I'm invited by my employer to go on an out-of-state trip for a conference,
I always feel privileged and rewarded. Then I arrive at the airport.
My most recent excursion into the inconvenience and discomfort that
can only be administered by an airport was for a conference in beautiful
Denver, Colorado, but first I had to make it out of DFW alive and
sane. (One out of two ain't bad, I guess.)
The first hurdle to jump was the dreaded TSA. Going through TSA security
is like going on an awkward date. It has the potential for excitement,
but often results in partial disrobing, someone going through your
personal business, more physical contact than you would like, and
a rush at the end to get the humiliation over with.
Once I had collected myself from being violated in the name of homeland
security, I began to do what I always do when I want to change the
subject-look for something to eat. My goal that morning was to find
those precious breakfast time gifts from God, a Chick-fil-A chicken
biscuit and a large Diet Dr. Pepper (because I'm all about starting
the day with a healthy and organic meal). After roaming the concourse
for what seemed like an eternity and not finding a single red letter
"C" adorned with chicken parts, I resorted to the Honey Butter Chicken
Biscuit from Wendy's, an unspeakable abomination that reminded me
of something your mother might make after telling you she could prepare
one just like Chick-fil-A, and at a fraction of the cost. I ate the
whole thing-out of spite. Wendy's also apparently has something against
the world's most perfect soft drink, so instead of Diet Dr. Pepper,
I drowned my disappointment in a substandard Coke Zero. I don't know
who Wendy is, but she should be ashamed of herself.
I always try (and fail) to schedule my airport dining so that I can
avoid using the airplane toilet, which feels like trying to go to
the bathroom stuffed in a high school locker while handcuffed and
spinning a log in a lumberjack competition. However, true to form,
my plane was delayed for over two hours, so my timing was completely
thrown off. After waiting an entire thirty minutes after the chicken
biscuit debacle, I was forced to order another large Coke Zero and
a chicken salad sandwich from a food stall with a French name that
ended in something that sounded like "Blech." Like most chicken salad
sandwiches, this one tasted like a wet napkin nestled between two
paper towels. Oh, and there were some raisins in there somewhere.
After our first flight delay due to the airline's inability to find
any flight attendants who wanted to go to Denver, we were then told
that the plane had a maintenance issue involving a de-icing valve.
This meant we would sit for another hour in the gate waiting area
that smelled like a bath towel used to dry a wooly mammoth while the
maintenance technicians rounded up a tube of Gorilla Glue and a new
de-icing valve from the local Auto-Zone.
Not only would this deter me from waiting until I arrived in Denver
to use the restroom at my hotel, but I would be forced to risk my
personal hygiene in the repulsive airport men's room. When I finally
found a stall that didn't look like the aftermath of a cattle auction,
I immediately lunged for the toilet seat covers. Making these work
was harder than I thought, especially on an automatically flushing
toilet, and after wasting about 15, I gave up and resorted to lining
the seat with exactly 5,000 sheets of toilet paper to give the legions
of bacteria more comfortable accommodations.
As always, the timing of my restroom visit couldn't have been more
perfect. While I was depleting a month's supply of paper products
in the men's room, my flight gate changed, and boarding began immediately,
which placed me at the end of the line, an ominous way to start my
actual flight-but that's a whole other story.
Despite these problems, I truly enjoyed my time in Denver. In fact,
I had so much fun, I completely forgot about the first leg of my trip-until
I entered the airport for my return flight. Suddenly, I realized I
was starving, I needed to go to the bathroom, and the TSA were looking
impatient and cranky as they snapped on some fresh rubber gloves.
I knew I should have sent them some flowers first.
© Jase Graves
"Quips and Salsa" January
16, 2017 column