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Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Drunk Whisperer

No-Roller Trip - Saturday - Day 1

After sixty or so Las Vegas trips, I have figured out that the exact ratio of clean shirts you need to pack to days away from home is 1 to 2.66, plus one for the teapot.

For underwear, double that: 1 pair of underwear to 5.32 days, plus one for the potty.

Pants, double it again. You need one pair of pants for every 10.64 days you're away. The pair you wear on travel day counts as the spare.

Easy peasy, antsy pantsy.

All of my clothing for 14 days fits in a Jonny Quest lunch kit.

Now, whenever I travel with the Quad Queen, everything works perfectly. Trains roll, flights fly, connections make. When I travel alone, it's gut-wrenching War and Peace travel drama. And I know a lot of you long-time readers out there have seen this time and time again in the blog, and it's probably repetitive, so I'll be a brief as I can as I relate the story of The Trip Out.

Plan, leave Flusherville at 10:00am, drive to Watertown airport, fly out of there to Philadelphia about 1:00, three and a half hour layover, eat leisurely dinner, leave Philly at 6:05, land at 8:49 Vegas time.

The first let of the trip is great, clean, right on time and perfectly executed with a telemark landing. This leg consists of "walking out to the car at 10:00am." After that... read on.

There are no late February storms to mess me up, the border agents don't mistake me for a serial killer, and let me through, and I arrive on time in Watertown, park, and hit the terminal. I have a little time to wait and I just chill, thinking about all the fun things I'm going to do, all of it stretched out in front of me.

Seven minutes later, at 11:30am, I get a message.

Your flight is delayed. Your new departure time is 2:00 PM.

Huh. No problem, I'll just kill a bit more time in Watertown instead of in Philadelphia. Then:
Your flight is delayed. Your new departure time is 1:55 PM.

Hmmm. No problem, looks like they are just fine-tuning the arrival of the shiny regional jet that will whisk me to Philadelphia in plenty of time to make my Vegas flight. Then:
Your flight is delayed. Your new departure time is 2:35 PM.

Huhn. No problem, I'll still get to Philadelphia a couple of hours before my flight, plenty of time to grab something for dinner. Then:
Your flight is delayed. Your new departure time is 3:05 PM.

Hmmm. This could be a bit tricky, I'll have less than an hour to change terminals (which involves a shuttle bus - the very harbinger of disrupted travel) and grab my Vegas flight.

When you see a bunch of cascading delays like this, it usually ends badly, with severely delayed flights, connections missed, or flights completely canceled. They typically stem from the fact that... they have no airplane for you.

I haul my luggage back out to the '84 Tercel, get a jump start from a bored, unengaged American Airlines pilot, and take off for a shopping district ten minutes away, where I have a leisurely chain lunch at Red Robin. As a single, lonely diner, they offer me three different spots at the bar, and then force me into a high-chair table, which I hate. The burger is acceptable though, and, for some bizarre, needless, senseless reason, comes with 'bottomless fries'.

Given the state of the body politic mass index these days, this does not seem like a heart-healthy idea. Perhaps it's an overdue over-reaction to the Irish potato famine. Proudly, like a potato martyr, I turn down fourths. 

Lunch finished, I get yet another update. I'm almost afraid to look at my phone.
Your flight is delayed. Your new departure time is 4:00 PM.

What the what the fuck oh shit fuck me fuck????!!!! Now I have a real problem. I'll arrive in Philadelphia around 5:15 if everything goes according to that schedule - basically too late to make my Vegas flight.

I haul ass back to the airport, dump the Tercel crosswise across three snow-covered parking spots, and get my butt into the terminal. People are lined up to talk to the agents, of which there are two. I line up also, and when each passenger is done, they walk straight out the door with all their luggage. I have a sick feeling in the pit of my bottomless fries. Does this mean I won't even go today? Will my day end up being the equivalent of driving across the border to Watertown, checking out the airport waiting room, going out to lunch, and then driving home?

