Thursday, January 13, 2005

Fly the Friendly Skies

I've been on far too many airplanes recently. So much so that it's becoming less like a rare treat and more like getting on a bus. I've become aware of the power of alcohol for making the bus ride a little less nerve-ridden. On my most recent adventure, I made my way through the throngs of suits to find a bar in the "B-travel" section (which includes ATA, AmericaWest, and AlaskaAirlines). It was the only bar that had sports on the TV. I promptly ordered a pint of Anchor Steam. The guy sitting at the table next to mine slammed his pint, then followed that up with what I could only guess was a Jack n' Coke. Another woman bellied up to the bar and was there for about a minute and left a bottle of Heineken behind. What a magic trick! After looking around at all the people who looked like they travel more regularly than I do, and seeing how many drinks they had, I figured I better have another Anchor.

Time came to get aboard the flying bus, so I went down to the gate and boarding had already begun. I got into my seat and we took off. As we were passing through ten-thousand feet, the thought of urinating started becoming an obsession. But the "fasten seat belts" light was still illuminated, so I counted to 10 countless times. Finally the light went off and I turned to head to the closet in the rear they refer to as a "restroom". The beverage cart was already coming down the aisle, so I started toward the restroom in the front of the plane. Occupied. The first class attendant (named Cathy) ordered me to wait at row 6 - the first row outside of first class. Luckily there was nobody there, so I took a seat and tapped my foot for about 2 minutes.

One of the pilots exited the cabin and tapped Cathy on the shoulder. She took a key from her pocket and unlocked the restroom which was marked "Occupied". He went in. Okay, so I'd been had. The restroom was never occupied at all and Cathy knew this. I had to go to the little zen place in my mind to get over this. Meanwhile another stewardess (named Theresa) came to the front to sub for Cathy, who had just gone into the cabin to provide a little naughtiness to the flight crew I'm sure. The pilot who had just dropped a load went back into the cabin. I waited another minute and started toward the bathroom, which I was now sure was free. Theresa blocked my entry and said, "No, you have to wait". I said "But there's nobody in there." She told me to go back to row 6. I saw that the beverage cart was still blocking my way to the restrooms in the rear. I was about ready to make a break for the front restroom, but instead I went to that little zen place in my mind again and politely said to Theresa "I have to use the bathroom." This really set Theresa off so she got in a huff and told Kirk (our other flight attendant) to move the cart so I could get by to the rear bathroom. I wonder if I should start wearing Depends to the airport. Live and learn.

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