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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – Harry, my 90 year old friend, is planning a trip from San Diego to London that includes stop-overs and a number of connections. He designed it this way because his cardiologist didn’t want him taking any long, direct, flights. After reading Harry’s itinerary I took a nap.
Harry enjoys planning each leg of his trips. Maybe when I’m his age I’ll enjoy the process too, but for now the only thing I enjoy is checking in at the hotel.
“You don’t mind airport turmoil and chaos?” I asked.
“I love it,” he answered. “I’m a people watcher and airports are the best places for that.”
“You don’t hate connecting planes?”
“Nope. It’s exciting.”
Me? I would rather take one plane to Hell than have to connect planes to Paradise.
“Don’t you find packing exhausting?”
“What’s to pack? I throw in three pair of slacks, five shirts, underwear and socks.”
That would explain it. In addition to daytime and evening outfits, I need my creature comforts: jewelry, curling iron, makeup, tweezers, pillow, books, extra shirts for when food lands on my chest — which it always does – and four pair of shoes: three designer pairs and one orthotic pair for my throbbing bunion.
No matter what airline I select, it’s always furthest from the terminal entrance. And, I’ve never entered and shoved my way down a crowded airplane aisle without resisting the urge to say “mooooo.”
I watched a man’s slacks drop to his ankles as he placed his luggage in an overhead bin. He stood in his tidy whities, casually speaking to the airline hostess, and it was several minutes before he bothered bending over to retrieve his slacks.
I talk to myself when I’m in the air:
I need to pee, but I don’t want to bother anyone. Maybe I can hold it in for another 3,000 miles.
Who told him that armrest was his?
She’s getting up, again? I have to remove everything from my lap and struggle to stand… again?”
Once, I was stuck sitting next to a 450 pound man, who was wedged into his seat with two seat-belt extensions stretched across his galactic belly.
I’ve battled weight issues all my life, so my heart goes out to anyone with an eating disorder. But compassion dissipates when someone the size of a Humvee has me pinned down and held captive. The heat from his gargantuan left arm welded my right arm to my breast. His mammoth hip and thigh rested on mine. I had to eat with my left hand. My right side was numb.
I wrote to Continental Airlines to request compensation for having to share my seat with another person. Continental’s response was, Thank you for flying Continental.
Today I began planning a Florida vacation, and I’m hyperventilating. While trying on my summer wardrobe, I discovered that I can never again wear a bathing suit. When I wasn’t looking my knees decided to take shelter under a layer of loose thigh skin. I never saw it happen or I would have put an immediate stop to it.
My attempt at making airline reservations was futile. Delta had only one seat available. Continental could get us there at 3:00 AM. United had room in the baggage compartment. Jet Blue came through, but we’ll be traveling on separate planes.
I spent an hour comparing car rental rates. Some offered a $20 bonus for gas. Others offered a $30 coupon for – I never found out for what. One required taking a shuttle to their car pick-up location in a nearby state. I made reservations with three different companies, intending to cancel two, but I can’t remember which two.
I’m wiped out. I don’t want to wait until my vacation to relax. Bring me a drink with a tiny umbrella. I’ll be in my bathtub.
Laverne Bardy is a syndicated columnist for the Shrewsbury Lantern