June 15, 2012
A who’s who of who’s not.
My next post will offer a few ponderings about last month’s Cuba experience. But today, having just returned from a quick trip to New York, I thought I’d share this amusing, if meaningless moment. Kelp Lite: half the pith but just as filling!
Faithful followers of my peripatetic adventures know that I bop around quite a bit, particularly during the three seasons that are not referred to as “summer.” That one, I do my best to preserve for algae-laden forays right here on beautiful San Juan Island.
Did you ever see the 2009 George Clooney film, “Up in the Air”?
Remember how he played a guy who worked so much he was virtually never home, constantly flinging himself around the U.S. on a particular airline, eagerly anticipating the day when he would be dubbed a Ten Million Mile Flyer? And the emotional scene in which he finally, finally achieved that heady goal?
I am not that character.
Nonetheless, though falling quite short of AAA-rated airborne wealth, I’ve managed to accumulate enough junk bond/penny-ante miles to launch me to the front of the plane more than half of the time I’m on one (I’ve blogged about the perks, here. ). Upgrades are very nice. Free booze and electrical outlets. And a dearth of tireless toddlers to torment the back of my seat with their toes and their tirades.
On my most recent flight this week from New York back to Seattle, I was upgraded to my favorite spot: row 1, a leg-roomy bulkhead window seat. I could have co-piloted the plane, and would be the very first person off when we landed (giving me the giddy, if fleeting, illusion of disembarking from a private jet chartered for my sole use. Well, of course.). I immediately settled in for the five and a half hour jaunt with my comfort necessities: noise-canceling headphones, plus my iPhone, MacBook Air, and their respective power cords. Barely audible through The Magic That is Bose was the standard announcement over the PA system, thanking Delta’s frequent flyers, and in particular their Gold, Platinum and Million Miler flyers. They usually don’t bother to mention that last category, much less in plural, and I momentarily imagined a plane full of humans whose shoes are in perfect condition because their feet rarely touch the earth. And, how pathetic that would be.
The flight was uneventful, which is precisely the quality everyone looks for in a flight. Just before the head attendant had to strap herself in for whatever type of landing (and oh, there are some creative ones) was imminent, she stopped in front of me and extended her hand. I was wearing my magic headphones and had Radiohead cranked up to eleven on my iPhone. I assumed I was about to be sternly scolded for not having “powered down” my electronic device. This is one of those delightful directives brought to you by the ever-vigilant TSA, who fear that the power of any Apple product is so divine and extraordinary, it can bring down a 757. Interestingly, there has never once been a report of a large commercial airliner experiencing communications interference from a text message and plummeting to earth. The aircraft are shielded, of course. But why should this fact this stop the TSA from finding yet another way to hassle me?
I looked up from my sonic immersion, almost startled, and probably appeared to be a combination of confused and guilty. The TSA Kabuki theater is an effective behavioral modifier, even when performed in front of the philosophically defiant. The attendant’s hand remained suspended in front of me, and now her lips were moving. I removed the headphones.
She gazed at me and cooed. “I just want to thank you for being a Million Miler flyer, and want to tell you how deeply Delta Airlines appreciates your business and your continuing loyalty. You are a valued customer.”
Still in possession of that befuddled look on my face, I instinctively reached my right hand toward hers, and graciously shook it.
I could have just said, “Oh, you have me confused with another passenger who probably booked this seat and then cancelled it.”
Yes, I could have said that.
I did not.
I simply smiled professionally, looked right into her eyes, nodded confidently, and replied,
I was first off the plane, and walked proudly down the jetway with my millionth and one mile now neatly racked up.
At least, in my mind and that of one sweet, ill-informed flight attendant.
The heady illusion of deplaning my own private jet had never been stronger.
A gull like me could get used to this.