My birthday is tomorrow. I will be “old as ass”. So, on this night before I turn “old as ass”, I’ve curled up in the darkness to reflect upon my life with the ferocity usually reserved for New Year’s Eve. Naturally, my immediate thoughts return to my recent trip to New York—specifically, the final day.
It should have been a great day. I was leaving—what isn’t great about that? It’s not that I hate New York. It’s that I hate being in New York. Perhaps “hate” is a little strong, but I’m feeling self-indulgent, so go with it. It’s not that I can’t appreciate that there are fine things available in the City, but I spent enough years there as an adult to fully appreciate “elsewhere”. Also, I’m fairly certain the City was trying to kill me.
It started innocently enough. I was due to meet my friend E for breakfast. Because of the craziness of my “bonding” schedule, I didn’t have time to meet up with her for a casual, no doubt wine related, evening of catching up, bitching and moaning about life. Instead, we had to settle for breakfast. Never fear though, we did manage to fit the bitching and moaning into the schedule. We’re not heathens for goodness sake.
The hotel is actually a combination hotel and condo/residence building. When I came downstairs, I noticed E waiting for me in the lobby of the adjacent residence side. I ran over to the glass door to grab her so we could hit the hotel restaurant. This, of course, would have worked more effectively had it actually turned out to be a door. Instead, it turned out to be a solid wall of glass—a solid wall of glass that my entire body hit because my brain didn’t register the lack of “give” in time to stop my momentum. My entire body hit it, but not at the same time of course. No, actually, my foot and hands hit the wall first, and the impact snapped my head forward so that my forehead and nose could solidly contact the wall. This was not a quiet little miscalculation. The collision was loud enough to not only alert E on the other side of the wall, but also the entire lobby on the hotel side. I played it off well—the red bruising around my nose was hardly noticeable with my hand covering it, and I kept moving as quickly as possible out the actual door. On the upside, my nose didn’t bleed, and it wasn’t broken. On the downside, I think I still have a headache.
I moved on to my last set of meetings confident that once I got to the airport I could upgrade my ticket back from NY to LA. Also, I was assured that mid-day, there would be very little traffic, and that I would soon be on my way. And I’m sure that would have been true had I been anyone else in any other city. Instead, as my driver so delightfully put it, “Every fuckin’ Friday they close down a lane so they can stand around and get cash for scratchin’ their asses”. While I did not witness said “ass scratchin'”, I did notice that we weren’t going anywhere quickly. An hour and a half later, I was almost happy to see JFK airport.
I really should have known better.
I was pretty excited to see that my security line was really short despite my airline only having two available bays—just a couple of people in front of me. I was already stripping, all modesty thrown by the wayside, in order to get through the detectors. I’m not sure what prompted them to shut down the line I was in, but shut it down they did. Momentarily flummoxed, I looked around to see if anyone else noticed the absurdity of the sudden appearance of the “closed” sign. Nope, the travelers all had that permanently beaten down look people get when the winter has been too long and the City has been too ridiculous. Hey, but the good news is, there was absolutely no room for my line to join the other line, so that wasn’t a problem at all.
I feel like George Clooney lied to me in Up in the Air. Business travel, provided a few minor precautions, seemed far more civilized in that film.
I soldiered on. My headache was now pounding, but I had my gate, and it couldn’t possibly be that far away, in a make-shift terminal with temporary walls, no amenities and an absent gate attendant (or two). That couldn’t possibly be true.
Yeah, all of that was true. But that was perfectly acceptable because when an airline employee did arrive, she promptly ignored the growing line long enough for us to understand who was boss. I’ll give you one guess as to whether or not it was anyone in line.
Luckily, I was about to get my ticket upgraded for a marginal fee. And that totally would have happened had work not bought a non-upgradeable ticket. Naturally, I did what any desperate to be comfortable traveler would do—I got out my credit card and offered to buy a business class ticket and toss the existing ticket. And that would have totally worked had the entire flight not been sold out. Every seat. Also, since work had purchased the cheapest ticket possible, I wasn’t able to specify the seat assignment prior to arrival at the airport. I understand I should be grateful that I was in a window seat rather than a middle seat in coach for six hours. Perhaps if I didn’t hate flying, hate feeling trapped and panic when I can’t get to a bathroom, I would have embraced that piece of luck. Instead, my head just started pounding more.
I took some deep breaths, and got in line to board the plane. Luckily, I had a lot of time to breathe deeply because I was in the last section called for boarding. I quickly stowed my bag under the seat in front of me (well, actually it was more like grunted and shoved it under the seat in front of me because the space was so tight, I couldn’t really bend over to fit it properly), and took solace in the fact that the plane had WiFi even in the cheap seats. Whew.
And that would have been real consolation had the WiFi been functioning that day. Sadly, it was not.
Still, the flight was underway after a mere 45 minute delay due to a closed runway (which the pilot mentioned was very short, as they had built in the standard 1 hour and 30 minutes delay into the projected arrival time), the man next to me was lovely and not overly arm-rest hogging, and I thought I could amuse myself with my book or iPod until I calmed down.
And that would have been great, had I not been trying to pretzel myself so I could reach my bag at the exact moment the man in the seat in front of me had chosen to recline his seat… hitting me on the forehead…the forehead already swelling from losing the fight with the wall earlier in the day. And that was that. I think the swearing probably got my neighbor’s attention before the tears did. Bless him, he did try to distract me with small talk—though that might have been to assure him that I was just pissed and not crazy.
The wave of “why can’t anything just be easy for once” emotion passed and I lost myself in some Doctor Who. Oh, and I counted down the seconds before I was once again able to close the door of my apartment behind me and say that I had finally escaped from NY.
P.S. Anyone else think that “I just give up” should be an actual age? As in, “How old are you?” “I’ve just given up.”
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