Sunday, January 22, 2012

on to california (m)

Friday. Headed to California for the National Championships. After paying a small fortune for that trip to Romania back in October, I decide we can stick it out in economy. I spring for "economy plus" which means a little more legroom. Basically, what it really means is that you get to sit by the bulkhead where everyone stands to go to the bathroom. H and I are seated three across. I get the middle, H is in the aisle and the young Mr. Lane (as the attendant calls him) is seated by the window. We heard from several of our friends who took an earlier flight on Jet Blue that the weather on the West Coast is bad...rain, wind, fog. Three Jet Blue crafts made unscheduled stops to refuel. Since fuel is the most expensive line item for air travel, planes these days are economizing by carrying only what they think they need, not a drop more. Hence the need to drop down and fuel up when going against bad weather which burns more fuel. Net/net: air travel is getting worse and worse all the time. 

Our United craft has seen better days. Everything about it is tired. The seats, the carpets, the body of the plane (lots of touch-up paint) and, the attendants themselves. Old, tired, cranky. We sit on the ground for an hour, strapped in our seat belts. I don't know what it is about flying but I always fall dead asleep before take-off, mouth open. It's a lovely sight, I'm sure. Just as we get the all clear to go, I spring to life. I'm bored already and we've got 6 hours and 41 minutes ahead of us. I'd take out a book to read, but as there is no overhead space, my Kindle is stowed away somewhere in First Class. I look around. 6 hours and 39 minutes to go. A video comes on. Why it's the CEO of United Airlines telling all of us about his vision for a bright future for United Airlines. He waxes enthusiastic about international flights and shows computer assisted designs of flat beds with goose down pillows. Meanwhile, I can't even get a glass of water from my grumpy attendant. I try to put myself in a positive frame of mind. I think back to the days when I couldn't even buckle my seat belt on the plane and had to carry a seat belt extender. I remember the humiliation of being on a private jet for my company and not being able to buckle up and not having had my extender with me. The steward came over with an extender and told me I had to buckle front of my new boss. Awful. Awful.

Within an hour, the carts come out and they begin serving first class. They announce that they have some snacks available for sale in steerage. They direct us to the in-flight magazine to look at the "menu."  I can't reach the magazine as it is on the cabin door in a pocket. I can't get my purse because it is in an overhead compartment in First Class, with my Kindle. I imagine my purse and my Kindle talking to each other.

Kindle-She's gonna have a fit! She can't read, she can't buy snacks.
Purse (my Baggalini, the one Lyn thinks is beneath me): Poor M! Can't we do something to help her? She's been so nice to me, rescuing me from that cheap store.
Kindle-Maybe I'll download another of her romance novels for when we land. That always makes her happy.

The cart of food bypasses us because I don't have money. I feel like Oliver begging for food (Please, sir, can you spare some porridge?). I try to think positive thoughts. Maybe I'll lose weight by not eating lunch or dinner today. That would be great. The cart comes back our way an hour later. I ask if there is anything left. One chicken teriyaki wrap. I grab it and give it to Harrison. He is starving. He splits it in half and offers me some. I'm famished and take a bite. It's great. I can't eat it while he's hungry so I give it back to him and tell him I'm fine.

Think positive thoughts. I am losing weight. I fit in my seat without spilling over onto the young Mr. Lane. My seatbelt fits with room to spare. I will survive this flight. I look at this as an opportunity to practice self-control. I don't eat.  I watch A Dolphin's Tale, and I don't complain. I am a model of discipline.

After we arrive in San Francisco, we rent a car and drive to San Jose. We get to registration and the attendant announces that there are some packages awaiting our arrival. I look at the bags. My friend Abby left them for us. A bag full of healthy treats--fresh fruit, peppers and lemon hummus, clementines, apples, mixed berries, melon and pineapple. Some cookies for Harrison and Weight Watchers bars and low calorie jello for dessert. It was the most thoughtful welcome gift we ever got. Like finding a pot of gold at the end of a long journey. What a great welcome after the long flight. We had some fruit and slept like babies. Full, but on plan.

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