Monday, December 25, 2006

Via Chicago: Part I

Ah, Christmas, time to relax and enjoy the company of my family here in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Oh wait, I don't have any family in North Carolina. What am I doing in North Carolina?

If you enjoy killing time, I'd suggest you try flying during the holidays. Like many people, I found my flight home affected by the snowstorm in Colorado. I didn't know that things in the greater world could affect me, but it turns out every once in a while, something punctures the little bubble that's been built around me and I am forced to breathe the same air as everyone else. So instead of flying home on Thursday, I was stuck in Boston until Saturday afternoon. The icing on the tofu cake was that I had to change planes in Raleigh, NC. Needless to say, I found myself with 8+ hours to kill, during which time I entertained myself with pre-packaged snack foods, chewing gum, and frequent travel updates from public airport televisions. Another fun thing to do at airports is to watch for fluctuations in the current terror alert level (I haven't seen it stray from orange in the past two years ... maybe they should think about adding various shades of orange to keep it interesting. Apricot? Coral? Tangerine?)

As much as I may claim to be unafraid of flying, I will admit that I felt a certain amount of discomfort as I boarded our aircraft, which was as large as a modern mid-sized vehicle. Why was there even a beverage cart? We could just pass the drinks back ourselves. I understand that the snow in Colorado caused the airlines to become seriously backed up, so I will cut the pilot and flight attendants some slack. But it didn't exactly ease my mind each time they took a disturbingly long time announcing our destination city. "In just a few minutes we'll be on our way to our destination city ... Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina."

North Carolina is pretty. It's a shame I didn't get to see it any other way than through the reinforced plate glass airplane window. Since I was stopped over in Raleigh for two hours and couldn't leave the airport, it seemed like a good time to get everyone Christmas presents. This Christmas, everyone would be getting something from the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Stolen salt shakers and airsickness bags don't exhibit much of that southern charm I'm always hearing about, so I stopped into a place called "Taste! A Southern Season" for gifts. An exclamation point placed mid-name is usually a good indication that there is a good deal of excitement inside. Note: souvenir bottles of hot sauce and Tar Heel-shaped cookies make exquisite gifts for the people that have given you life.

Also, one of the best things to do right before your flight is to drink as much coffee as you can right before you board, so you force the person seated next to you to stand up right after you take off and at least three times during the remainder of the flight. Is the largest size cup offered a 16 oz.? Ask if they have a 32. If you're lucky, a line will form for the bathroom and wrap around the length of the airport terminal right before boarding starts, so you will have to make the difficult choice between making your flight or your present level of comfort (and future state of your kidneys). My brother and I seem to have been born with genetically small and conspiratorial bladders ... It is not hard to believe that my main concern were we to crash would most likely be "Can I get to a bathroom in time?" I think that while they have been wasting valuable research efforts and funding towards finding an alternative material for silicone breast implants and developing the new procedure known as "G-spot Amplification," they should have been working on more practical applications like increasing the size of your bladder without undergoing organ transplantation.

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