First, a brief round up of my first writer’s conference:
- One request for a partial and one request for my book proposal, both for the memoir
- One request for a partial of my science fiction satire
- Several new writer contacts—mostly sci fi and fantasy folks, who duh, are the best
- One silly picture of myself shown on a screen in front of everyone
- Many, many fantastic conversations about writing and creating
- At least half a dozen drinks at the bar—they had good hefeweisen, for which I am always a sucker
- Two great dinners in Seattle—Ethiopian and sushi whore in West Seattle
- Two ridiculous airline experiences
I’d grumbled and snarked about the demise of airline service here and over on I Fry Mine in Butter, and apparently the universe or something took notice, because wow, getting back to Detroit from Seattle was a fiasco.
The initial flight out of Seattle, a red-eye at 1AM was bad enough—taking a red-eye, I knew, would throw off my internal clock, because it has every time before—but I also had a connecting flight out of Memphis. I’d been okay with this at booking because I had a nonstop to Seattle for my outbound flight, and I’m not choosy in this brave new world of airline service. Choosy is something I reserve for potato chip flavors at the Target Superstore.
Memphis’ airport has seen better, happier, less stinky days. I had to really eyeball which chair I sat in as some had lost a considerable percentage of their stuffing to some other quadrant of the facility. I figure there’s a room in the basement somewhere with bags of chair fluff. I just need to sort out why. I made my way to a Starbucks and procured a mocha and a cheese danish because I was pretending it was breakfast time. It was, in fact, 7:20AM local time, but my stomach didn’t know that, so I gave it some cues. Here, stomach, coffee. Here, stomach, danish!
Busying myself in my ebook—Patricia Cornwell’s latest, and she sounds like a cranky old lady writer these days—I did not initially notice that the monitor displaying my departure time had changed. 9:45 quietly became 10:20. At some point I lifted my head, probably because I saw movement on my horizon, triggering the lizard portion of my brain to make sure there weren’t any predators on the savanna. Fortunately, there weren’t, but I did see the slippage in my takeoff time. I called my in-law’s house and left a message alerting them to the delay, and went back to my book. I wasn’t too concerned about a small delay, but I really needed to figure out who was after Kay Scarpetta.
At the next gate, a flight to Minneapolis, people starting piling up. I could tell it was a big and full plane. Then the steward made a strange announcement:
“So folks, we’re going to have a delay here as we have a mechanical issue with this flight. We need a really big, strong spring for the tail rudder. I’m sure you remember that flight that crashed a few years ago because of the tail. So we take these things seriously. Unfortunately the part needs to be flown into Memphis here. We’ll get you all moving as soon as we can. You can scan your boarding passes over here to receive a $6 breakfast voucher from Delta for any food vendor here in the airport.”
Did someone just say flight and crash in the same sentence? Did someone from an airline just say flight and crash? That’s like yelling “bomb!” in the security line!
I looked at the monitor for the flight. Originally scheduled: 8AM. Now expected: 4PM. I noticed as a wave of uneasy crashed over me and my ebook.
Well, something was off with my flight, too. We still weren’t boarding, even though I heard one employee tell another customer that we’d leave by 10:10. My phone buzzed with a text from Susanne: Delta Web site says you’re not due to depart until 11.
Those lying bastards. Now I was annoyed, and I had a good amount of caffeine from my mocha to fuel my anger. I asked the woman at the counter how we were leaving at 10:20 if it was 10AM and we had no plane at the gate? She gave me an uneven frown, as if both halves of her brain were in conflict: this guy is pissing me off, must be nice to customers. I felt badly for causing her distress. I blamed my Starbucks mocha.
Around 11 we actually got on the plane, and then the story takes a downturn. I was seated next to the most talkative, no boundaries, yammery guy I’ve ever had the fortune to sit next to. He just wanted to know my whole life story, this guy. It was one of those times when I considered revealing The Trans just to see if it could shut down any more conversation, but I feared he would just explode with 20,000 questions I didn’t feel like answering. For those of the non-trans status, questions no transgender person wants to answer include the following:
- What was your name before?
- What’s it like to see things from the other side?
- Did you get surgery?
- How did your family deal with it?
- Quick, let’s go to the rest room so I can see your winky!
Okay, that last one isn’t a question, though it is a kind of request, I suppose. And yes, that last one has been asked of me. See, this is why my memoir needs to find an agent and a publisher, because the world needs to know that people make these crazy remarks! Notice how I went from memoir to publisher to world? That was nice, right?
Mr. Never Stop Talking rattled on for so long that I hardly noticed we’d been on the tarmac for a while, but sure enough, they hadn’t closed the boarding door and it was 11:30. Still on plane, at gate, I texted Susanne, because her drive to the airport and this flight took about the same time. I didn’t want her hanging out at the airport if I was delayed. Which, okay, I was already significantly delayed. I’d originally been scheduled to land at 12:15.
Delta Web site says you’re not departing until 12:30, she texted back. And here the pilot had just announced we’d be delayed another 5 minutes. Five minutes my ass. Five minutes in sea tortoise time. The stewards came down the aisle with glasses of water for us. Thanks, Delta.
Twelve-thirty came and went. We were having some kind of issue with the fuel line to the plane. Terrific. One rudderless crashing wonder to Minneapolis, and one exploding bombshell to Detroit. How’s that merger working out for you, Northwest?
They asked us to open up our air vents and close our windows to keep it cool inside. Mr. Talky Talk went on about people getting stranded on the tarmac for four hours just the day before. Sheesh, Mr. Never Shuts Up was just one happy story after another.
At some time after 1, way way way later that 9:45AM, we took off with the fuel line attached. Just kidding. We took of all fixed up, and I was confident that Susanne knew exactly when to leave for Detroit.
In the air they did the usual beverage service, only this time they gave us the can of soda and not just the plastic cup. I asked for the accompanying cookies.
“Oh, we’re out of cookies.” Three hours at the gate and nobody could stock the cookies?
“Of course you are.”
“Just for that,” he said, “I’m going to find you some cookies.”
“Great,” I said. I presumed this meant he’d find some crumbly bits ground into the carpet from the last 3-year-old’s temper tantrum and press them into my palm with a smile. But 20 minutes later, he handed me a package of the now-infamous Biscoff.
“Lucky you,” said the woman across the aisle from me, who’d been reading at a copy of Laura Bush’s memoir for the last hour.
“I can share,” I said, breaking one cookie in half. I handed her one piece and Motormouth to My Left the other half.
“Wow, it’s kind of cinnamony,” he said, still chewing. “You think that’s cinnamon in there?”
“Yup,” I said.
“That is a damn good cookie.”
“It’s the best thing about Delta,” I said, and I heard the steward sniff, displeased. “After their amazing staff, of course.”
“Of course,” said the steward.
I slept for four hours as soon as I got back home. My stomach is still not sure what the hell time it is.