Saturday, May 25, 2013

Did I Really Say That?

 That we'd be coming back to warmer weather? What a joke! It is freezing here. There's a north wind blowing and in the supermarket car park (aka parking lot)  it was literally sleeting.  I had resolved to come back to some quality gardening time, if that isn't a contradiction in terms but I am finding all sorts of excuses not to venture outdoors.
  One is that we were of course delayed, as is par for the course, particularly when flying through Chicago and ended up going to bed around 2am British time. I am talking about the day before yesterday. Yesterday would have been a vastly different story, with Heathrow being shut due to the plane-on-fire saga. We would probably still be in Chicago now. So we have to count or blessings.
    Still, we did have our minor frustrations. We arrived in Chicago over an hour late and as we left the plane, got instructions on a card that would allegedly help us get to our Buffalo flight in time. Proceed to Terminal One,  it said and give this card to a person wearing an orange jacket, it said, who will then wave a magic wand to speed you through security.
   En route, we had a small problem in that the Global Entry machine, that useful fast track through Immigration, which works brilliantly when it works, rejected both of us, hubby (he thinks) for accidentally bringing in a small tangerine last time around and me (I think) because I didn't look at the camera properly when negotiating the machine and the resultant snap made me look shifty. American bureaucracy being extremely egalitarian we were both given the full smuggler treatment, our suitcases searched to the bare bones by three pairs of latex gloves. Sadly for them, they found little of interest; hubby was worried about the Waitrose Rich Tea biscuits but they weren't.
    That wasted just enough more time to get us panicking. You have to claim and recheck your suitcases and the lady there told us we weren't in fact to go to Terminal One but to Terminal Two. We just had to trust her, so rushed for the train.   At Two, the queue for Security stretched into oblivion. There was,  of course, no one in an orange jacket. Hubby brandished the card to a blue-shirted security man, who looked puzzled and said he didn't know what hubby was talking about and sent us to queue with everyone else. The trick here is not to get angry, as these people wield extraordinary power. The queue edged forward at a snail's pace. The agent on duty was an affable fellow, who wanted to have a conversation with every traveller, which normally would make a nice change but in this case was the last straw. I couldn't stop myself yelling, "Please, we've got a really tight connection!" But he just said, "Too bad, you should have got to the airport two hours before your flight, as you were told." Hubby put his hand over my mouth.
  We did get to our gate with time to spare and wouldn't you know, the Buffalo flight was delayed by 30 minutes, par for the course again. Buffalo is way down in the pecking order. I amused myself charting the course of the plane we were due to take, which you can do if you go on the United Airlines website and is a salutary lesson in how American domestic flights operate. Our little Embraer Regional Jet had, apparently, had a busy morning. It had started out early from Chicago,  then gone to Newark, New Jersey, then to Raleigh, North Carolina, then to Moline, Illinois. Somewhere along the way it picked up an hour-and-a-half delay, respectively explained by "aircraft servicing" and that catchall, "Air Traffic Control". I even found a map with our plane pictured, like a tiny spider, inching its way laboriously to Chicago. There was no way it would be taking off in half-an-hour, as they were telling us. And I was right of course.
  So by the time we got home we were very tired.

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