April 1, 2011
In motion. Sometimes not.
Although I travel almost constantly, I almost never make mention on these kelpy pages of transport and its inherent issues. As long as I get from Point A to Point B in one piece, I’m rather pleased. But it’s April 1st, and I’m compelled to file a report here about the entire day’s oddities of mobility or lack thereof. It began with the shortest distance I’ve ever traveled leaving from JFK: the flight early this morning that left at 7:30 a.m. from Gate 29, and arrived a record-setting three hours later at Gate 10. Yes, the Gate 10 at JFK. It was an un-flight, actually, since the wheels never left the ground.
This prize-worthy accomplishment in the art of going nowhere fast included a brief tour of the rainy/snowy taxiing tarmac and active runway as the pilot discovered, upon revving the engines full throttle as he was about to hurl us into the blue, that something about this big bird wouldn’t fly. This is the kind of information that’s useful to have at precisely the moment we had it, rather than, say, a few zippy seconds later when we’d have been staring down at Queens just long enough to realize that we were about to become one with the boardwalk at Coney Island.
So upon aborting takeoff, we scooted to the shoulder of the runway, and watched all the other healthy, grown-up planes pass us and lift gracefully into the sky. Our pilot tested out the engines in a stationary spot that guaranteed a less perilous outcome than any which might have included the descriptive term “sudden plunge,” and determined that indeed, it was necessary to head back to the gate and call in the mechanics for a look-see.
We headed back. We waited. The aero fix-it fellas showed up and did their thing. And we waited some more. A lot more, in fact. Finally, we were told that we’d need to change equipment. Further waiting was in store for us after we de-planed and finally re-planed.
But heck, I’m Mz. Mellow: as long as I’ve got my laptop and my iPhone, I’m a happy camper (and camping out is what this started to feel like). Also helpful is that since I’m in the air nearly as much as I am on the ground, I’ve racked up enough miles to launch the next mission to Mars and thus usually find myself upgraded and catapulted through the sky from the very front of the plane on most trips. And ya know what the biggest perk to this is (ok, after the free booze, which the peripatetic and sometimes tired Mz. Mellow deeply appreciates because it further morphs her into Mz. Ultra Mellow)? The electrical outlets that are thoughtfully placed next to each seat, offering the promise of endless work, once I tire of mindlessly playing gin rummy on my [always cheating] iPhone and watching HGTV house renovations on the little screen on the seat-back facing me.
Snuggled into my comfy window seat surrounded by my juiced up techy gizmos, a banana, a Reese’s peanut butter cup and a Bloody Mary (each decidedly less techy, with the latter threatening to juice me up as efficiently as my gear), I declined the offer to venture off the plane in search of a better place to kill time. I was deeply content in my bleary-eyed que sera sera-ness. But here’s the FAIL part: in-air internet WiFi only works above 10,000 feet. As in, “in-air.” So even though I was plugged in, I remained unplugged. I guess this was like camping, after all.
Eventually, the consolation prize replacement plane became air-bound, and actually made it across the country to Seattle by mid afternoon. Then additional commuter fun ensued. It was raining heavily in Seattle (like, gee, that’s never happened before). One of Seattle’s few weaknesses is its utterly frustrating dependence on an I-5 freeway corridor that becomes thoroughly clogged when more than, say, three cars are on the road. Especially when all three have careened into each other because the drivers were probably too busy playing gin rummy on their iPhones to watch in front of them. With no other north/south options, the traffic jams can be legendary. And this was one of those marvelously legendary days. Heavy rain, heavy traffic, and increasingly heavy hunger pangs were my accompaniment track. It had been 13 hours since I left my hotel room on the upper west side, and I was still many hours from my front porch on the upper west rock.
By my feet at the studio: a bridge to somewhere.
Three hours later, we made it to the ferry terminal in Anacortes, hoping to catch the 6pm boat to San Juan Island. Problem was, although I’d dutifully checked not one but both online iPhone ferry apps for updates, info and any pithy alerts, we were unaware that in fact there was no 6pm sailing today because, like the plane at JFK, the vessel had mechanical problems and was pulled from service. Was it something I said? Should I have applied more deodorant? Tried a different color lipstick? What was it about me today that caused enormous hunks of metal on both edges of the continent– aircraft, trucks, and car ferry– to freeze up and cease working? Apparently, I had heretofore been unaware of my super powers and now must learn to use them for good, not for evil. At the very least, my fellow travelers– clearly all victims of my proximity– will benefit.
So I now type this tale of travel tribulations sitting in a dinky little ferry depot with other islander diaspora who, like me, await the 8:25 p.m. sailing to paradise. I’ve inhaled a slightly stale and oddly soggy cellophane-mummified tuna sandwich, in lieu of the nice dinner I thought I’d enjoy at home. And oh-by-the-way adding-to-my-slight-crankiness, this place doesn’t sell wine or beer (I guess they don’t want anyone to drink and dive). Nonetheless, if this is the price I very occasionally pay to live in this paradise, I’m willing to ante up. In fact, I’m quite, quite lucky.