Saturday, December 24, 2005

One more thing:

My brother got into University of the Pacific. So we're all really excited about that. It means he might get to play H20 polo in college, and it also means that he has an option outside of Fresno State, which, if you don't know anything about the city of Fresno, would be like attending a good school inside of someone's armpit.

--The Robo-Pirate.


So I'm a total boner, and here is one reason why. I missed a flight. It happened Thursday. I was supposed to be on the America West 7:30 to Vegas out of DFW and then on to Sacto, but I didn't allow myself enough time. Oh, technically I did, if conditions were ideal, but obviously, conditions were merely normal. See, in order to get from Fart Worth to DFW International Airport, you have to drive through the Mid-Cities. If you've read Stephen King's Dark Tower Series, think of The Wastelands, especially the part where they get held up walking through the ruined city full of creepy inbred people. The Mid-Cities are basically three large growths metastasized around the main artery between Fort Worth and the airport. They throb with chain restaurants, sports bars and about eight thousand on-ramps, and as such, the real speed limit is about 25 miles per hour. Of course, I forgot all this at 5:15 in the morning, what with getting dressed and taking the dog out and all. But even with the hindrance of a crawl through the Mid-Cities, I could have conceivably been in the nick of time for my flight if not for the airport's silence on where America West keeps its planes.

See, when I got to the airport, the terminal directory signs said nothing about America West, as if the whole America West terminal simply vanished into oblivion. Thinking that I was a moron (for reasons other than my habitual lack of planning), I circled the airport until I saw the terminal directories again, and sure enough, there was no indication that America West has ever flown out of DFW International. So I guessed, and of course I guessed wrong, but I at least got a shuttle to the right one. It is now 7:05, and the fact that I am even attempting to make this flight is a testament to the combined powers of hope and wishful thinking. Oh, did I mention that it's Christmas? Well it's Christmas, in case you forgot what that tree and pile of presents in your den was for. Christmas, of course, is the hammer that regularly seals the coffins of all improbabilities, despite what Hollywood has led you to believe about magic. Christmas travel leaves no room for foolishness, tardiness or sloppy planning, and this fact was made obvious to me when I arrived at the check-in queue. I might as well have been planning to ride Splash Mountain in July; the fucking line was two miles long and full of people who no-speaka-english. I tried to do the automated self-check in, and all that did was confirm what my heart of hearts already knew: THERE ARE NO SEATS AVAILABLE ON THIS FLIGHT.

Thus, I got back in line, which by now extended out of the terminal and back onto Highway 121. And in an effort to deal with the circumstances (made in part, by myself) which I could not change, I took a deep breath and adopted one of those "go-with-the-flow" attitudes prevalent in places like Venice Beach and Berkeley. And really, it made things a lot more enjoyable, because once you've accepted your fate, watching others struggle against their own is hilarious. Though you are still on the disgruntled traveler side of things, you begin to empathize with the customer service side. Accepting present circumstances gives you the power to say, "whoa, whoa, whoa man...." And it also gives you license to marvel at how fantastically ridiculous people can be.

For example, ahead of me in line was a family of four: fat dad, mousy mom, awkward middle school band-nerd daughter, spindly younger brother clad head to toe in Dallas Cowboys clothes. And this family, who I'll call the Fowlers, had SOME ISSUE. I don't know what it was, but they were arguing with the lady behind the counter, and they weren't winning. From the what I could gather, someone (Mrs. Fowler, I think) had made them late for a flight that they had booked at the last minute. And while Mr. Fowler was unsuccessfully trying to get his brood on the 8:27 flight to Phoenix (or Phunix! as I prefer), Mrs. Fowler began repeating, in public, at an airline check-in desk, mind you, "Are you mad at me? Are you mad at me? Just tell me, are you mad at me?" It has been my experience that you shouldn't ask questions in public if you aren't going to like the answer. And predictably, Mr. Fowler (Dan Fowler, I think), said, "Well, honestly, a little bit, yes."

Over the next four and a half hours, I would periodically see Dan Fowler skulking to and from the check in desk at gate B24, sans family. I suspect that he sent them home and traveled to Phoenix by himself.

Then, there was the Wealthy Line-Jumping Couple. The Wealthy Line-Jumping Couple, whose surname likely ended in "worth," (as in Dalworth, Barnsworth, or Worthworth) were a married couple, she in her late 30s and he in his mid to late 40s, who had been tricked into buying expensive clothes that look absolutely ridiculous. To wit, the wife, blonde, thin and attractive, was wearing a blanket. Oh sure, it had some kind of non-blanket type pattern on it, and it was gathered here and tossed there to give the illusion of being a garment, but if you remove all that and whatever name Neiman's gave it while it lived on the shelf, it was and shall ever be, a blanket. Combined with her Iditarod boots, she would have been at home in the Mos Eisley cantina or with the Last of the Mohicans.

