Monday, June 29, 2015

RJ Goes to Washington...

This past week, work afforded me a unique opportunity to fly to Seattle, Washington to do a user group presentation on our newest software version release.

Me being a former 400 lbs, you can understand if I say I have never flown. I would just rather avoid the anxiety of being fat on a plane. 

Let me teach you a few incredibly valuable lessons that I have learned from my travels. I flew Southwest because a coworker mentioned that they don't have assigned seats. So you just kinda file into the plane and sit wherever. As a first time flyer, this was quite intriguing to me because I knew I would want a window seat. 

In lieu of assigned seats, you can "check in" 24 hours before your flight. This will net you a boarding number based on how quickly you check in. Southwest boards in groups of like 30... SO. You can be in one of several groups. (A1-30, A31-60, B1-30, etc)

So, I had GREAT boarding numbers for the first flights. (we flew from MEM-HOU, HOU-SEA) I was in the first group of passengers. I sat in a window seat with my coworker in the center. He mentioned that he typically liked window seats, and would like one on the next flight because it was a 4 hour flight. I was like, "no biggie, we don't have to ride together." 

This is where is a valuable lesson comes into play. As we filed onto the plan in Houston, there was no shortage of empty rows of seats. I quickly got a nice window seat directly behind the wing. Now, your first instinct when confronted by this number of strangers, is to be polite and sit in an empty row if you can, instead rubbing your ass/crotch in someones face to get a window seat. MISTAKE. 

If you are filing on, you have a unique advantage of choosing who you sit next to...oh look, an attractive lady, or a clean looking businessman. I don't want to bug them...NOPE. BUG THEM. You are in control at this point. The MOMENT you plant your ass in that empty row, you are at the mercy of the flight gods. 

I realized this at the exact moment that a father and son sat next to me. I put my earbuds in and turned on my binaural beats looking forward to a nap. As I was getting comfortable and enjoying the music, suddenly...ONIONS,

Not the smell where you perk your head up and have to ask someone else "Do you smell onions??" More like, ok, "WHO THE HELL JUST SMACKED ME IN THE FACE WITH AN ONION" type of smell.

I sat up and looked to my right, and the father/son onion duo were chomping down on their subway sandwiches. "Can I get a roast beef with toppings that are bound to offend everyone on the plane please." 

I legitimately stared at him eating like a starving dog for 3 minutes. Long enough until I was confident that I was making him feel uncomfortable. I'll be DAMNED if I'm letting him enjoy this sandwich in a confined space. 

Something else. REAL PLANES....aren't big. It's like a bus with wings. So, unless you are a complete douche, it doesn't feel right to lean back in your chairs. Maybe if I had a dwarf behind me...but alas. It was a large black man that I had no intention of offending on a 4 hour flight. I laid back and drifted off to an onion filled dreamland for about an hour. Suddenly my teenage neighbor realized that he needed more elbow room on the arm rest for playing his Nintendo DS. I was awoken when I almost face planted on my table tray as he "accidentally" removed my elbow from the arm rest. The flight was long, but it quickly became beautiful as we passed over the Rockies. Here are a few of the pictures I snagged.






As I said, the site was pretty breathtaking. It's hard to realize just how high up you are until you see mountains look that small. These pictures alone, almost made the onions worth it. 

Once we landed in Seattle, we were handed the keys to are shiny new Canadian Rental. Complete with KmPH and Celsius. We took off to the hotel in the next town over, and got some great pics of Mt. Ranier.


I'm sure the locals just overlook this thing at this point, but I was trying my best to get some good shots, and probably looked like quite the idiot laying in the dash trying to get pics.

Wednesday rolled around. I was suppose to "check in" to my flight that morning at like 4:30 AM. The numbers they give you are based on how early you check in. I got to the user group meeting and my coworker asked if I remembered to check in. NO. No I did not remember to F-ING check in. I scrambled to my phone and managed to get checked in. Late in the B group, which means like at least 90 people deep into boarding. 

