This trip is going real smooth so far, I thought, as a I relaxed on my short flight into Sevesta. (All city names were changed to protect the incompetent.) I know I should never think thoughts like these because it often foretells impending doom.
I was traveling to a conference of trucking fleet executives to give a presentation. A wonderful part of my job is when organizations fly me to a luxury resort and pay me to speak. I am considered an industry “expert”, which means my head is a huge coconut and people are eager to tap the milk of my knowledge.
My connector flight into Connersville was flawless and I was looking forward to my presentation tomorrow. The first sign of trouble was some unexpected turbulence (we had maybe a two-minute warning from the pilot). This was rocking-and-rolling the large aircraft. So much so,the woman beside me started cussing up a storm. This would have been disturbing except she was a smokin’-hot, chicky-babe, so I will admit this was kind of ah, stimulating.
After the second outburst, I looked at her with eyes that said “Me lapa es su lapa”. I was willing to comfort her for the entire flight, to touchdown and beyond, if necessary. Because that’s the type of guy I am. But, she rejected my offer, her look saying – “no lapa, you sapa” and then let out one final stream of obscenities.
The turbulence ended. The pilot announced we would be landing in 15 minutes and the flight attendants should prepare for landing, blah, blah, blah. But, I knew something was amiss 20 minutes later when the plane had not descended.
Then came the fateful announcement: “There is a bad thunderstorm right over Sevesta. We have determined that it is not safe to land, therefore we are returning to Connersville.”
Many passengers started yelling and complaining, a few even swearing. I’m sitting there thinking, “You people are fools. Do you really want the pilot to give it a try?” If he is uncomfortable landing the plane in these conditions, then I am mega-uncomfortable with this.
One goofhead started vigorously explaining to the flight attendant he had a better solution and that we should just land in Johnsville and wait out the storm. The flight attendant listens patiently and replies “Sir, you do understand you are speaking with a flight attendant?” With that, Mr. Goofhead returned to his seat.
I assumed we would return to Connersville, wait out the storm, and then make a second run at Sevesta. However, upon landing the flight was cancelled and I was rebooked on other flight. Unfortunately, my new flight didn’t leave until tomorrow morning and I would not get to the conference before it ended.
I texted my contact that I would miss his meeting. The Connersville airport was chaotic. The storm had knocked out power limiting the airlines ability to serve the thousands of displaced passengers.
I was trying to book a flight back home so I wouldn’t spend the night in Connersville. But, when I explained that I was a coconut-head with vast knowledge and people in Savesta were paying to tap it, everything changed. Suddenly, I became a V.I.P.. A better designation would be D.I.P. (Desperate Important Person) because people already regard me as a big D.I.P.. The agent then booked me on the next flight to Sevesta. I would need to hurry to the gate since the flight was delayed, but could take off soon. I also needed to get a boarding pass.
I make a mad dash, hoping to blow right through TSA Precheck and make it to the gate fast. Alas, like so many things this day, there was a problem. My briefcase was flagged. I was stunned because this same briefcase had gone through scanners dozens of times over the years with no issues.
Security Officer: Do you have any sharp objects in your briefcase Mr. Ake?
Me: No, there is nothing unusual in there.
Then they checked the bag and found an 8-ounce bottle of water.
Security Officer: “Did you know this was in there, Mr. Ake?”
Me: “Yes, I mean no. I mean, I forgot it was even there. I planned to drink it later.”
Truthfully, I was innocent on this one. The flight attendant had given me the bottle on my first flight because she wanted to get rid of them due to storage issues. I had stuck it in my briefcase and forgotten about it. However, I had never, ever, expected to go through security again and wouldn’t have if the second flight had landed as expected.
But now I was the “water-bomber”, trying to sneak 8-ounces on Dasani onto the plane and I had to be interrogated. The officer then searched my entire case.
Security Officer: “What are these Mr. Ake?”, he asked, holding up a plastic food bag.
Me: Those are my snack bars, in case I get hungry.
I was now answering each question soberly because I was not sure just how much trouble I was in.
Security Officer: “They look very tasty, very crunchy”. (I swear I am not making this up)
Me: Yes, they are very good.
And I am engaged in all the %#*ing chit-chat, while my flight might be taking off.
However, the attitude of the TSA guy totally changed when he asked what my job was and where I was going. As soon as he realized I was a coconut-head on my way to getting tapped, he smiled and treated me with respect. Yeah, he knows a real D.I.P. when he sees one!
I was wheezing by the time I got to the gate. Relieved that the flight had not boarded and there were only two people in front of me to get seat assignments.
I became disheartened when the agent told the first woman that although she had a ticket, the flight was overbooked by 22 people. The agent explained that the woman had mistakenly been issued a ticket because of the mass confusion going on at the airport. Even though the woman protested profusely, she didn’t get a boarding pass.
As the agent repeated the same story to the guy in front of me, I felt like crying. Both persons had received their tickets well before I had. I wasn’t getting on this plane. I would be returning to the ticket counter and trying to get a flight home. I would be going through security yet again, fortunately they had confiscated my water bottle. Maybe the security guy would recognize me and detain me since this would appear suspicious.
I sheepishly handed the agent my ticket and hung my head. I couldn’t even look at her, literally unable to face rejection.
Agent: Here you go, Mr. Ake. You’re all set.
