Terri and I live in the Detroit metro area, an hour away from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, in a small town named Milford. Our six kids live in five different states, ranging from Arizona to New York. As you may guess, we accrue frequent flyer miles.
On this trip, my son residing in Tribeca, arranged for tickets to Shakespeare in the Park with John Lithgow playing King Lear. Terri and I planned to enjoy a very nice free trip, which included free airline tickets and free tickets to see the show. Great news, ‘cause we have no money. We attended six weddings so far this year with one more to go. Two of the weddings were daughters.
The time came to exercise our electrons and book our free flight using an old laptop PC.
Sitting in the comfort of our double Lazy-boy chair, with Henry the cat snuggled near my feet, a large glass of vodka with ice near my side, a nice sweet white Michigan wine in a decorative wineglass next to Terri; we settle into picking the best flight from Detroit to New York.
So far the evening could not be better. Terri and I just returned from SmokeStreet, our favorite barbeque joint three blocks from our house, and I can still smell the wood smoke on our clothes. Heavenly aroma…someone really should make a perfume of pig ribs and wood smoke.
Terri sips her wine and finds the perfect plane fare for us. We can leave Detroit at eight AM, fly non-stop and arrive at LaGuardia in plenty of time to have lunch in New York City with my son. My mouth waters, Momofuku noodle bar for lunch. Yea. As these thoughts travel through my grey matter, Terri clicks the mouse. But wait! That fare is no longer available for the mileage points we have, the number of miles needed for the trip just went up. Point requirements for free tickets, like taxes; always go up at the worst of times.
Not all was lost, though, we still could book a flight from Detroit Metro to LaGuardia, but now we leave at four AM and travel to Atlanta before going to NYC. We pack for the three day trip and decided to get a couple hours sleep, overslept, and overran our blood pressure getting to the airport.
We park the car and walk into the terminal and realize that apparently, most Detroiters prefer to travel at an ungodly hour of the day. The terminal is packed and the baggage check-in line is out the door of a very large terminal.
As, Terri and I get in line, she says in a frustrated voice as her arms jerk slightly and her face contorts, “We aren’t going to make it.” Terri’s shoulders sag slightly.
Just then, a very large, very bald, very tough looking National Security Agent, clothed in the obligatory rent-a-cop clothes walked directly toward us, looked me in the eye and said, “If your ticket has Pre-TSA in the upper left corner, go over there. He pointed to an area with another TSA agent and two other travelers in line.
Being singled out for the short line by a TSA agent is like being singled out to ride on the prisoner transport vehicle of Cuyahoga County, or the bus used by the Hong Kong correctional services. In other words, it could be a problem.
My hands started trembling slightly, and not only could I see agitation on Terri’s face, her brow furrowed, her lips drawn tight, and her eyes started dripping slightly. The smell of fear wafted up from her every pore, surrounded her, and appeared to be a living thing. Yes, officer, Terri’s fear is right over there, standing next to her, see how overwhelming it is?
Naturally, that had a bad effect on Terri’s hairdo.
Well, I checked my ticket and it had the Pre-TSA designation on it, and I looked at Terri’s ticket, it did not have the Pre-TSA. Good for her, I thought. And then I found out that Pre-TSA is a good thing.
Pre-TSA meant pre-screened and safe, so the short line was good. I could walk right through security in about a minute.
So, a thought entered my mind about the same time that Terri said, “I can’t get through the long line in time to board our plane, and I can’t go with you to the short line.”
I boldly asked the very large, very bald, very tough looking National Security Agent, “What do we do?” I showed him our tickets, mine with the Pre-TSA and hers without the Pre-TSA in the upper left-hand corner.
The very large, very bald, very tough looking National Security Agent, asked in a voice as natural as if he were ordering coffee, “Do you want to travel with your wife?”
I thought for a minute and said, “Yes, of course.” I received a piercing and not altogether loving look from my wife. Apparently, my slight hesitation was not a good thing. Really dear, it’s the early hour; my biological clock hadn’t awakened my brain yet. It was set for waking up at eight or nine, not 3:30. You’ve heard of the expression, “her eyes shot daggers.” Terri’s very blue eyes appeared to shoot out swords. Long, nasty, deadly, swords, and I knew that hesitating this early in the morning was a bad thing. I love my wife, and she knows it, but apparently sleep deprivation and slow-answering husbands don’t go together well.
Actually, the fact that the TSA agent felt it necessary to even ask that question implies that not all husband and wives like to travel together. Kind of like my second wife, I guess. She and I traveled extensively after she insisted that she liked to travel. We traveled by plane, car, ship, motorcycle, motorhome, and train. She had a miserable time, every time, and then again said to me, “I like to travel.” Taken aback completely, I realized that apparently, it was not the mode of transport that made each trip as miserable as being crowned with thorns and crucified; it was me.
I divorced her a few months after coming to that conclusion. I spoke with her a few months ago in the normal course of business. She still travels frequently, and still insists she likes to travel; but can’t relate a single instance on any trip that wasn’t miserable. I guess it wasn’t me after all.
After confirming again that I indeed wanted to travel with my wife, the TSA agent put both of us in the short line; which was a good thing. We were sent through the metal detector. After gathering our shoes and belts, Terri and I made our way to the gate hand-in-hand.
Moments later Terri and I boarded Southwest and flew south east, to Atlanta, Georgia. Apparently, that’s why our ticket price went up while we were booking the flight from Detroit metro airport to LaGuardia; the airline didn’t own a globe. Since when is Atlanta located between Detroit and NYC? A straight line indicates, NOT.
The layover in Atlanta wasn’t bad, only about 30 minutes. The bad part of traveling to Atlanta, was the distance. Atlanta is almost exactly the same distance away from Detroit as Detroit is from NYC. The flight from Atlanta to NYC is almost the same distance as Detroit to NYC. So, we flew a triangle pattern and twice as far as necessary. We also spent twice as much time as necessary on the plane, and didn’t even get mileage points because it was a trip booked with mileage points. I’m starting to get too old for these free trips.
Although we had a great time with my son Dan and his partner Juan, we didn’t make it to NYC in time to go to Momofuku’s noodle bar for lunch. We did, however, eat dinner at a very nice Indian restaurant; the Tamarind – Tribeca. We gorged ourselves on lamb, chicken, fried cauliflower, and numerous other delicacies with names I can’t spell or pronounce. Suffice it to say that their preparation of food, with those most interesting of spices, proved to me that civilization began in the Indus valley.
The flight home took us to Chicago before arriving at Detroit. This confirms my belief that airline tickets could be much cheaper if the airlines understood geography, or invested in a globe so they could get from point A, to point B, without going through point C.