I just returned from a long weekend in Asheville, NC. I went to an optometric conference and spent most of the time in a windowless room.
Traveling is so weird. Especially when you are alone. It really brings out the best and/or worst in a person. Myself included.
Here’s how it went.
My flight to Asheville had a stop in Atlanta. No prob. Except the pilot must have been a rookie because he stopped too short and while everyone got up and started to line up to depart- we got an announcement that we all had to sit down again so we could move forward about 5 feet. I was still sitting so I didn’t care. I had a lady next to me who was seriously frantic about getting out of the plane. We were waiting and waiting and she was flipping out. Finally, I said to her, “Do you want me to let you out ahead of me? It’s not like there is anywhere to go.” She settled down after that. We all got out of the plane and I high tailed it to the airport train and got to my next flight. It was tight but I got there. I figure the brisk walk and effort to hump it to the gate counted as exercise so I felt pretty good.
On the second flight I sat next to a very nice lady who was traveling from Anchorage, AK to see her friend in Asheville. It was her 4th flight of the day. Yikes. Shortly after we sat down, a really tall older guy wearing bright yellow hiking boots with a bumble bee on one boot and a hive on the other (I cannot make this stuff up) who was wearing a bright blue fedora and had his neck pillow already around his neck plopped down in the seat ahead of my nice Alaskan lady and put his seat all the way back. We just looked at each other. The flight hadn’t left yet. Everybody knows that is against the rules.
We both were annoyed. I was mostly annoyed on my new friend’s behalf. I whispered to her, “I think we can take him!” and then I made a fist and punched my other hand. She just looked at me. It was her 4th flight after all. After a few moments she said, “Thanks, I think.” We laughed and things were better. A flight attendant went by and we both silently pointed and made a lot of gestures and she made bumble bee boots man move his ass.
He was problematic on the exit of the plane as well, as of course he stored his massive carry on many rows in back of his seat, so it created a mess. Alaska lady and I capitalized on the confusion and slipped by him during the chaos. We walked down the jet-way and wished each other a fun weekend. She met her friend and they were jumping up and down and laughing and hugging. Nice. I got the last cab in the line and we were starting to head out of the line when…… NO! Bumble bee boots man tried to flag down the cab. I was freaking out! Luckily, the cab driver rolled down the window and told him another cab would be coming soon. Sigh of relief.
I stayed at the Grove Park Inn which should be on everybody’s To Do list. It is a massive, historic inn that has housed many interesting people over the years. I stayed in the old part of the hotel. The first night I woke up – feeling like I wasn’t alone- and I felt like there was a man in the room. Finally, I turned on the light. No man. Hmmm…..I’m not sure about that one. He didn’t come back again during my stay so I cannot say for sure if I had a visit from a spirit/ghost or not. It wasn’t super scary, more like there is a guy standing in the corner thing. He for sure was not wearing yellow boots.
The conference was like all conferences. Everyone kind of picks where they like to sit and that’s where you hang out for three days. I am a back row or second to back row kind of person.
I kind of feel sorry for the speakers of today, because it must be dis-heartening to see everyone looking down at their crotches while you are talking.
One of the speakers was really, really good and called us out on the phone stuff. We all started to participate in the discussion and I learned a lot. It was about neuro-optometry. Like how to tell if it is an eye problem – or if your patient has a brain tumor kind of talk. Good stuff.
When you are alone and traveling you have to figure out how you are going to feed yourself. The GPI has a bunch of different dining options… and I tried them all. I had breakfast included as part of my stay and it was a gigantic buffet. I had the same server (Juan) every day. We got to know each other. He is originally from Spain and is married to another lady who is a teacher and works at the GPI as well. She was nice too. She is originally from Minnesota so we were all cheering for the Green Bay Packers when they played the Panthers on Sunday. We lost. On Monday he whispered to me, “Sorry, for your loss!” and we laughed.
So, while I was alone the whole time. I wasn’t lonely the whole time. There is a big difference.
The last day of the conference was a half day of class. After that I was at loose ends. I spent part of the time hanging out in the bar watching football and then I high tailed it to the spa. It was very nice. Possibly the best massage of my life and the facilities are amazing.
