Thursday, June 29, 2006
All I wanted was a freakin' bag of Cheez-Its! I was somewhere in a maze that is the Pittsburgh airport. That place has more wings than Buffalo. I had been laid over there for three hours as it was, and I think I was in everyone of them.
....You can only ride on moving sidewalks so many times before you get bored. It was okay the first couple of times because it was the first time I'd ever seen them. You know what they are? They are just a giant treadmill three hundred yards long, except there are no handles on which to hang your coat. Picture an escalator laying on its side with no steps, and you'll have a moving sidewalk.
....Perhaps there is some etiquette I wasn't privy too. I got the most annoyed look from nearly everyone I passed on the darn things. Was I supposed to stand there on this conveyer belt looking stupid like everyone else? I might not have known where I was going, but I certainly made better time getting there than those mannequins.
....Now geometry wasn't a class that I had aced in school, but I was relatively certain that if you took four lefts, you had a good chance of ending up where you started. Not so in Pittsburgh's airport it seemed. Apparently the laws of physics as I learned them, did not apply there.
....All I wanted was a bag of Cheez-Its. I was following the impeccable directions of one of those "Fly the Friendly Skies" women back at my arrival gate. She supposedly had pointed me in the direction of a concourse inhabited by a bank of vending machines. It turns out that instead, she'd sent me off on a crusade.
....I was on the second leg of connecting flights from Boston to Charleston, West Virginia, by way of Pittsburgh. Either by birthright or by just plain luck of the draw, I was born in an area that apparently has no direct flights to anywhere beyond a distance of three hundred miles. I do take some small comfort in referring to the trip as two non-stop flights.
....This adventure, for a lack of a better word, had found me traveling with a heavy heart. It was in November of 2000. My mother had succumbed to diabetes at the young age of 74 only two days before. I didn't really need or want any further distractions. This was at a time when you could still carry a pocket knife and fingernail clippers in your pocket and not be considered a threat to national security.
....I still wanted a bag of Cheez-Its. I watched stunned as the vending machines passed me, going in the other direction. Actually, it was me in motion on the moving sidewalk. The airport planners for some reason known to only themselves, had decided that the vending machines belonged halfway between the entry and exit points of the treadmill path.
....It took me ten minutes to get to the end of the sidewalk and to trek the hundred-fifty or so yards back to the vending machines. $3 for a bag of Cheez-Its? Well, it was the goal of that crusade. It was the "holy grail" I had been seeking. The machine accepted bills only and the moment I had inserted a ten dollar bill, I realized I might have made a mistake. Sure enough, I hit for an unwanted jackpot! The clinking-clanging of seven dollars worth of quarters in the change slot was quite evident.
....Where's my Cheez-Its? The bag was hanging, dangling tantalizingly at the end of the metal coil. As precarious as it hung there above the open space of the retrieval chute, none of my attempts at shaking the machine would jar it free. As quickly as I considered it, I dismissed the thought of putting in another three dollars. Glancing at my watch, I saw that had only ten minutes before my flight to Charleston would be boarding.
....I really wanted that bag of Cheez-Its! Within a half hour, I was airborne. By the time stewardess was pushing her cart down the aisle, I had resigned myself to the fact that I would have to settle for a complimentary bag of stale peanuts. Trust me on this one, those peanuts aren't really free. They have been pre-figured into the price of the flight tickets. I couldn't believe it, but I was let down again! They didn't have peanuts. They were giving out pretzels. I hate pretzels!
....It seemed that none of the passengers around me were particularly fond of them either. I didn't see or hear any of the packets being torn open. Then I heard a package being opened to my left across the aisle. I decided to check it out. To my horror, a woman was tearing open a bag of Cheez-Its! It was a conspiracy I tell you. The bitch had stolen my Cheez-Its! She had been watching me at those machines. She had gotten my Cheez-Its for free. Somehow she must have shook the machine in just the right way and was rewarded with my $3 pack of Cheez-Its!
....For the remainder of the flight I chewed on a few sticks of stale pretzels, imagining they were those little golden squares of cheesy delights. Finally, I dozed a bit and let my mind re-focus on the purpose of my trip. The snack crackers didn't seem so important for the next couple of days.
....A lesson was learned, or rather re-learned, however.
....I hate pretzels!
Curmudgeon responsible for this post: Hale McKay at 1:49 AM