Wednesday Feb 9, 2011
Maria drove me to the airport in the – literally – freezing pre-dawn. My big green suitcase was considerably overweight and the United agent was going to charge me $100.00 for it. Then, I don’t know why, but she just shook her head and said, “it’s ok”. well, thank god for that; I don’t have $100.00! Because I was flying United, however, I had to pay a $25.00 fee for something or other; I gather it’s standard for American airlines.
It was a long, long day just to get to a place that would have been a simple 3-4 hour flight had it been direct. From Victoria, we flew to San Francisco where I experienced the most stringent security I’ve ever encountered; it included – once you actually got up to the x-ray machine – standing on some footprints and being enclosed by some sort of space-age plexiglass surround thing. I want to say lights were flashing but I may be making that it; maybe it just felt like lights should flash. I’d had to pick up all my own luggage from the carousel, hike a good two miles (I swear!) hauling my luggage to the American check through site and then shuffle along the queue inch by inch for almost an hour before making it to the Star Trek thingy. I wanted to say “beam me up Scottie” but it appeared to me that no-one official there seemed to have a functioning sense of humour and I didn’t want them thinking I didn’t take it all very seriously too. Afterwards, I went to a food fair sort of place and had a salad.
The next flight was American Airlines to Dallas/Fort Worth. Had a pleasant seat companion, a very Californian fellow who was going to Columbus Georgia to ask his son why he was throwing away the expensive Harvard law education his parents had just finished paying for by joining the army. Oh, Daddy was NOT impressed. On the stopover at Dallas/Fort Worth, we took turns watching each other’s luggage and getting something to eat.
The third flight was American as well but was a very small jet with limited head-room. The single flight attendant was a character and a half. He was clearly a wanna-be comedian and stayed on the microphone a good half hour or so cracking joke after joke after joke, each line followed by a distinctly coquettish smile and a coy, rehearsed southern-sounding “mmmmm-hmmmm”. I ate my salad I’d brought from the airport on the plane.
We got into Columbus, Georgia about 9pm and met the infamous Ingrid. Seems like a nice person – she handed Derek and I (the other English teacher, who had been on the plane too but I hadn’t known) off to the driver who took us to CRC. First, though, we had to stop at Walmart to get locks; Derek didn’t have any and Ingrid was insistent; she said people would steal stuff if it wasn’t locked up. When we finally got to the Fort Benning gate, the driver realized he didn’t have the right papers, which meant we couldn’t get in. We had to go back to wherever they keep their vans and get another van that did have papers and then return to Fort Benning and, eventually, CRC. Derek and I went to Billeting, got our bedding, hauled our stuff to our barracks (about midnight) and, after unpacking, fell asleep about 1:00am, exhausted.
Ok, thus ends my first entry – tried to include a photo there’s a memory problem, or something. So, here goes!