This blog entry, my first in weeks because of various projects of which I am in the middle, but it started off as just an email to my pal Greg that I would be flying out of Portland on Wednesday morning, which he knew. But “morning” in this case meant “12:30 AM.” (He, of course, was quite gracious, as expected.) So here’s the email in full … it got so involved I was like, “This would make a good blog post!” Please keep in mind that “good” is in the mind of the blogreader, and also it is a relative term. One person’s “good” may be a hoity-toity type’s “bad.”
Also, the word “bad” might be used to denote “good,” depending on the ’70s.
Well, I’m glad I looked at this itinerary, Greg, since I will be flying out not just early but EARRRRRRRRRRLY (12:30 AM) on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I don’t know if the trains to the airport are still running that late, but hell, if they aren’t, they SHOULD, amirite?
Then, in what seems for me to be the year of lots of Texas, I have a layover in Dallas (home of the Irving Cowboys) for just long enough not to be able to snooze before I get back on a new plane—or maybe the same plane after airing out my flatulence. (I’ve bean many places.)
Finally, at 11:14 AM, I arrive into my buddy Conner’s welcoming bosom—um, wait—I mean, into the welcoming humid bosom of Fort Lauderdale, named for Florida’s early settler hero, Jimmy Fort.
Then I wait approximately INFINITY until my bag is shit out by the airport “carousel” and can start jamming with Conner, the greatest asset of South Florida. (It’s a low bar, admittedly, but still.) You know, calling this demon of sharp metal interlocks blades a “carousel” is kind of like calling a multi-car pileup “bumper cars.” Or calling an alcoholic pedophile a “mall Santa.”
As opposed to regular mall employees, who are usually just one or the other.
I checked to see if I would have a “baggage fee,” which comes from the Old French “baguette fie,” meaning “flea bread.” This term is idiomatic, of course; in use, it means “airway robbery.” (Rimshot.) And OF COURSE THIS IS THE CASE WHAT WAS I THINKING there is no baggage fee for almost everyone who flies American with ANY kind of rewards program whatsoever: Gold Class, AA AAdvantage, a Subway free sandwich card, ANYTHING that shows they don’t need to save money on baggage. But no, the $25 fee is for peeps like me because of the aforementioned airplane flatulence and also for the baggage crew having to touch “poorbags.”
It’s kind of like giving loans only to people who demonstrably don’t need them. Or having a goddamn RIVER OF CHOCOLATE when you know good and well a diabetic, morbidly obese child will be coming through on a tour and unable to resist diving in. (Wonka, you BASTARD.)
Interestingly, the Greyhound bus, which I have now taken over great distances, lets you have a shitload of free bags, then charges you …
“I don’t know, five bucks?” — Seedy-Looking Baggage Guy Who You Later Find Out To Your Dismay Is Also The Driver.
“I also installed the new cigarette lighter myself!”
I mean, I brought a fucking CARD TABLE with me because I wanted to hurry up and lose money at a Con to which VENDORS HAD TO BRING THEIR OWN TABLES. (I can’t believe the Con wasn’t more successful, what with cutting out that insidious “vendor table” waste of money.) Greyhound said I couldn’t check it as baggage and I was like, “Holy fuck! I won’t have a table AND I’ll have to abandon my best piece of household furniture at the bus station, where homeless people who don’t 100 percent get the concept of being homeless will steal it because homelessness!” But no, the guy said—and I treasure this to this day—“but you can stick it in the above-the-seat racks.” YES!!!
See, the “racks” above the seats on The Dog aren’t like your fancy-shmancy airplane overhead “bins” inside of which your bags may have shifted during the flight. No, Greyhound’s racks are what you would have if, instead of a protective bin, you installed stretchy ropes like on the outside of a professional wrestling ring. It has all the elastic tension of my six-year-old underwear, but that’s a good thing here because the table could stick out dangerously without being affected in any way by the ropes. And, since it’s the Greyhound bus, no one even odd that there’s a goddamn CARD TABLE wedged in next to the garbage bags full of aluminum cans and backpacks so filthy I assumed the hippie on the bus was dragging it through a farm’s shit collection lake while he chased a Pokemon he could see without any technology other than what the guy used to blend brake fluid into his cooking pot of LSD.
So anyway, 25 bucks. This is pure profit for the airline, so why not do it? It’s the AMERICAN way, and it’s AMERICAN AIRLINES. (It’s also true for Spirit Airlines, but you fly them because you want to have experiences in being-charged-for-everything-ness that no one outside a Comic Con could even comprehend. Also, Spirit fucks everybody on bags, so at least we’re all in this together! Yup, she’s closing that door! We’re in this together! HA! HA HA HA! AHAHHAHAHAHA!!!)
“Room for one more, honey … if you have the $75 convenience fee.”
Samples of “extras” you can pay for on a Spirit flight of even the shortest durations, like Las Vegas to Phoenix, or, even closer, Las Vegas to BURNING LAVA HELL:
- Your seat for as much as $45, but hey, they can totally pick one for you for free if you like being the nervous last person to disembark the plane, like that guy on the bus in Midnight Express;
- More legroom, but for $5 these four seats have instantly sold out on any flight I’ve planned;
- Drinks, including “alcoholic” drinks for like 12 bucks and tells everyone that you fly Spirit because it’s all you can afford after losing everything to alcoholism. I mean, the FLIGHT is $60 and you’re spending that much on a miniature drink made with alcohol that a sober Russian wouldn’t even drink? (Okay, it was a trick question: There are no sober Russians. But still.)
- Carry-on bags and checked bags unless it is a “personal item” that will allegedly fit under the seat 7 inches in front of your face. I have personally sat with my legs scrunched up to give the appearance that my “personal item” wasn’t a crammed-full backpack I brought because I didn’t want to pay bag fees. I think I have personally violated the Pauli Exclusion Principle with the “stowing” of my personal item.
- A “valu-pak” consisting of a half-box with a soda, some fucking pretzels or something, and some “dessert” vending machine item you’d balk at paying 45 cents for. This is a “meal” on Spirit Airlines, and it is $10 if it’s a penny.
The funny thing about Spirit Airlines is that I’ve encountered some of the nicest and friendliest Flight Attendants and Pilots (why am I capitalizing these words?) ever. Also, the flights have always been smooth and non-crucifix-clutchingly turbulent. I always mock Spirit for being the Dickensian pickpocket of transportation, but in fact it’s a good airline. Part of what makes it seem so good is that Allegiant—the only “air-line” that flies direct from Las Vegas to South Bend, IN—is a rock-bottom shell of a company that will let you die on the tarmac with no crew and no a/c (since the plane isn’t moving). My wife (eventually) flew on Allegiant and her flight was SO delayed that they paid for hotel rooms for the night! Can you IMAGINE how fucked-up a situation must be for ALLEGIANT to spring for a hotel room?
“WHAT? SURVIVORS? Hope they don’t mind sharing a bed.” — Allegiant exec, probably
This may not seem like a big deal, but Allegiant is so tight-fisted, it seems like it’s a front for money laundering, because exactly nobody gives a shit if you have a good flight or, frankly, if you have a flight at all. They ALSO give you clothes for your overnight stay in a motel also probably run like a Mafia front business, but unlike Dobby, who found freedom through being given clothes, the “t-shirt” they provide you with is so thin it literally has only one side. (And by “literally,” I mean “fuck Allegiant.”)
So anyway, I close this very short missive with a very short poem by Robert Frost titled “Testicles”: