Category Archives: travel
How do I know this? My life is living proof. Every Sunday the stars align and my world becomes the critical mass necessary to spark a nuclear holocaust.
It starts with something simple, like stepping out of the shower, the first step in preparing for an audition, getting ready to blow dry and style my hair so I don’t look like The Bride of Frankenstein.
Of course, at that precise second, the power goes off. Then on. Then off. And stays off. Which means not only can I really not do anything about the hair, it also means putting on makeup in the dark. AND not being able to print out the word document I had carefully prepared with all the audition information on it including contact name, telephone number, and exact location, and which is now hidden behind a darkened screen because I could always print it after my shower, after all, what could go wrong?
And then it’s getting on the interstate to drive to the audition and getting stuck behind that idiot in the left lane because the idiot ALWAYS drives in the left lane because that is where he was taught to drive, operating his vehicle at all times at or below the speed limit. For this idiot the right lane does not exist; it is invisible or at best merely a wide shoulder where, god help all of us, he will park to change a tire should it become necessary at which time he will cause even greater havoc which will, of course, happen on a Sunday but thankfully it is not this Sunday and eventually I am able to pass him on the right and reach the audition after which I decide to eat lunch at the Whole Foods down the street even thought it’s Sunday.
Yes, that Whole Foods, the perfect place for pretentious people who want to overpay for groceries while acting self-righteous because they are shopping at Whole Foods. Anyway, because of those high prices, the store can afford to give away food, so whenever I’m in the neighborhood I stop by. This time I start in the produce section with some tangy grapefruit and mandarin orange sections, then stroll toward the deli, pausing to eat some freshly made guacamole and assorted salsas on multigrain tortilla chips. After that I savor several varieties of cheese, some sausage, and roasted red pepper hummus on pita chips, topping it off with a lovely cabernet and finally some hot spiced chai.
Sometimes I even buy stuff, if the store will let me. But they don’t make it easy. I picked up an ad flyer from a full display rack of identical ad flyers, happy to note several items at excellent sales prices. As I wander aimlessly for twenty minutes, unable to locate them, a helpful clerk offers to lead me to them. Which is when I discover the flyer expired two weeks ago which explains why I couldn’t find them and the clerk decides she doesn’t like my scowl at which point she says having weeks old outdated sales flyers still in racks to mislead and disappoint customers just happens and I agree because it is, after all, Sunday.
So I depart and head for the nearby Trader Joe’s (the Jimmy Buffett alternative to Whole Foods – seriously – he works register 3). Which I know will be a mistake (it’s Sunday) but I really need to get a multi-grain baguette and crushed garlic so decide to chance it. Only this Trader Joe’s has a basement parking garage designed for those miniature sub-sub compact smart cars while I drive a car large enough for full-size human beings and as soon as I pull in I learn the garage is full because a line of cars is stopped in front of me and I can’t back out because a car is now stopped behind me but after waiting 10 minutes a parked car directly in front of me backs out and just as I am about to pull into the vacant spot a van zips past from the opposite direction and pulls. Into. My. Spot.
So I do what I should have done in the first place: find street parking a block away. And as I step out of my car it begins to rain.
Eventually I’m back on the highway headed home only to once again be trapped behind the left lane drivers who have never grasped the reasons for having multiple lanes of traffic and minimum speeds, or the true meaning of “passing lane only” or “slower traffic keep right” signs. Which means I am the caboose in a train going 45 mph – in the left lane of a 65 mph interstate.
Thankfully, I have six days to rest.
if you do: drive.
I decided, finally, to go to my high school reunion. It was everything I thought it would be (almost no one remembered me, almost no one spoke to me, and the food was terrible but, because the Queen B – ahem – “Bee” had mistakenly assumed I was a vegetarian, I was able to order a special plate and thus was the only person in the place that got something edible for my $95).
On balance, though, it was a good thing that I went if for no other reason than the satisfaction of seeing how many deserving people had gotten fat, bald – and (unlike me) old. Plus it gave me plenty of material for a book because it turns out that the Queen B had been telling tall tales about me and saying rather nasty things about me to others and there were the escapees from Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum who had way too much work done, the people who got drunk and the snooty Mean Girl cheerleader who now looks like somebody’s dumpy granny … but you’ll have to read the book for the rest. What was also very interesting was what has happened to air travel.
If you haven’t flown in awhile you may not know about the TSA (aka Terminally Stupid Administration) which, when not stealing your stuff, keeps us all safe by keeping ticketed passengers from ever getting onto an airplane. Airlines love that because, if no one ever gets on the plane, their flights never have to actually depart, greatly reducing operating expenses.
This involves a multi-step process.
Step one: publicly humiliate passengers by forcing them to show their driver’s license photo to a bored TSA agent who then shows it to twenty of his co-workers, all of whom collapse in gales of laughter.
Step two: force all passengers to partially disrobe and submit to an “I’ll still respect you in the morning” full body scan after which twenty bored TSA agents watch the scanned image before collapsing in gales of laughter.
Steps three and four (optional): randomly pat down humiliated women traveling to high school reunions before randomly searching their carry-on luggage for undeclared facial creams and lotions which a woman in her undeclared age group desperately needs if she doesn’t want to look like the old people at her reunion.
And that is the problem. Because the TSA website specifically limits quantities of “liquids, gels, and aerosols” but says nothing – NOTHING (I know – I checked) – about creams. Or lotions. Which are creams and lotions. Not liquids.
So if they REALLY want to require them to be packed in a “3.4 ounce (100ml) container size” placed into one (1) “quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger” then they should clearly say “liquids, creams, lotions, gels, and aerosols” and not publicly humiliate women traveling to high school reunions because any person on the street will tell you a cream or a lotion is not – repeat NOT – a liquid. Beer is a liquid. Water is a liquid. But age fighting facial products which stay in a jar even when turned upside down? And which would never, ever be considered a liquid by anyone who works anyplace which is not the TSA?
I mean seriously: is Heinz ketchup a “liquid”????
I rest my case.
But I know what their motivation is: they get a percentage from the airlines for forcing passengers to check their bags. How do I know this? Because the TSA says so: “If in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage.”
The airlines love checked luggage because they can only get so much extra income from things like “DIRECTV In Flight.” Yes – you read that right. Paid TV. And it’s so easy! Just insert a dollar a minute to watch all the latest films!!
Remember the olden days when airlines served food and showed movies to reduce panic in passengers confined in narrow metal tubes for hours while strapped awkwardly close to random strangers with dubious personal hygiene? Thankfully, they stopped meal service years ago (the caterer now prepares food for reunions) but didn’t think to subcontract the televisions until the government established a satellite system adequate for them to make millions.
That was when some random airline executive looked out his window and thought: “Hmmm. We charge for food. We charge for drinks. We charge for luggage. How else can we screw a captive audience? I know! Pay toilets!”
Meanwhile, a different airline executive said: “Wait a minute! Not everyone has to pee, but everyone gets bored! We can charge for movies and entertainment! It will be a gold mine!”
Which I didn’t know before I left, but I had a window seat so had something to watch for free.
At least for now.