Thursday, June 5, 2014

Story 35: The Miracle of Flight

He watched the jet stream trail behind the steel marvel traveling faster than the speed of sound, breaking free from the grip of Earth’s gravity if only for a short while, defying all the odds in keeping its occupants alive and, simultaneously, in one piece.
He was in no mood to reflect on this wondrous event as he heard his name not being called by the gate attendant for the third flight in a row.
Stand-by is cheaper, but he learned once again the life lesson that you get what you pay for.
He smacked the arm of his chair in the waiting area.  “It’s a scam, I tell you, a dirty rotten scam!”
“Yes, dearie.”  His traveling companion offered her standard response that silenced him each time he came out with that remark, then fell back asleep.
Cursing his first-world problems, he stalked off to the nearest fast food outlet.  Luckily for him, there are no lines at 2:30 in the morning.
“Could I have the #7, double cheese, double onion, double sauce, double bun, and double lettuce?”
“Sure, but it’ll be double cost.”
“Fine – and a double coffee with cream to go with it.”
“Won’t have cream until 5:00 – I can give you some milk instead.”
“Fine, double milk.”  As he took out his wallet, he muttered, “No flight, no cream – I’ve travelled back to the Stone Age.”
He brought his tray of early morning snacks back to the waiting area.
“Did you get me anything?”
“Argh!!  What would you like?”
“Nothing – it’s not even time for breakfast and you’ve already ordered dinner!  You’re gonna be sick!”
Through a full mouth: “I’m sick already – this is my medicine.”
15 hours later….
“Didn’t you bring a razor?  You’ve got a beard that looks terrible on you.”
“I had to put it in my checked bag.  I don’t get why they don’t let you carry razors onto planes anymore.”
“That’s ridiculous – they let my razor go through Security.”  She started to pull out hers from her handbag.
“Put that away!”  In a whisper:  “Can I borrow it later?”
20 hours later….
“Excuse me?”  He asked the gate attendant who was momentarily taken aback by the disheveled-looking slob in front of her.  “Could you check whether there are any seats available for us on the next flight?”
She looked.  “That flight seems full, too, sir, but there’s always the chance of last-minute no-shows.  Would you like me to try converting your tickets to reserve seats on the next flight or for you to go to another destination?”
“No!  No more fees!  We are going to get on a plane at this gate on this airline to the city we originally planned for the price I originally paid if we have to wait here for the rest of our lives!”
His travelling companion had come up to the counter in the meantime.  “It may take the rest of mine – could we convert the stand-bys to real tickets, please?  I’ll charge the difference.”
“We can’t let them win!”
“You’re a mess – life has already won.  Now go be less of a disappointment back at our seats.”  He slumped back to his chair and softly wept.
The gate attendant processed the transaction.  “I see this all the time – flight delays and overbookings are really trying.”
“I don’t mind it so much.  My grandson’s the one who always has a fit of pique when he has to wait more than five minutes for anything, and he thinks paying for convenience is a sign of weakness.”

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