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The Long Way Home
Tuesday, 2005 August 2 - 12:02 am
Also known as "fifteen hours of hell".

(I am so freakin' behind on everything right now... this post is two days overdue already.)

This is the story of my trip home from BlogHer. It's a long story because it was a long trip.

After all the excitement of BlogHer ended, I wake up on Sunday morning with a raging hangover... and mixed feelings. Mostly I feel great about the fact that I completed just about every item on my personal BlogHer agenda. But I also feel a little sad that it all ended so abruptly, and I didn't get to say good-bye to everyone properly. And on top of that, I have massive digestive problems the likes of which the Westin toilet has never seen. That'll give those protesters something to complain about.

So I pack everything up and check out of the hotel at about 8:45 am PDT. I'm expecting to see other BlogHers in the lobby or eating breakfast, but strangely, I don't see anyone. So I just get a taxi and head to the airport. The cabbie is a chatty sort of person, which is the LAST thing I need. He asks me if I'm in town for the wedding, and I say no, I'm there for an "Internet writer's conference". He says to me, "You mean BlogHer? I thought that was just for chicks." (UGH. STOP TALKING, I'M BEGGING YOU.) He goes on to tell me about how he lived in North Carolina in the 1960s, when racial segregation was still a big deal, and what do I think about that? (NOTHING. I KILLED ALL MY BRAIN CELLS LAST NIGHT.)

The cab ride seems interminable, but really it's only about five minutes. I over-tip the cabbie because he seems a little miffed that I stopped talking to him. I get through the security checkpoint and pass by the Starbucks counter, and I pause to think about getting a cup of coffee. But then I hear a little ahem behind me. As it turns out, the line for the Starbucks is actually separated by twenty feet from the counter itself. Whoever designed this system must have failed Line Forming 101, in which the primary lesson is, "form a line near the thing you actually want to get to." So because of this, I seem like the jerk who's trying to cut in line in front of twenty people. I sheepishly run away to get a cup of coffee from a less crowded counter.

I sit down in the terminal and open up my laptop to do a little writing. There's a woman there who gets up to leave soon after I sat down... that seems to happen to me a lot, for some strange reason. A few minutes later, I notice that she's left her boarding pass on the chair. Ha ha! She'll HAVE to come back to talk to me now.

The terminal fills up over time, and I still don't see any BlogHers. The woman comes back and she's very grateful to get her boarding pass back, but not so grateful that she actually wants to sit back down near me. There's an Irish family sitting behind me, and I pretend to be writing so they don't notice me trying to soak up their lilting accents. There's another family in front of me, with two kids (a boy who's about four and a girl who's about three). The mother is YELLING at the kids to sit quietly in their seats. It's a madhouse of noise and bustle.

We board the plane at around 11:00 am PDT. The flight from San Jose to Chicago is long, but fairly uneventful. They offer me alcohol on the trip, and I nearly throw up at just the thought of it. Sleep. Sleep is good. We land at about 5:00 pm CDT.

My scheduled layover in Chicago is two hours. I notice that there's an earlier flight to Raleigh, and I try to get on it, but it's full. So I settle in to do some more writing. Getting wireless Internet access at the airport isn't so difficult, but the hard part is finding an electrical outlet to charge up. I have to join a cluster of other folks sitting on the floor, huddled around one of the few available outlets in the terminal. One guy is watching a DVD. There's a woman charging her cell phone. There's another woman filling out some spreadsheet on her laptop. I appear to be the only one blogging.

I get a call from my friend Anna back home. She asks me, "Did you know that the sliding glass door at the back of your house is completely shattered?" And I immediately start to freak out. In the "How to Get Naked" session at BlogHer, someone brought up a story about a person whose house got robbed after he posted about the fact that he was going away on vacation. I had scoffed at the idea. Had this actually come true?

As it turns out, no. Only the inner pane of the double-paned glass has shattered, Anna tells me. Nothing is missing. It wasn't a break-in, it was just some freak occurrence. I log into my home computer and activate the webcam to be sure... and yeah, everything seems fine. WHEW. By the way, Anna was in my house because she wanted to strip the wallpaper out of my bathroom and put up some paint. Internets, DO YOU SEE why this woman is my Best Friend Forever?

So, having been put at ease a little, I check the status of my flight, and I see that's it's been delayed for two hours. UGH. I'm still feeling a little queasy and I don't want to eat anything, so I just sit around reading the piles of BlogHer posts that are starting to accumulate around the web.

At 9:00 pm CDT, we finally board the flight to Raleigh. The plane starts to taxi. I hear a loud bump and the plane shudders momentarily, as if the front wheels of the plane have run over that guy who holds the flashlights. (Well, that was my first thought.) A few minutes later, the plane stops, and the pilot tells us we have a hydraulic problem. My thought at that point was, YOU THINK YOU HAVE A HYDRAULIC PROBLEM? YOU SHOULD SEE MY INTESTINES.

The problem is not fixable. We have to get off the plane and get on another one. The flight crew directs us to gate K4. We walk over there en masse, and it's kind of a funny sight. I have to resist the temptation to MOO as we stampede through the terminal. When we get there, there's just a maintenance guy there with a blank look on his face, and I'm thinking, "HELLO CLEVELAND! HELLO CLEVELAND!" It turns out we're actually supposed to go to gate K13. So we walk all the way back down to the other end of the terminal, and by this time, it's all become mooingly laughable.

The passenger I feel sorriest for is the service dog who's on the flight. He's wearing a little vest that says "DON'T PET ME, I'M WORKING", and there's a picture of a hand with a slash through it. I immediately decide that is going to be my new motto at my own job.

It takes over an hour to transfer all the passengers and baggage. In all, I spend about six and a half hours in Chicago. We finally take off at about 11:30 pm CDT, and that puts us into Raleigh a little after 2:00 am EDT. I finally walk through my front door at about 2:40 am EDT. It's been nearly fifteen hours since I left the hotel in San Jose.

At home, I briefly inspect the damage to the glass door. It's just as Anna has described; the inner pane has shattered, and there's broken glass all over the place.

On Monday morning, I take this picture:

Sigh. It's pretty, but messy: a lot like the rest of my life. I kinda wish I was back in San Jose.
Permalink  4 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: lifetravel


Comment #1 from Nicholas (Guest)
2005 Aug 3 - 8:58 am : #
I had not seen that do not pet sign before.

So, how do you think the glass broke?
Comment #2 from pinky (Guest)
2005 Aug 3 - 9:04 am : #
several months ago our glass door (like a screen door, but glass) was shattered when I arrived home. there were no marks on the "real" door behind it. It was bizarre. The theory we settled on was some kind of crazed deer.
Comment #3 from Ken (realkato)
2005 Aug 3 - 10:59 am : #
My theory on the glass is that it got really hot because I'd closed the vertical blinds before going out of town, allowing hot air to get trapped. And then the air conditioner kicked on, rapidly cooling the glass, to the point that it shattered.

Either that, or Anna let a crazed deer into the house while she was painting.
Comment #4 from Ken (realkato)
2005 Aug 3 - 11:05 am : #
Oh, and Nicholas, thanks for finding that image! That was exactly what the sign looked like. Now I'm looking at this web page and I'm debating if I should get "Ask to pet me, I'm friendly" instead.

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