My husband has this dreamy job. Yeah, it took him 8 years to get 2 degrees, and an additional 5 years of internship/residency, combined with 8 years of military service at a significant discount to civilian pay to finally get it. But now he makes more than twice as much as me and gets over 3 times the vacation. Go figure.
He traveled out ahead of me and his trip out to the Bash was less than spectacular. Weather and other delays kept him from getting to the hotel 'til nearly daybreak. Didn't stop him from golfing in the rain with the Canadians, but still not so much fun.
I, having a real job, where I am expected to do some minimal amount of work, could only spare a 3-day weekend. So I left early Friday morning, with plans to return late Sunday evening. I boarded in Seattle and was on my way to Philly via Chicago by 8:20 a.m. on Friday, and feeling good.
Until I got off the plane in Chicago. Looking for my 4:10 p.m. flight, I read the departure board . . . "CANCELLED".
Normally, this is where Mrs. Chako starts to feel out of control and gets a little self-important. Especially when the weekend was a little short anyway.
I went to the closest gate. Explained the situation. Calmly and politely. The man behind the counter said "Well, the 1:15 p.m. flight has been delayed to 3:15 p.m. - you might get on standby. Go to gate B9."
I calmly took my carryon and headed through O'Hare from the C gates to gate B9. Which was kind of like thinking about walking from Seattle to San Diego . . . you know, you think because it's still on the west coast, it has to be close, . . . but it's not.
When I got to B9, things didn't look so promising. The waiting area was filled with cranky fliers already delayed. The standby list was 37 passengers long. The line seemed longer.
The lady next to me said "You waiting for standby?" and when I told her I was on the canceled flight, she said "Oh, me too - so you already went to customer service?" Now I started to think my approach had been wrong. I noticed a customer service counter a ways down the hall. I left the line and headed to the counters, determined to do this right.
There weren't any actual customer service "agents," per se. There were simple several electronic terminals and one or two phones. I opted to use the computer, to see what kind of damage I could do. Hard as I tried, I could not convince that computer to put me on the 3:15 p.m. Not even standby. It booked me on the 7:52 p.m., and printed my boarding pass.
Again, while I normally would have been panicked at this time, a little voice in my head said "oh well. Screwed. What can you do?" I was puzzled and pleased at my zen-like state, and for whatever reason, I decided to head over to the stand-by line again. Who knows . . .
By the time I reached the front of the line, the standby list was pushing 40. I smiled my sweetest smile. Reached deep inside my heart for a fresh crop of sincerity.
"Good afternoon sir. I am going to ask you a question that I am SURE you are tired of hearing by now . . . any chance I could get on the standby list?"
He was pleasant, and didn't look at me like a three-headed hydra in heels. He took my boarding pass, looked it over, and said "Uh . . . you don't even have a seat assignment."
I explained the whole thing . . . cancelled flight . . . blah, blah, blah . . . electronic booking . . . yada, yada, yada . . . standby . . . . blah, blah, blah. Blah.
"Well, let me get your seat assigned. We can't do anything until your seat is assigned." He took my boarding pass and began typing furiously.
I put on my sweet voice. A smile. Leaned a little further over his kiosk, just in case cleavage had any influence. "Anything you could do, at this point, sir, would really be appreciated. I am sure all these passengers have been testing your patience." Shoulders back. Smile. Tilt head.
"I've got you on the list . . . now you just need to wait until your name is called." He handed me back some papers.
I didn't want to push my luck, but with a huge standby list, I didn't know what this would mean. I tried, carefully, to see if I could get any intel. "I realize the list is pretty long - any guess on whether you expect me to get on? Only so that I could call my friends and let them know I am delayed . . . "
"Oh, your chances are pretty good, given that you were delayed. Just watch the board." He looked down and began typing furiously again. I felt a little defeated, but what could I do?
I sat in a seat, and began to chat with everyone. Smiling, laughing, trying to breathe and not look at the board. Finally, my curiosity got the better of me. I turned around to the standby board behind me, to make sure my name was on it. And saw it. In the #2 position. #2.
What?!?!?! I turned back around. Then turned back to the board. Yep. Still #2. I looked over at the guy. He wasn't even looking at my cleavage. #2. Wow. I was near giddy. #2. I shared my good fortune. It was interrupted by them calling my name. With a boarding pass. On an aisle seat. WTF?!?!?!? I looked around, looking for the hidden cameras. Smiled sweetly at those around me . . . and then double-checked my new boarding pass. Yep. #2. Aisle seat.
We boarded the plane, and I thought the adventure was over. Until they got us all seated, only to tell us the plane was being delayed for air traffic control reasons, but that we had to stay on and taxi out to the runway, but couldn't depart for another hour and fifteen minutes.
Again, this is a point where I normally would be furious. But hey, I got an aisle seat - how could it get much better? So while others fretted and freaked, I pulled out my Sudoku and reved up a few synapses. 10 minutes later? Captain comes on and announces that we're now fourth in line for takeoff and we'll be wheels up in under 10.
True to his word, we lifted off. I was on a Philly-bound plane 20 minutes ahead of where I would have been had it all gone according to schedule. And without the risk to my blood pressure.
It was an uneventful flight, and made it in in time to play the Poker tourney. I could not have asked for it to turn out better. Karma, baby . . .
Which probably explains a lot about the nature of the Bash. Or any blogger gathering. Keep expecting to have your expectations met and exceeded . . .
Perfect prelude . . .