Christmas Travels: Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Okay, no Trains…Just the Grinch, Snow Miser & Mr. Taxi Cab Driver

27 Dec

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. Here’s a quick snapshot of my travels Christmas morning back to my new home….

My First Delta Flight: The pilot was cheerful. The flight attendants were beaming with holiday joy and sparkled in their red uniforms and bedazzled Santa hats. This flight embodied the Christmas spirit from takeoff to landing. It was a magical flight for the kiddos on board. The bitterness of leaving “home” Christmas morning turned sweet when over the loudspeaker the pilot referenced Santa, his sleigh and the promise of snow in Detroit for a “White Christmas”, with joyfulness in his voice. I couldn’t help but smile as I looked around the crowded plane at the grins and giggles the children were wearing and the look of relief from their parents. Half a book later sprinkled with some interrupted zzz’s we had landed in Detroit.

The Lay Over:  It was a “White Christmas” in Detroit. It looked miserable outside. Desolate. Cold. Did I say miserable?  I was warm inside traveling from Terminal A75 to A61. My stomach was begging me for a sandwich. Boar’s Head Deli, closed. Online café, closed. Starbucks only had pastries. My options were Taco Bell, Heineken Lounge, Charley’s Grilled Subs, and Jose Cuervo Tequileria. I didn’t like any of them. Oh wait, I did. Had I wanted a beer I would have sat at Heineken Lounge. A shot of tequila or a Paloma at Jose Cuervo Tequileria sounded appetizing but my stomach was panging me for food. I settled for trail mix and dried edamame. I sat down at Terminal A61 when the news of the flight being delayed alarmed most. I didn’t mind. You see, there was a woman in front of me oblivious to the world of people around her. She was on her cell phone yelling at the other person on the phone about not paying rent but yet she got her nails done, she bought Christmas presents, something about food stamps, and it goes on and on. This woman’s personal business was blasted and I knew her entire financial situation in a matter of minutes. I couldn’t stop listening. I was immensely entertained. Then the rest of terminal A61 caught an interest. We were all enthralled. At this point I didn’t think any of us cared if the flight was delayed. The conversation we were eavesdropping was getting good and nasty (not that way!). We all exchanged sly smirks, or a head nod, the raise of an eyebrow or shrug of the shoulders to acknowledge that yes, yes we were all listening and we couldn’t wait for the next slap-down.  I couldn’t comprehend though how the person on the other line was still…on the other line. After 2 minutes of that kind of beating I would have hung up on blamed it on the bad reception in the metro.  How could someone stand to hear that kind of shrieking brutality? It was like watching a scary movie. You instinctively know and silently scream, “don’t go down that alley!!!” I was crying silently for the woman on the other line. I was pleading her to “hang up and turn your phone off!” The more quiet we were as spectators the louder this woman’s volume became. I realized then that some people want to be heard. Me on the other hand, I remembered that I just wanted a sandwich and it was Christmas.

Finally, The Connecting Flight Home: There was no more Christmas spirit at this point. I didn’t get my sandwich. The edamame was too salty, same with the trail mix-to be expected. The flight attendants were polar opposite of each other. One flight attendant was as sweet as a candy cane while the other flight attendant was as stone as coal. Yup. Ms. Coal came up to me and bellowed “Put your seat up!” I advised her it was up. She then followed-up her request with a firm push of my seat. My seat didn’t go anywhere and she didn’t offer any apology. Her beady eyes glared at me. I’m pretty sure she stole Christmas. No sooner after I made my supposition that she stole Christmas and that she was probably the Grinch disguised as a frigid flight attendant, the children an aisle behind me kindly asked her, “Ma’am, Ma’am, when can we get Sprite?” She jetted right on past the cuties as if she may catch a dose of their sunshine! I had an epiphany at that moment. This woman was no Grinch!!! She’s frigid and cold as ice like Snow Miser (The Year Without a Santa Claus). It’s no wonder she despised the sunshine, happy and magical Christmas spirit these kids exuded!  I turned to the kids and told them she’s mad because Santa put coal in her stocking. They giggled. She glared at me, again. I made two new friends. I didn’t three.


