Still likeXjet, just don’t “like-like” them anymore

Update from yesterday.

Scheduled departure 2:05pm

Time I left the airport to go home after weather-related delays: 3:45pm

Time I’m supposed to leave today: 2:05pm

So, it was a hassle. It cost me $9.95 for a one-day wireless pass. I sat in an airport sports bar for 9 hours. I listened to more National Public Radio on my Palm via Internet Radio than I think is legally allowed for what I donate each year. It started to sound like a parody, but between that and Italian Opera, it was a no-brainer.

At least they changed my ticket with no charge, found my bag quickly and returned it to me, same nice attitude. I still like them, but – and it could have been a great love affair – I don’t like-them-like-them anymore.

Things to Do While Stranded at the Airport

Scheduled flight time 6:30am.

Current Time: 10:41am

New Scheduled Flight Time: 2:05pm

Not worth the drive back to the island, so airport sports bar it is. First, let me say how impressed I am with xjet

10 Minutes into the delay they called my name and handed me what I thought was a new boarding pass. It was not. It was a real live, actual, meal voucher. I knew you wouldn’t believe me, so I took a picture of it.

photo_062107_001

But wait – there’s more. 2 hours later, after my free Frappuccino, muffin and vitamin water, they tell us that they’re flying in a dude from Houston to fix the plane. Now, normally I don’t get weirded out, but this time, I did. So I asked if I could rebook the 2pm flight. That plane originated in Austin, so I figured it would be all warmed up and ready to go.

And they did. Nicely. With smiles, and no “hate-this-job” attitude. It was SO early in the morning that I thought maybe I was still dreaming, but no… this was, in fact, and airport, and these were, in fact employees. I saw their badges. I saw the planes.

Then, and this is where is gets weird – they gave me ANOTHER voucher for lunch and said they were SORRY. Stop laughing. I’m serious. Printed a new boarding pass and everything. Gate Agent Dawn noticed that I had been flagged for extra security and pre-checked me in and removed the flag since, you know, I had sat there for 3 hours without trying anything with them, and thanked them for the chilly Caramel Frappuccino a couple of times I think.

I then went down to the counter to get my new bag claim check and guess what – they were even NICER there. It’s like Seinfeld’s Bizarro Episode where everything is opposite.

So, after trolling for a power outlet I am now happily enjoying some Migas and a never-ending pot of coffee. Laptop humming along, blogging delightfully. My last meal in South Texas for the summer. Summers in Lake Arrowhead are wonderful, but I sure will miss great Tex-Mex. Even airport tex-mex is great – but then again, maybe I’ve just been Hypnotized by the amazing (freaky?) customer service of XJet

Work Coma

I am finishing two large-scale design projects, simultaneously. Its all I can think about. I think, drink, sleep and breathe these two projects. Rather than the cliche’, “about to give birth” analogy; the endless diatribe about labor pains (ready to launch the sites), false labor pains (Dagnabbit – found a bug, can’t launch), baby (client) kicks, et al, ad nauseum, yadda yadda yadda… I’m going for the Work Coma description of life at the moment. I sense life and summer around me, but can’t participate. Hooked to my matrix, I feel the hub plant a kiss on the back of my head, but don’t look up. Boy, he smells good. I’m vaguely aware of my baristas in training (excellently raised daughters, if I do say so myself) bringing me freshly ground and french-pressed sustenance in a mug so I’ll be caffeinated enough to press on. Friends and kids come and go and I hear the hushed tones as they observe the patient, but don’t speak directly, of course, since she’s in a coma, for pity’s sake. Keep moving folks, nothing to see here.

Fall’s my favorite season anyway. What’s so tragic about missing a summer? I’ll wake up in time to drag out those awesome boots I bought last year.

The Lost Innocence of Travel

After traveling to several countries alone in my late teens and early twenties – those golden times that my mother refers to as “The burning of the trust fund”, I found that I loved being lost in a foreign place with a water bottle, backpack and good shoes. No map, no itinerary, no cell phone, even. Looking back, and with two teenage daughters myself, I’m astounded and a little appalled that my mom actually let me run around Mexico alone, like my favorite travel writer Anthony Bourdain. Of course, he’s from Jersey, stands 2 feet taller than I, and runs with a posse of cameramen that would have his back if anything unsavory happened. I, on the other hand, was seriously alone. And loved every minute of it.

