Friday, September 23, 2005

Airport blogging

I'm sitting at LaGuardia waiting for my plane to board. I came to NY to attend a conference on the always interesting topic of Closed-End Fund governance. Just can't get enough of that stuff, I tell you!

So I made the HUGE mistake of booking a 6am flight out of Chicago. What the hell was I thinking? Of course, I went to my friends' house for dinner last night and drank wine and talked far later than I should have considering I was supposed to get up at 4:30am. So I get to bed a midnight and barely get any sleep before I hit the snooze button THREE times. Not a good start.

I somehow manage to leave the house by 5:10 but, of course, can't find a cab. I end up walking three blocks to the Embassy Suites and catch a cab in front. On a good day with no traffic, it takes about 20 minutes to get to O'Hare and luckily, it was a good day. But when I try to do self-service check-in, my boarding pass mysteriously doesn't print. So I move to another machine, same thing. Next machine tells me that because it's less than 30 minutes before the flight leaves I can't get a boarding pass. How pissed was I that I had been there at least (ok barely) 30 minutes ahead but American's stupid machines wouldn't print my boarding pass? Yes, I know - I could have printed my boarding pass from home but that would have required forethought and planning and we've already established that those are skills that I do not possess.

So the very "helpful" agent (sarcasm alert) tells me that there's no way I can get on that flight but maybe I can try those "other machines over there" and that might work. So I try the other machines - same thing. Two of them don't appear to work and the third one tells me "Loser - you're too late." So another "very helpful" agent tells me I have to get in the really long line to get help. I must have a fairy godmother because the agent at the desk was actually REALLY helpful and she said - "I think you can make it. Give it a try." Wow - how hard would it have been for one of the other two "very helpful" agents to actually stop chatting about their love lives and give me some real help.

Ok, so I make like O.J. and run to security where - shocker - the TSA agent is really nice and lets me into the First Class line so I can get through quickly. So I quickly and dutifully take my laptop out of my briefcase, put everything in the bins and put the bins and my shoes on the conveyor belt which is - not moving. Why? Because the conveyor belt lady is - reading. And not looking at the conveyor belt. So I look to the metal detector lady who waves me through and says - with a straight face - "Ma'am, you have been randomly selected for additional screening." Poor girl saw the look of utter horror, furious anger and total disbelief on my face (and also, my eyeballs popped out of my head), glanced at my boarding pass and said "Oh, no you didn't!" Then she turned to the conveyor belt lady who was - wait for it - still reading a book and gently let her know that she, um, had stuff to look at. I, however, was about to yell "WTF conveyor belt lady! Get a move on! I have a plane to catch!" But it's good that I didn't because that extra screening would have come on fast and furious.

So, I make the plane with plenty of time to spare. Go figure - I could have gotten that Starbucks afterall.

After the "very interesting" conference, I ended up with a couple hours to kill so I did what I used to do when I lived in NY - I walked around and looked at people and stuff. I was at the American Stock Exchange for the conference so I made my way over to Broadway and started walking north. I started in the financial district and moseyed up to Tribeca. Then I took a right turn on Canal Street and into Chinatown. There is really no city like NY. It's simply amazing how many little stores and businesses there are packed into these blocks. And so many of them sell the same junky purses, watches, jewelry, hats, clothes and stuff. How in the world do any of them make money?

The people watching is amazing. Well, except for the one guy that was walking in front of me on a side street. He was sort of well dressed - he had dress pants and a Hawaiian shirt and was wearing a baseball cap. He was strolling along and then all of a sudden he stopped, turned to the curb and WHIPPED IT OUT AND BEGAN TO PEE. I am so not kidding. And everyone just walked past like nothing out of the ordinary was going on but there was a man peeing in the street in the middle of the day! WTF! Now I remember why I moved out of NY. People in Chicago have the decency to pee in the alleyways.

Gotta go - the plane is about to board. I'll try to post the Friday song later tonight but if I don't get a chance, I guess it will be the Saturday song this week. Not to ruin the surprise or anything but it's another song by a lady singing about deep emotional issues. Only this time it's about clothes.


landismom said...

Oh man, I know that Chicago is your hometown, but I have had nothing but bad experiences in that airport! Last time I was there, the exact same thing happened to my boss, only his reaction was to yell at the agents, so they flagged him for screening, and he ended up missing his plane. He had to sit there for like four hours before he could get another flight. So you definitely made the right choice to not scream.

Hope the rest of your trip home was uneventful.

Sandra said...

Good for you making it onto that plane.

Lots of public peeing here in Korea, unfortunately, along with copious spitting and vomiting. Some men really know how to charm a gal, eh?

MIM said...

Ahhh, the sights and sound of the big city.

The worst thing I ever saw was two homeless people having sex in front of city hall in San Francisco. Beyond grim.

Crystal said...

Great great post! I went to NYC for Memorial Day 2004 and was not all that impressed. The Canal Street trinklets were really junky, and this place in Chinatown called Pearl River Market had been hyped in some magazines I'd read, but it was totally disappointing. Times Square was decent fun but there were piles of trash everywhere, and there really wasn't much to do besides stare at the neon lights and takes pictures. I think Chicago is way more beautiful than NYC and I love it here! As far as O'hare--the airport is too big and cumbersome but overall my experiences have been positive.

Jessica said...

Landismom - I think I told you about my husband's similar experience in Houston in an email. The abuse of power is ridiculous sometimes.

Sandra - Public vomiting? Eww. I don't think I could deal with that. Seeing other people throw up makes me want to puke - it would be a bad scene!

MIM - Another ewww! And you can't even yell "Get a room" unless you're prepared to pay for it.

Crystal - There are a lot of great things about NY but you really need to avoid the touristy places. I was never a big fan of Times Square (and when I lived in NY it wasn't as nice as it is now). I think Chicago is great because of Lincoln Park, Millenium Park, and the fact that the lakefront belongs to everyone, among other things. And real estate is still far more affordable than NY, which is key for me. I need space and I couldn't afford it in NYC and I don't want to live in the suburbs.