Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Fly Me to Detroit

Let’s see… I made three predictions. They were right, partly right, and absolutely wrong, in that order.

I figured the airport wouldn’t be nearly as busy mid-morning as it was early evening. Following that logic, I decided that I didn’t need to arrive two hours before my flight. The airport was about a 45-minute drive. I could leave at 8:30 and have no trouble making my 10:35 departure.

The best thing about my morning was getting to see Ben and his mommy before leaving the house. I couldn’t find the ticket receipt I had printed out the night before, so I had to boot up the computer and print it out again. I finally got out of there at about 8:45. Bad start.

The road leading to the airport, currently being converted to a freeway with no traffic lights, had me stopping every half mile or less. The line of cars got longer at each intersection, which did not help my confidence.

I hate trying to park at Dallas/Forth Worth Airport. If you can, I recommend being airlifted in your helicopter and set down right on the tarmac. Unfortunately, those high-paid air-traffic controllers probably would spot you.

Because my only previous experience living near a major airport was Dulles International (Washington, D.C. area), and the parking there is so simple, the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport posed a whole different challenge. I drove through the airport front gates, tiny air-conditioned huts similar to toll booths (I always think it’s funny that “toll” is so close to “troll,” the original collectors under bridges).

I realized that I had no idea which terminal I needed. I glanced at my ticket receipt.

American Airlines.

I looked at the oncoming signs. American — Terminals A,C,D. Okay, great, so what the Hell terminal do I need? Sure wish I would have prepared for this. I chose “A” because at 9:40, I just needed to get parked and get inside. The fast, convenient Skytram could get me to whatever terminal I needed much quicker than I could struggle in my car to find exactly the right place. I had learned that on my first trip to DFW.

Also on my virginal trip, I ended up frustrated at how foreign I felt and parked in the $16/day parking. This time I was determined not to be so wasteful, so when I saw the $13/day lot, I pounced. Total savings to my company: $12. Stay with me now, while we look at the big picture. We have more than 3,000 employees nationwide. If throughout the year every single employee in our company traveled just once and shaved that much off the bill, we’re talking $36,000. Man, I should get a raise or something. And I didn’t even go to business school.

As I scampered up the concrete stairs and across a footbridge to the covered parking ($16), I saw a shuttle bus pass underneath. The words on it read Remote Parking Shuttle. Oops. Maybe that’s where I could have saved some real dough. I’ll do that on my next trip, when I get here in plenty of time (my family can stop laughing now). Looks like I’ll have to earn that raise some other way. Maybe go to business school.

In anticipation of things that had burned me on my last trip, I made a few adjustments this time. I wore sandals and did not bring a keychain Swiss Army knife (which I donated to a security scanner guard last time). I knew about the self-service check-in kiosk, so I found the nearest one and got my boarding pass. I took my suitcase to the luggage check guy, who glanced at my ticket.

“Where do you need to go?” he asked.

“Detroit,” I said.

“Sure, but what gate?” He pulled my boarding pass from the sleeve. “Here it is, C26.”

“Oh, great.” I was in terminal “A” and it was 9:50.

The line at the security checkpoint was mercifully short. I put my carry-on items in the gray bins for the scanner’s conveyer belt and walked through the metal detector.

“Beeeeeep!” it said.

I backed up and put my keys and my mobile phone in a plastic bowl so they could pass under security’s watchful eye.

I breezed through the detector, grabbed my things, and speed-walked to the nearest Skytram, a free, automated monorail. Funny how the safest, most efficient and economical train travel in the USA is at our airports, the very entities that killed the passenger train industry. When you look down and see your empty mobile phone holster, you can just jump off at the first stop, walk across to wait for the train headed the opposite direction, and then proceed to go get what your stupid head forgot, where the man also has your keys, which you hadn’t missed yet. All at no extra charge to you.

I got to my gate at 10:15 and saw that my plane still was scheduled for 10:35 departure. The neat thing about planes is that they are never going to leave before the scheduled time. Unless the pilot’s under extreme duress, in which case it’s best to just miss the flight.

When I approached my seat, I saw my co-worker a few rows back. “Hi, (insert very ordinary American male name here).”

Next time you fly, I recommend waiting until there is nobody else at the gate waiting to board. That way, you can mosy down the aisle and take your time loading your carry-on items in the overhead bin. No pressure. Of course, then you unleash your fresh, scurry-induced armpit reek on your fellow passengers as you get what you need out of your laptop bag (no, it’s not a purse, dammit. I just keep my stuff in there.)

The couple sitting next to me (at least I think they are a couple, since she was rubbing his leg), moved away from Detroit 25 years ago, and she told me she prefers Texas. We certainly have a lot less lake-effect snow, but besides that, I’ll use my four days to judge for myself. Unless she rubs my leg. Then all care for my opinion goes out the window at 35,000 feet.

The fasten seatbelt sign is on, but a lady just hurried down the aisle. What’s her rush?


