Monday, November 12, 2001

Well sonofabitch! Look who's back. Yup, it's me. Just to inform you ... the best part of this entry is the last half... so just shut up about how long this entry is and start reading. The sooner you stop your bitching, so sooner you can start reading and finally get to the good part.

So how are all of you doing? Me? I'm doing swell. I just got back from my cruise to the Caribbean. Now originally I was supposed to be going to the Eastern Caribbean, however Hurricane Michelle had plans to completely destroy San Juan, so the crew on the ship thought better and did a 90 degree turn and headed to Cozumel. The sea was a bit rough. Even though the ship weighs a 100,000 tons or something insane like that, it was still getting tossed about in the 18 to 20 foot waves. In fact, the only time the boat wasn't rocking back and forth was when we were docked at a port or when we arrived in Miami yesterday. Normally it is not like this, but Hurricane Michelle and another tropical storm that was flying around out there made it for rough seas. Only the first two days were really bad. I didn't do so well with that, but I bit my lip and said "Dammit, I am on this cruise to have and dammit I'm gonna" then took an Advil and sucked down another Coca Cola.

Cozumel was pretty cool. I took a tour to the Mayan ruins on the coast. This was one of the very few sunny days that we actually had. On the way back to the ship I got to drink some Mexican beer... and not that fucking Corona or Dos Equis bullshit. This was simply called "Sol" and it wasn't too bad. (As I am writing this, my body is still swaying a little bit. It's funny how the body adjusts itself to make you feel more comfortable. I just wish someone would tell my brain that I am on land now and there's no reason to try to compensate for the moving of the boat that isn't there.) After we got back from the tour, my friends and I went shopping. Yee-friggin'-haw. My friend's wife was set on finding a Tanzanite ring. I guess it's some rare purple stone that is supposedly only found in one place Africa and the mine they were using just collapsed and they are not sure how much more they will be able to mine... blah blah blah. So most of they day me and Brad sat in the chairs and looked at some of the decent looking scenery looking at jewelry and walking up and down the street.

Next was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. I took a plantation tour which kinda sucked. They drove us around on a wagon with seats using a Ford tractor. We looked at banana trees, coconut trees and even saw this dude climb one without a ladder or anything else... just legs and arms. Well lah-dee frickin' dah. Then we went to Dunn's River Falls. That was fun. Basically you started at the bottom of the falls and climbed back up. Now it's not a big ol cliff or nothing. It's on a slope. Lots of water. I can't say much else 'cause that's all you really do. But trust me, it was fun.

Then we went to the Cayman Islands. I took a snorkeling tour. Now you need to understand that the last time I went snorkeling I almost drowned. I'm not a good swimmer and lord help me if you want me to float or tread water. I'm not doggie paddle only, but not far from. Anyways, I was really nervous about going. But this time I had a life vest (as did everyone else). The minute I jumped in I started to panic. Everything that went wrong was happening again. I got was in my snorkel, I started coughing, I was kicking my legs too much and was having trouble breathing only through my mouth. I was about 3 seconds from truing right around and getting on the ship and saying fuck it. But then I said "Dammit! I came here to friggin' snorkel and I am going to do just that. I have a life vest on (which I didn't have the first time) and I am not going to drown!" So I stuck my face into the water and there were all these fish swimming by. And I was calmed. I slowed my breathing down and everything was fine. At one point I was following this group of 100 or 200 bright blue fish. They would swim for a while, then stop at a section of coral and start eating something and then move on. It was alot of fun. The rest of the time was spent on the boat wandering around, going to on-board art auctions, karaoke bars, piano bars and the casino.

=== the good part ===

It was a good time... until we landed back in Miami yesterday. So we get off the boat in an 'orderly' fashion at 11:00. We were supposed to start getting off the boat at 9:00am. Keep reading, it gets MUCH better. We go into this warehouse where they took all of our luggage. I find one piece of my luggage at the front of the warehouse and the other at the very back. Note that I put them in the hall together and I assume they loaded them together. So how the fuck did they end up 200 fucking feet apart? I don't know either.

A little more background before I continue. I was travelling with 3 other people: one person who roomed with me and another couple who had a room 6 floors above us. One the ship, they let people off in sections based on where their room was in the ship... and they higher you go in the ship, the nicer the rooms, the more money involved, the sooner the rich motherfuckers want to get of. I was on the first floor. You figure out who got off the ship first. We (my roommate and I) figured on this and anticipated on meeting them at the airport.

So after I find all my luggage, I go outside and wait for a bus... for an hour and a half. Seems that 3 other Carnival cruise ships landed at exactly the same time. Take 4500 people and throw them in front of 20 buses (which aren't marked in any way and there isn't anyone from the cruise line or the bus line) and are supposed to be going to two different airports (Miami and Ft,. Lauderdale). Now image the chaos. My flight was leaving at 2:00pm. It was now 12:30. No problem I think. I still have an hour and a half to get my bags checked and board the plane.

I walk into the terminal and it is wall to wall people. The line for USAir counter is miles long. So I get in line and wait, fairly patiently. Fifteen minutes pass and I really haven't moved much. I'm getting a little bit anxious. One hour and fifteen minutes before my flight leaves and I'm standing in a line that's moving WAY to slow. And USAir knows it two. There were scores of other people that had already missed their flight and even more that weren't fortunate enough to get another flight out... they were all booked up, leaving by my guess-timate a couple-a-hundred people stranded in Miami for the day until they could get a flight out tomorrow. But I still had a chance.

