In Which President Obama Has a Small But Important Role in my week
Yes, I’m still traveling. Yes, I should be home. Yes, I do not talk about politics on my blog (note to commenters!) and I will not discuss them here.
But President Obama had a major impact on my day yesterday. Because of him, I am sitting at a gate in Philadelphia, sharing an electrical outlet with a nice man who moved some chairs to find it.
Let me explain: Our flight from Frankfurt arrived in Philly on time, maybe even a bit early. Then we had to circle the airport for twenty minutes. (And a big wide circle too) Then we sat on the tarmac for an hour after we landed. The flight attendants were getting frustrated and one of them finally snapped, “You all should know this has nothing to do with U.S. Airways and everything to do with the government. All the planes are grounded.”
Well, as someone who lived through 9/11, I got on the phone to Dean and asked, “What is happening in the country? Why are all our planes grounded?” He looked on the news, didn’t know, and then as he was searching, one of the flight attendants went by, bitching about Air Force One. Seems the President was making a speech in Philly last night, and the best place to land Air Force One was the international terminal.
That threw everything in a tizzy. Flights delayed, people panicked. Unusually for me, I had a relatively short international layover–2 hours–and I lost one hour to “government regulations.” In the U.S., for those of you who have never done this, you arrive, go through passport control, then go to baggage claim, get your checked bag, carry it through customs, give it back to the airline on the other side of customs, and truck to your terminal, where you go through security again. Had this been the E.U., I would have had no trouble. You just walk through. But here in the U.S., the process takes at least an hour.
Long story short, after going through all of that, I ran to my gate, arrived 4 minutes after the doors closed, and was told to go to the “courtesy desk.” Which I did. And waited for another hour. I ended up with a hotel voucher, two meal vouchers, and two flights today–one to San Francisco, and one to Portland. I get home at 6:30, if I’m lucky and the President don’t arrive. (Wait, that expression should be “and the creeks don’t rise.” Oops, my bad.)
Yesterday’s flights were somewhat hellish, and I’ll discuss that in the biz blog on Thursday. We used to say “That’s no way to run a railroad.” Now, I think that idiom applies to flying. The actual in-the-air part was great–but the stuff in all three terminals was extremely difficult.
Do I regret the trip? Hell, no. And honestly, staying in Philly last night was probably the best thing I could have done. I got sleep on a lovely bed, had two nice meals (so far) and have had a leisurely morning, because I’m still on German time.
I had to laugh at myself last night. When I got into the hotel room–which did not have a doorstop in front of the toilet–, I tried to turn on the television. I couldn’t. The remote didn’t work. Now this had happened to me in Germany (and in London a few years back) and in those hotels, they turned the TV off if no one stayed in the room. So I wandered over to the huge flat screen TV and looked for the on-off button. I couldn’t see it, but the red light was on, indicating the TV worked. So I tried again.
Then I looked at the remote. Really looked at it.
I’d been trying to turn on the TV with the cordless telephone receiver. That’s when I realized just how very tired I was. I’m not that tired today. I’ll be reading (finished 2.5 books yesterday), and maybe writing some more and just enjoying the day. I’ll do a follow-up piece shortly on the rest of the convention, the lovely dinner we had at Auerbach’s Keller and the visit to the Monument. But for now, I’m going to check my e-mail and then get some tea. 🙂