Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Flight

David got back on time from his work trip to California, which these days seems like the exception rather than the rule. I think United Airlines should consider changing their name to Fuckin' United, since that's what most people seem to call them anyway. Maybe FU for short. I myself prefer to fly on an airline that should probably update its name to Dammit Northwestern You've Screwed Me Over in Detroit Yet Again.

The last tine I flew, our plane made an emergency landing at an airport en route because some wires in the lavatory started smoking and set off the fire alarm. I thought this was weird considering until fairly recently they used to let people smoke in the plane. It's okay if people smoke, but wires cannot! Making an emergency landing seemed like a bit of an overreaction -- couldn't they just have emptied a couple of those tiny bottles of water on the smoking wires? Then charge us each a $14 tiny bottle of water surcharge.

Due to our unanticipated landing, we -- Stella, my sister, and I -- spent the night in Detroit. The airline put us up in a hotel, and I told my sister to be sure to get a separate room so that she could watch trashy cable, particularly COPS, which is the most entertaining show I can imagine. When I was in graduate school, I worked in program support for the law enforcement division of the Department of Natural Resources, which was basically the game wardens, and I learned a very important rule there: Only do one illegal thing at a time. We'll call this the Potato Rule. If you do more than one illegal thing at the same time, your chances of getting caught go up drastically and you can't really enjoy all that simultaneous law-breaking anyway. So, to take an example from when I worked at the DNR, if you illegally dump a bunch of trash in a ravine, make sure the garbage doesn't include a deer killed out of season. People on COPS violate the Potato Rule on a regular basis, and they do it shirtless, which technically is not against the law but probably should be for a lot of the people on COPS. I know COPS was thinking of filming an episode in Madison but then didn't; it might be because there's only 6 or 7 days of the year here where it's warm enough to go shirtless, or maybe more like 10-12 days if you don't mind a little frost in your armpit hair.

Watching bad TV in hotel rooms is a treat because my sister doesn't have a TV at all. We have a television but I don't watch it. David does, though, but somewhat furtively and not when I'm around. He'll be talking about how great Neil Young's newest album is. "That's great," I'll say, "Where did you hear it?" He'll get a shameful look on his face, and then I guess his secret: he's been watching Letterman after I go to bed! Sure, it seems harmless enough, but it's a slippery slope down to watching Everybody Loves Raymond. And I can't have that happen under my roof.

At any rate, we were trying to get the airline to pay for separate hotel rooms, but airline policy called for related people to share a room. We were crabby enough about having to spend Christmas Eve in Detroit, and we wanted our accommodations to be as comfortable as possible, so my sister said that she wasn't related to the other people she was travelling with. "Let me see if I understand," said the airline worker. "You're travelling with two people who have the same last name as you, but you're not related." "That's right," said my sister, looking her right in the eye.

We got our separate hotel rooms.

Stella took our emergency landing and its unpleasant consequences in stride, as she is an experienced traveler. Yesterday at breakfast she said out of the blue, "Are you you taking me to Africa? Or what?" Listen kid: I have taken you to California. I have taken you to Chicago. I have taken you to Pennsylvania, to Omaha, to Boston, to Florida, to Albuquerque, to Washington DC, and to New Zealand twice. I am not going to take any guff about not taking you to Africa. Now go fetch me one of those tiny bottles of water.

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