Crappy Trails


Today’s entry is brought to you by bitter disappointment sprinkled with a healthy dash of rage.

It’s about 8:00 in the evening, and I am on USAirways flight 1608 from Orlando to Philadelphia in a seat that was designed for a small child or Victoria Beckham.

Seriously, my hips are pressed against each of the arm rests.

Jack is on my left and a silent Asian man is on my right.  He is sleeping – bless his heart – blissfully unaware of the evil that sits beside him.

It is Superbowl Sunday.

The plane is wobbling to the point that my terror is at Level Orange, and I am extremely thankful for the thin layers of clothing that separate me from the stranger beside me.

Did I mention that it’s Superbowl Sunday?

Behind me sit a Rutgers student studying criminology, a hedge fund manager who lives in Malvern and works in Philly, and a Giants fan.  I know this because the hedge fund manager hasn’t shut up since he sat down.  He is a Jets fan.  He is married.  He has children. He would prefer to live closer to the city.  He knows how to go places where he gets things for free.  He does not care for the Giants and didn’t skip a beat telling the poor guy next to him how sorry he feels for him for being ‘stuck with’ Eli Manning.

Clearly, he doesn’t recall Eli taking home the Vince Lombardi trophy a few years ago.

If not for the fact that I am too firmly wedged into my 6×8-inch seat to even consider scratching my nose, much less getting up,  I might have smashed my computer over his head by now.

Each time the plane wobbles, I shoot a terrified look at Jack who simply shakes his head ‘no’, as in ‘no, honey, that one’s not going to kill us, either,’ while never moving his eyes from the Angry Birds game that has held him captive since the first time he saw it.

Side note:  I really think that game would be more exciting/entertaining if it had a ‘WEEEEEE!’ sound effect every time a bird is launched.  You know, like the pig from the Geico commercial.

Our visit with Nancy and Brett was fantastic – wonderful friends, beautiful accommodations, great meals, a comfortable bed and non-stop laughter.  Who could ask for anything more?

Wait…what?  The weather?  Funny thing about that.  Evidently, it was sunny and warm until about 30 seconds before our plane touched down in Orlando, at which time the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped about 20 degrees.

‘This is so weird,’ Nancy kept saying, ‘it’s not like it never rains, but it usually only lasts about 20 minutes then it’s beautiful again.’

Except that’s not weird.  Not for the Marshall family.  We are world famous for poor vacation planning.  And by ‘we are’, I mean ‘I am’.  As much as I would love nothing more than to be able to blame Jack (for ‘blame sponge’ is his official title,) I am the one who books our vacations.

When the kids were little, we used to like to go to the beach the week leading into Labor Day.  Prices were a little lower, plus we got the extra vacation day when we got home.  Two years in a row, hurricanes came up the coast and closed the beach while we were there (the second time it happened, we went home mid-week because we were going broke keeping the kids entertained.)

Another year, there was a horrible heatwave/drought throughout the summer that ended the day we checked in (the temperature dropped to the mid-50s and rained the entire week.)

Yet another year, we decided to go on a group trip to Disneyworld with Jack’s company.  It rained the entire time and a tornado was rumored to have touched down in Disneyworld. There was an uprooted palm tree laying on its side on the property – fairies with pixie dust had to be dispatched to upright it. True story.  Somewhere we have a picture of a miserable, bespectacled 6-year old Mat wearing a hooded yellow rain poncho with Mickey Mouse ears on top of his head.

Co-workers: I thought you were in Florida.  Why aren’t you tan?
Me: Take a guess.

So, no.  The weather didn’t surprise us at all.  To be honest, we really didn’t mind it.  Sure, it would have been nice to come home with a tan, but we were happy to not be in the freezing cold for a few days.  Also, it was nice to see grass instead of snow for a change.

Traveling reminds me of why I don’t travel.  A pleasant travel experience requires Ghandi-style tolerance and patience, and anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a bear of very little tolerance and patience.

Speaking of which, remind me never to fly USAirways again.  I managed to book two round-trip tickets for about $350 a little over a month ago.  In retrospect, it was probably the Stupid People’s Superbowl Discount.  While we were in Florida, we decided to try to change our flight.  Brett travels a lot for work, so he has something like a billion USAirways miles and was gracious enough to offer to use his miles to pay for our ticket changes.

How much could that possibly cost – $50?  Wrong.  Try $150 per ticket.  Plus a $25 per ticket ‘reservation service fee’ (for the keystrokes, I presume.)  Plus the difference in the ticket price.  The total would have come to about $500.  That’s right, $150 more than the total cost of the trip to move my flight less than 12 hours.  Oh, and they wouldn’t let Brett use any of his billion miles. Nope.  It would have to be paid for with real money.

When we got to the gate in Orlando, I approached the scowling woman at the counter who apparently didn’t see me (totally my fault; I forgot to deactivate my cloaking device.)

Me: Ahem…excuse me.
Wicked: [blank stare]
Me: My husband is wearing a back brace.  Would it, by any chance, be possible to get more comfortable seating?
Wicked: All the seats are the same.  If he’s wearing a back brace, I can’t give him bulkhead seating.
Me: Any chance we can get bumped to first class?
Wicked: There’s only one seat left in first class; it’s an extra $100.

Of course it is.  I mean, why let the guy with the back brace sit in first class when it’s just as easy to leave the seat empty? Way to pay it forward, lady.

And so here I sit on a cramped, loud, wobbling plane, praying that I don’t end up pregnant by the end of the trip and hoping I can convince Jack that driving to Florida couldn’t possibly be as bad as everyone says it is.  Maybe we could even schedule our next trip for Christmas morning.  It would pretty much guarantee a white (and icy!) Christmas.

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4 thoughts on “Crappy Trails

  1. Ha. The joys of traveling. I used to fly all over the place, but now I have a deathly fear of it and will probably never fly again.

    We were looking into Amtrak … the little rooms they have (with your own potty) look cool. My sister booked one for a trip to SC and said it was great. Plus you don’t have to deal with the masses. That would be the only way we could do it, because we both have bad backs and I couldn’t sit in a seat for 24 hours. I was THIS close to clicking on “book it” for Ft Lauderdale lasts week, but chickened out at the last second. May get there yet this year if I get in a mood.

    Great story !

  2. I am terrified of turbulance….I usually talk non-stop much to the annoyance of my companion or stranger for that matter…The very worst flight was one I took with brother non-stop from Tampa to Philly…OMG it was a beautiful day , sun blazing ,but that goddamn US Air plane was dipping and bouncing all over the heavens..The flight attendants had to remain seated the entire flight and I eventually asked one ,who was strapped in her seat across from me, if she had ever experienced anything like this ? Her response was a quick NO!…I could tell by the lack of color in her face she too thought we were goners…The whole time my smart ass brother is reading a book and keeps repeating how I should calm down…”You’re not in control of the situation sister”…WTF? By the time we landed I was ready to push him down an emergency slide onto the tarmack.When the plane did eventually land safely everyone clapped…The pilot quietly apologized…..

  3. Donna, i found those damn seats to be waaaay to small, too. Try to touch your elbows together while crossing your legs like you have to pee. That’s how I sat too and from Vegas. Charming. We wanted to come back earlier in the day and tried to change our flights…it was $600. We decided getting in at 11:00 pm was just fine and stayed in the airport all day!

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