Baggage Claim: We landed. The kids said goodbye and ventured off with their pops. I waited for my 52lb luggage at baggage claim. Within seconds it appeared daunting me with its orange label reminding me I did not pack efficiently. I felt as if people suddenly possessed Superman’s X-ray vision as they exchanged glances between the bag and me. I felt as if they knew why I had that scarlet letter on my bag. They were probably wondering just how many shoes I had packed (I was only gone 8 days!). If they had X-ray vision they should have been able to count all the shoes. I will advise you that there were 2 pairs for running. I smirked as I realized they weren’t speculating over what I packed. They were speculating because there I was, toting a 52lb bag, half my size and greater than twice my width, with grace and in stilettos across the floor.  (Okay, add another pair of shoes).  Yes, stilettos at an airport. I fumble over my feet more in flats than in heels, unless I’m running! I laughed again when I realized I didn’t have to pay for the excess weight! Merry Christmas to me!

The Taxi Home: When you walk out of the airport you can’t hail your own taxi. The airport attendees do this for you. I stepped out in my Phoenician winter attire, freezing and cursing myself out for not dressing warmer. I asked the man for a cab. There it appeared. A champagne colored nineteen ninety something mini-van! I felt like I aged 40 years and I was suddenly in my late 60s. Nothing against champagne color but I think it’s for a different generation other than my own. (I don’t mean to offend)I stepped in. Yup, the Christmas spirit was gone-zo! I said good evening to this gentleman. He was a far cry from a gentleman. Gentleman being too kind a word. He gave me the stank eye and silent treatment the whole ride home. I presumed Santa gave him coal, too. Mr. Taxi Driver and Ms. Coal should get together. The silence was broken when he stopped the meter in front of my place and demanded “$20!” That’s it. He said nothing more than “$20.”I laughed as I said, “Really? It’s never more than $15, typically on average, $12. Why $20?” He exclaimed, “$5 airport convenience fee!”I rebuked sarcastically, “I didn’t choose to hail your cab but you’ve got quite the gig going on!” I don’t pout over the variance of a few dollars but if you’re going to charge me more I expect something in return! Make the ride worth it if I have to pony up! There was no stimulating conversation. No small talk. There was nothing.  Sitcoms make first date parodies off the lack thereof colloquial, uncomfortable shit that just transpired between me and Mr. Taxi Driver. I handed him my card when he screamed, “CASH only!” Okay, okay. Get this. I’m new to D.C. but I’m not stupid. New regulations require that taxis accept credit cards and other forms of non-cash payments as of August 31, 2013.  I responded matter-of-factly and pointing, “You have a credit machine right there!” He informed me it didn’t work. I accepted his bullshit rebuttal although the credit card machine LED screen was lit up and ready to accept payment. I told him, “Okay. I’ll go to the ATM.” He offered to drive me but I declined advising him mockingly that I didn’t want any more fees. I walked with my luggage to the Bank of America ATM. I grimaced because I knew I’d get another fee. OY! Then I remembered that USAA refunds these fees. That is when I was struck with a brazen idea. I punched in my code and took my cash. I walked back to the mini-van and hand Mr. Taxi Driver a $20. I exclaimed, “I charged you a $5 convenience fee to walk to the ATM, there’s no more tip for you.”

I’m no Grinch, I promise. Had this guy engaged in conversation and not lied to me on Christmas I would’ve been inclined to tip well, especially on Christmas, even with his made up $5 airport convenience fee. I think $2.50 is the going rate…

Anywho, thanks for reading! I hope you had a Holly, Jolly, Merry Christmas followed by a Blessed New Year!!!


Valgal aka Runner Girl



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