Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Travel tales, part 1

I arrived back in Germany on Sunday morning, stayed up until a normal bedtime like you're supposed to, and proceeded to sleep for the next twenty hours. Guess how going to sleep last night worked out for me?

Naturally there are a couple different options for time zone acclimation. By far the best one I've found is pretending like you're already on the time zone of wherever you arrive and dealing with maybe a day of not feeling great. Caffeine helps with this. So I flew in at 9am, stayed up with the help of Skype until around 8:30pm, then fell asleep. My body, not realizing its part of the bargain, did not wake me up at 11am or noon like I was planning, but waited until 4:30pm instead. This is what I get for not setting an alarm. I spent all of last night trying to convince myself that I was indeed very sleepy, but even special music meant to make you tired didn't drift me off into dreamland. Now my body and I get to walk the harder road of being forced to wake up early every morning for work and eventually figuring out that we should therefore become sleepy sometime before dawn. I foresee a great deal of that blessed aristocrat Earl Grey in my future. And then maybe some catch-up next weekend, but only if my circadian rhythms have gotten with the program. (Here that rhythms? The program. Get with it.)

Despite the weird sleeping schedules, I have a number of amusing anecdotes to share about my trip back to Europe. I'll share them in two parts.

#1 - While sitting in the airport in Chicago, a college-aged woman sits down across from me with a copy of the magazine Elle and begins an inane conversation on the phone. The biggest gem: "So tell Christopher that I bought a magazine and I'm, like, reading it. He always worries that I'm not reading."

#2 - The electric piano in the Chicago airport (don't ask) played a ten-minute version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," then launched into "What Child is This?"

 #3 - I was hanging out at my gate eating lunch around two hours before my flight was set to begin boarding. I got to watch a flight to LA board, including five standby passengers. After everyone was boarded and the gate agents had a little back-and-forth that suggested they weren't good friends, they locked the gangway door and went to deliver the takeoff papers, or whatever official thing it is that has to be done before a flight leaves. (Crosscheck, anyone? That continues to confuse me). Three minutes before the flight was scheduled to take off and after it had already left its gate, the family of five whose seats provided openings for the standby passengers showed up and tried to get the door open. There were no gate agents to be seen. Naturally the door was locked against terrorists, etc. The family finally collared an agent from another airline who had the misfortune to be walking by and that person chased someone down. The chased-down agent directed to family to customer service and walked away. Air travel, I tell ya.

#4 - The Chicago airport thoughtfully provided a whole row of outlets and seats for its passengers with electronic devices to charge. This is obviously a vast improvement over the person-on-the-floor-next-to-the-only-outlet situation that is standard for most airports. Naturally, therefore, none of the outlets worked. And the seats didn't have any padding.

That last point has always been confusing to me. Airlines stay very up-to-date with technology. On all my flights to Europe my seatback provides me with at least twenty-four hours of recent movies and TV shows. The entire industry is predicated on getting a tin can weighing many tons up in the air, for goodness sake. But outlets in the airport? I think not.

(Yeah yeah, the airport is not owned or run by the airlines, etc. Still.)

No comments:

Post a Comment