3 - Dispatch From the Wait List

The only bad thing I can say about my wife - she did not come with airline flight privileges. She never had that stewardess pin that reads, "Marry Me and Fly For Free!" My ex-airtraffic controller status doesn't count, so we rely on my airline brothers for pass privileges.

Easter Sunday is exactly between 2 very high travel weeks. Theory is, like Thanksgiving - everyone is already there on THE day. So we take a chance and fly standby - at greatly reduced cost, and with the carrot of a possible upgrade to First Class. Rousting a friend to take you to the airport for a 5:30AM flight is bad enough, but calling another for a return ride, after spending the day as bride's maids on wait lists for various full Delta flights, was even worse.

Next days flights are even more overbooked, so plan B has Jean on Travelocity and me on Expedia - shopping for last minute flights. We book the only one found, a two-stop redeye on JetBlue. Another friend-ly ride back to SFO ... but even throwing money at it won't work. The flight is overbooked AND has no record of our reservation. As we watch this last flight of the night fill up, I slashed my way through Travelocity's phone menu to get to a chap at their help desk - in Bombay. Thoughts of missing our overseas flight, dance in our heads.

Travelocity, who screwed up the ticketing, scrambles to find us two seats on United, departing in 45 minutes - from another satellite. Luckily we have only our carry-on bags - as our clothes and "dangerous items" had already left on Delta. We run. Unluckily, security line is far too long to make the flight. Luckily, United has 2 seats still open on the 5:30AM flight, but they are First Class and cost more than the down payment on our first house. Back to Bombay on the cell phone - a little screaming and begging for a supervisor, and threatening, crying and invoking an Easter miracle - our luck changes again - they say, "Send us the bill!"

Call a friend back to pick us up at midnight? I don't have any friends to spare, so we take a cab who's driver is from Vietnam, but no pigs or peeping chickens - and get back to the house in time to set the alarm and take a nap

Fill in the next incident yourself by knowing I turn off all the power, gas and water to the house when we are long gone. Oh yes, the alarm clock is electric. Nobody has friends at 4AM so we park our car at the train station. I toss the keys on the roof and run up the escalator. (If we have any friends left, would someone go drive it home?)

I omit the train to SFO part of the story except to say they don't run all night but do leave out stacks of "free" morning papers. Luckily, the First Class security line is short and we make it in time to be pulled out for secondary inspection. Everything's out of the bags to be sniffed and prodded - us too. Shoeless Jean is put into their new explosive sniffing box. It looks like a phone booth from Star Wars. The automatic glass doors close and the computer voice says, "AIR PUFFERS ON!" and jets of air hit her from all sides. Jean, unlike Marilyn Monroe, reaches for her hair instead of her dress and does not smile for the cameras. Lights flash and the door won't open. People come running, the door still won't open. I begin to laugh and reach from my camera but it is in "jail" with all our bags. I start a Dispatch in my head. Jean was still not smiling as they led her away to be searched by a cute little girl wearing blue rubber gloves - I am envious.

So over Lake Michigan I ponder how luck goes from good to bad and back. Luckily, I do it from a big leather chair "up front" while Jean sips a passable Chardonnay. But the movie is Alvin and the Chipmunks! I wonder where our luggage will be in the luck cycle?

- Reclining Rod