December 23, 2001
five-hour lines at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter at Oakland
International this weekend, plus a record number of missed flights.
The blurb on the Yahoo News website this morning reads:
essentially fully-booked flights, several people said
passengers on earlier Southwest flights called them from the planes to
say there were many empty seats. That could be because unlike other
airlines at other airports, no one from Southwest was pulling people
out of line to catch their flights.
one from Southwest would comment on camera. The airline had every
counter position staffed. But an airport spokeswoman said the problem
was caused by many more people trying to check baggage, and no room in
the terminal for Southwest to open more counters.
quantity and volume of checked bags is greater than we have seen since
September 11th," said airport spokesperson SomebodyOrOther.
were delays at San Francisco and San Jose airports also today, but
nothing like Southwest's problems at Oakland.
By KPIX -
In addition to feeling
sorry for all of those frustrated, unhappy holiday travelers (and even
sorrier for the beleaguered Southwest Airlines employees trapped behind
the ticket counters), I must admit to also
feeling ever-so-slightly relieved.
That could have been me.
That should have been
have been me, too, if we had decided 'Hell
with the expense/the logistics/the job/the separation'
and sent me off to TicTac this holiday season. I would have been flying
out of Oakland International. I almost certainly would have flown out
yesterday. And the chances are pretty good that I would have flown on
Southwest Airlines. (I actually prefer Alaska -- their peanuts have a
more satisfyingly piquant crunch -- but right now I'm trying to
accumulate enough Rapid Reward points for that trip to Journalcon in
If I'd gone home for the
holidays, that very well could have been me they were interviewing on
the news this morning ... one of those feral, hollow-eyed creatures
snarling into the camera about how they're going to 'sue' the airlines
the minute they land in Portland/San Diego/TicTac. And that would have
only been half
my travel nightmare, of course. I don't know what conditions are like
on the TicTac Airport side of things, although I suspect it's probably
more of the same: lots of delays, lots of long, long lines ... and lots
of Great Big Frowny Faces, everywhere you look.
And then I would have
had to turn around and do the whole thing all over again -- in reverse
-- on Tuesday night or (more likely) on Wednesday morning.
I am genuinely sorry
that I'm not going to be seeing my family, especially my children, this
Christmas. Nobody is sadder about it than I am. Nobody feels worse
about it than I do. (And nobody is looking forward to Christmas 2002 --
and that long relaxing Amtrak ride to TicTac and back -- more than *I*
am.) But there is a teeny tiny part of me, this morning, that is
thanking God (or whoever is in charge of this sort of stuff) that
I'm not standing in a bazillion-mile line at Oakland International
Airport right about now.
* * * * * *
David's "quick Christmas
shopping expedition" wound up taking the whole day yesterday.
I made it all the way up
to Tape #7 in the Christmas Tape collection ("Do They Know It's
Christmas" ... Annie Lennox singing "Walking In A Winter
Wonderland" ... Stevie Nicks' incredibly groovy version of "Silent
Night") and was just beginning to do the little Where
is he? Why hasn't he called? What if he was in a car accident?
exercise in paranoia when he finally came straggling through the
door, sometime around 5 p.m. ... soaking wet, windblown, loaded down
with shopping bags, with *that* look on his face.
(No, not THAT
look. That came later.)
I'm talking about the I've
something so incredibly cool you're NOT going to believe it!!
look. I thought maybe he'd scored a couple of KFOG "Live From The
Archives" CDs -- or that Chia Head for his mom -- but it turned out
that he was all excited about a Dead Kennedys DVD ("The Early Years
Live") he'd found during his shopping adventures.
"I was AT
this show!" he said excitedly as he slid the disk into our computer's
DVD player. We spent the rest of the afternoon/early evening hunched
over the monitor, combing through a thousand blurry freeze-frames from
1979, trying to spot a young
in the audience. (We think we found him, too. At one point
The Poor" -- just after Jello Biafra crawls back onstage, after a turn
around the mosh pit -- the camera lingers for a moment on the profile
of a tall, slender young man with exquisite cheekbones. We figure it's
either a 23-year-old
or Kevin Bacon.)