I was just out of the sauna and cooling off when a nice lady asked me if I was there with my husband. “I don’t have a husband”, I said. She looked at me. I didn’t explain like I sometimes do. Sometimes I say, “I am too mean to be married.” That is always a winner. Anyway, the nice lady was in town for a religious conference by Billy Graham’s daughter. The nice lady proceeded to tell me that she thinks it really is “the end of days” and that (I cannot recall the proper religious term) God is going to destroy the world to punish us, and that she isn’t sure that there will be a Rapture, but that she really, really hopes so……
Ok, I am such the wrong person for this conversation. Plus, I was still all goo goo gaga from my massage so I wasn’t able to process anything much less the demise of……everything. I just smiled and said, “Well, let’s try to turn this thing around one person at a time!” She left soon thereafter.
I wasn’t upset about the encounter. I just don’t get it. I ran into a few more religious ladies on the flight home and I must say that they were all impeccably well-groomed and wore gigantic diamond wedding rings. Like I said, I don’t get it. I spied on a lady in front of me on the plane home and she was reading a pamphlet about Hades and something about a Gold Throne. I might Google it. I love the Games of Thrones, but it is clearly not that kind of Throne. Don’t hate me, I just don’t remember any of this stuff from the 16 years of CCD I had every Wednesday growing up.
We had a rough landing into Atlanta and when we finally screeched to a stop, I did a little quiet clapping, laughed and said, “Landing is always good.” My seatmate said, “A-men!”
Monday was kind of a rough travel day. I don’t know if it is because everyone is hung over, depressed about football, or just mad in general. It had been raining for three days so that did not help.
The lady at the TSA desk where you prove who you are was a real piece of work. Picture an older woman with long, stringy gray hair. There was an older gentleman in front of me who clearly does not travel often. She yelled at him about everything. He finally got cleared and she turned her attention to me. I had used the airport kiosk to print out my boarding passes and baggage claim ticket and had tucked everything in my passport and handed it to her. She proceeded to hand me back the pieces paper one by one and tell me why she didn’t need it….sigh…and more sighs. I had my baggage claim ticket in there and I made a little joke, “I hope I don’t need this one!” Haha! Nope. She then proceeded to yell at me that of course I needed it and that it was my responsibility to prove that luggage was mine. And so it went. Finally, I just said, “Are we done here?” She was a misery. I ran into the older gentleman and told him that she had yelled at me too. He said, “She needs to go back to bed and start all over!” We laughed.
This is when you are probably thinking, “Oh GGJ, give her a break, you don’t know what she has going on her life and who are you to judge?” True dat. All I know is that the waiting area for the flight to Atlanta slowly filled up with a lot of angry, grumpy people.
She made me think of a potential plot for an episode of Criminal Minds. She would play the Mom of a serial killer/sexual predator and knows what is going on but makes him cookies anyway. Then they get rid of the bodies in the hog pen.
Remember when I said traveling brings out the worst in people…. me too! Mean, mean, mean!
May I make a suggestion? Let’s get rid of the cheap tickets. Can someone please just charge me a fair rate, treat all passengers equally and figure out how to handle carry-on baggage?
The miracle of flight still amazes me. I was able to get to my destination in 5 hours when it would have taken me 18 hours to drive. That is amazing!
When did we start to expect to fly somewhere (anywhere) for a cost less than what it would take to purchase gas and drive? I fully expect to pay for convenience and time. For the love of God, please start charging more! Throw in one bag. Charge me, I don’t care. Charge more for good seats, I don’t care. Have the overhead compartments labeled according to the seats…. Don’t let the business travelers hog all of the space. Try loading the plane from the back to the front so that we don’t have to jostle the fancy folks while we go to the back.
Let’s bring back the adventure of air travel.
Like I said earlier, traveling brings out the best and the worst in people.
That is the beauty. We find ourselves, we learn about others and we learn to appreciate everything we take for granted in our daily lives. When I haven’t traveled for a while I get antsy and wonder what I am missing. Then I go somewhere and after some time passes…. I can’t wait to go home. That is a beautiful thing.
A few years ago I went on vacation with one of the Sisters. At the end of our vacation she was ready to go home. I wanted to just keep going. That was not good. I figured out a few things and made some changes…
I still love to leave, but I now I love to come home too. Forward progress.
Is it the end of days? I don’t know. I hope not. Just in case, it doesn’t hurt to make sure to say the things we need to say, do the things we need to do, and live like there may not be too many tomorrows…. But only if we use our powers for good. I still think we can turn this thing around- one person at a time.