Friday, March 20, 2015

Country Road Get Me Home

Never in my mind had I ever thought I’d be singing this on a trip home, more or less hearing it 4 times in 2 and a half days.  But I did, and I’m home and I haven’t sung that song since I walked thru my front door.
I must say traveling through Philly is awesome, it does not compare to Newark at all.  Economy Parking is convenient and you do not have to drive in circles to check to see if the lot is open.  Check in was a breeze, maybe because I flew US Air Express, you know the jet the corporate types fly to short distances.  Security at Philly was easy too, again, it may have just been the time I was at the airport and maybe people knew what they were doing to keep the line moving.  It was the quickest under 30 minutes of arriving at any airport in my life. Except for the very nice woman at the check in counter who complimented me on my hair then asked if I ever saw the Dove commercial with the children with curly hair. I still need to look that one up.
My lunch was interesting, every seat had an IPad in which to ordered food and beverages.  I watched two women enter and exit because of the new technology way of ordering and paying.  I wasn’t even carded for my large Yards Pale Ale.  I also met two ladies traveling from Nepal, and learned that Nepal has 1 runway which after being stuck there another three days, they were happy to be in the US, even if it was to connect on their way home.
My flight was ok, I actually flew sober, which means I didn’t order any beverages in flight.  After the two and half at lunch, I had enough, plus I wanted to save room for real bourbon later.  If you haven’t figured it out yet I went to Tennessee for work.  I flew into Nashville, which is like any other airport except for the country music posters everywhere.  
I had a car service to my hotel and a nice conversation with the driver about softball.  In some ways made me jealous they get to play year round (almost), it would have been a great experience if I was younger.
My cab from the hotel to the place for dinner actually steered me away from the overpriced, small plate fare and dropped me off at Fast Jacks.  The food was great, but I did get carded.  Let me set the stage, the bartender, who was a much younger version of Yosemite Sam (minus the hat) asked me for my ID after I ordered the drink.  It was off the menu, because like any martini, drink connoisseur if you ask a real bartender what they recommend, they will tell you its not on the menu and its one of their signature drinks that they are trying to implement.  So that’s exactly what I did and I ended up with a Bourbon martini which tasted similar to an Old Fashioned with George Dickel Bourbon.  Now the bartender says to me, “I know you have to be close to my age, because no 21 year old would order a bourbon drink, the owner doesn’t believe me, can I see your ID?”  As usual I laugh, smile and hand it over.  The owner, who was a woman in her late 50’s (I’m guessing) across the bar says in her best accent, “Man, you look so young you sure make me feel old.”
The bar itself was cozy, picture walking into a country store, playing today’s hits and watching “The Voice” on the big screens.   I had the one drink, plus another one on the house.  Props to Trent the bartender, who not only made killer drinks, but topped them both off with fancy ice cubes with limes.  
I met some very nice people at that office, a woman even complimenting me on my hair in the bathroom.  I was beginning to think not only did I stand out with my northerner accent but my hair was attracting attention.  Thankfully no one thought I was Reba’s daughter.  The best compliment which I still laugh about is the woman with whom I’ve spoken to a lot on the phone, “I thought you were taller, you’re an itty bitty thing!”  I guess sometimes in pictures even if its just a head shot it makes you look taller.  
The location I was in Tennessee didn’t have much of a nightlife, nor a variety to eat, and you had to make sure they were open that day.  In fact the closest Barnes and Noble, Best Buy was 35 minutes away.  The group suggested we eat at “Tuesdays” for our last group dinner, which by my surprise was a decent place except for the strange group of older ladies sitting at another table all wearing different hats.  I thought maybe that night that group of ladies had a ‘hat’ meeting or something, turns out it was someone’s birthday.  
My trip was successful and I am glad I had the opportunity to go, network and taste some real bourbon, not to mention absorb the southern accent.  All in a days work! 
At the bar waiting for my flight to leave, in a bar where there is a country singer strumming his guitar playing “Mamma’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys”, while enjoying another large beer, I receive a message my flight has been delayed an hour.  I continue to sing along while yet again another message for a flight delay.  Now I order food and another beer, that’s going to be another 2 hours.  I’m halfway done with my beer and now the flight is cancelled.  I think I must have said WTF outloud because the two guys on either side asked if my flight was cancelled.  I drink up, pay my bill and head out to the cancellation desk.  In line I overhear the guy behind me on the phone trying to get on another airline.  This was while I was trying to get a group of people to share a rental car and split the drive home (sometimes I just think on the fly).  He’s successful in getting the last flight out, and so quick thinking I did the same with some help from my sister.  I also didn’t want to lose my place in line because I wanted my luggage back!
Fast forward to me back at the bar after getting my luggage, checking in again at a new airline and going through security again (by now I’m an expert), this guy is there.  Now I have a buddy to hang out with for another 3+ hours, and he’s from Middlesex County, he knows people who went to my high school, so killing 3 hours was easy.  Plus I wasn’t by myself, singing to the same country music guy, who I tipped after his last song “I’m on Fire” was a great nod to Springsteen.  Had to give the singer props.
Again, many of you will be shocked that I did not drink during the flight home.  By that point I had 4 beers at the airport in about 5 hours time, I was done and I had to drive back home at midnight.  I like to fly Southwest, they are no joke, except we didn’t play any games on this flight.  We boarded and off we went, hauling ass more like it on the runway.  When we landed we hauled ass to the terminal.  I guess at that time the airport isn’t really that busy, I didn’t mind, I just wanted to get home.
I’ve learned a few things on this trip: 1) Do not travel during Daylight Savings change into a time zone change and back.  I had to recover twice.  2) Plan out your dinner plans for the first night in advance, that may have saved me time from having to ask the Hotel for recommendations. 3) Make friends at the airport, you never know if you’re flight is going to be delayed or cancelled.  4) Have a backup plan if the flight is cancelled.  I’m going to do research next time I fly so I know what flights leave on other airlines around that time. 5) John Denver isn’t so bad, but hearing “Take me home, country road” twice in one day was my breaking point.