A pungent smell hit my nose. Man, you never get used to “stranger fart.”

The woman next to me waved her magazine in front of her face and whispered to her travel companion (we’ll go with that), “Hey, it wasn’t me.”

Wanting to avoid blame, as is my inclination, I said, “I think it was that lady who scurried by.” I actually used the word “scurried.” Oh well.

“I think she shouldn’t have waited so long,” my neighbor said.

The in-flight entertainment started with the Harry Potter DVD edition of Scene-It, a game that quizzes players based on movie clips. Then, we were treated to highlights of CBS’s sitcom lineup. I opted to write this instead. Apparently you are reading it instead of watching CBS.


Ben Night-Night and Star Wars Geekery Addendum

After a great dinner out with my co-worker, I sat down to watch whatever movie was on HBO.

My mobile phone rang. As I said, “Hello,” I heard Ben saying, “Hi, Daddy!” We had a short chat, he said, “I yuv you, Daddy,” I said, “I love you too,” and that was all. He’s pretty much get-in, get-out on the phone.

Just in time for me to watch Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Nice.

Last night we went to dinner at a couple’s house. My buddy J asked me, when the time came, if I would present the Star Wars series to Ben in the order they were released, or in chronological order.

It only took me a minute to ponder.

“In the original order they were released, of course. Only way to go.” Otherwise, the original three would seem hokie by comparison, and the whole father-son revelation would be ruined.

He agreed, and pointed out that, the other way around, the kid would be asking, “Where’s Jar-Jar?” during the original three.

It makes me wonder, though. How do you keep your kid from learning who Luke’s father is before the big arm-severing scene? That was one of the huge mysteries of our generation (much more important than “Who shot JR?”), and finding out any other way would ruin much of the appeal of those movies.

Man, that Hans Christian Andersen Hayden Christensen is a horrible actor. You give bad dialogue to a terrible actor, and there’s no saving a scene. Natalie Portman usually is pretty good, but obviously she needs to feed off her fellow actors. She clearly was starving when onscreen with Christensen. The director has a lot to do with results, too.

Anakin Skywalker: You are so… beautiful.
Padmé: It’s only because I’m so in love.
Anakin Skywalker: No, it’s because I’m so in love with .

I hope I’ve never written anything that bad, unintentionally.

6 Responses to Fly Me to Detroit

  1. When you saw the lady ‘scurry’ past, did you have flashbacks to driving down ‘ancillary’ streets?

    And I’d start up a debate on the whole “In Which Order To View The Trilogy” issue, but here’s not the place.

    Enjoy your time up north. Umm, still south from me. And good luck with poutine. Hope you find some o’ the good stuff.

  2. You have to expose him to them in the original order…I agree. Like Simon, I won’t get into my rationale here.

    If you have carry-on luggage, the LAST thing you want to do is be one of the last ones to board the plane if it’s a full flight. There’s never any overhead space, and you end up having to check it on the plane. Then you stand around in the jetway after landing, waiting for them to bring it to you, while everyone else walks past you.

    Do you remember that time that you and I missed a connecting flight in Dallas, because we didn’t hear the gate change? (I still say they never announced it)

    I don’t care for DFW, and avoid it like the plague. Only Atlanta is worse IMO. I’ll connect anywhere BUT DFW whenever possible.

  3. Oh, I’ve been to DFW and it’s not THAT bad.

    And I find Atlanta to be fantastic! Easy to get from place to place, the gates are never too far apart, and LOTS of places to poke around/eat while waiting for your plane.

    One of my worst airports is O’Hare (Chicago), followed closely by Reagen (Washington DC).

    Our own airport here (Bradley, in Hartford) isn’t that great, but at least the signage is well laid out so you can find where you’re going.
    Oh, and the “Hartford” airport, isn’t even IN Hartford! It’s about 25 miles away in Windsor Locks, closer to Springfield Mass.

    Have fun in Detroit bud..

  4. Just checking in before going to class.

    Simon – Now I’m anxious to hear your explanation. As far as your question — we were on some bad traffic on ancillary streets yesterday. Ancillary. No matter how you pronounce it, it’s kind of cool to say.

    Chuck – Good point about the carry-on luggage. Hadn’t thought of it from that angle, and I know you’ve got the sky miles to back up your words. It’s called a jetway? I always avoid writing about that part of the trip because I never knew the name for the tube that leads from the gate to the plane.

    We definitely got screwed on that gate change back in the day. Is that the trip where we were spitting food particles at each other from three or four rows away? We had the lay of the plane on that flight.

    Dave – I completely agree about O’Hare. Horrible. Since they added the Skytram, DFW has moved up a few notches.

    For me the Little Rock airport is the easiest. Instead of several terminals, there are about 10 gates. Period.

  5. So what were the dang predictions??? You can’t just leave me hangin’ like that!

  6. Wife – Look at the second paragraph. Starts with “I figured.” It was good talking to you this afternoon. Miss you and the boy.


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