Not too long ago, I got to do something I’d never gotten to do before. I was invited on a press trip as a cocktail writer. Now, I have to say, I thought that was pretty darned cool. Not just because it was a chance to travel without having to pay for it myself (and I found plenty of ways to spend my own money while I was gone, trust me), but because it also feels like a bit of validation. Someone must think I’m an OK writer. They even think someone reads my articles on occasion. That’s a pretty good feeling. (I don’t know if they’re right or not, but I prefer to think that they are. Although I’d like it even better if someone was paying me lots and lots of money for it. Gotta be honest there.)
Anyway, I haven’t done a lot of traveling since I found out about the fibro. Well, to be technical, I haven’t done any traveling, but whatever. It wasn’t going to be a long trip – out on Tuesday, back on Thursday – but a trip that involves one of my least favorite things: a plane trip. Oh, I’m not afraid of flying or anything like that. I just hate dealing with airports. I don’t like dealing with baggage, or checking in, or going through security, or any of the assorted bull that goes with flying, especially making connections and changing planes.
So this trip was a bit of a learning experience. Traveling with fibro isn’t always easy, but there are worse things. One major downside is that being unable to sit comfortably for more than 10, 15 minutes or so is a definitely an issue. You’d think that it wouldn’t be quite such a problem on an airplane. After all, can’t you just stand up and stretch every so often to keep the muscles from tightening up? Ha! Being wedged in like sardines you’re lucky to be able to breathe on a regular basis, never mind standing.
I learned that there are some real advantages to getting a seat in the front row. There’s a little more leg room, and it marginally increases the odds of being able to move around a little bit during the flight, even if actually standing isn’t possible. (Don’t even think about walking. That’s an unattainable fantasy.)
I learned that somehow it’s basically impossible to check in with Southwest early enough to board before the plane is already at least half full, thus greatly decreasing the chances of getting a seat in the front row (aisle seats, incidentally, are another unattainable fantasy). I don’t know how it works that way, but trust me, it does.
I learned that the flight from Chicago to Louisville takes less time than the drive from my house to the airport. While slightly amusing, this is also one of the things I hate about flying.
I learned that you cannot take a carry-out container of grits through airport security. Apparently TSA considers it a suspicious paste and is prohibited as a potential explosive. TSA agents are unswayed by explanations that the potentially explosive paste is loaded with yummy bacon and cheese. TSA agents also have no sense of humor (remember the line in Men in Black? “We at the FBI do not have a sense of humor we’re aware of.”). They will not be amused if you suggest to them that they should not let the confiscated grits go to waste and that someone should eat them while they’re still warm, no matter how sincere the offer.
I learned that I find it extremely annoying to pay $8 for a vanilla latte in an airport coffee shop. It’s even more annoying when it is a very mediocre latte. For $8, that latte ought to help carry my bags.
I learned that I’m just not blasé enough to not act all country-comes-to-town if I’m picked up at the airport by a limo and a driver. This didn’t seem to bother the driver any at all.
I learned that I’m also not blasé enough to not act all country-comes-to-town when confronted with a swanky hotel. As in “this hotel was listed as one of the top 10 hotels in the world” swanky. As in there is an art museum in this hotel. Or maybe there’s a hotel in the art museum. Either way, it’s a boutique motel, which means it’s small, expensive, and the staff is really, really, really nice to you.
I learned that after hearing ‘top 10,’ ’boutique,’ and ‘art museum,’ I really shouldn’t read the rates listed on the little sign on the inside of the door. Seeing the standard per-night cost almost made me choke on my own tongue.
I learned that top 10 boutique art museum hotels have incredibly comfortable beds with lovely, plush pillows. And they don’t skimp on the linens, either.
But one of the most entertaining travel moments wasn’t a learning experience. I boarded the plane at a ridiculously early hour of the morning, and was thrilled to have a couple with a baby sitting right in front of me. (If you believe you detect a note of sarcasm in that statement, you would be correct.) Very young baby; as I learned from overhearing the flight attendant’s chat with mommy, Junior was not quite two months old, and was going to meet Grandma for the first time.
This should be fun. (Not) As the flight attendant took drink requests, I debated whether it would look bad to request vodka before 8 a.m. I decided that if I had to wonder about it, the answer was probably “Yes, that would look very bad.” Deep sigh. Bottle of water requested. Flight attendant’s next stop – another chat with mommy as they go through the rather extensive list of options. Mommy asks if decaf is available. Why, yes, yes it is, I’d be glad to get that for you. At which point, mommy says, no, that’s OK. I waited to hear the verdict….mommy would like a Budweiser, please.
I should have gotten the vodka after all.