I’m not a big fan of the United airplanes I took on my way home to Saipan this summer. There were no in-flight tv screens or even a tv screen in the aisle so we could all watch “We Bought a Zoo” or some inane movie like that. The United app had some shows on it, but that meant you had to have a smart phone and some way to charge it throughout the flight because there was only outlet between two seats and had to be shared.
On the flight from San Francisco to Hawaii, the man next to me, a business guy named Wayson, used it without asking or acknowledging that I might need it as well. How do I know his name was Wayson? Because he had a mega-binder with a page tucked in the front sleeve that read: WAYSON’S WORKING FOLDER. No page in that folder included how to be aware of anyone else.
When we landed in Hawaii, a flight attendant said that if you’re connecting to another island, to take the Wiki-Wiki shuttle. On my way out, I asked, when you say, “island,” does that also mean “Guam”? And the flight attendant rolled her eyes at me like I had just asked which was smaller: the plankton stuck on a whale’s tooth or this Stroopwafel cookie United Airlines tries to make me believe is a luxury. Put it on your coffee! Warm it up! It’s a treat!
This is a cookie, not a ride at Disneyland. This wasn’t smuggled in the cloth folds of a Mercedarian nun’s habit so I could enjoy the fine baked magic from some thatch roofed home in a European forest. This is a cookie from the cookie factory that doesn’t make me forget that I have to pay for my own meals in economy. Even though it’s a transpacific flight that’s over four hours long.
When the flight attendant did stop rolling her eyes so they wouldn’t fall back into the recesses of her empty skull and marble around that hollow space until they landed in the small mass of cells mimicking a brain, she said, flatly, “You’ll have to ask the gate agent.”
I walked into the small, packed waiting area of the United gate and I couldn’t find any TVs anywhere. There were no electronic displays that announced what flights were coming in, when flights were leaving. I saw something that looked like a shuttle outside but I had no clue what was what. It was hot, there was too much and when I looked for a gate agent, there were none to be found. So I walked around, thinking that technology would be somewhere. But I didn’t. Not in the area I landed. I couldn’t find anyone else I had traveled with for the past few hours, even Wayson! How I wanted to see Wayson and his binder and ask something like, how did that working binder work for you and WHERE DO I GO, WAYSON?!
I walked around and found an agent at another gate and I asked, where do I go for the United flights and she rolled her eyes again, like the international sign that I’m taking up too much air space, and said, “Oh I wouldn’t know. I WORK FOR QUANTAS. There’s a TV down there.” Which I wanted to say, nope, there wasn’t because I came from the past and unless there was an installation in the past 10 minutes, I knew there would be no TVs. Though I did love her accent because it made the shade less knifing. Like I was being insulted on a New Zealand soap opera!
So I started to panic. We didn’t have a lot of time left before the next flight and I didn’t want to miss it. My United app hadn’t updated me with any gate information. So I called my sister and gave up on “Hello, how are you sister?” and went with, “BOBB I THINK I’M DYING!” She asked me a bunch of questions, though none of them about my last will and testament and what I want on my tombstone (pepperoni and sausage!) and told me she would call me back with some information. I walked back to the United gate I landed in (they were announcing another flight, not mine to Guam. Not my flight!)
I found a rich couple yelling at a gate agent so I stood in line behind them so I could do the “I’m not listening to this but I am because it feels good to listen to someone else’s problems.” I knew they were rich because the man kept yelling about how much his wife’s sandals cost and how undignified it was to be denied boarding even though these were way too big for her feet and they cost a lot of money. “These are EIGHTEEN-HUNDRED DOLLARS!,” he yelled. “LOOO-BOOO-TAWWWWN!” I’ve never had any Louboutin anything, but they were ugly. Like duct tape shreds around a dirty mouse pad.
But I get the cheap thrill of announcing how much money you have. Whenever a cashier asks me if I’m paying with credit or debit, you had better believe I am American Idol winner belting out a, “Ohhhh that’lll be DEBIIIIIIIIT!”
Finally another agent appeared and I asked what gate was the flight to Guam and he shot back, “It’s this gate. You’re early.” I called my sister back, let her know I would be on this earth a little longer and I went to the sad Quiznos for a sandwich. But I bought some Hawaiian chips because those are delicious no matter where you are and waited for the next flight to take me closer to home.