I’m sitting in the rental house out here in Summerlin, NV, a suburb of Las Vegas, sipping on a glass of ice cold vodka enhanced with a handful of crushed seedless grapes and waiting for the hot tub to heat up. I’m three-quarters of my way through my marathon of Spring airline travel, and so far it’s gone better than average. That said, would the statisticians in the audience care to compute the odds of having to wait at the arrival gate for paramedics to come on the plane and treat someone that had health problems on back-to-back flights? I mean really, you could fly the airlines on a daily basis for years without encountering a single instance of that, but for me it has to happen on two consecutive flights! What are the odds on that???
The flight back from Phoenix was unique in a number of ways, not the least of which is that it left on time and encountered no maintenance delays. I left the resort early since I had nothing else to do anyway, and Phoenix can have a pretty lengthy security line. The ride from the hotel to the airport is long enough that it’s actually cheaper to take a limo at a fixed price than to take a cab, so I had the bellhop wave over the limo guy that was staking out the front of the resort like a lion waiting for the inevitable gazelle at the local watering hole. Being as this was a trip towards home, albeit for only a couple of days, I was in a pretty good mood and had a nice chat with the limo driver. He apparently enjoyed our banter – when we got to the airport I tried to tip him a fiver, but he handed it back and said the conversation had made his day and a tip was redundant. More likely was that he was used to a more significant tip than $5, but what the heck. I’ll take him at his word.
The lines were relatively short, and I found myself at the departure gate well in advance of boarding time. I grabbed a seat near the jetway door as is my wont (it places you firmly at the front of the line when they call your group for boarding) and passed time people watching (by which I mean ogling young gals with exposed midriffs and lower back tattoos). As I was sitting there, I happened to overhear a distraught women trying to convince the gate agent that she needed to change her seat so that she could sit next to her elderly, infirm mother. I thought I heard her say something about seat 6B, and as I was the proud holder of a boarding pass emblazoned with the eminently desirable seat 6A, my conscience won a protracted internal battle and I approached the counter to offer her my seat. The gate agent had already told her that nobody was likely to trade a window seat for a middle row, so it was me or nobody. Unfortunately for me, my eavesdropping was inaccurate in one major way: she had said 26B. Last row in the plane, painfully close to the ubiquitous queue for the lavs. Stuck, was I. Too late to back out, her gratitude having overwhelmed me. The gate agent was astonished at my largesse, having been exposed to the cynical traveling public for far too long. Frankly, it was amazing to see his reaction. He couldn’t do enough to thank me! He settled for a free pair of headsets and two on-board drink coupons, one of which I gave to the guy sitting next to me on the aisle since it was he that bore the brunt of large butts brushing past him on the way to the potty. He had a gin & tonic, but it was still too early for me for heavy drinking; I compromised with a Bloody Mary. It was a long flight and I had plenty of time to regret my generosity, but it really wasn’t all that bad since I had a good DVD and a stiff drink to carry me through. The guy in front of me had it worse, finally ending up with a bottle of oxygen and a covey of litigation-conscious flight attendants hovering over him. And, of course, the paramedics at the gate.
The trip to Vegas went well too, although the aforementioned coincidence of being met at the gate with another set of paramedics was pretty odd. We spent today driving through Red Rocks Canyon, a short drive from the place we’re staying. It’s just beautiful, and in itself probably worth the costs of coming out here.
One more leg and it’s back home to my RV and my long-anticipated sheet metal class at A&P school. What a relief it will be to get back!