Whenever I’m invited by my employer to go on an out-of-state trip for a conference, I always feel privileged and rewarded. Then I arrive at the airport. My most recent excursion into the inconvenience and discomfort that can only be administered by an airport was for a conference in beautiful Devner, Colorado, but first I had to make it out of DFW alive and sane. (One out of two ain’t bad, I guess.)
The first hurdle to jump was the dreaded TSA. Going through TSA security is like going on an awkward date. It has the potential for excitement, but often results in partial disrobing, someone going through your personal business, more physical contact than you would like, and a rush at the end to get the humiliation over with.
Once I had collected myself from being violated in the name of homeland security, I began to do what I always do when I want to change the subject–look for something to eat. My goal that morning was to find those precious breakfast time gifts from God, a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit and a large Diet Dr. Pepper (because I’m all about starting the day with a healthy and organic meal). After roaming the concourse for what seemed like an eternity and not finding a single red letter “C” adorned with chicken parts, I resorted to the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit from Wendy’s, an unspeakable abomination that reminded me of something your mother might make after telling you she could prepare one just like Chick-fil-A, and at a fraction of the cost. I ate the whole thing–out of spite. Wendy’s also apparently has something against the world’s most perfect soft drink, so instead of Diet Dr. Pepper, I drowned my disappointment in a substandard Coke Zero. I don’t know who Wendy is, but she should be ashamed of herself.
I always try (and fail) to schedule drinking my airport soft drinks so that I can avoid using the airplane toilet, which feels like trying to go to the bathroom stuffed in a high school locker while handcuffed and spinning a log in a lumberjack competition. However, true to form, my plane was delayed for over two hours, so my timing was completely thrown off. After waiting an entire thirty minutes after the chicken biscuit debacle, I was forced to order another large Coke Zero and a chicken salad sandwich from a food stall with a French name that ended in something that sounded like “Blech.” Like most chicken salad sandwiches, this one tasted like a wet napkin nestled between two paper towels. Oh, and there were some raisins in there somewhere.
After our first flight delay due to the airline’s inability to find any flight attendants who wanted to go to Denver, we were then told that the plane had a maintenance issue involving a de-icing valve. This meant we would sit for another hour in the gate waiting area that smelled like a bath towel used to dry a St. Bernard while the maintenance technicians rounded up a tube of Gorilla Glue and a new de-icing valve from the local Auto-Zone.
Not only would this deter me from waiting until I arrived in Denver to use the restroom in the privacy of my hotel room, I would be forced to risk my personal hygiene in the repulsive airport men’s room. When I finally found a stall that didn’t look like the aftermath of a cattle auction, I immediately lunged for the toilet seat covers. Making these work was harder than I thought, especially on an automatically flushing toilet, and after wasting about 15, I gave up and resorted to lining the seat with exactly 5,000 sheets of toilet paper to give the legions of bacteria more comfortable accommodations.
As always, the timing of my restroom visit couldn’t have been more perfect. While I was depleting a month’s supply of paper products in the men’s room, my flight gate changed, and boarding began immediately, which placed me at the end of the line, an ominous way to start my actual flight–but that’s a whole other story.
When I finally landed in Denver and entered the airport, I was starving, I needed to go to the bathroom, and the TSA were looking jealous and cranky as they snapped on some fresh rubber gloves.
I knew I should have sent them some flowers first.