I spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week in Florida.
Oh, how fun! I hear you cry. Three days in sunny Florida!
I flew down on Monday, arriving in Orlando in time to check in to my hotel, order room service, and watch the Olympics through my eyelids.
On Tuesday, I attended a three-hour training session. I was there to observe and judge how well the materials worked. The session was actually quite good -- well attended, engaged participants, and lively discussion. The materials worked just fine, too -- whew!
Right after that, I jumped into a Mercury Mariner with three colleagues and our assorted luggage for the 225-mile drive down to Miami.
Through several torrential rainstorms. Lunch? Burger King at the rest area. The company was fine; we got to know one another and talked a lot about the session and how to improve it. Overall, though, the drive was long and tiring, and I was just a passenger. I felt sorry for the two folks who drove, especially when it rained so hard you couldn't see.
I got to Miami in time to check into the hotel, order room service, and watch the Olympics through my eyelids.
On Wednesday, I attended the second three-hour training session. Same deal. Then we all jumped in the car and drove to the airport.
My God. I hate Miami International Airport. I have decided that I have traveled entirely too much when I can discuss the relative merits of the country's large airports. I mostly hate them all, but Miami has a special place in my personal hate-osphere, eclipsed only by O'FuckingHare.
Miami International is a huuuuge airport. People come in from everywhere around the world and connect to everywhere else around the world, and these people are mostly on their way to or coming home from exotic vacation destinations. Accordingly, there are a billion packs of people, and each pack of people has a billion suitcases.
And all of the suitcases have to be weighed, paid for, and checked. And they were all in the US Scareways line.
The line was very very very very long, partly because the convenient and easy-to-use Self-Service Check-In Kiosks -- all four of them -- were all. turned. off. Naturally, there were only four gate agents to check in all of the billion packs of people and their billion suitcases, so I waited in line for over 45 minutes. Because I was carrying my one suitcase and briefcase onto the plane, it only took about, oh, 1 minute to check me in. Well, and another minute to convince the gate agent that yes, I really did only have two carry-on items, because I could stuff my purse into my briefcase.
I had to actually do the stuffage before the security guards would even let me enter the security maze! At least the maze was mercifully empty. I zigged and zagged through the maze, profferred my boarding pass and ID, and then:
- Off with the shoes, into a bin
- Out with the quart bag of mini toiletries, into a bin
- Out with the purse, because I had to get to the laptop
- Out with laptop, into a bin
- Purse back into the briefcase
- Two bins, one briefcase, and one suitcase on the conveyor belt
- Walk through the metal detector
- Waggle the boarding pass at the highly skilled TSA screener
- Find my stuff on the belt
- On with the shoes
- Out with the purse, which I then slung over my shoulder in a stunning display of defiance of the two-item rule
- In with the laptop
- In with the toiletries
- Run to the gate.
Luckily, the flight had not quite begun boarding, so I opened my suitcase and put my briefcase (with laptop) in there, leaving me with only the suitcase and purse, and my book clamped under my armpit.
Naturally, the flight was packed.
Unfortunately, I had a middle seat.
Fortunately, it was close to the front.
Unfortunately, the only open overhead compartment space was 10 room behind my seat. Still, I managed to stow my suitcase, buckle myself in, and breathe. I spent my last dollar on a cup of coffee, because a Coke or bottle of juice was two bucks.
Yes, now you have to buy coffee, tea, soda, and juice. Peanuts? Pretzels? Forget about it.
One day I will tell my grandchildren about the joyous adventure that was once airline travel.
At least I had a splendid view of Biscayne Bay from my hotel room in Miami.