Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Book Tour, Part Deuce

After 1266 “southerly” driving miles and one errant night at home, on to “northerly” MN and WI I traveled, ultimately adding another 800 miles and three more appearances to the four-wheeled portion of my book tour log. While fall colors waved to me through my open car windows and gaping sun roof, one good tune after another escaped. This time the back roads treated me kindly. Ahhhhhh.

Then, home again for two nights and one local appearance. The next morning, away to O'Hare airport I yawned. However, within a few minutes of my arrival, I morphed into Stupid Traveler. It’s amazing how quickly one becomes rusty when road tripping rather than air slogging.

Yes, I remembered the 3 oz. rule and tucked all dangerous deodorant and lethal eye makeup remover into a quart bag. However, I forgot to take the quart bag out of my carry-on before passing through security. Thankfully, the TSA—currently nixing the trial shoe scanners because they don’t catch the stuff they’re supposed to--didn’t catch my entire quart bag filled with stuff. Do you think I should suggest to them that none of their machinery actually works?

But I digress. Onto my next Stupid Traveler Trick, which was to seat myself in seat 5B, build my nest (electronics in seat-back pocket in front of me etc.) and buckle myself in, only to have a kind gentleman point out to me that I was in his seat, which was 5A. I wasn’t even on the correct side of the aisle, which was one of those narrow aisles on all American Eagle flights. But wait, there’s more.

After a late-night book signing and visit with friends, I scrambled around my hotel room this morning, checked out, paid more than two bucks for a bottle of water to drink during my cab ride to the airport (during which I listened to my cabbie whine about people who used credit cards to pay for cab rides, which is what I did since it was thirty-two bucks), then tucked the balance of the bottle of water into my handbag and zipped it up. Seems Dayton’s scanning machines (or machine watchers) work better than O’Hare’s because a “BAG CHECK!” was required to rid me of the Dangerous Dasani which, had it stayed in my possession (and the TSA KNOWS this), I could have easily poured up someone’s nostrils in an attempt to drown them, thereby revealing myself to be one of dumbest terrorists ever since everyone knows things run OUT of noses, not UP them.

The height of my personal stupidity was, however, matched by the inefficiency of the flight attendant, who was so busy chatting with folks that he never once noticed that the man in front of me left his seat back reclined during the takeoff and the landing. I might have been more upset about this, and even ratted out the fellow traveler, had the guy kitty-corner and one aisle up from me (4A) not turned out to be such a fascinating person to study. Fifty minutes’ worth (the entire flight), I studied him. Here’s why:

*You know the lever you turn to let your tray table down? I’ve always wondered why it looks like a little hook, and what, pray tell, one might hang on such a teensy hook. Well, Fascinating Person enlightened me when he hung his suit jacket from it by the thingie sewn into the inside neck area of men’s jackets, apparently for such a purpose. Who knew?! (DID YOU? Seriously, did you know that hook could inspire such a clever tactic?)

*He efficiently worked his Blackberry with a combination of his right thumb and left index finger. Wow! Fascinating. That was a new technique on me, and I'm herewith naming it the Thumbinger. I could hardly wait until we landed so he could check out his phone calls and e-mails, thereby Thumbingering his way to the gate.

*He worked USA Today’s “Word Roundup” with lightening speed. He also tackled “QuickCross” and Sudoku, then ripped out the page to finish them later, tucking the folded paper into the interior pocket of his cleverly hung suit jacket. I studied the faintly balding back of his head for a long while wondering a) where it went to college, b) whether or not he’d have a go at the Crossword puzzle later too--and I suspected he would, and c) did he get all his answers correct? Hey, how would I know? I can't see that far--and I stink at puzzles.

Then we landed. THUMBINGER ROCKS! If I ever get me a Blackberry, I swear, I’m gonna try it. Then, since I had an aisle seat, as soon as the seatbelt sign unlit, I quickly stood up, stepped back and all but insisted the HUGELY TALL gentleman folded up next to me unfold himself before he got stuck that way. Turns out my Stupid Traveler Self had unknowingly struck again: American Eagle planes are so small, he couldn’t stand up straight in the aisle anyway.

BTW, if you flew in seat 4A on American Eagle from Dayton to Chicago today and a strange woman tapped you on the shoulder to thank you for educating her about The Hook, that was obviously me. Pretend I just made up all that stuff about studying you, okay?

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