Saturday, May 07, 2005

Ironic Airline Disasters
Two weeks ago, I found myself strapped into the seat of an aircraft. I pulled my knees in tight, and could barely fit them into the confined area that would be my uncomfortable home for the next hour or so. As I waited, I watched out the window as two men pulled up in a large squarish vehicle. They pulled out a long hose and began spraying the plane down with "de-icing fluid". It looked a lot like some sort of silly movie prop. There were two large meters, one red and one green. They were labled "FUEL", and "DEICE". As they sprayed it across the wings, I hoped that they hadn't gotten the tanks mixed up. This would be my first flight, ever. The weather was horrible, and the pilot kept coming on the intercom and apologizing for the delay. We sat at the start of a short runway, waiting for several minutes. About the time I reached for my iPod, the plane suddenly jerked into gear, and shot down the runway at a hundred miles an hour. Before I knew it, I was airborne and I watched the airport shrink away.

I was on my way to Chicago, where I would rush to a second airplane which would take me all the way to California. There, I would acquire my rental car, and drive it to a hotel about 24 miles from the airport. As I sat on the plane, trying to look through the fog, I was all ready feeling out of my element. My wife and kids had dropped me off at the airport. And I was all ready calculating the time until I would be flying home to reunite with them. I was setting out for what became the lonliest week of my life. For those that travel all of the time, I tip my hat to you. Travel it seems, is not for me.

When I arrived, I found my rental car, and drove it to the hotel following the many maps and directions my wife had printed for me. Once I arrived to the hotel, I broke open my suit-case and pulled out a fine Dinty Moore dinner. I believe it was turkey and stuffing. This trip had cost us every dollar we had. About $760 in all. Seeing how I would be in California for a week, and without cash, we had decided to pack food for my trip. We had received a gift card to Meijers for an Anniversary gift, and we blew the entire $50 on my weeks worth of packable food. About half of my suit case was clothing. The other half, Dinty Moore dinners, Ramen noodles, Little Debbies, and Peanuts. It worked well. But by day two, I was beginning to miss "real food". Even more I was missing the sights and smells of home. By the end of the week, I felt like I "smelled like California". I don't know if it was the water, the dirty hotel, or the cheap no-name soap.

Monday morning I arrived to the training center in Brea California. I was about an hour and a half early, which was okay. California was three hours behind Ohio, and I was having a hard time adjusting. I got into bed about 10:00PM every night, and I was waking up at 5:00AM. Once I got into the training center, I found my way into the classroom and began to get ready for class. I had never taught the class before, but had lied to get the job. The real problem is that I lacked the funds to buy new hardware when my old computer died. So I was unable to prepare to teach the class by practicing the labs and 'demonstrations'. Every day before and after class, I would rip through the student materials and attempt to learn every lab and demonstration, so that I wouldn't look like a fool when I tried to walk them through it.

I clearly did not belong in California. This class was a bit out of my league. But, I buckled down and struggled through the week. It was only 6 days, right? Tuesday afternoon, I developed a memorable headache. A strange turn of weather brought in storms to an otherwise dry and desolate area of California. The drastic shift, had put some sort of curse upon my sinus's. Thankfully my wife had thought to pack sinus pills for me, but I had left them back at the hotel. By late afternoon, the headache had turned into a migrane, and I was doing my best to continue with the class and not vomit. I asked the students if anyone had aspirin, and one student produced a small brightly colored pill with black numbering. "It's got a little Xanex on it", he said. I shrugged, and happilly choked down the pill. Within half an hour, I was feeling noticably better. An hour later, I felt great.

By the time I got back to my hotel, I was feeling simply wonderful. I put a call in to my wife to tell her how good I was feeling, and then I headed out to explore the neighborhood. My hotel was positioned in a poor, spanish speaking community. It was not the safest place for me to wonder around, and I stuck out like a sore thumb. Just a block or two from my hotel was a 99 cent store, and a neighboring thrift shop. I ended up buying a pocket knife, a roll of electrical tape, a coax VCR cable, and a 3-liter bottle of "Dr. Stripes" soda. Back at the hotel, I watched Charlies Angel's II on HBO (one of the worst films ever made) and while it played I consumed an entire can of Pringles chips. When done, I sat down at my personal 'dining table' and crafted a make shift cantenna. It was probably the weakest cantenna I had ever created, but it allowed me to get that extra decibal or two that I desperately needed. Once connected, I was able to gain access to an access point across the street from the hotel in a shop called "Kopy Kats". The unlikely hosts provided my free wireless access for the remainder of the week.

