Well…. I am sitting on the plane headed back to San Diego and thought I’d write one of my infamous blogs which I haven’t written in a long time…
I went to Maria’s graduation from Vanderbilt in Nashville Tennessee (congratulations Maria–I am very proud!)
This time I thought I would change things up…. do things a little differently. So, the first thing was that I didn’t personally make my flight itinerary. I simply waited to the last minute and asked my secretary to find the cheapest way to get me there and back….
So, the result was… instead of my familiar Southwest airlines I was booked on Delta… I thought, great now I’ll see a different perspective….what I didn’t know that the perspective would be so glaring that my glasses turned into sunglasses to block out the glare!
The first thing that I noticed was that Delta had FIRST CLASS!!!… Southwest has no first class (unless you call paying an extra ten bucks so you can be assured to get in the first group that boards as first class!).. When I got to the airport gate the gate attendant is calling names of people who got upgraded to first class… I thought cool.. this must be on a lottery system…. so, I listened intently for my name…no such luck.. But thats ok, (just like those nominated for academy awards) I felt privileged just for the consideration——at least that’s how my positive mind considered it.
So, I got on the plane and thought “cool, this is so much better than southwest. I know which seat I’m going to get. I have a seat already assigned to me”… Not like southwest which is like a game of musical chairs 10 people fighting over 9 seats!… This is going to be so much better!
So I get on the plane. I have my iPad, laptop and bible flash cards.( I am teaching my sunday school students to memorize the books of the bible —backward, forward and by number–so, as the teacher, I have to know them better than the students!) I have my briefcase with work. I have plenty to do. I’m ready to be productive!….
So…………. I immediately fall asleep… I really don’t remember much of the first hour of the trip!
I am awakened because I am in the isle seat and the food cart hits me in the shoulder..My positive mind says “great, good thing they woke you for the snacks”… but then I remembered that it was Thursday and as you know (well maybe you don’t) I have been fasting on Tuesdays and Thursdays for about a year and a half now. So, now I am awake and upset because I can’t make the choice between peanuts or cookies based on what I have a taste for at the moment since I can not eat them.
So I begin my observations of the differences between Southwest and Delta… The first thing that I notice is the technology. In each headrest there is a monitor with cool things (some free).. you can check out the gps in the plane, speed, distance traveled and time for arrival… (cool!) there are tv shows, basketball playoff games, cnn and movies!
I was traveling to Nashville with a stop in Atlanta. I immediately noticed that all of the stewardesses were old!… Its hard to guess the ages of women but all of them had grey hair… and I am not exaggerating!…none would be younger than 45… Again, my positive mind says..”cool, I got experienced people here on the plane”.
Since I have the isle seat, I have to get up every time the middle or window seat wants to go to the bathroom…Again, not really a problem since I sat next to a married couple and they were polite enough to go together at the same time (when I had to go as well)..
so the flight to Atlanta was pretty uneventful until……..
it started getting bumpy… the turbulence (unexpected rough air–as they call it) was really not alarming… anyone who flies has felt it.. All you have to do is tighten your stomach like you do in a roller coaster and after a few seconds its all over…. No big deal …. until…..
after the fifth or sixth roller coaster dive the pilot order the stewardesses (Im sorry, flight attendants) to take their seats and suspend the distribution of the snacks….I wasn’t really concerned about it until the pilot made an announcement that we were going to descend 10,000 feet at the advice of air traffic control so that our ride would smoothen out…. Still not a big concern…. until
Apparently its a felony, a mortal sin, a crime punishable by death… (just plain wrong) to get out of your seat to go to the bathroom when the seatbelt sign is on under 30,000 feet because……….
This lady got out of her seat to go to the bathroom and I heard this shrill sounding voice above the roar of the jet engines saying “get back in your seat!!! Don’t you see that the captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign?… I felt sorry for the lady. She stopped dead in her tracks but I could tell that she had to go…. really bad. Sometimes these roller coaster rides make you have to go even more!!…She made the choice to defy the stewardess (flight attendant) and go to the bathroom even though she was being warned that it was for her safety and that they could not protect her while she was out of the seat…
As it turned out… she did not need their protection. We landed in Atlanta 9 minutes early…
Ok… we landed 9 minutes early but got to our gate 37 minutes late!…(for those of you who are not bored you can continue reading to find out why)
Anyway…. we land in atlanta…. but we stop on the tarmac… nowhere near the gate…. We just stop… We are told that it will be a moment until the gate is ready to receive us and that when they are we will proceed to the gate.
