Thursday, August 04, 2005

This isn't Scotland

8 AM Thursday
We who live in Interior Alaska are used to the the fact that it takes a day to fly anywhere that's not actually in Seattle. But two days to the UK seems excessive. And to arrive there at 9 AM after two sleepless overnight flights will be a trial for a guy who needs his nightly nine hours of restorative slumber. Ah, well.

My day in Minneapolis was shortened to a few hours by the time I got out of the airport. The airlines bumped me up to first class for the Fairbanks-Minn leg, and I think I've discovered what first class means these days, at least at NW Airlines. It means you don't have to pay for the airplane food you used to get for free, plus alcohol. More importantly, it means that the lines you stand in are shorter. Even the TSA security lines next to their ticket counter has a first class section. But the people using it still have to take their shoes and belts off. It's an interesting sight watching men and women in expensive clothes and an air of being in charge stooping over to remove their shoes. Yesterday, in Fairbanks, my first time through security I asked the TSA person if removing shoes was mandatory. No, she said, with a smile. Of course, the moment I stepped through the scanner, they pulled me aside for a wanding. In the Fairbanks airport TSA has this small glass booth for this purpose. It's like a little public display box. The TSA guy, very respectful launched into his spiel about having to touch me and if I was uncomfortable I could request a private area. I did so at once and ended up in a closet with two guys, one groping and the other watching. But at least it wasn't out in public.

My father spent a night in jail once in rural Kentucky, falsely arrested for something he didn't do. What upset him the most was not being falsely accused of a crime but spending the night in a holding cell in which the toilet was right there in the cell and the only way he could relieve himself was to do so in front of everyone. That, to him, was the ultimate disrespect. I feel like that about having to unbuckle my belt, remove my shoes, hold my arms out in the modern traveler's crucifixion. The second time I went through Fairbanks security, I just took off my damn shoes and went through.

I suspect I'm rambling, but not through sleeplessness. I intend to post to this blog in the same manner as to my journal, that is, unedited. I have kept a paper journal since my teen years, and in fact have a smaller notebook I call my travel J which absorbs all the minutiae of the road. I'm trying to learn to travel light these days, though, and I left it at home in favor of this laptop and you.

So, here I am at the Mall of America. I came here by accident, honest. I was supposed to have a room comped to me by NW. After all, I arrived at 3 AM Fairbanks time and have a nine-hour layover. But my first class status failed me. After waiting 2 hours at the airport for my voucher and shuttle, I finally opted for a cab. The driver, not from around here, brought me to the mall instead of my hotel. By then it was time for coffee, not sleep, so here I am. At least they've provided a moose and habitat to make me feel more at home.


Renelle said...

Too funny!

David Marusek said...


The moose was animatronic. It lowered its head to munch on grass, I think (unlike Fairbanks moose who favor brush like willow), then looked up and surveyed the landscape for wolves, I suppose. It was hypnotic, and I stood there for fifteen minutes or so. Or maybe dreaming?