The user group went incredibly well, and I got the chance to meet some of my customers. All great people. I crashed early that night, and had to leave the hotel at 4:30AM the next morning to start boarding. There was a very odd looking man at my gate. Like Samuel L Jackson and Morgan Freeman had a very unfortunate looking child with bug eyes and sinus problem. He had a large afro with white spots throughout it. Not salt/pepper. I mean like actual White Spots. The kind of guy you kinda can't help staring at.

Well, the super onion wonder twins taught me nothing apparently because I found myself instinctively searching for an empty row. Found one towards the back of the plane, and the moment I buckled in, the dread kicked in. I watched helplessly over the seats at the people filing on, knowing that I was at the mercy of the universe. I watched as the attractive women and professionals passed. The last of the boarders started getting on. The people that never checked in...they just showed up for whatever unknown reason. The flight attendant announced that it would be a full flight so please scoot to your left or stand up so people can file in beside you. I look up and a nicely dressed Mexican fellow plopped down next to me in the aisle seat, and I said hello, and made some feeble attempt at airport humor and he stared at me for a solid 10 seconds before I realized that he did not speak English. I smile and look up and suddenly....Samuel Freeman was bumbling down the aisle. Coughing, snorting, sniffing...eyes shifting back and forth across the plane looking for a seat. (no, no, no) YEP. He stops, and clumsily stows his bags and plops into the middle seat of the row while simultaneously splaying out across all arm rests. I shifted over to my left and stared out the window. I put my earbuds in, but no amount of binaural beats could drown out the coughing, sniffing, and within minutes, snoring. I flipped my music player over to electro rock in hopes of drowning out the sounds he was producing. This was a 4 hour flight. He slept, and snored throughout the entire flight to Chicago.

On an upnote,my flight attendant looked astoundingly like Rufus Wainwright.

Once I told him, he looked a little shocked and said "I've never heard of him, but he must be handsome if we look alike." At this moment, my very large Morgan Jackson friend woke up and laughed and mumbled something to me as he pointed in my direction, I still don't know what he said.



For the final leg of the trip home was a short hour and a half. I had learned my lesson from the last two trips, and decided to take a middle seat on a row with my coworker. I sat and watched the plane fill up and an 80 yr old man sat next to me. He was dressed nice, and have expensive jewelry on, and greeted me. I was happy with this one, finally. I once again plugged in my headphones, and went into my own head for a while in an attempt to unwind. The elderly gentleman quickly fell asleep. a few minutes I smelled what can only be described as a dirty sock that had been a dog toy, soaked in sweat, baked in the sun, then reworn by a runner. Now, I didn't have a shower that morning, and it was hot in Chicago. So, naturally, if you remember my old post, I started doing the sniff check on myself. The smell quickly went away and I thought nothing more of it. Suddenly there it was again. WTF is that smell. At this point I took my headphones out because Rufus was on his way over and I wanted a ginger ale. About that time...I heard it. It sounded like a weird grunting meow like someone accidentally sat on a cat. The old man was....flatulent. Thank god for the ginger ale. Otherwise, I might have vomited. I found myself "accidentally" waking him up by shifting thinking that if he was concious, he would stop farting. No matter what I did, he fell back into a gaseous slumber within 3 minutes of being roused. 

So, while the flight was quite nice. It is the equivalent of a flying bus. The novelty quickly wears off.

The trip was a rousing success, and I enjoyed seeing WA. However, I learned a lot from this trip that I am sure will come in handy on future travels.

Honorable mentions:

Airport Immodium is $11 for a tiny box.
TSA is no joke, and I think they enjoy yelling at people that aren't paying attention.
Do not gamble with Thai Food when you have no Gall Bladder
You never get use to the smell of pot on public transit in WA.
WA weather is beautiful.
There is a lot of walking involved when using airports, and my ankle hates me right now.