Monday morning, I was awakened at 6am by Heather banging on the phone, trying to get it to stop ringing for our wakeup call. I finally gave in and put on a different shirt. We packed up, checked out, and got a taxi to the airport. I was a little disappointed that we were flying something as bland as US Air, considering the many colorful alternatives offered in Miami, most of which I never knew existed, stuff like ‘Jamaica, Mon’, ‘¡Airplanes Ole!’, ‘Air Ahoy’. We stopped for coffee:
Me: Do you have a coffee menu?
Impatient Snack Bar Lady: American coffee.
Me: Can I get a cappuccino?
Me: Ok, I’ll have a skim latte.
ISBL (to ISBL 2): Café con leche.
At this point, my brain slowly ground to a realization: they had Cuban coffee, too. And to switch my order at that point would undoubtedly have caused an early-morning airport snack bar disruption of monumental proportions. I accepted my un-skim latte and skulked off to the gate. We sat, I wandered, we sat some more. We got on the plane and sat. We got off the plane in Charlotte, and had lunch in the crappy, smoky ‘Cheers’-themed bar, because, unbelievably, all the other restaurant options were worse.
On the flight back to Minneapolis, I was irritated by every single person in the surrounding seats. This was mostly due to the exposed-nerve sensation caused by sleep deprivation, having to watch the US Airways videos for the fourth time in 36 hours, and the fact that the stale air dried my contacts, making me feel bug-eyed and fuzzy. The couple in the seats in front of us were eating a homemade lunch, pausing to make out every five minutes. The flight attendants (sporting festive-looking patriotic pocket bunting) were rolling the beverage cart up and down the aisle, bumping violently into the seats. Heather and I watched the first-class passengers delving into their cornucopia of gourmet snacks, then sadly accepted our dusty Snyder’s of Hanover Snaps (fat free for extra dryness!) and cups of ice.
The old women across the aisle were a portrait of courage in the face of adversity, the kind of people whose every daily activity is a struggle against their natural ineptitude. Dorothy #1 rushed on the plane in a huff right before takeoff, loudly announcing, ‘Don’t ever, ever buy e-tickets!’ As for Dorothy #2, we were over Ohio by the time she managed to buckle her seatbelt. She surrendered her Snyder’s of Hanover Snaps (fat free!) to Dorothy #1, preferring to feast on fistfuls of pills from a giant plastic organizer instead, which I had no doubt she would still be struggling with when we landed in Minneapolis.
We decided that the pilot was the same guy who flew us from Miami, since he had the same taxi-ing style: speeding around the tarmac, taking corners so fast I was surprised the wingtips weren’t touching the ground. His landings were the only time I’ve ever experienced airplane whiplash; we bounced and nearly screeched to a halt, as if the runway was only 50 feet long. He flew over the heartland of America, executing 90 degree turns and near-barrel rolls. I wasn’t sure why, but I figured it was to give us all a really good view of the cornfields we’d soon be plummeting into. Thankfully, for my 30th birthday, death decided to pass me by. Just this once.