Sunday, December 20, 2009

Unorganized Chaos

It’s 7:45 AM at Chicago’s O’Hare airport the Sunday before Christmas. Typically O’Hare is easy to maneuver through, but not today. I expected crowds, but not the mob scene we encountered. The United terminal looked like a way station to nowhere. And there were not enough employees to handle it. There were lines upon lines.

Since I’m Premier status and supposedly special, I thought it would be smooth sailing, but no, it seems there are many other special people too. As it turned out, my line was slower than the others because we needed to see an agent as Koda the dog was also making the journey. With only three agents working the special people line, the wait went on and on.

Being veterans of holiday travel, we arrived two hours early. It was starting to look like it was not enough. With the clock ticking, people become line watchdogs. Interrogations became common as people butted their way to the front. “Who are you and where did you come from,” were the shouts coming from us honest and angry souls. The cheats and liars would offer up that they didn’t need an agent as they pushed their way to the front and grabbed a kiosk. What a load! They needed an agent to check their luggage which just delayed the rest of us. No more Mr. Nice guy. I was finally first in line and determined not to let someone steal my rightfully earned spot. Of course, some jerk slipped under the rope to get in front of me, but I cut him off at the pass and gave him the Neiman glare. He was scared, very scared. During a season where happiness and joy emulates from the masses, there was none of it today in Terminal 1.

We made it to the agent with 45 minutes until take off. Luggage was being literally tossed in piles as the conveyor belt was not working. Tiger Woods had a better chance of a romantic evening with his wife than our bags making the flight.

With our bags checked and Koda’s boarding papers in hand, we dashed to security. It looked like the line to Disney’s Matterhorn ride. Again, another wait, but at least the line was moving. We make it through the gauntlet with 20 minutes to high tail it to our gate.

Of course, first things first, we needed to fit bathroom breaks and snack purchases into our remaining minutes and then get to the C Gates, a good 10 minutes away.

We sprinted on to the 777 with minutes to spare. I can now rest for four hours and prepare myself for what we will endure upon our arrival.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Times Have Changed

My daughter Madison gave me her Santa list and it's full of technology gadgets. In my day, the electronic wizardry was confined to a Lite Brite game and a Polaroid camera. Now,it seems Santa's elves have all taken correspondent courses at Cal Tech and MIT. Wii games have replaced Monopoly and Twister. Ipods have supplanted cassette recorders which probably sit in the Smithsonian right next to the record players. What used to be the must have item way back when, the Sony Walkman is still around, but has received a makeover and been transformed into a slick MP3 player. No more requests for Barbie, Easy Bake Ovens and anything with a Disney Princess on it. I'm told that Princesses are just not cool any longer.

Madison is pining for a laptop and cell phone. Being the overindulgent parents we are, the foot has actually been put down here. You're too young we tell her. If we give in, what's next, a BMW?

I'm sure Santa will make it down the chimney, assuming I remember to open the damper, with a few of the latest and greatest technological gizmos. But its still heartwarming that on top of Madison's list is a puppy. While this tugs at my heart that she wants a friend for our current pooch, I know who'll be the the real caretaker about the same time the holiday cards hit the recycling bin (my wife). So to make sure Santa knew the puppy was also on the "do not deliver list," I sent Santa a text from my new Blackberry. Admittedly, the technology does come in handy at times!