Thursday, June 13, 2013

Midwest Was Relaxing, Trip Back to Vermont Was Not

As readers of this blog know, I recently spent a little over a week in South Dakota. I got back home to Vermont last week,  no thanks to United Airlines.

It's amazing how one can unwind on a trip like I took, only to succumb to extreme tension again thanks to an errant air industry.
I got a good look at Sioux Falls,
South Dakota thanks to flight snafus a couple weeks back  

Here's my (joke) conspiracy theory: People often take planes to get to their vacation destinations.  They want to ease the tension in their lives.  And they do. But the airlines deliberately subject people to stress due to "malfunctioning" planes, "tired" crews, computer "glitches" and "weather" so that the people victimized by this will want to take another vacation.

Which means they will book even more airline tickets. That means more income for the airlines.

Jeff and me were due to fly out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota a couple Mondays ago.   But the flight was cancelled. Mechanical trouble, they said. That was annoying, but then who wants to board a malfunctioning plane?

I had to get back to work in Vermont, so this screwed things up. Tension rose. It was bolstered exponentially by the group of youths waiting ahead of us to rebook their flights. They  including some too-macho guys who thought they were cool because they appeared to be enrolling in the National Guard or something studly like that.

If any one of those guys said "No homo" one more time I was going to hit them, even if the nice TSA agents standing nearby would have probably decided I was a terrorist right then and there and sent me to Guantanamo.

Flights from Guantanamo are even less reliable than those from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Anyway, we got to the front of the line only to get a ticket agent in the midsts of a major nervous breakdown. I mean really, she was shaking and mumbling uncontrollably and gesturing at the people waiting in line as if it they were zombies there to feast on her.

Luckily, we were immediately directed to another ticket agent who was so calm and pleasant you'd think she was gazing at the the soft, beautiful puffy clouds we would have seen had our plane actually left Sioux Falls as scheduled.

She set us up on a flight the next day, with a cheery smile and an apology for the inconvenience. We thought we were set. We weren't. More on that in a minute.

With nothing else to do, we decided to see the sights and sounds of Sioux Falls. At least the city was relaxing enough to reduce my tension. The walkways along the Sioux River through downtown, and the river itself, were almost a carbon copy of the city of Winooski and its namesake river back home in Vermont. So I was back on familiar turf, sort of.

Then we found a bar called Monk's House of Ale Repute which had an enormous and very tasty selection of microbrews. A pretty funky, nice place. And the name kind of echoed Winooski, Vermont, which has a cool bar called the Monkey House.

I thought our trouble as passing. It almost seemed like being home.


The smiling ticket agent I referenced before had said we shouldn't worry, because the plane we would use was coming in that night and would be in town for our use the next day. That much was true, it turned out. The only problem was the crew that flew the plane was NOT in town.

When we learned this just before departing our hotel in an ominous, driving rain, I pretty much lost it.

This was not good, because one of the few conflicts Jeff and I have is how we handle crises. I'm verbal, he's the strong, silent type. He fumes silently. I erupt.

Which makes him fume more intensely in silence. And makes me erupt more. I was afraid Sioux Falls would witness the devastating effects of Mt. St. Helens. I, of course was the volcano.

We got our first hint at salvation when United handed us off to Delta Airlines. They said they could get us to Burlington, but it would involve brief visits to Minneapolis and LaGuardia in New York. Great. Two connections. Two opportunities to have flights screwed up even more.

Well, I said. We're due back in Yankton at Christmas. Maybe it will just be easier to rent an apartment in Sioux Falls until then.

We decided to give Delta a whirl. And lo and behold, we made it to Minneapolis on time. Then we landed at LaGuardia on time. Then we packed into a tiny commuter plane, sat on the LaGuardia tarmac for a disturbingly long time, but, miracle of miracles, eventually took off toward Vermont.

Soon, Lake Champlain came into view.  We were home.

An hour later, it was amazing how fast the tension wore off.

Jeff sat down and relaxed. Jackson and I wrestled in the tall grass of our lawn that desperately needed mowing.  All was well again.

I just won't even think about the upcoming adventures of flying back to Sioux Falls. In December. In the winter.

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