Our Eventful Trip To Florida

This was an interesting trip to Florida. Everything went wrong. Everything went right.

The trip to Bradley Airport was just fine. We pulled into Roncari, dropped off our car and hopped into the van. Because we were going to Florida, we left our coats in the car. Because it was just sitting, the van’s engine and heater were off. Bad time to be coatless.

It wasn’t a particularly busy Saturday afternoon. We wheeled our bags in, checked the one that held the always suspect and always dangerous toiletries (can’t carry those on anymore) and headed toward security.

Even on a light travel day, if you only have two of the four screening stations open, there will be a line. There was a sizable line. Still, we were early – no sweat.

A man wearing a white TSA shirt with those weird epaulettes yelled instructions vaguely in the direction of the line. He held up a one quart plastic bag. He said something about laptops. He was the vocal equivalent of the hodge podge of Scotch taped signs carrying most of the TSA’s rules.

Hint: Dirty, sometimes ripped signs, affixed to pillars with tape, is not the way to make people think you’re a top notch safety and security organization. They will think of you as the DMV with arrest powers. Better still…

Do this. Don’t do that. Can’t you read the signs? – “Signs,” Five Man Electrical Band.

Remember, these people thoroughly screen all the pilots even though they will be at the controls of the actual airplane!

I emptied my pockets, removed my shoes, put my laptop in a plastic tub – flat. This wasn’t my first time to the rodeo. I knew the drill.

I walked into the phone booth GE claims will sniff out explosives. Little puffs of air poked at my clothes. I waited. I waited some more. The door opened and I stepped out.

Next up was the metal detector. I was told, unless I was wearing a “country trucker” belt buckle I’d be OK. I walked through


I looked down at myself. Oops. My Bluetooth headphone was sitting on my shirt. I handed it to the guard… a guy who remembered me from when he worked at Sears Optical.


I’ll bet you didn’t know this. The TSA has a two strikes and you’re out policy. I needed to be patted down.

I’ve heard stories about how terrible this is for women. Get in line. It’s demeaning for everyone.

The guy was doing his job, I know. I just don’t want anyone feeling me up. And, in essence, that’s what being patted down is.

Before he went to my most sensitive parts, he told me he was going to use the back of his hand. it made no difference.

These guys are doing their job. Of course. Does this job make us safer? I don’t think so.

Our plane was due at Gate 4. As is the norm with Southwest it unloaded quickly, but before we could board, there was an announcement. On the way in, the plane had flown through a flock of birds and struck one with the leading edge of the left wing.

They didn’t think the plane suffered any damage, planes are designed to survive, but maintenance would have to look and make sure… and they don’t work for Southwest… and they’ll have to drive over from wherever it is the folks who work maintenance Saturday afternoons are kept.

Within a few minutes the pilot decided the plane would pass, so we might as well board anyway, even though the inspection hadn’t started. And we did.

So, we’re sitting there on the plane, and Helaine is staring at a guy wearing shades, looking at the wing, when the pilot comes on the P.A. He’s still expecting a passing grade on the wing, but now TSA was telling him there’d been a security incursion at the airport and until the two people who wandered where they shouldn’t be were located, there would be no landings, no security screening and no departures!

Did I mention we were flying to Tampa, with a 45 minute layover before boarding a connecting flight to Palm Beach International?

The minute hand on my watch began moving fast enough for me to see. Five, ten, fifteen minutes passed. Then it was a half hour and forty five minutes.

I saw the pilot, standing near the door, and explained our plight. He said he’d check.

As the one hour mark approached, we were cleared to go. Michael, a ground agent from Bradley and Dominic, a flight attendant came over to where we were seated. They understood our predicament… one shared with 13 others on the flight… and would make sure word got out.

I’m not going to make you sit through the second-by-second details, but we landed too late to make that connecting flight. Except Southwest held it at the gate!

I know I’ve slobbered endlessly in the past about my great affection for Southwest, but you tell me if this is the outcome you expected? And it wasn’t because I was TV-boy.

We walked the three gates to our outbound flight, handed over our boarding passes and started to walk down the jetway. Along the way, I thanked EVERY Southwest employee I saw. I wanted them to know this was the decision they needed to make, and I appreciated them making it.

“Avoid eye contact,” Helaine said as we boarded the plane. These folks had been sitting aimlessly, waiting for us.

As I walked down the aisle I looked up and to no one in general said, “Thank you for waiting.”

After all this tumult and grief we landed in Palm Beach about ten minutes late! My parents were waiting for us.

It was a very bad day to be a bird flying low over the Bradley Airport approach. It was a good day to be the Foxes. We’re in Florida.

On Our Way To Florida

It seems such a shame. Now that it’s begun to get warm, we’re heading to Florida.

We haven’t seen my folks since late October, so this seemed like a good time. You’ve also got to add the fact that I’ve been ‘forced’ to use some vacation time or lose it.

As much as I like Southwest Airlines, our allegiance will cost us in convenience. The trip down to Palm Beach International will take around six hours, including a change of planes in Tampa.

I’m bringing my camera. For the first time ever Helaine and I are both bringing laptops.

I’m also bringing a small video camera. I have this idea about interviewing my folks and having them describe how they met, dated and married. The finished product will be a ‘video short’.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, my next post will be from Boynton Beach – land of decaf.

Here Come The Folks

Stefanie graduates from high school tomorrow. I can’t believe that. She should be in a ‘onesey’ with baby powder flying. It has happened too quickly.

In the fall she’ll be attending Hofstra University, and I think she’s pretty psyched.

As part of the celebration, my folks are flying up from Florida this afternoon. In fact, they’re probably at the gate at Palm Beach International now.

The house, normally clean and neat, is cleaner and neater. It was a good excuse for Helaine to get Steffie and me to hold up more of our end, at least as far as presentation is concerned.

One of the sore spots has been our patio furniture which sits behind the house in an area that gets no sun. Every spring it is covered in… well it’s probably best we don’t know exactly what it is covered in! It’s just not the same color as the ‘native’ furniture.

Helaine thought it would be a good idea to get a power washer – and we did. In fact we got two. Neither of them worked.

Still she wouldn’t give up on the idea. This morning she went to the rental place and picked up an industrial strength power washer.

Holy s***!

I’d say it could take the chrome off a trailer hitch, but that analogy has already been appropriated elsewhere.

So, here’s another experience I’m only getting in my mid-50s. It certainly was something that never presented itself while growing up in apartment 5E or my many years as a renter.

Of course we use my parents as an excuse to do these things, but the truth is, they probably won’t even notice. This is for us; our own piece of mind. My parents are just the excuse.

I wonder if I can use the washer on my car before we return it?

The Trip Home – Random Note

My dad, along with my sister’s father-in-law, dropped me off at Palm Beach International. It’s now a large airport. The West Palm Beach metro is a major growth area.

Saturday afternoon is normally a light travel time, and this was no exception. Who wants to leave Florida on a Saturday to go to the frigid north (it is snowing and accumulating as I write this).

With a little time to kill, I bought a magazine and then went searching for a Cinnabon. No luck again. I am jinxed!

I did stop in a fast food restaurant where I found this ‘napkin’ dispenser. Is there a better way to tell your customers you really don’t care about them then putting in one of these toilet paper dispensers?

I know what they’re doing – trying to cut down on people who grab a handful of napkins. And, of course, these lovely serviettes are much less substantial.

Isn’t my business worth the extra cost of nicer, thicker, unlimited napkins? I decided not to get anything.