I’ve realized that as I’ve grown older, married, borne my daughters and become a professional serial entrepreneur, my problem has become one of “analysis paralysis”. I have literally stopped loving to travel. I mourn its apparent demise and like the good C.S.I. couch potato I’ve become, I must look back and try and see what caused its death. Let the autopsy begin.

Cause of Death #1: I thought I was pretty dang smart
Since my Great Grandmother was Cuban and taught me Spanish from an early age, I was fairly fluent and could really barter at marketplace mercados. I also grew up in a pretty sheltered place, so I didn’t have the street savvy that some might. Looking back, once I started reading the news and especially with the advent of the Internet, I actually heard about all the terrible things that could happen to people in foreign lands, like poor Natalie Holloway or that sweet child kidnapped recently from her hotel room. Oh, sure, bad things have always happened, but now we have a conduit for instant information 24/7, and you know the old saying, “If it Bleeds, it Leads”. I realize now that I wasn’t smart, I was lucky and it was a terrible realization that I took risks I shouldn’t have taken, getting into unmarked cabs, following a vendor to a back room to look at an onyx and marble chessboard, eating late at night and walking to and from the restaurant and the hotel.

Cause of Death #2: The 9/11 factor
I think we all suffer a little from this one. Seeing planes hit buildings over and over and over again didn’t desensitize us to the horror of it. When I was 6 years old I started taking the now defunct airlines PSA and Air Cal from Ontatio, California to Oakland, California on a regular basis. I was always so excited to get dressed up in my best dress, complete with hat and gloves of course, have the stewardess pin on some souvenir wings, peek inside the cockpit, smile at the crew and chat with my seatmates. Now I don’t look at my fellow passengers with the possibilities of interesting conversation, I look at ethnicity, with fear and trepidation – and I hate myself for it. I’m also sure that I would be yanked off any flight and jailed for trying to chat with the captain and peek in the cockpit.

Cause of Death #3: All those Cruise Line Stories
I am just so frustrated with people who can’t grasp the notion of being on a moving vessel in an ocean. Stop looking at the rail like a limbo stick! Sober up and stay on the ship, would you? I’m sure that all those people that paid good, hard earned dollars for the cruise are really bummed out having to circle the same water for three days looking for you. They have tourism dollars to spend in carefully laid traps on many islands! Which brings me to…

Cause of Death #4: Stupid, Stupid Tourists
I once went to Paris with two wonderful friends. One, like me, wanted to have an indigenous experience – local food, local flavor. One friend couldn’t get to Planet Hollywood fast enough for a Thai Chicken Salad. We lived in a city at the time that had a Planet Hollywood and I almost had a stroke when she insisted on it for dinner. Of course, I ordered the Croque-monsieur for dinner just so I could not break my travel rule of eating as the locals do, but it always frosted me a little bit that I had a dumb poster of Sylvester Stallone looming over me and our server was from our home town and had the thickest southern accent I’ve ever heard. Travel should be about getting away from what you know and learning about what you don’t. If you want the same thing, stay home!

Cause of Death #5: The Hassle Factor
Airports are seriously crowded and everyone’s crabby. I stood in three different lines at LAX for a sum total of three hours to catch a flight that used to take me 25 minutes from car to gate to seat. That’s just sad. I hate taking off my shoes because I don’t know where everyone else’s feet have been. And, I’ve been told; it’s rude to ask. They confiscated my seriously expensive face cream the last trip at the security checkpoint. I can’t take the $8 Starbucks coffee I just bought onto the plane anymore and they want to sell me the notoriously worst food possible, for twice the price I would have paid elsewhere? What kind of madness is this?

I think the investigation is complete. I think now that my loner travel backpack would contain all the stereotypical American “necessities”: Hand disinfectant, (lots of) bottled water, a satellite phone, GPS system, Google Maps loaded on my Palm Smartphone, headphones, my ipod, small containers of my expensive toiletries, and the addresses of all foreign Starbucks locations and yes, maybe even a gift card to Planet Hollywood.

Rest In Peace, Love of Travel. It was wondrous while it lasted and you were a good and interesting friend. Don’t tell my daughters I said this, but perhaps ignorance really is bliss.