Friday, December 05, 2008

Leg 2, the Curse of the Missing Bags

Another on-time departure for me and as luck would have it a nice window seat in Business. I ended up sitting next to a guy who worked with underwater robots, and he had some interesting stories about whale blubber food poisoning and trips to Vladivostok.

It’s an interesting thing when ten hour flights feel short. I guess it means you have crossed some sort of tolerance threshold. Maybe it’s the comfort of Business or perhaps I am truly used to it, but it seems as the old days of panic attacks in the middle of the flight are over. Now I just look at my watch and go back to doing whatever it was I was doing.

My question of the day has to do with airplane bathrooms. Why do people spend 10, 15 and 20 minutes in them? I got pipped at the line on my dash to one tonight which didn’t terribly bother me as it’s nice to stand up and have a stretch. But when the person never seems to come out, it sets you to wondering. And these are not isolated cases, it happens all the time. Honestly, it’s a 3x3x6’ space that has a sticky floor and reeks of air freshener. Why would you want to spend more than 3 minutes in there? While I was waiting for the nearest one to open I had a chat with a guy waiting for the other one. The person tying that one up never came out.

Around the middle of the flight at some unknown hour (it was dark and we were over the Pacific) I woke up from a short nap and took a look out the window. There was Orion, in precisely the same configuration I would see him if I was standing on West Ella facing the Sandias. This is one of the things I like about astronomy – if you have a decent sense of the sky and a good understanding of where you are in time and space, you can pick out the same perspective that you would have from some other place. In this case and in the case of the conjunction the other night, I can picture myself somewhere that I would much rather be and for a few fleeting seconds I can feel really good about it.

We landed and I made it through immigration quickly managing to get a guard in a good mood who said “welcome back.” It’s nice when the Border Patrol people greet you in a friendly manner, makes you really appreciate coming home. I went up to the baggage carousel expecting to be disappointed and sure enough I was – no bag for Terry. I waited and waited and it never came so I wandered over the help desk where I got no help. Seems that even though I am supposed to pick it up here and transfer it to the domestic flight, I still have to file it at my final destination. Its disappearance got me thinking, I really should challenge these airline people when I see them doing things like not putting SFO on my bag when I think they should. This is not the first time I have let something like this slide and been bitten by it. At least they were empty, and if they are lost for good I am only out a couple of suitcases and some irritation.

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