the USAir terminal. It turns out that the other terminal isn’t very far and I have the option of walking approximately seven minutes through tunnels in order to get there by foot. As I’m not in as much of a rush as I’d thought I’d be, and I’d have to wait for the shuttle anyway, I choose to hoof it. Besides, I’m traveling light since choosing to check my roll-aboard.
I head down to the tunnel and am met by a nice lady offering me a ride on her cart, I generally avoid these as I enjoy a nice stretch of the legs between flights and, though they say they’re free, a small tip is expected. When I ask the nice lady how far it is to my terminal, she points straight ahead and says, “You see this long hallway? You go down to the end, turn left and go down an even longer hallway. It’s pretty far You should just get on here and we’ll be there in no time.”
I choose to take her up on her offer as she’s made it seem as if the walk would be easy if only I had begun training for a marathon a few months. I climb onto her cart and soon realize that, if I want to have a chance in hell at not sliding straight off the sideways-facing seat, I’ll need to remove my backpack. I struggle to slip my arms out of the bag and place it beside me before buckling the required seat-belt. Finally, we’re off. We speed down the hallway and, within about forty five-seconds, arrive at the end. I look to my left and see the longer hallway she spoke of as she exits her driver’s seat and, pointing to another cart, says, “Now that lady will take you the rest of the way.”
“Wait, so I have to collect my backpack and get settled on that cart now?” I ask.
“Yes, hun. But it will only take a minute,” she tells me with a smile.
We all understand that this means a tip for each of the drivers is expected. I decide to walk the rest of the way out of principal, as well as good cardiovascular health.
When I enter the terminal, there is no security area to go through. It turns out the transfer tunnel is well thought-out and has dropped me past the security screening area. I arrive at my gate with plenty of time to spare and catch my flight to Phoenix without a hitch.