The counter staff have been told to rebook everyone that they can, get them out of Watertown any way they can. The likelihood of the original flight going anywhere is pretty much nil, obviously.

A ray of hope shines from the eyes of the deskling - or maybe it is a doomsday laser, I'm not sure. There is a flight out of Syracuse's Hancock International (which is missing a 'd'), an hour away, that I can just make. It will get me to Philly on time to continue on to Vegas. Will I take a taxi on American's dime to Syracuse? Hell yes I will. I get rebooked, and head outside. 

And then there is a 15 minute delay getting my taxi chit, and getting other taxi-losers loaded, and so on. And suddenly, I realize if we don't get moving, we're not gonna make it, and I whine as such to the driver. But he's intent on picking up a few more aero-refugees, shouting across me through my open window at everyone he can see if they need a taxi ride to Syracuse.

Google Maps says it's 70 minutes to the airport, and the plane leaves in 90 minutes. Holy shit. I say to the guy, look we have to go now or forget it. Like a Delorean license plate, we're OUTATIME.

Pronounced "OOTA TIME" in Flusherville.

The taxi finally takes off and the guy drives like a bat out of hell, averaging 75-80 on the interstate. I'm sweating every mile. Anything goes wrong and I'm stranded in Syracuse overnight, instead of partying in Vegas. Great.

Four or five times along the route I take a bead on a town or landmark, and get Maps to compute the driving time, and compare it to the time available. We are not gaining much ground.

We get to the airport entrance and then take an extra five precious minutes to wind through the outer reaches of every parking lot they have, due to construction.

When we hit the terminal, I have 22 minutes to go before the flight. I shove a ten-spot at the driver ('for putting the hammer down'), shout 'good luck' at a fellow passenger, a soldier out of Fort Drum, who is trying to get to her training assignment near Chicago, and take off through the doors and into the terminal

There's the windup, and there it is, 
A line shot up the middle, look at him go. 
This boy can really fly! 

I run the gauntlet and get hung up at security. Fuck! I'm pulling things out of my bag, they take them away in little bins, run them through the x-ray, bring them back, and then ask for more things to be taken out so they can take them away in little bins. I'm trying to shove all my crap back and for every thing I shove in, two things fall out, it seems.

He's gonna try for second, the ball is bobbled out in center, 
And here comes the throw, and what a throw! 
He's gonna slide in head first, 
Here he comes, he's out! 

Finally I get going, half my luggage zippers still open. I don't care, this is it - I've got to go all out unless I want to spend the night here instead of Vegas.

I practically run. There's the sign for the gate. This a-way.

No, wait, safe - safe at second base, 
This kid really makes things happen out there. 

I realize that after leaving the cab and going through the main doors, I have traversed across the full length of Hancock. After having breached made it through security on the second floor, I will have to traverse back the same distance.

I keep going, and hang a left. My gate is the farthest one away at the end of the wing. Of course.

It's bunted down the third base line, the suicide squeeze is on! 
Here he comes, squeeze play, it's gonna be close, 

By the time I make it to the gate... the sweetest sight - the last passengers are in the process of boarding.

Holy cow, I think he's gonna make it!

Yeah, I made it, just. Like with 5 minutes to spare, because that airplane leaves the ground at exactly its scheduled time. (No "Stop right there!" bullshit, either.) I have a window seat and my seat-mate is Pvt. Fort Drum. We congratulate each other and exchange stories about how we made it through. 

I'm sweating and out of breath and it takes half the flight just to work off the adrenaline.

As I check out my next boarding pass I realize something - the Watertown deskling booked me on a flight that leaves Philadelphia at 8:00pm. But the flight I'm on from Syracuse will get into Philadelphia with lots of time to make my original flight two hours earlier. Dammit! She changed that booking for no reason.

We land, and disembark. To cut to the chase, I find the American Airlines customer service desk, and get rebooked on my original flight. I've lost my original window seat, and I'm stuck in a middle. It's the last seat on the plane. I feel lucky, somehow.

