Worstest/Bestest

Today is April 25, known as International Eyebrow Grooming Awareness Day. Learn it. Know it. Live it.

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Today we also have part VI in our ongoing Monkey Barn Campfire Story. Tracy takes up the reins of Harry and Anika, and we find out what it means to go against the Family. Check out her chapter, or read it from the very beginning.

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[This column (and others like it) are normally found in The Hyperion Chronicles. It is reprinted here with permission from that site.]




The Hyperion Chronicles
“Your Ad could go Here”


#386 The Worstest/Bestest Birthday Ever (Part I)


Psychology warns us of “self-fulfilling prophecies;” believing something will happen and then unconsciously making it so. (This is the entire foundation of Astrology.) I get that. But sometimes…do you ever just get a premonition that a day is going to suck, no matter what you do to stop it? Sometimes, deep in your spine, you just know.

I had flown up to Canada at the last minute to visit my family for Christmas 2001, and was to fly back on my birthday, December 31st. I had plans with friends back in Atlanta that night, and I worked for an airline; flying standby meant go that morning or wait almost a week for another flight.

The morning started off terribly. When I get that nervous I get sick, and I was up all night throwing up. I tried to delay the trip, but my mom kept insisting I go.

Part of my worry was how closely I was trying to thread the needle. I barely had time to make my connecting flight in Salt Lake, and if I missed that, I’d be stuck there for at least three days.


(it doesn't help when you're taller than the plane...standing on the ground)

The initial flight to SLC was in a tiny regional jet, and I don’t really fit in a regular plane unless it’s a first class seat. I wedged myself in best I could, apologizing to the man forced to share half his seat with me.

To make matters worse I continued to be sick. Six times I had to get up and throw up in the bathroom. I hate those bathrooms. Someone like me can barely fit inside. Once I’m in I can’t turn around.

The last time I threw up turbulence caused me to vomit all over the tiny bathroom. I felt terrible, but I couldn’t even maneuver around to clean it up. Anyway, we were supposed to be landing soon.

But Salt Lake had terrible cloud cover, and we couldn’t land, instead heading to Pocatello Idaho to wait for clearer skies. We landed in Pocatello, but because we hadn’t cleared customs yet (that would take place in SLC), none of us could get off the plane to use the facilities of the tiny rustic airport.


(This isn't the actual airport. This is a future version they hope to have completed in 2012.)

That left the plane’s bathroom as the only option. The plane’s bathroom—which, if you were paying attention—I’d pretty much soiled. It was common knowledge it’d been me that ruined it. You don’t miss a man my size running down the aisle every ten minutes. Shoot; I can’t run down the aisle at all, so if nothing else they remembered me when I slammed into them.

I’m a paranoid person by nature, but it’s a hard knocked life for a paranoid dude when people actually are looking at you, or in this case, glaring. I was freaking miserable.

Eventually we got to Salt Lake. I jumped off the plane, but of course I’d missed my connection to Atlanta. (To rub it in, I would have had first class on the Boeing 767-400, truly a wonderful experience.) This meant I was going to be stuck in Salt Lake until at least January 3rd. What a great birthday. I called my parents, who said I should at least try to make the next flight. If by some miracle I did get on, I could still make my night.

When I got to the gate I knew I had no prayer. The flight was overbooked by 50, and there were over 30 standby passengers.

Normally as a Non Revenue Passenger you’ll get on an overbooked flight, but here it was a moot point. Everyone showed up, anxious to get wherever they were going before the new year, and the airline had to give people $400 vouchers to get bumped. The Non-Rev people were screwed. One by one they filed away, hoping they could make the next flight, but most of them trying to figure out a different route. Myself, I just sat at the gate. I was reading a library book from Atlanta, and talking to this old guy in a turban.

When I first sat down at the gate he showed up, walking very slowly. He explained to me that he had dialysis, which I guess makes you not able to walk very well. He had to go to the bathroom five times just while I was waiting, and he asked me to watch his stuff each time. We chatted when he wasn’t in the bathroom, and I liked the old guy. He got on the flight, leaving me to read my book.