I awoke the next morning feeling a bit on the miserable side. The can of Pringles had given me an upset stomach, and the fact that the week was not even half way over, weighed heavy on my mind. It's as if the sinking depression I was feeling before had found it's way back to me. When my students rolled in for class, the one who had given me the "aspirin" the day before asked, "so how was the Xanex?". And so it seems the aspirin that might have had Xanex on it, was actually Xanex, which might have had aspirin on it. It worked really well and I wished I had another four days worth of it.

Friday afternoon I finished class, and headed back toward my hotel. I had completed class early, and I would have all night to sit and watch cable TV. I had tried to keep myself busy every night by studying the course materials for the following day. But, I wouldn't have that to do. I couldn't call my wife, because she would be out for the next few hours having dinner with her father (for his birthday). As I drove past a local Regal Cinema theater, I jerked the wheel and headed to the ticket booth. This was opening day for the Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy - the movie. A film which I had ben waiting for since eigth grade. I got a ticket, headed into the theater, and found a nice seat.

I can't recall ever going to a movie by myself, and what I thought would make me feel better only made me more lonely. But the movie was good, and it wasted some time. I needed that. The following morning, I rushed to pack my bags. I drove to the airport, got my boarding pass and got ready to fly home. I was a bit early though. My flight was at 12:30, and it was only 8:25. I ended up marching all around the airport finally finding the Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy book. I had actually downloaded the book onto Audrey (the laptop). Yet, Audrey was not the best laptop for travel. You see, during Audreys departure from the Columbus International Airport, she had excited several security agents who had mistaken her for a bomb. In an effort to avoid such embarassment when returning home, I decided to bury Audrey deep in my suitcase. This of course left me waiting for the plane with nothing to do. Buying the book, and reading it certainly helped pass the time.

Hours later, I climbed off the plane and dashed through the airport to meet my wife and father who had come to pick me up. It was a great feeling to be on my way home. And it would be the last time that I ever ventured across the world on my own again. My wife and I had never spent much more than two days apart. Being apart for a solid week was miserable. Hanging out with my kids, and spending the next day with my wife was bliss.

The next week I would be teaching in town, and this coming week I won't be far from home. I have a couple of weeks of training work booked, and no desire or need to travel again any time soon. In fact, once the checks begin to roll in for the work I have done in the past few weeks, it will be the most money my wife and I have ever had. It will be nice to put something in the bank, make my car payments on time, and ultimately quit my part time job. Hooray!

So, it's late. I'm going to read over my materials for this coming weeks class.

Historic Comments
Hey Ray, didn't think you were still alive. Glad to see you're making ends meet. Keep writing

_cipher | Homepage | 05.08.05 - 11:55 am | #

I'm surprised that they didn't take Audrey from you. With your dongle and stuff taped on, I would have called in the bomb squad. And Jarassic park 3 is probally the worst movie ever.
Bird603568 | 05.08.05 - 11:03 pm | #

Umm... you want some Xanex?
Poe | 05.09.05 - 10:10 pm | #

Xanax makes you REALLY tired after it's main active phase of effect when taken. I don't mean sleepy - I mean you are exhausted. It's highly addictive and a really bad idea to take unless you suffer from severe panic attacks.

Fight the drug-haze people . . . Ray, drink camomile tea.
Anonymous | 05.09.05 - 10:27 pm | #

Its not that addictive and its used for more than just panic attacks. It relaxes you, similar to a valium, thats why you felt so great, your anxiety was gone. Although, I've never seen a xanax(
magikgrl | Homepage | 05.10.05 - 11:32 am | #

well, that sucked, half my comment got cut off. Anyway, never seen a bright colored xanax with black writing their usually little football shaped pills in a peach or a blue color.
magikgrl | Homepage | 05.10.05 - 11:34 am | #

Maybe it was extra strong or laced with something. :D
Poe | 05.10.05 - 12:46 pm | #

I had not been here for a while and now I feel guilty! I am glad that you have managed to land on your feet after the layoff.

Keep the entries comming!

evil rich | 05.12.05 - 9:54 am | #

Hopefully you'll read this Ray, just checking in. I found myself wondering that happened to the crew from #thebroken.

I'm glad to see you finally got out of that job.
conundrum | 05.26.05 - 2:47 am | #

Knock around?
magikgrl | Homepage | 06.10.05 - 3:05 pm | #