Sunday, January 15, 2006

F Week

Right now I’m on American Flight 5288, flying non-stop from Pittsburgh to DFW. I was in Pittsburgh for Fast Week, a.k.a. Special Week, but my colleagues/classmates and I have decided that the best name is “F Week,” because you can have it any way you want it – frenzied, fruitful, fantastic, plus another ‘f’ word that comes to mind when we have to wake up at 6:30 a.m. to catch the bus to school.

As usual, the week has been hectic, but the first 24 hours were particularly “special.” Here’s what happened (I’m going to try to write this in real-time, just for the heck of it):

---Sunday: My flight leaves around 2 pm, to arrive in Pittsburgh in time to meet up with everyone at the Residence Inn at Oakland. I have 4 other classmates on the flight with me. Rob’s pager is set up to receive any updates on flight status, and he is paged with “Flight Delayed – New Departure, 2:17.” Fine, twenty minutes is no big deal. Here comes another page:

“Flight canceled.” Great.

Luckily, we are privy to this information before anyone else, so we approach the counter before the bum rush. We are hurriedly changed to an American flight through St. Louis, which is going to transfer to a US Air flight to Pittsburgh. It’s about 2:00 right now, and the flight to St. Louis is at 2:17 - in another terminal.

Anticipating terrible weather in Pittsburgh, I’m wearing my black high-top Docs and heavy leather jacket, so clearly I’m well-equipped to run a mile or so to the next terminal. Rob and I take off to the races, and breathe a sigh of relief as we approach a moving crosswalk – that’ll take some of the load off of us! So of course, it’s out of order. We keep running and reach the next one – also out of order. You’ve got to be kidding me. We get to run across one working one finally, but I can’t shake off the feeling that I’m part of an amusing cartoon, where I eat a bowl of chili that’s extremely hot, and ask someone for a glass of water, and they hand me a glass of Tabasco sauce instead, and then habanero pepper juice.

Now we’re on the plane, and I’m sweaty. I’m glad I took a shower this morning, but I can’t wait to change out of this stuff when I get to the hotel. The flight is pretty uneventful, and I dose off until we approach the airport. Before we touch down, I notice that the pilot is making a lot of roll corrections before the landing, and I realize that I’ve officially been assimilated into aerospace nerd-dom.

Phew. It’s nice to be off that plane, and Rob has a message from Susan (the CMU Flexmode coordinator) that she has arranged for a limo for me, Rob, Mike, and Dave – the last two being GE guys that I have worked with quite a bit – great guys, so that’s a pleasant surprise for our arrival.

However, our luggage is missing.

I’m not too pleased about this, but can understand it because our race through the airport earlier was certainly more efficient than any bag-swapping an airline could ever hope to pull off. Rob and I go to the baggage office, get a claim number, and are told that the bags will show up sometime around 2 in the morning at the hotel. When we arrive at the hotel, I tell the front desk to call me whenever the bags show up, regardless of what time it is. I go to sleep feeling pretty dirty, and don’t sleep very well as a result.

---Monday: The alarm goes off, it’s 6:30 a.m. Guess who wasn’t called to pick up their bags. Wonderful. So I get to go to class today feeling extra-fresh!

The food is a duplicate of last year’s, which is a good thing. I head into Interpersonal Negotiation not knowing what to expect. It turns out to be quite excellent. Much discussion takes place, of course, and the primary foci of the class are case-style negotiations that we break out of the classroom to do with a another random student(s).

My afternoon class is Controversy and Communication, which I expect to be awesome since it’s taught by my all-time favorite professor (see “Writing Lessons”), which delivers the goods, of course. (I can write another novel on that class alone, which I’ll try to do later – but I’m going to stay focused on the trip shenanigans for this report.)

It’s 3 p.m. in CommCon, and I’m starting to feel pretty rancid. I’ve been wearing the same underwear for about 30 hours now, which is a serious party-foul. Chad understands that Rob and I are single-handedly turning his classroom into a hazard zone, and tells us we can go to the bookstore during the break.

On the walk over to the bookstore, I call US Air for the four-hundred-and-thirty-sixth time to find out where my bags are, and am told that they were placed on a flight that arrived in Pittsburgh at 2 p.m. Sweet! So that means we’ll get them soon, right? Nope, they can show up anywhere between midnight and *tomorrow afternoon.* You’ve got to be kidding me.

So we walk into the CMU bookstore, I’m looking for boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, brief-boxers, beef-broxers, I don’t care what they are as long as I can replace what I’m wearing now. So of course they have absolutely nothing. I almost buy a pair of Champion mesh shorts to use as underwear. Since I’ve already racked up a lot of expenses for Fast Week already, though, I decide to refrain and continue to wallow in my own crapulence, betting that my bags will show up SOMETIME tonight, so I can wear something else for Tuesday.

After class, Rob and I make the executive decision to ride the bus to the airport (a three-hour round-trip decision) to get our bags personally. We walk from the CMU trolley that returns to the hotel to the 28X bus stop that goes to the airport. We get on the bus, which leaves in 10 minutes. I get a funny feeling and call the hotel to ensure our bags haven’t shown up while we were in the latter half of CommCon. Sure enough, I am told that two bags and a pair of skis were delivered to our room at 6, so we get off the bus.

Wait a second. Skis?

We didn’t bring any skis, so I call the hotel back to figure out whether the bags in our room are actually ours. The lady at the front desk tells me she’ll run up to the room to check, and will be back in 5 minutes. So now it’s 5:50. *Both* busses leave in 10 minutes. And YES! My freaking phone just died! I call back the hotel on Rob’s phone, and the hotel clerk returns to confirm the bags are ours. Sweet!

Then déjà vu ensues, because we are again running, in the same clothes, only this time to make the bus back to the hotel. We make it there right at 6, and unsurprisingly, learn that the bus wasn’t leaving ‘till 6:15.

We get back to the hotel and breathe a sigh of relief as we see our bags. I change into shorts and work out VERY briefly (but how’s that for dedication?) before I clean-up.

I take a long shower and crash into bed. I'm exhausted, and I've only been here about 24 hours.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Chad said...

"Beef-broxers" is the funniest thing I've read all week. And that tabasco sauce cartoon analogy is the second.

Outstanding, sir. A great story greatly told.

Now. About that C&C novel...

8:09 PM  
Blogger Roundeggs said...

I want to hear about C&C as well. Missing that class and the chance to have Chad as a prof again is the only reason I regret not going!

5:59 AM  
Anonymous Chad said...

Is that an open door I see before me? I suddenly feel the urge to shout a stream of expletives!

6:19 AM  

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