Thursday, May 10, 2012

Witz DOESN'T Pick: The Great Brain Deuce of 2012

Infrequently, but more and more often as I've gotten older, my brain will decide to take a break and just tell the other guy he's in charge. The problem is that there is no other guy, so when this happens, I'm essentially brain-dead for the duration.

This has happened in little ways like never noticing I've written "you're" instead of "your" no matter how many times I re-read something, or opening the refrigerator door and then standing there helpless while trying to figure out what the hell it was I wanted to get. You know what I'm talking about; these are the little mental blips which people usually refer to as, "brain farts." Well, if that's true, then what I'm about to tell you is the equivalent of my brain pounding a carton of spicy Indian curry, topping it off with a burrito and then going for a run.

A few weeks ago, I was flying down to Austin for my buddy's wedding. I had booked the flight myself, had my ticket in hand, and had checked it numerous times the day before. I had looked up the flight status online, and when I couldn't retrieve the flight by date/time/airports, I blamed it on the site and searched by flight number. The flight was on-time.

I was packed, prepared and ready to go to JFK. I left early, caught the train right as I got to the station, and got to JFK with a little under 90 minutes to take-off. "Man, I'm really good at this whole flying thing," I thought, walking over to the baggage kiosk. I looked at the flight board and didn't see my flight. "Uhh, I don't see my flight on the big board there," I told the guys standing nearby. "Am I missing something or what?" They told me to go use the kiosk and see what it said. I typed in my confirmation number and got an error message, "No reservation found." I swiped the credit card I used for the purchase and got the same message.

"Can I help you with something?" an American Airlines woman asked me. She had a slight southern twang and the usual perky customer service voice which goes up cheerily even when it's delivering bad news.
"Yeah, I can't find my reservation, but I have my ticket right here."
"Okay, well, lemme just see that for a minute...hmmmm...ohhh. Well. You see, the thing here is that you're at JFK right now, okay? Aaand your flight is leaving out of LaGuardia."

The nice thing about JFK is that the airport code is JFK, so it's very easy to know when that's your departure airport. Which is why I was skeptical when I grabbed my ticket back, looked down at it and saw--"LGA." I could feel my brain landing back in my head, finally relieved of all the coffee and straight Olestra it had consumed. I had somehow convinced myself that I was flying out of JFK and no matter how many times I'd looked at my reservation and ticket, the "LGA" hadn't changed my mind.

"Well, sir, you can--"
"FUCK ME. Holy shit. I'm an idiot."
"We do have flights to Dallas we can take a look at."
"How far is LaGuardia from here?"
"15 minutes--"
"50 minutes!?"
"1-5. Fifteen."
"Oh okay, thanks."
"But you see, the problem here is that you need to check a bag and they close the baggage gate 45 minutes prior to the flight." I looked at my watch. 65 minutes to take-off. I took a dramatic pause, looked at the woman and told her:
"I think I can make it."

I sprinted out the doors with my bags to the lone waiting cab at the departure gate. I jumped in the cab (illegally, you're supposed to wait in line down at arrivals), shouted, "I'm a moron and need to go to LGA!" and with a sidelong glance at the cop cars parked nearby, the guy drove off towards LGA.

It was clear about 30 seconds into the drive that I'd gotten the only cab driver in NY who cares about speed limits and has an almost admirable loyalty to the lane in which he is driving. And yet, somehow, we managed to get there with 5 minutes to spare for my bags. I sprinted to the baggage kiosk and started rambling to whoever would listen, "I need to check my bags! Wrong airport! What do I do?" I was then told that they close the baggage gates 30 minutes before a domestic flight, so I had plenty of time to wait in line.

 When I got to the front of the line, I was sweaty and my hair was crazy from running. I had adrenaline still pumping through me, and I was shaking a little. On top of that, I was nervous because I wasn't sure my checked bag was under the weight limit AND it contained 3 bottles of expensive alcohol which I wasn't 100% positive I could bring. If I was a movie credit, I'd be, "Guy Who Tried to Bring a Bomb On the Plane." So, naturally, I decided I should come clean:

"I went to the wrong airport," I blurted out.
"Oh my," the woman replied, not caring at all.
"But I made it!" I said, without any of the correct inflection or meaning.
"You sure did," she said in such a way that for a split second I thought I might be able to get some kind of priority seating for the NEAR-mentally disabled. "You're all set, have a good flight," she concluded and, in shock, I turned and walked away, through security, and onto my flight.

I'd made it.

Unfortunately, that's not where this story ends. I found that my seat was directly next to one of the engines toward the back of the plane. It turns out that a plane's engine is JUST AS LOUD as you think it should be--so, I had that to look forward to over the next 4 hours as I leaned against the window trying to sleep.

I saw a family of four walking toward my row, talking to each other about seating. The parents were very large and the two children--a boy around 6 and a girl about 8--were very small. The boy said he wanted to sit next to his sister, but the dad said he had to sit in the middle seat with an adult. The dad sat down in my row and I thought my luck was finally changing. But the boy didn't want to sit in the middle, he wanted to sit next to his sister. The mother told him the same thing, but as it turns out, given the choice between your children's safety and just having them shut the fuck up for four hours, the latter is more appealing.

The very large dad pushed over into the middle seat (and a little of mine) and the very large mom sat next to him. While reaching for his seat-belt, we made eye-contact, which is why a few seconds later, as he got settled, I decided a smart thing to say was:

"I was hoping your child was going to sit there."
"Excuse me?" he replied. I immediately realized what I'd said. I hadn't even used "kid," which might have been marginally better. I'd said, "child." They're not called kid molesters.
"You know, because they're smaller," I explained, just digging a deeper hole in the shit my brain was producing.
"Uh-huh," the guy replied, and I turned to the window, cutting my losses.

I sat there, being squished by human poundage on one side, hearing the excruciating roar of the engine on the other, and, just as I thought I might be able to space out to pass the time, my brain suddenly perked up, back in charge, ready for action; like a tiny voice in my head, innocently asking me, "So. What do you want to do now?"

I Just Hope I Can Always Refer to This As "The Dumbest Thing I've Ever Done,"

No comments: