Thursday, May 5, 2011

Travel Travails 2

The ISCA conference was something I had already committed to before making decisions about lessening my commitments and offers to travel, but it also managed to confirm them. It was a shorter trip, with fewer hassles than the recent one to CA, but in that time it made up for that in hassle quality in ratio to quantity. It was as though someone was trying to see how many bungles could be fit in such a short trip.
Some of the hassles already happened the last time I wrote on this subject. What happened this time?
No wailing children (save for a few minutes), but we had to sit for 30 minutes on the tarmac in Raleigh so that we’d be allowed to fit into a landing schedule in Charlotte. (The obvious question – why didn’t they board us 30 minutes later, then? – doesn’t seem to have a rational answer, though I am sure there is a rationalized one.)
In Tampa, the TSA told me it was OK to leave my new Dell notebook in its case as it went through the x-ray machine. In Raleigh, they said no, it had to be taken out, so they made me run it through a second time without the case. Any chance of some consistency across the board, there, folks?

Mrs H doesn’t want to go through those new security scanners because of concern over radiation (in part due to previous exposures as a child). The TSA reps in Tampa had the nerve to lecture her about it. Just shut up, huh, guys? Besides, as a prison employee, she knows: A pat down can be more efficient and thorough.

Remember I had a hard time getting a rental car? I had ordered an economy car. I ended up with a Mercury Mariner. Yes, a blinkin’ SUV; it’s all they had left thanks to the idiot spring breakers. I hate those things – and it cost us $40 more in gas than it would have otherwise. Some "economy".

On the two plane flights back, Mrs H and I were assigned seats NOT next to each other. The first leg, we were in the same row, but across the aisle from each other. Second leg, we were 14 rows apart.

It did turn out OK in the end – on the first leg, it turned out that an elderly woman needed Mrs H’s assigned seat to sit next to her daughter, and Mrs H ended up with a seat in first class. I don't like being separated from her, but for the sake of treating her to first class, I didn't mind.

Second flight – we did some finagling and a lady graciously traded with us. But why should that have even been necessary? Shouldn’t common sense have said that if we bought tickets together, we wanted to be seated together? (Of course, it won’t tell anyone that if a computer does all the reserving.)
By the way, two people in the same row on the first flight had their own problems. One person had had two prior flights canceled and was on their third. Another related how often they had had similar difficulties flying into moderate-sized destinations (like Syracuse). Doesn’t anyone at the airlines have a clue that the system is too inefficient? Or why they are going bankrupt (or having to merge to avoid it) one at a time?

I never knew this before -- $5 to use the wireless service on a flight. Are they out of their minds? (Yes, of course, since they also charge that much for bagged snacks. Please!)

Well, that’s enough of that anyway. So I'm changing my page on speaking to reflect stricter policy on travel – which amounts to making it so that I don’t go out of state unless I can get a much more leisurely pace.

That just might mean I won’t go out of state again for speaking – but at this point, I don’t think that I’d miss it.


  1. You're a great apologist JPH but your travel stories remind me of this bit...

  2. Yeah, well, you know how it is -- I think the technology has given us more chances to foul things up.