(not that it matters, but this is the book I was reading. I stil haven't managed to ever finish it)

The jet way door shut and the plane taxied out, ready to take off. With nothing else to do, I was still sitting there. Suddenly the plane came back into the gate. A minute later paramedics came flying down the hallway and rushed down the gate, returning a minute later with a woman. I’m not sure if she had a heart-attack or what.

The gate agent looked up at me. She knew I was a Non-Rev, because I’d talked to her when I first arrived at the gate. (I tried to get her to feel sorry for me by telling her it was my birthday.) All the other Non-Revs and bumped passengers were gone. I was the only one left. She looked and me and said, “If you want to go on this plane, you have to go right now.”

It was the first good thing to happen to me all day. I jumped up and raced for the plane. When I got on, nobody seemed to know what had happened. All they knew was that the plane came back to the gate, and now this big guy was coming down the aisle, all the way down (they put me in the back), sweating and lugging a huge bag. (I didn’t check anything since I didn’t know how long I would be at the airport, so I had it all with me from my trip.) The glares I got rivaled the ones on the previous plane when I ruined the bathroom.

Finally I found my seat, only to discover that all the overhead compartments were too full to fit my bag. I had to give it to a flight attendant to take all the way back to the front, and a ramp worker to take it down to the plane, drive a belt loader over to the high door, open it up, and throw my bag in. I hoped all my Christmas presents weren’t broken.

As the plane taxied away, I went to my smaller bag to get my book. It was only at that point that I realized the book was still sitting back in the terminal. I already was bad about returning books on time. Now they were going to build a new wing and name it after me.

Oh well, I thought. At least I’m on the plane! Yes, it took the possible death of another passenger, but here I was on my way to Atlanta, and nothing else was going to go wrong.

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I wanted a book for more than just the long flight. In the two seats next to me were a young mother and two small children. I know airline rules, and her baby was too big to count as mother and child in the same seat. The other child was clearly on crystal-meth, as he never once stopped talking and jumping around.

There was also a kid behind me in training for the World Cup, as he spent the majority of the flight kicking my seat. I put up with it for thirty minutes, then told him to stop. I tried talking to his mother, but she was in a different row. Besides, the airline is adamant about Non-Rev passengers not creating a scene.

I tried to sleep, fitfully, by resting my head against the seat in front of me, but with the kicking of my seat, and one or both kids next to me crying having to go to the bathroom all the time, that wasn’t happening. But at least I was going home.

Speaking of going to the bathroom, my section also included turban guy. I’m pretty sure he was a Hindu or Sikh. I mention this we were only a few months from 9/11, and tensions were still very high. When an old dark dude with a turban shuffles to the bathroom every ten minutes, people start to get nervous. That he took forever to walk there and back (the dialysis), and kept going and going and going only deepened people’s suspicions.


(note: turban does not equal terrorist...except for maybe this guy)

People can be real idiots. If anyone had actually taken a look at the guy they’d have seen he was a sick old man; couldn’t possibly hurt anyone. But he had dark skin, a turban, and at that time…

I could hear people muttering quietly to themselves, increasing in volume and ferocity with each trip to the lavatory. In my gut I suddenly knew that with my luck something really bad was going to happen. The passengers would tackle him, some sort of commotion. They’d force us to land the plane in Arkansas and I’d be stuck there for a week.

Why do these things keep happening to me?

[End of Part I. Join us for Part II, where we find out if Hyperion can beat an M-16, a Brazillian Cowboy and a super-robot all in one night]

Go on to Part II

1 comment:

Fitèna said...

What a long post! :-)

I know what you mean! There's a verse which says thet there is a sign in everything, for those who pay attention. Even paying extra attention you end up missing some stuffs. One should pay attention to gut feeling ad instict instead of the head always.

I don't believe in astrology for the same reasonyou mention. i mean you read your days 10 different predictions every morning; every paper or radio having its one for just you!

Fitèna