I am on the east coast again…my Dad turned 92 yesterday and despite the fact that I try at every opportunity to convince him and Mom (who will be 92 in July) they could do much better visiting with me on the west coast for at least the winter months, they never so much as even gently sway towards the possibility. I can’t imagine that at their age there can be any fun in plowing your own driveway, losing power in ice storms and enduring temperatures in the single digits. The last time I had this conversation with him about coming to stay with me he simply said “We are too old. We will just stay put.” I’ve yet to win an argument with Dad and I probably never will. I realize how truly blessed I am to still have both my parents at my age.
They reside in a very small town in upstate New York (I apparently have the only parents in the world that, when they retired, went from a rented apartment in Queens to the first house they ever owned…and then went north, instead of south to Florida, where everyone else’s parents went. Instead, they picked an abscure hamlet which is arrived at, as I like to put it, by going “…to the end of the earth, make a left, go up a dirt road to the top of the hill and that’s where you’ll find my Mom and Dad.” They live near no one else in our family, but I’m not sure that part wasn’t by design.
It would be simpler to book a flight to Mars than to get there via the airways. One would have to fly to some hub, then to yet another hub, then to the nearest big city which has planes arriving there as often as the mail wagon used to get to the settlers in the west. With that many flight changes it is likely you would arrive, but your luggage may not. So, I opt for the easy way and combine a visit to them with visits to my girls, the other members of my family still stubbornly sticking to their roots…some silly nonsensical excuse about the fact that their husbands having thriving careers there and the rest of the family (except their brother, the other “rebel” in our family) live on the right half of the US. Lame excuses as far as this sometimes-lonely grandmother thinks. I fly direct from home to Newark, rent a car, drive the four hours up to see M & D then go back to visit with my daughters and their children.
The thing about this trip that can sometimes be fun is the fact that since I do it about four or five times a year I meet not only interesting fellow passengers but also some highly amusing crews.
Take for example our pilot this week. He began by welcoming everyone on board in almost the usual fashion, thanking us for choosing United and I am quoting:
“Ladies and Gentlemen welcome aboard and thank you for choosing United, formerly Continental Airlines. This is flight 1567, bound for beautiful Newark-by-the-Sea and then continuing to Chicago. If Newark is not in your plans today, they are today since we just closed the cabin door.” This was met by a round of chuckles except for me, who thought that was hilarious and let out with a huge guffaw, causing the person next to me to lean away from my side
A little later he came over the PA system to tell us this:
“For you folks on the left side of the aircraft you are about to have a spectacular view of the Grand Canyon. For those of you on the right side, you will have a sensational view of those on the left side having a spectacular view of the Grand Canyon.”
This brought to mind some of the other experiences I have had on these frequent jaunts cross-country.
Once when heading home the flight attendant, who looked as though she’d had a particularly rough day, announced as we were boarding that the flight was bound for “…John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, Orange County or whatever the hell they are calling it now.” I’ve also had one blurt out, “Sir, that suitcase you are attempting to shove in the overhead just ain’t happening today. If you refuse to gate check it, than I suggest you give it your seat and you get in the overhead.” One also broke up a fist fight between two men who were trying to claim the last spot above for his carry-on. They were escorted off the plane…with the offending bags being carried by the TSA people.
Some other favorite quotes from those who fly the friendly skies:
As we were landing after a particularly rowdy evening flight returning from Disney World which was filled with raucous children: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are beginning our descent so please make sure your seat belt is securely fasted, your tray tables are in the locked position, your seats are now upright and your children have been told to come in off the wings.”
While taxiing to the gate having reached our destination the head flight attendant gave this version of the usual disembarkation mantra: “We thank you for flying with us today. Please look around to make sure you have all your personal belongings with you. That is, unless they are of significant value. Then please leave them for me since I could use the money.”
Yet another flight where the audio visual equipment didn’t work the flight attendant doing the pre-flight demonstration decided to make it into a game and quizzed people. If you got the right answer, you got a free cocktail.
I have a photographic memory. I had that safety card out of the pocket and committed to memory in about 30 seconds. I not only knew where all the exits were located but I also knew what the weight restrictions were for those rows. Bingo. A free Bloody Mary!
I hope I have her flight again the next time they can’t play the video demo. I still know everything about the life vests under the seats and how to inflate them. Could be good for a Cosmo!