Monday, December 1, 2014

Homeward Bound (I wish I wasn’t…)

I woke up around 7:00 a.m. on Sunday. I grabbed a cup of coffee and greeted my hosts. Then I shaved, showered and finished packing. I had just enough time to write and post the Blog entry. Then we left for the airport.

I deliberately wanted to be there extra early, thinking a hell of a lot of people would be heading home from the holidays. That didn’t prove to be the case, however.

I ran into a bit of a hassle at the security line. I was told I was one of the random selected folks that didn’t need to go through regular security and to go in another line. Here I was told I could keep my shoes and belt on, just put my keys and cell phone in my coat (no carry on on the return trip).

Sidebar: Apparently they are trying to “ease” into the new regulations at, say, Detroit.

So, I did and walked through the metal detector, after telling them I would set it off. I set it off. Then shit got real. The lady told me to take off my belt and shoes and to wait for a male attendant to frisk me. I complied but told her I didn’t mind being frisked by a female. She was not amused.

Finally an older guy showed up. I then got the most exhaustive pat-down I ever had since Japan (and those guys were thorough). About the only difference was the Japanese wore white cotton dress gloves and this guy had on blue latex gloves. Then he rubbed a swab, attached to a wand, over his gloves and stuck that into some kind of analyzer (hoping for drugs, I assume).

Finally, I was allowed to collect my stuff and get it back on. I was still early and so I went to the Sunrise Cafe stand and got a sausage croissant, with an egg and cheese added. This was not the first time I had one from there, so I knew it would be awful and way too expensive, but I thought I should eat and the Columbia airport is too small for real restaurants.

Sidebar: Two things I do really like about the Columbia airport. One, they have the best bookstore I’ve ever found in any airport. And, two, their restroom.

Is the Columbia restroom bigger or cleaner that the Charlotte one? No. But they don’t have an attendant! Charlotte has an attendant in every restroom. He greets you, suggests what stall or urinal you might like, chats with you while you wash your hands and then tidies up the stall or urinal you just used. He also offers you a selection of mouthwash or mints. The mouthwash is next to his tip jar.

Now, I appreciate clean restrooms (I have to use them enough that I really DO appreciate them). But it is unsettling to have someone hover over you in a bathroom! I need a little privacy!!! I guess it’s supposed to be Southern hospitality or charm but, please, let it go. Let me go…

Note: The only time I have tipped one of these guys was either last Christmas or the Christmas before, when the attendant was a young kid who kept singing Christmas songs. When nobody was in the restroom, he stood outside singing them. He had a great voice and I was impressed, so I gave him five bucks.

Okay, so I’m off topic.

I sat down in my gate and read my book. Then I noticed an unusual event going on out on the runway. There was a small (maybe 10 passenger) Cessna prop plane, sitting on the end of the runway. Next to it was a big fire truck with the emergency lights on. Nobody got out (either from the plane or the fire truck). They just sat there. Finally a tug came out and towed the plane away.

We eventually boarded and headed out for the short flight to Charlotte. Now, that’s when the problem began. I had only less than 40 minutes to get from one end of the Charlotte airport to the other, and it’s not small. So, we landed on time and then taxied forever (you always do at Charlotte) until we finally got to the gate.

They had already begun boarding by the time I got to my gate. I took time to go to the restroom (ignoring the damn attendant and choosing my own urinal). Oddly enough, I boarded right behind the same young lady I boarded behind in Columbia. Turned out she was from there, had been home for the holiday and was going back to school at the University of Michigan.

The flight was smooth enough that they served refreshments. I got a black coffee. It took them long enough to serve the last two rows (or maybe I drank it fast enough) that I smiled at the stewardess and asked if there was enough coffee left that I could get a refill. She smiled back at me and refilled my cup.

The older woman who was sitting across the aisle with her husband noticed the book I had just finished reading (The Killing Floor, by Lee Childs) and asked me if it was a good book. I explained it was the first in his series of some 17 or 18 books with the character, Jack Reacher). I couldn’t find it in Michigan, but it was in the bookstore Carla took me to. I told her it was a great series. We talked a while about the genre and she suggested an author I never heard of, couldn’t write down, probably will forget, but I will try to search out.

In the end, I gave her my new book. She seemed flustered, but I told her I was done reading it (I finished it before we landed) and would find it somewhere again for my library.

Then we touched down in the D. I sent a text to Jake and Carla, letting them know I made it. We taxied a while (but nowhere near as long as you do in Charlotte) and then made the gate.

Sidebar: I buy the cheap seats, so I’m always in back. Why is it that in every plane I’ve ever been in that, in a plane with 90 some souls, several people in the rear seats will immediately stand up? And get out their carry-ons? You ain’t going nowhere, no time soon!

I keep my butt in my seat until people three rows up are starting to leave. Then I stand up, gather my stuff and, after a few moments wait, get off the plane.

I went down to the baggage area. They hadn’t unloaded my plane yet, so I got a seat. I checked the weather and was blown away to find it was 60 degrees and raining!

For a change, my suitcase was the second one to come up out of the chute!!!

I patted my truck and told her hello, then bailed her out.

It was almost 4:00 p.m. I had nothing left in the fridge to make for dinner and nothing in the freezer (like a chicken pot pie) to heat.

I had seen a real Big Boy on Merriman near the airport, so I pulled in. I ordered my favorite: Veal Parmesan with a side of spaghetti, Caesar salad and garlic toast. It was delicious!

Back home at last, nothing seemed wrong. I parked outside, went through the front door and enabled the garage door opener. Caley ran away, BTW, just like she always does when I leave her alone. I put treats down for her, anyway.

It was still light out, so I switched my porch decorations from fall to winter. Then I went out back and refilled the feeders. Finally, I picked up a few branches that had fallen and set up the Game Camera.

Inside, I changed into my robe, unpacked my suitcase and did one last load of laundry.

Whiskey had sent Caley a present, “A Feather Whirl.” It’s an electronic ball with a wand on it that has some feathers at the end. So, I got the screwdriver and put some batteries in it. I put it on the floor and went to get my camera. Caley was very interested at that point.

Then I turned it on. Caley took off like she was shot from a cannon! So, no video yet…

By the way, it is pretty cool. It changes motion all the time, so the feathers are jerking, then turning and twisting. I left it on the floor by the TV stand, so Caley can become accustomed to it.

I couldn’t find anything interesting on TV, so I switched to reading until bedtime, which was early. I was tired and figured I’d nailed it!


  1. Glad you made it home safely. Carla had to explain the title to me... ha.

  2. LOL! Really? That's hilarious!!!