Greetings from ORD

Six O’Clock is just too early to get up. That puts me on the outs with most of America. I’ve always been a night person – even as a kid. Now, as an adult working second shift, it’s even more ingrained.

It had been foggy on the drive home from work last night and there was still a smudge in the air as I set out this morning. I-91 is normally lightly traveled during my works hours. That is changed at 7:00 AM. There was traffic but it moved smoothly up through Hartford and then into Windsor Locks where Bradley International is located.

It was an opportunity to tune around through morning radio. My friend Bob Lacey, who I met my first day in radio in October 1969, is syndicated, so I tuned around looking for “Bob & Sheri” out of Charlotte. Other than a few days spent in Charlotte itself a few years ago, I hadn’t heard them.

The show is great – woman friendly and FCC friendly. I caught a segment with an improv comedian from Florida. It was funny, thought there was probably more in studio laughter than he deserved. Studio laughter is important because it telegraphs to the audience that you’re funny. I’m serious. It creates a shared experience when you’re listening to the radio alone. As much as we hate ‘canned laughter’ or sweetening on sitcoms, it’s tough to watch them without it.

I found Bob and Sheri on “The Beach” from Long Island. As I drove north the signal faded around Meriden. Bob will be glad I finally listened.

I parked the car at a remote lot and started to pull my bags as the cell phone rang. No matter what I do, no matter how I set it, the cell phone reverts to the same ring… the sound of an actual bell. Most of the time it’s in vibrate only mode, but in the car, out of my pocket, I need the noise.

It was Helaine calling. She had been looking online and United didn’t have a flight with the number I had. Not only that, they didn’t have a flight to Chicago at my time! I told her not to worry… though how was I to know?

At Bradley I approached the United counter and was greeted by a large man with a huge bandage on one finger and that same arm in a sling. He was a fan, greeted me by name, and helped me get what I needed. I always hope at that moment of recognition the words, “and we’re putting you up front today” will follow. It did not. But, he was very nice and the boarding pass process went smoothly.

I’m not sure what happened with my flight number… and seat assignment. My boss, also traveling today, and I were supposed to have adjoining aisle seats. Instead, we’re both in the middle, deep in the upper teens on a flight other than the one listed on our reservations. The flight is overbooked by two.

There is a pecking order to seat assignments. Most casual flyer’s don’t know this, most business flayers do. The seat I’m in is normally reserved for someone’s aunt who flies once a year. Frequent fliers, of which I am currently not, are on the aisle and by the windows and much closer to the front.

The girl, sitting to my left, quickly fell asleep, leaning her head against the bulkhead and her butt toward the armrest. I wish I had retractable elbows. Though both of my ‘neighbors’ are slim, I’m really jammed in. This must be horrendous for someone who is large.

I had casually checked the Chicago weather over the last few days. Originally it looked like thunderstorms might coincide with my arrival. I remember circling Bradley a few years ago as a thunderstorm crossed the field. The pilot came on the PA system and said a thunderstorm was there and, “we don’t do thunderstorms.”

Now, the forecast had changed. By the time I left Connecticut, the front had already crossed through Chicago. In the terminal, with my boss and two others from our sister station in Springfield, I mentioned that it would be a bumpy flight and probably a rough landing (winds were predicted to gust at 50+ mph).

As I write this, we’re in the middle of the bumpiness. The plane has been shuddering as if we’re on a very rough road. A few minutes ago, the pilot came on the PA again, illuminating the seatbelt sign at the same time and telling the flight attendants to sit as well. It’s tough to type when the keys are moving away from your fingers.

He didn’t know if the turbulence would be light or moderate. I extended that for him as I listened to include severe. So far, the turbulence has been far short of that.

Soon we’ll be in Chicago. With no checked luggage, the trip to the hotel should be easy.

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