I think about what to have for dinner - meat loaf maybe, but end up grabbing a burrito and a water, and then I hang around the gate, with the rest of the aero-sheep. I get some sweet DC power into my devices - my weapons of mass distraction on the flight.

I've queued up a few episodes of Married at First Sight (Australia). Davina has just made nicey-nicey with Dean, except Davina is married at first sight to Ryan, and Dean is married at first sight to Tracey. There's gonna be fireworks. I also have the latest episode of Gold Rush, and a couple of Mayday: Air Crash Investigations on tap to enjoy and to freak out the rest of the plane.
One of the MAFS mother-in-laws gives the new bride the stink eye.
Boarding starts so I wander around between the seats and the line-up, and that's when it starts. All of a sudden, I'm aware of a guy that looks to be 'that guy'. He's a scrawny, skinny, wiring guy, sloppy looking and he's got - that look. You know that look? He's got a beer going, he's erratic, and loud and in the same space as me. I move away, near the group, next to a pole so nothing can happen from my six.

A few minutes later, the gate agent goes up to him and starts in, asking him to sit down, and asking him for ID. They move to the seats facing the line. My alarm bells silence for now but I'm keeping an eye out.

Then it really starts. He's up off the seat, and a big guy in line, wearing various articles of sports-related clothing, is having a go at him.

"Shut up. Shut the fuck up. Look, don't say another word. Okay? Don't say anything. Go sit down. Sit the fuck down."

For a moment I consider whipping the piPhone out and grabbing some video - but I'm actually too scared to do so. I'm not involved and I want to stay not involved.

Beer man gets up and gets in the guys face, and they are shouting at each other. Gate Agent Lady gets beer man to hand over his ID and somehow, to sit down again. And the scenario repeats. Except now it's like this:

Line guy shouting, "Shut the fuck up. Sit down and shut the fuck up. Don't say another fucking WORD."

Beer Man, getting up and acting indignant and saying unintelligible drunk things.

This goes on for a while and soon, Beer Man is sitting down again next to the desk, but this time, Line Guy is with him. And so is another guy. They are at the desk talking to Gate Agent Lady.

Apparently, Beer Man and Line Guy know each other, so that's a big threat circumvented. Line Guy alternates between talking calmly to Gate Agent Lady, and turning around and shouting at Beer Man.

"SIT THE FUCK DOWN!" - and then calmly carrying on with Gate Agent Lady.

"SIT THE FUCK DOWN! SHUT THE FUCK UP. SHHHT!" - now where were we Gate Agent Lady?

"SHHHHHHT!!!!" He holds his finger up at Beer Man. Beer Man sits on command, discipline which will last about 8 seconds until the next profanity-laced exclamation from Line Guy.

Beer Man gets up again, ready to explore some more, and starts interjecting again.

"SHHHHHHT!!!!" says the Line Guy, raising The Finger. Beer Man sits on command. He's being a good pack leader.

That's when I realize that we aren't just dealing with drunk people - Oh my God, we're dealing with drunk Irishmen.

But what luck o' the Irish will Beer Irish Man have?

Because I see Uniform Guy 1 and Uniform Guy 2 approaching, just as it's my turn to head down the jetway and mount my steed to Vegas.


    1. Why is it that you have the most exciting flight experiences to Vegas? It's almost as if everyone knows you need fodder for your blog, LOL. But oh dear, I am a bit worried about all that stress, the frantic running, and plentiful adrenaline bursting thru your veins. Take Care Mr. Flusher. We do not want to lose you before your time.

    2. It's absolutely ridiculous, isn't it. I have the worst luck! I always say the worse it gets, the better it reads.

    3. I just want to make it clear, I have not been in Syracuse Handpay International Airport and Bocci Ball Court in over 35 years....I was not the drunk Beer Irish Man!!!
      ---Irish Dave

    4. Omg....I am so lucky to be able to fly out of Detroit. Nonstops....I will never fly anything but nonstops!
      What a nightmare!

    5. We'll never lose The Flusher before his time, unless he bets his soul on red.


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