I woke up bright and early at 2:00 a.m. to get ready and catch a large cigar-shaped steel tube to Denver and beyond. I was accompanied by other poets who had similar steel cigars to catch at an unearthly time from Reno-Tahoe airport.
The designated driver drove very slowly. Due to this, we reached the airport fashionably late. I rushed in and tried to check in and board. Others were not impressed. I was detained. My baggage was five pounds over the weight limit (since I had so many poems given to me to evaluate). Then I rushed over to security and joined a looooooong line. Jacket off, wallet off, cell phone off, pen off, violin off, trumpet off, belt off, xxxxxx off, xxxxxx off (censored here by the stern Bootsnall moderator). I reached the gate as the steel cigar was pulling away from the gate. I jumped onto the plane and managed to get a seat on top, in the open air. That's how I flew from Reno to Denver – on top of the plane flying at 38,000 feet, bitterly cold winds buffeting me.
At Denver, the nice man at the connecting gate said that the plane was indeed leaving the gate on time; however, it would have to sit on the tarmac for two hours due to bad weather in Chicago. We sat at a corner of Denver airport for three hours before we got the all clear. Meanwhile, I was with passengers who were getting raucous and restless.
Behind me, a lady was describing her entire life story without sparing any detail to a hapless neighbour. Apparently, her father was a farmer. He had pigs. Then her daughter didn't like computers. I heard about how values had changed. Then she spoke of her education, stamp collection, life in Nebraska, the problem with United Airlines, etc. The man in front of me suddenly shifted in his seat, looked back and smiled. Mystified, I smiled back. A second later I understood why he had smiled. Nature had taken its course and he was merely tipping me off. When I woke up from a coma, the plane was just taking off.
Nothing is free on planes today. I asked for water as I had not had anything to eat or drink for several hours. "That'll be ten dollars, please," said the unpleasantly plump and decidedly unattractive flight attendant. Not having ten dollars, I grabbed my neighbour's water, sipped the last six drops and
glared at him menacingly. He shrank away, dehydrated. When one is stressed, even a bad poet can react violently.
We arrived in Chicago. We taxied for six hours (Chicago is a large airport) and got to Gate C20. I hiked for another hour to reach Gate B1 – only to be informed that the connecting flight to Detroit had been delayed by another five hours. Gate changes took place frequently. B1 – oops no plane. B3 – oops no pilot, sorry. B17 – goodness, bad poems there, please rush to C31. April fools, gate Z76397. It was wearing. I could have easily walked to Detroit in that time, considering how much I had trekked through the airport.
At Detroit I was greeted by a deafening silence. The person who had promised to meet me had forgotten his promise. It was 1:79 a.m. and I was standing alone and miserable at the airport exit. Three individuals emerged from the shadows with the objective of killing me or divesting me of my valuables. I spontaneously recited a sonnet and they fled – defeated, convinced that crime would not pay.
Thereafter, my pickup person picked me up and I went home and slept.