Her husband was gold. That is the best way to describe him. In fact, the only thing golder than this man was is an Oscar Statue. His shirt: gold and red plaid. His shoes: gold. His pants: khakis covered with gold dust. His skin was gold, and his sport coat was a kind of a gold houndstooth pattern. And when he cut in line and went straight to the counter, I immediately imagined a scenario in which he looked at me and asked "What are you looking at?" to which I would have replied, "You can wait in line with the rest of us, and if you don't like it, you can take your Freddie Couples wins the Masters jacket and dry my sweaty balls with it." Then it occurred to me that PGA jackets are green (I think), and I was glad that I hadn't written that line into a TV show or movie. But anyway, he was hopping mad when the lady told him he had to wait with everyone else, and really made me laugh.

Ahead of me, there was one of those families in which only one member speaks something that approximates English. I felt bad for this family, because the grandmother looked terrified about getting on a plane, and also because the father was having a hard time conveying everything they needed. As near as I could tell, the only things they needed were seats on outbound flight. Then there was another couple who were either moving to Calcutta circa 1900 or visiting the Howells on Gilligan's Island, as every piece of their luggage (and there were many, many pieces) was the size of a steamer trunk.

Anyway, I eventually got to fly standby. Sometimes, like maybe in June or April, standby means that you might get on a flight. But during Christmas, standby means you will wait at a gate while airline employees bribe people to give up their seats on overbooked flights. Or more, precisely, it means that you will not get to fly that day. You can't really get mad, especially if you didn't get up early enough to make your flight (though Dan Fowler seemed to think this isn't the case). So I didn't get mad. I waited with a college girl who turned into tears every time she went up to the desk (her dad was sick and she needed to get to Denver pronto), and a lesbian cowboy, who came complete with a coloful Garth Brooks-type striped shirt and tin of Skoal in her back pocket, as well as the most well-behaved dachshund ever put in a ventilated duffle bag. They were both very nice, though I think the teary college girl suspected my good humor was colored by ulterior motives, which was why I prefered the lesbian cowboy. After I didn't get on three flights, I asked the counter lady (named Cheryle) if I could get a guaranteed seat the next day. And she said yes, so I said thank you and good bye.

Needless to say, I got up earlier the next day, and that is why I am eating leftovers in Lodi with my family.

--The Robo-Pirate

awwwwwww! Whose teeth hurt from that bit of sweetness? Mine sure do!

The title of this post is an attempt to spell that song played over and over again in the first Vacation movie. The Robo-Pirate regrets any anguish or bewilderment caused by this lackluster title and begs your forgiveness.

The Robo-Pirate also congratulates you if you made it all the way down here and will do his best to keep things shorter in the future.

But he can't promise anything.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fort Worth vs. the Frost Giants

If anyone outside of Texas has been watching the Weather Channel, you will have noticed that the weather-guessers have directed their ebullience toward describing the below-freezing temps currently wreaking havoc on the driving preferences of DFW residents. For those of you who live here, you're already tired of those people (who drive around muttering about having to keep an actual car-length or two between them and the car in front). A while back, I griped, in a sort of back-handed way, about the fact that it was November and still 80 degrees outside, implying that I wished Texas experienced actual seasons rather than summer, spring, summer and hell. Well, I take it all back.

Call me a wimp, those of you who have to deal with snow and ice for four months of the year. I tip my hat my hat to you and ask that if you have time, perhaps you'd like to give me a lift to work. I hate this shit. I don't drive well in it, but at least I admit it, which is more than I can say for the other million people in the DFW Wretchroplex. On top of bald tires, a light vehicle and a relative lack of experience with icy roads, my trips around town have been further complicated by Fort Worth morons who are largely ignorant of the physical properties of ice and wholly ignorant of what happens when you accelerate while driving upon it. Their logic runs as follows, "Well, my truck weighs more than a ton and I have two extra wheels on my rear axle, which means I can drive as wrecklessly as I do when the streets are dry." Or, that axiom's corrolary, "I drive a Mercedes, and because my Mercedes costs sixty grand, the laws of physics obviously do not apply." And if they aren't operating their vehicle according to those rules, they follow this one: "Fucking speed up! Get out of my way! Why the fuck are you going so slow?!"

So God, if you've got a sec, would you mind putting the thermostat at say, forty-five? I don't mind it being winter, but there are several reasons why I don't live in Boston, chief among them I HATE DRIVING ON ICE!!!!!!

--The Robo-Pirate