After fifteen minutes people are getting restless. I start to hear conversations around me about the time their connection flights are leaving. People begin to start pushing the button to summon the steward….flight attendants. The guy behind me summons the flight attendant and asks her if he can move to the front of the plane to be the first to leave to catch his connecting flight…(I listen to that request because if he does it, so will I since I have to go to Nashville)—-but, that request is denied…. Even the couple next to me (who haven’t said a word to me the whole trip except to use the bathroom) start talking to me about their connecting flight asking me about mine….. the entire plane starts to murmur aloud regarding connecting flights….
Then the plane starts to move and we all quiet…. then we stop again right before we get to the “empty” gate. ….An announcement then came that 90 percent of the passengers were going to connecting flights and that we should all leave as quickly as possible…..
So, when the announcement stopped people unbuckled their seat belts and went into the overhead bins to get their baggage…. The problem was…..
We still weren’t at the gate!…Another announcement came on for everyone to take their seats and to buck up so that we could travel to the gate…. Do you think people listened?
(good answer…No!)…They didn’t sit down. The more that got their suitcases, the more people who wanted to get theirs so that they could get a head start to their connecting flights!!!
Another announcement warned that we could not move until everyone was seated and then other seated passengers started yelling at the standing passengers to sit down so that they could make their connections. People were frustrated because we were told that we couldn’t go to the gate because it was occupied but we could see that there was no other plane at the gate…. “Just open the door… I could make it to the terminal in 2 minutes or less.”
At first, I didn’t become too concerned because I had an hour layover…but we were on the tarmac for 37 minutes which meant that my hour had been reduced to 27 minutes…I am also a little concerned because the Playoff basketball game (Atlanta v. Boston) was turned off since we had landed……
Meanwhile, the couple next to me was becoming agitated for several reasons. The vocal guy seated behind us, who asked if he could move his seat, started cursing and releasing “F” bombs all over place. The language got the husband angry to the point that he told the guy to watch his mouth…They only had a 20 minute layover and we were still on the tarmac when their connecting flight to Pittsburgh was scheduled to take off…so, if anyone had the right to be upset they were justified.
Now, I have been on other flights (like Southwest) where they will tell you the gates that you have to run to to get to your connecting flight…. or they will tell you not to worry because the connecting flight knows that you are here and that they are waiting for you at the gate with a cart to get you to the connecting flight…. but in this case nothing!!!
The flight attendant said that they had no information… no gate information, no information as to the status of the connecting flight,…nothing to give us..They couldn’t even tell us why we couldn’t move up to the empty gate!!! The only thing that they could tell us was that “90% of the passengers on board had connecting flights!”….This really didn’t comfort any of us… It just meant that there would be more competition trying to get out of the plane.
I (like others) turned on my cell phone and started texting. Dad is calling me trying to find out where I am. I’m trying to text him (If I call I could be arrested since I’m not supposed to have my phone on)… and of course, texting is not Dad’s strong suit, so I get no response….I’m torn between answering his calls and suffering the consequences. I know he is at the Tennessee airport waiting for me…
We finally started moving and got to the gate….
But I learned something that night…..
One of the things that I learned is when you are seated at the rear of the plane, it can be a good 15 minutes before the isle clears in front of you so that you are able to leave!!! (even when the people who had no connecting flights were nice enough to stay seated so that the connecting people could leave…)
I also learned that… when you are late for a connecting flights people will run in the airport…. actually leaving their children to fend for themselves…
It was kind of funny to see the children run out of their flip flops… go back to get them..and their parents not even notice!!!!
But more importantly I learned…….
………….that Atlanta was on Eastern standard time and that Nashville was on central time.
Dad had arrived at the Nashville airport to pick me up without adjusting for his Atlanta watch…My cell phone automatically adjusts its time to the time zone that I am in so I, too was looking at Atlanta time!!
However, I learned none of these things until I got to Nashville!!!!..
All the stressing was for naught! I got into the gate and still had a nice wait for the 32 minute flight to nashville…arriving ok..
Any way…getting sleepy…I wanted to tell you what I learned before I went to sleep..
If I awake and have time… I will tell you about the present experience of being the only Black person in this plane to Salt Lake City Utah….
(It could be worse,I could have my Obama “change” tee shirt on or I could have anti-Romney slogans on my brief case!)
Love, the Dad, the Son, the boss, the friend, the Drew!