Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Chicago, 6:30 in the morning, and I'm standing on the platform of the Brown Line at Montrose waiting for the train downtown. It is damn cold. I can see my breath, and the few other people who are waiting are huddled under the one heat lamp provided. The Brown Line goes to the Loop where you can change to trains that will take you almost anywhere else in city. I'm going to Midway Airport.
My train arrives, and I take my seat. I look around. There is not one smile on this train, it is as if we were going to a funeral. It's obvious why. It's Monday, and these folks are going to work.
At Washington Boulevard, I changed trains to the Orange Line. It's like I'm in a different city. There are smiles, and at the Roosevelt stop a gaggle of young women get on, all giddy and talkative. It's obvious why. This train is going to the airport, these people are going on vacation.
God bless my sister Peggy. She paid for my plane ticket to Chicago on Southwest Airlines so I should not complain, but I will. First there is the tension at the boarding gate. Where will I be sitting, what old lady will I have to fight for a seat? I like to know where I'm going to sit. This scramble for a seat is like riding a bus, you blink and you lose. On my way home from Chicago, the first seat I took was broken. It sagged and had something sticking me in the butt. But hey, I was on Southwest, so I got up and went for the seat across the aisle. Almost the same thing, except for the lump sticking me in the butt. Once again I got up and took the next seat back. This time the seat seemed to be sloping towards the front, and was very uncomfortable, but by this time all the seats around me had been snatched so I stayed. One hour into the flight and I had managed to get somewhat comfy by snugging the seat belt as tightly as possible so I wouldn't slide off. I then closed my eyes for five minutes. Apparently Southwest Airlines has a hard and fast rule. If your eyes are closed when the flight attendant zips past your row, you don't get a beverage, nor do you get the tiny bag of cookies that I had been depending on for breakfast. By the time we landed in Fort Lauderdale, I was starving, and my back was killing me.
After an uneventful taxi ride home from the airport, I opened the front door of my house, and two tail wagging, leaping, slobbering souls greeted me without reservation. Suddenly I wasn't hungry, and my back felt fine. I was home.