Monday, December 22, 2008

If We Couldn't Laugh We Would All Go Insane

Well I'm back in Fairbanks and it's good to be home.  The sun down south is great, and I'll write about that in a bit, but the Lower 48 has crowd control problems we just don't deal with up here and I'm glad for that.  Crowds suck, and that point was driven home with a night of hell at the Seattle Tacoma airport where we got weathered in on the way back from Mazatlan.Here's a shot I took about 9pm Saturday when AK Air was still feeding us the line that we might get out that night.  Snow was coming down hard and over 4 inches was on top of the plane.  I figured we were doomed and then I saw this:
When Jolly St. Nick can't get home for Christmas what chance do I have?  And so it was at 1am they officially cancelled our flight, sent us back out through security and said get in line for a new ticket.  There was well over 1,000 people already waiting in line and beside the line people were sleeping everywhere in the most horrible open mouth broken neck positions that only the truly exhausted can perform.  
We stood in line all night, inching along and trying not to calculate the hopelessness of it all.  Finally, at 6am we stood in front of an agent.  He looked nervous and unskilled and happily informed us there was a flight out in the evening, of December 24.  Angela went white, then gray, then red and said very calmly, "That cannot happen."  Meanwhile I had a brief vision as the next 3 days stretched out before us.  There were riots, burning luggage cart tires, cannabalism and the leering faces of TSA agents eating fried chicken from behind the security lines and laughing as families huddled under in-flight magazine covers for warmth.  
I had to do something, and quick, so I put my finger to my left temple and whispered, "Help me Obi wan, you're my only hope."  I have uttered many oaths, phrases, curses and movie lines in my life but none with as much yearning of spirit and soul as I did Sunday morning.  Almost instantly a new ticket agent walked up and took  our man's place.  She dismissed him with a quick nod and a wave, cracked her knuckles, and looked over the top of her computer at us with calm determination.  Once she knew where we had to go her fingers blurred and the keyboard grew hot as she typed her demands into cyberspace.  
She mumbled under her breath as she worked her Jedi magic, "I'll enter you both as backslash 'k' upgrades on a dash 9 layover with section P clearance.  That'll get you to Anchorage, then it's just a matter of inputing the high tide coefficient for Turnagain Arm on a leapyear and it's done.  Now do you want window or aisle seats on the 8am flight today?"  
The upshot of it all is that our firstborn must now be named "Tracy" regardless of gender and we got home within 24 hours of when we were supposed to.  We did make it onto an 8 am flight but then spent 4 hours waiting in the plane for a de-icing crew to show up.  It wasn't until the gear folded into the plane as we lifted off that I began to feel some relief.
The Ted Stevens Convicted Felon International Airport never looked so good.  A few other things I would like to mention:  I saw maybe 100 blue blankets passed out to the thousands of sleeping people stranded at the airport, no one but Starbucks stayed open late to feed anyone, and supposedly the airport handed out bottled water for about an hour but ran out before I saw a drop.  

For all the billions that have been squandered on TSA theatrics true terrorism is watching an airport that handles 30,000 people a day shut down.  We will never forget...

1 comment:

Steve said...

Glad you made it home, you should have hi-jacked a luggage cart and bea lined it to Hood River. Happy Holidays.