Thursday, September 9, 2010


I recently managed to complete my long delayed visit to my grand kids in Charlotte, NC with a minimal amount of discomfort and fanfare although the trip by air was not without some stress. There still remains the expected amount of discobobulation (sp?) that goes with the security checks that have become a major hassle to air travel. I could single out Continental Air for special mention in the department of needlessly harrassing passengers but I will rise above the occasion for the time being. Enough to say that I was not a happy camper. The plane was cramped (to say the least) and they bumped me to a later flight after mistakenly giving away my seat to a standby passenger because I was delayed getting to the departure gate. Partly to blame for my tardy arrival (yes, I do admit I was five minutes tardy) was the fact that my feet were hurting me so much because I had on a pair of ill fitting sneakers. This discomfiture made me hobble about in excruciating agony for the whole trip. Lesson learned. Never wear new shoes on a long trip. Always wear your most comfy, broken in pair no matter how unfashionable.

I am not a very seasoned traveller to begin with (not that I ever really was). I am not called old stick in the mud by family relatives for nothing. In as much that the airlines now charge for checking baggage, I only took enough essentials that would fit into my carry on. No toothbrush, no toothpaste, no razor, no shaving cream. A change of shirts and underwear and socks was about all I allowed myself. It was supposed to be a short trip so I wasn't going to need a lot. I did bring a bathing suit. As luck would have it, the hotel pool was closed during my visit for unknown reasons. I liked the idea of travelling light. I also liked the amount of money I saved by not checking any baggage.

I am a superstitious person (as I freely admit, a gift from my superstitious jewish gypsy mother) so crossing paths with a halloween black cat just as I left my house was not a good omen. Also I had to return back to the house on two more occasions to retrieve forgotten items thereby losing the celestial escort of angels that my mother used to assure me was assigned to all travelers on condition that they not return to their homes to retrieve forgotten articles. So I was apprehensive to say the least. In addition I was very apprehensive about the security search that the airlines impose on all travellers.

Sure enough, at the security check point, I was told to remove my shoes, my belt, and deposit all metal objects into the baskets that need to be x-rayed before allowing folks to continue to the boarding gates. My stuff was flying in all directions. I think it was here, during all the confusion, that I lost my passport. In addition to the humiliation of having my pants fall down in public for all to see I was stressed out to say the least. But apparently I was in good company. Everyone seemed to receive equally bad treatment as far as I could see.

Once on the plane all requested amenities now come with additional charges, so a cup of soda and a small bag of pretzels is all that is offered for free. I was glad for the gesture as my sugar levels were playing havoc with all the stress and rushing about. Once I reached Charlotte, NC I waited for an hour and a half for the courtesy van to arrive. This was partially my fault for being hard of hearing and mistakenly waiting in Zone B instead of Zone D. When I finally made the connection and hooked up with my ride I suggested to the the hotel clerk that they use military lingo to communicate such rendezvous points by saying Alpha, Beta, Charlie and Delta instead of a,b,c,d. The clerk thought this was such a good idea (apparently no else had ever made a similar suggestion) that he charged me the military rate for my hotel room (a whole ten bucks cheaper!) thinking that I was somehow involved with things military. I accepted the act of kindness for what it was worth.

Meeting my grand kids (the youngest for the first time) was as wonderful an experience as people claim it to be. My daughter and her husband and her inlaws were as gracious and accomodating as could be and we all had a generally good time seeing some local sights and visiting with family for Sunday dinner. The weather was glorious and I was genuinely glad to be away from Philadelphia even for a short while. I am always preaching to my friends that a change of scenery goes a long way towards improving mental health and it felt good to be taking my own advice for a change. It (the trip) has rekindled within me the desire to go visit new places and see new things. I hopefully expect to do a lot more of both once I finally officially retire in about two years from now.

I came back home greatly releived to find my two cats (Katrina and Rusty) healthy and the house still standing pretty much as I left it. I took an extra day off to catch up on sleep and lower my blood pressure before returning to work and the old routine. I am now back in the saddle at work and pretty much settled back into the regular routine. My daughter sent me pictures of the visit with the grand kids and they came out very nice. I see myself smiling a lot in the photos so I must have had a really good time. After all, in this new digital age of pixel perfection, pictures don't lie!

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