Me: Really? (slightly gasping)
I glanced down at the paper she had handed me, realized it was a boarding pass, and scampered away before she could change her mind. I felt like the guy in the “Membership Has Its Privileges” credit card commercial. Being a member of the “coconut heads” also has its privileges. I texted my contact in Sevesta and informed him I would in fact be speaking in the morning. The coconut-head had landed!
I realized during the flight that my luggage was probably not on the plane due to the hectic situation at Connersville airport. My assumption was correct, but I was joyous when told my bag was on the next flight and would be delivered to the resort that night.
I arrived at the resort around eight, tired and hungry, but darn glad to finally arrive. I told the clerk my luggage would arrive in a few hours, she made note and said I could get some amenities if the luggage hadn’t arrived by bedtime. I straggled into the hotel restaurant famished, those tasty snack bars digested long ago. There, I feasted on a new dish, Seafood Pot Pie, which combines two of my favorite foods in one scrumptious dish. This was the high point of a very arduous journey.
I call the desk around 11 p.m. and request their “complete amenity package” less the comb. “Will you be needing the feminine hygiene items, Mr. Ake?” “Not tonight, thank you.” I nap partially clothed, cell phone by my ear, waiting for the luggage call, until 1:30 a.m. I then strip naked and retire for the night.
I don’t think I ever slept in the nude ever before in my life. I always feared there could be a dire emergency where I would have to run outside or confront a burglar. If I’m fighting a burglar, I want my loins fully girded. I am also so disappointed that a story involving me sleeping nude on a business trip at a fancy resort, is not much more spicy and scandalous than this one.
Early the next morning, I go down to the front desk to get my luggage. They search the area, then inform me it did not arrive. I call my contact and he gets me a new polo shirt left over from the conference hand-outs. However, I will be giving this presentation dressed in jeans, polo shirt, and tennis shoes.
You may recall that in an earlier blog post I said only “dicks” dressed up for flights when it wasn’t necessary. I said there were only a few situations when that made sense. This was my first business trip since that post, and losing your luggage before a big presentation happened to be one of those situations. Somewhere, these dicks are laughing hysterically at me right now, but that’s what makes them dicks. Karma had its teeth firmly attached to my posterior.
But, there was no problem giving this presentation in this attire. The people who work in the trucking industry are the best people in the business world. They were totally fine with my appearance under the circumstances. The presentation went splendidly. My friend Chris was supposed to take a photo of me during the presentation, but he forgot, no doubt mesmerized by the enormous amount of expert knowledge flowing from my coconut-head.
Now you be wondering how my underwear held up during the trip. Fortunately, I was wearing my Mac Weldon’s because I knew it would be a long day. If you remember from my blog posts evaluating men’s underwear brands, the Mac Weldon’s contain actual silver for the ultimate in odor control. Yes sir, I was packing the Mac’s and they performed spectacularly. After 35 hours of wear, less five off for sleep, the Mac’s may not have been minty fresh, but they did not stink!
I checked on my luggage one last time before departing the resort, instructing them to decline delivery since I was checking out. But, when I got to the airport, the airline baggage agent told me my bag had been delivered to the resort. Could my luggage have passed me on my way back to the airport and got there after I checked out.?
I called the resort and here is the play-by-play:
Me: (Explained the situation and then ….) The airline said they delivered my bag to your resort, but I’m at the airport now.
Resort person: Hold on and let me check. (Hold for a couple minutes) Mr. Ake, we don’t have your luggage.
Me: (Giving her one last chance) You do realize the airline is telling me you have my bag and you are telling me you don’t. My bag has to be somewhere now doesn’t it. (Maybe not, it could have gotten sucked into a black hole, right?)
At this revelation, the airline woman rushes to the office next door and retrieves the signed delivery slip.
Resort person: I’m sorry, but we don’t have your luggage.
Me: The airline has just handed me a receiving slip signed by a Kathy Rogers.
Resort person (audible gasp) Oh my, that was at night. Hold on, let me check.
I had been unusually calm throughout this entire ordeal. But, this news pushed me over the cliff. It was interesting to watch the faces of the three airline employees as I melted down in front of them. Had the resort had my bag the entire time? Did I give my presentation in casual attire while my nice business clothes sat only a few yards away? Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!! This could not be possible!!!!!. What the @$#*!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????
Resort Person: Good news Mr. Ake, we do have your bag. (speaking quickly and somberly) We will ship it today, FedEx second-day air. I just need to confirm your address. (address confirmed). I am very sorry about what happened.
Me: Thank you (click)
Of course, I wanted to say more, but screaming obscenities at a woman who probably wasn’t responsible for this major clusterf**k, didn’t seem prudent.
And yet I had questions:
Where was my bag all this time? Why didn’t anyone ever check that location when I asked several times about my luggage? If I hadn’t called to ask about my luggage (with proof), just how long would it had sat there before someone noticed? What, maybe ten years later when the resort is being remodeled? “Hey, what’s this bag doing here? Who is the Don Ake guy?”
To make this story extra special, my luggage did not make it home in two
days. It was the Memorial
Day weekend, so a Thursday shipment, plus the weekend, plus the holiday, adds
up to a Tuesday, 5-day, delivery. In
all, I was separated from my luggage for 6 days and wore none of the clothes on the trip.
I hugged my bag when it arrived – “Reunited and it feels so good”.
|Reunited and it feels so good!|
|Post presentation pic|