Every once in a while I
glanced over at the sofa, where he'd dumped the wet shopping bags, and
tried to figure out if my Christmas present was hidden somewhere in the
pile. From that distance, without my glasses, it was hard
Was that a Tower Records bag? A Target bag? The telltale Borders Books
logo? Eventually David caught me looking.
"I can trust you to stay out
of that stuff, right?" he asked, after he'd moved the shopping bags
into the bedroom closet.
"Of course you can," I
Poor sweet, simple,
He has such a lot to learn about his wife and her dark, larcenous
heart, doesn't he?
* * * * * *
Sunday: another dark,
damp, drizzly morning.
I haven't left the
apartment all weekend: not even to do laundry or check the mail or
stand hidden in the courtyard eavesdropping on my
hate you, you fudking fudkhead!
Ralph: I hate you too!
Lydia: Gimme another goddamn
beer, you fudking fudkhead!
Ralph: Want me to open it for
I've been schlepping
around in the same pair of Old Navy sleep bottoms since Friday night,
I'm not wearing a scrap of Maybelline, my hair looks like I combed it
with a crusty fork, and basically all I've done the entire weekend is
read ("Waiting For My Cats To Die") and eat (Triscuit crackers with
Wild Morel & Leek Jack Cheese) and listen to the Christmas
tapes. And I'm fine with that.
In fact I'm so
fine with it, I'm going to do it all over again today.
David, on the other
hand, is getting ready to head back out into the world and brave the
storms/the crowds/the traffic once again. He has the kids today, which
means that he'll be gone for most of the afternoon. Plus he
has volunteered to grocery shop, and to return our overdue library
books, and to stop and pick up more gift wrap and Scotch tape so we can
wrap the rest of the Christmas presents tonight. We both have to work
tomorrow -- Christmas Eve -- and then we'll be going directly from work
to his parents' house in Walnut Creek. So tonight is our last chance to
get all the loose ends of Christmas tied up.
"You're more than
welcome to come with me today," he says again. I think he's worried
that I've been wallowing in holiday misery, all by myself in this
apartment all weekend. Which I have been, of course ... but it's been a
really comfortable, delicious, FUN
sort of misery ... which, if you're going to wallow in misery, is
probably the sort of misery to wallow in.
"I'll be fine," I tell
him. "Go. Have fun. Come home to me tonight."
As soon as I hear the
door close, of course, I am on my feet and making an immediate beeline
for the bedroom closet. I won't open my Christmas present, I
won't even touch it. I'm just going to ... you know ... make sure it's there,
and that it's safe, and that
the Scotch tape is securely fastened to
the edges of the package and stuff.
But it isn't
As a matter of fact
there are no presents, anywhere in the entire bedroom closet. Shopping
bags: yes. Presents (or helpful receipts): no. There aren't any
presents in the bureau drawers, or behind the headboard, or anywhere
else in the bedroom. They aren't in the bathroom, or in the living
room, or in the kitchen. In a four-hundred square foot apartment, there
only about five imaginative hiding spots (and another handful of
unimaginative hiding spots) -- I know this to be a fact -- and there
are no Christmas presents in any of them.
And that's when it dawns
took it with him.
That sneaky, conniving,
devious rat bastard took my Christmas present with him when he left
this morning! He probably stuck it into his coat pocket
when I wasn't
looking and snuck it out of the apartment with him. Why?
Because he didn't TRUST
me!! What gall! What nerve!
What sheer, unexpected,
Poor dumb, transparent,
silly SecraTerri. She has such a lot to learn about her husband (and
his magnificent *I didn't just fall
off the turnip truck yesterday OK?*
brain) ... doesn't she?
throw a snowball