Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Puerto Vallarta 2008, Part 1: Surviving Newark

Larry and I are sitting at the coffee table, getting ready to check in online at continental.com and print our boarding passes.

I type in my information very carefully, making sure to read everything on the page before clicking "NEXT." I even go so far as to turn to Larry for advice.

"Does this look okay to you?"

"Yes..." he says, exasperated now.

I am paranoid being cautious because I really don't know what an errant keystroke or typo will do on continental.com. Will I get locked out? Flagged as suspicious? Denied boarding?

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As I wait for the boarding pass page to appear, I get bad news. The page now says, in large type, "THIS IS NOT A BOARDING PASS." It adds that we must check in at the airport.

What the fuck did I do? I wonder to myself. I try to remain calm.

"That's weird," I say, turning to Larry. "Should we try yours now?" I have the air of a flight attendant now, easy going and professional, yet ready to duck a flying laptop.

To my relief, Larry has the same issue. I assume it's heightened security due to the senseless violence and death in India.

At 5:15, we are awakened by horrible, screeching rock music from Larry's likely antique old clock radio. (Maybe it's time to consider an iPod alarm clock)

As we drive towards the airport, Larry sees that the 1995 Chevy Blazer just ahead of us is being driven by a drunk and urges our driver to honk his horn in order to "wake that motherfucker up."

I cringe as he driver guns the engine, overtaking the weaving Blazer on a two lane stretch of highway.

The glass doors to the terminal slide open and I groan. Long lines and hordes of people make it clear that this "computer glitch" is widespread. We approach a bank of "you-could-try-but-fat-chance-doing-it-yourself" kiosks where Larry attempts to scan his passport.

"Let me try," I say. I tend to believe that I am more computer literate than Larry. When Larry yells at me for dog-earing a corner of his passport by inserting it the wrong way, I am proven wrong.

We give up on the kiosks and begin wandering around, where a saintly Continental rep takes us under his wing and manually checks us in at one of the kiosks.

"They changed the rule," he says as he checks the names on our passports.

At security, I take off my shoes and pile my bags onto the conveyor belt to be x-rayed.

Since my Fossil watch is still waiting to be sent out for repairs, I have decided to dig out an old plastic digital watch (one that I bought for Larry that he never wears because it is too bulky) for this trip. Since it's not made of metal, I think nothing of wearing it as I walk through the metal detector, which promptly breaks it.

I dump it in a nearby trash can after showing it to Larry.

With time to spare, we have breakfast at Ruby's Diner, a painfully forced "retro-style" diner, replete with vintage uniforms for the staff, black and white photos of airliners on the walls, 1940s music and a black and white checkerboard floor.

As we slide into the red vinyl booth, I wonder if buttery floors are also part of the theme.

"Stop kicking my feet," says Larry.

"Sorry, I can't help it. The floor is slippery," I say, struggling to find somewhere to park my feet, which will not stay put no matter how hard I try.

As we wrap up breakfast, I wonder if the two feuding waiters are part of the atmosphere. Will there be a 1940s style fight, right here, in front of us?

We pay the bill and head for the gate, down the corridor.

"That stupid music is stuck in my head," I say to Larry.
"Me too."

The seating area is relatively quiet, until a family of five enters, spreading themselves out in the lounge. They speak loudly at each other, instead of, say, sitting within speaking distance and attempting private conversation.

"I need my coffee and my bagel right away or I can't function," declares the "diva" of the group, ready to wreak havoc on their morning. Don't forget the baby bottle I want to say.

She leaves with another person from the group and when they return, the Diva sits away from the group and starts eating her bagel.

As she chews away, she says, "Anybody want some of my bagel? Do you want a bite?" She thrusts the half-eaten bagel at them.

All the heads shake "no" in tandem. Do you blame them? Larry and I share a muted laugh at her expense.

The moral of the story?"Better late than never" does not apply to food.

4 comments:

Glory von Hathor said...

I don't know what a 1940s fight would look like...

I know about 1950s fights. They had jazz dance, finger snapping and flick knives.

nikoeternal.com said...

No illustration? You ARE lazy after a vacation!

Chris said...

Glory, all I can say is BRAVO.

Niko, I'm tired. Leave me alone.

1Letterman said...

I've never been on a plane where I didn't want the thing to crash into the sea/mountains/bumpkins below--just to end the misery.