Now the porters were coming in and asking if people wanted to check their bags with them... for a small fee of course, but at this point in the game, you really don't care. So we catch a porter, he takes our tickets to check them first. He comes back and says "Sorry. I can't take your luggage. You are marked for the random security check. You have to stay in line." Fuck. So we wait. We're finally just inside the ropes. Only 100 feet more to go... and that's quite a ways. As I am standing there, I hear this lightly spoken man asking people if they are on Pittsburgh Flight 270... my flight and starts pulling them off to the side to start processing them exclusively to get them on the plane. After checking out the situation (I asked a few people in the short line if they were going to Pittsburgh. They said yes.) So I yank all my luggage and get into the Pittsburgh line, losing my place in the long line. It is now 1:30pm. Again, I have a 2:00pm flight AND I know that I have to go through the whole security thing where they search my bags. The soft-spoken man, now slightly yelling says "If I did not pull you out exclusively, I will not acknowledge you." And then he repeats. This is the point where I lose it. I scream, "Listen, I am on the Pittsburgh flight, I need to get on that plane." And he says, "No, you listen, if did not pull you out exclusively, I will not acknowledge you."

I'm at a loss now. Frustrated, I go to the end of the long line, almost to the same spot I was 45 minute ago when I first showed up. It was at this point I asked my friend, "So, what do think of Miami. It looks like were staying here." (By the way, I wasn't the only one who was getting this. There were about 10 other people who were rejected as well. USAir is totally in panic mode and changes their mind. It is 1:45pm now. Remember, 2:00pm flight and I still have to go through the security search. I get to the security room (which USAir is sharing with Delta) and there are only two checkers, one for Delta and one for USAir. And there is a MOUND of luggage, all for Flight 270 to Pittsburgh. The USAir people are on their walkie-talkies telling other people to hold the plane because there are still 10 people and 30 bags that need to get checked. I of course am on the list and DEAD LAST. And it continues. It is now 2:15pm. Remember, this is a 2:00pm flight and many people (me included) have a connecting flight waiting for them in Pittsburgh to take them to their final destination.

"The captain is wondering if he is clear to take off"
"No! We still have 7 passengers and 20 bags to check."
"The captain is asking how much more time."
"We still have 4 passengers and 10 bags to check."
"We really need to be leaving. How much more time?"
"We have 2 passengers (me and my friend) and 3 bags."

They clear us to get the hell out of their and that they would make sure the luggage got to Pittsburgh. At 2:50pm, we get on the plane, which is now sweltering hot. Remember, the air conditioning does work well in a plane unless it is moving. Well, at least I'm on a plane for a 2 1/2 hour ride to Pittsburgh. Recall, that I have a connecting flight waiting in Pittsburgh. I originally had a 45 minute layover. However, by my calculations, my connecting flight will be taking off about the time that my current flight lands. I wasn't far off.

After landing in Pittsburgh, I took 4 steps off the plane and heard... "Final boarding call for Flight blah blah blah to Dayton." Shit. I am at gate A13 and I need to get to B41. Do the math... it's not close. So I walk very very very quickly. My shins and calves are burning. Ouch ouch ouch ouch. Each step hurts. FINALLY, I get to the gate just as my other friends are boarding. Thank goodness. And I jump on the plane and am on my way to Dayton. Now you would think that the story ends here... but it doesn't.

I'm going to speed the story up a bunch, skipping most of the details. It goes something like this.

We arrive in Dayton and go to the baggage claim. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Didn't I see that lime green suitcase already. I don't see my luggage. Off to the courtesy desk. "Your baggage didn't make it. But we will get it to you tonight... somehow, someway. Address please." We hop in the very empty minivan and stop at McDs. We're all a bit hungry since we haven't eaten since 8:00am and it is now 7:30pm. Driving home ... "Houston, we have a problem. My car keys... are with my luggage that is lost and not in my carry-on". I parked my car in my friend's driveway (back home in Anna, an hour and a half away from Columbus), blocking their good car. Hmm... Well, I could borrow my parents car, drive back to Columbus and get the spare car keys from out of the house, drive back to Anna and move my car. Wait, my house keys are with my car keys. DOH! Oh wait, my parents have a set of keys. But it's Sunday at 8pm and they go to the movies alot on Sundays. Are they even home? I call home. They're there. I explain my predicament. My dad, hearing the news from my mother, exclaims "You've got to be kidding me!" Thanks for caring, dad. (In his defense he has been under a tremendous amount of stress and had starting watching 'Saving Private Ryan' which hit a little to close to home for him since he was in the military)

So me and my friends get into the car with the hopes of transporting my frustrated ass back home to ma and pa where I can procure a car from them for the evening. In the car, turn key... Rrrr Rrr.... -click- My friend's wife had left the cell phone plugged into the cigarette lighter. Battery dead. The other car (the one I am blocking) in in the car as well. Will the cables reach? They do. The car starts. I am driven to my parents. My dad, now much calmer and understanding, drives me to Columbus. I run into the house, with my carry-on and grab my car keys. I also turn up the heat and feed the fish, then jump back in the car and head back to Anna. My dad drops me off at my friend's house, I get in my car and drive back to my parents house. With it being 11:30pm, I am tired so likely I am going to sleep there. Now you would think that the story ends here... but it doesn't.

As I enter into the house, I come to the realization that I left my carry-on bag in Columbus. In that bag was all the stuff I need for my contacts, my brush, my razor, my deodorant, my toothbrush and my toothpaste. Luckily, I have all those things at their house. What a day.

Now... the story is done.

Glad to be back and I hope the the gang can get back together and jam tomorrow or Wednesday!!! Peace outside!!!


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