(From the lack of international fame after the giant rubber duck joke, I suspect it may have been a bit obscure. Axoim of Choice? Banach-Tarski Paradox? Giant duck? Maybe you had to be there. Although I wasn’t.)
Lesson about Boarding Passes
Normally it takes about an hour to get from home to LGA. I left myself two and a half hours to get there on Sunday.
It was raining, and everyone was driving slowly, and there were a whole lot of everyones. And then somewhere on the ubiquitous Bronx River Sprain Brook Cross County Parkway everyone came to a complete stop for at least half an hour, for no apparent reason.
I had good luck with the airport and parking and stuff, though, and I had probably twenty minutes to get to the plane from the terminal door. Passing security on the way to the devices that give you boarding passes, I saw that security was pretty much idle, which gave me hope.
The device told me that the time-window for it to give me a boarding pass had closed, and I would have to talk to a ticket agent. The nearest official-looking person waved me toward three counters each with one agent in back and one customer in front, and no line, and I figured that would not be too bad.
Ten or fifteen minutes later one of the three customers finally finished their complex transaction involving purchasing airline tickets using Peruvian stock-market derivatives or whatever, and slowly wandered off. The person behind the counter punched buttons on their console for a long minute, and told me that the time-window for getting a boarding pass had expired. And there were no more flights to my destination that day. I said, perhaps rather testily, that I could probably still make this flight if she would just give me a boarding pass. “It isn’t giving me one,” she said, and uninterestedly handed me back my documents.
(So here is a rule: even though it seems weird, always either print out your boarding pass before leaving home, or cause one to exist electronically on some device, rather than depending on the usually-but-not-always-friendly kiosks.)
Also I am now rather baffled about the threat model, or other constraint, that is behind the thirty-minute time-window in which boarding passes are not handed out, even when one is standing right there with one’s government-issued photo-id and all.
American Express Travel Services kept me on hold for some time, but my cellphone battery did not quite run out, and when they answered the person was quick and helpful and clued, as usual. At first she said there didn’t seem to be any flights anywhere that would get me there that night, but then oh wait here is one that has just opened up, I’ll grab it for you. It has a stop in Chicago. Ick, but better than being stranded entire. Oh, and these seats are free first class upgrades. Well, okay!
I still needed a boarding pass, and the flight to Chicago was already less than half an hour in the future.
The kiosk device again regretted that the time window in which it could give me a boarding pass had closed. I moaned softly to myself, walked boldly up to a ticket agent in a red jacket who didn’t seem to be strictly-speaking open for business, but he nodded and punched some buttons and gave me a boarding pass (maybe if I’d just snuck over to him the first time, I would have gotten that first flight).
Security was still idle and I went through pretty quickly (although the guy on the carry-on scanner did wonder in a leisurely way what that was in my bag; a computer power adapter, I said, and he didn’t say anything, and let me take the bag and proceed).
Flight to Chicago was just boarding, and my First Class ticket let me slip right in between the Zone 1 and Zone 2 people. The flight proper was very nice, wide first-class seat, not-bad food, frequent offers of water and even a hot face-towel.
In Chicago, there was a reasonable amount of time to my next flight, and while many of the outgoing flights out into tornado country were being delayed, mine wasn’t. The flight that was supposed to leave from the same gate a bit before mine slipped slowly later in time, and eventually pushed into mine, and we got a gate-change and were sent into a little basement with gates in it.
At what should have been boarding time, it turned out that we had an airplane, but the crew to fly it was still an hour away, since they were coming in from tornado country, and everything out there was naturally all messed up. An hour or so later, though, they did show up, and while first class on this leg wasn’t nearly as nice (a tiny plane is still a tiny plane), it was still first class.
So anyway, I got into the hotel around 2 or 3 am (I’m a little unclear on the actual time, especially considering timezones). And gave a day of Educational Presentations on four hours’ sleep yesterday. Apparently I was quite coherent, although I don’t remember much about it.
Highly recommended for popcorn and burgers and ambiance in Rochester, Minnesota (United States of America, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy, the Mind of God) is Newt’s. And for having the energy and mental acuity to find Newt’s and eat food after presenting a day of modules on four hours’ sleep, highly recommended is a nice nap.
Also, Rochester, Minnesota is apparently a bastion of honesty and virtue. Getting my bags out of the car in a semi-coherent before-nap state on Monday afternoon, I left the rental car keys dangling out of the trunk lock. This morning, in the parking garage, feeling all my pockets in a bit of a panic due to a lack of rental-car keys, I looked down the line of cars toward mine, and there they were still dangling from the lock.
I said a heartfelt silent prayer to the Goddess (wow, that page is hard to read, isn’t it?) and the good citizens and residents of Rochester.
So that is all that! And I now have an app for electronic boarding passes, at least for American Airlines, on my i-Pad. As well as a bunch of Atari video games! Naturally…
Also I am just about finished reading Charlotte Joko Beck’s “Everyday Zen: Love and Work”; it is interesting in various ways, and perhaps someday I will post about it here.