Archive for Travel Stories

Jun
18

Frenchy’s Back…

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Once again, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve updated this blog. Blogging seems to be the new millennium’s version of the Tamagotchi – at first they were kinda cool, then everyone had one, but now they are all dead.

Well, I’m not dead, and though it may seem it, the Rant is not dead either. For proof I thought I’d post a little something – old school style.

That’s right. Not some syrupy motorcycling story, not some stupid list or other fluff filler, but a real Frenchy’s fucking RANT!

Soooooo….

I’ve wasted approximately far too many hours suffering on airplanes: delays, lost luggage, stupid security, retarded passengers… I’ve seen and suffered through it all. Some people think that so much suffering must make one numb, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t make me numb, it makes me pissed.

Today’s excursion into the bowels of travel hell seemed on the surface to not be all that bad. A direct flight from the Kingdom of Rhode Island to our great nation’s capital, Washington DC. One flight, less than two hours, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters – against my better judgement – the airline misguidedly allows other people on the plane.

Modern air travel has become a marvel of miniaturization. Back in the good old days, the airlines used $100 bills to fuel their gigantic, mostly empty planes. There were many times I would have an entire row – hell, sometimes I’d even have an entire plane to myself. Those good old days are sadly a relic of a past, better time. The new reality is smaller, cheaper planes that defy known physical laws, cramming a multitude of complete strangers together more tightly than… well… cramming everyone together almost exactly like sardines in a crushed tin box.

I throw my small computer bag into the mini-overhead compartment, then get settled into a little chair that is almost, but not quite, a real chair. Chair-lite, I call it. How quaint.

Then, I see her. Flailing down the mini-aisle, blasting other passengers out of the way, with her very maxi-bag in tow. Having been through this drill already, I know that Ms. Flail and her Stuffed Satchel of Shit is on her way to the mini-seat next to mine. On cue, she stops next to me and proves that some humans have yet to evolve from Self-Centered Asshole.

Looking at my tiny computer bag, then her gigantic rolling bag full of bloomers, she rolls her eyes. With all the authority that two beers give a lightweight, she makes the following noises in my general direction, “Isthisbagyours? Oooohhhh! Doyoumindmovingit? Mybagwon’tfit.

How she accomplishes this without ever once looking at me is amazing. But it doesn’t matter. Her words bounce off my head unheeded. I stun her with a one word reply.

“No.”

Lady, I don’t give a shit if you’re the Grand Prize in the Airline Seat Lottery – which, for those keeping score, and for the rest that are too lazy to click the link, would be a 21 year old redhead on her way to Nymphomaniacs Anonymous. I am simply not moving MY bag for YOUR bag, you douchebag.

That is not the concept of SHARED SPACE. Did you fail kindergarten?

Angry now, she huffs, puffs, grunts, farts, whines, then storms to the back of the mini-plane (which, because of modern economics is uncomfortably close to the front, the middle, and my seat) and, I assume, finds a place for her bag. I further assume she came back and sat next to me but at this point I’m numb and I’ve long since stopped caring.

They close the cabin door, and thanks to increased cabin pressure, I am, as usual, rendered unconscious. This is the only saving grace of flying in a jet-lite. It’s smaller, so it takes less time to fill the cabin with pressure. Net result? I am knocked out quicker. Muy Bien!

Sometimes I’m lucky, and remain blissfully unaware the entire trip. The perfect flight for me? Waking up thinking we are still at the original gate, when in fact we’ve already landed and it’s time to get the fuckity-fuck out of the plane!

No such luck this time. Something gnaws at the edge of my unconsciousness. Like a gnat buzzing in my ear, or echos of a fellow passenger whining about overhead space, something draws me back to the land of the living dead.

“Swiper, no swiping! Swiper, no swiping! Swiiii-perrr! Nooooo! Swwwwippiinnnggg!”

What.

The.

Fuck.

Some android of a mom has decided the best way to not subject the flying herd to her snot-nosed brat crying all the way to Washington is to subject us all to something far worse – Dora the Explorer sans headphones, cranked at full volume.

Thanks to Al-Qaeda, passengers are no longer allowed to carry handguns, and thanks to airline cost cutting, there are no over-wing exits to conveniently dispose of Dora and Crew (seriously, there are no over-wing exits on this flying death trap. Think about that for a second…) As I see it, there’s no simple solution to this annoying problem. I find myself wishing Dora along with Android Mom would Exploras Las Siete Capas del Infierno.

And then, when things seem like they can’t possibly get any more absurd, they do. Ms. Flail, my forgotten-about seat mate turns, gives me that knowing look and says, “Can you believe the nerve of some people?”

No.

But at least I can rant about ’em!

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Mar
07

The Ten People You Meet In Airplanes

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After logging more frequent flier miles than I care to admit, I’ve come to realize that while every person in an airport may be an individual, there are certain herd-type characteristics that I seem to run into over and over and over.

Here, in no particular order, are the Ten People You Meet In Airplanes:

1) The Alphabetically Challenged – The confused look on this character’s face as he wanders down the aisle gives him away every time. There is no doubt about the outcome, this winner is going to end up sitting in the WRONG SEAT. It’s easy to understand how he is confused, because for some reason, at least on airplanes, C always comes after F and before B. It’s hard to keep all those letters straight!

2) Proud Mamma – Another instantly recognizable airport dweller. She usually has a stroller made by Hummer, and that stroller is populated by at least one runny-nosed brat with a ton of Noise Toys. When Mamma and her little snot factory finally get to their seats and strap in, Junior will start singing the Alphabet Song at top volume, over and over and over, to his adoring Mamma’s delight. Helpful for the Alphabetically Challenged, but painful for the rest of the passengers.

3) The Salesman – With at least one snazzy and stylish earpiece sticking out of his ear, this guy wants everyone to know exactly how awesomely awesome he is. He talks so loud there is no way that anyone within a two mile radius can’t hear him. It’s always fascinating to hear exactly how many Tapered Douche Nozzles that Mr. Freddy Fartknuckle sold this quarter. This guy makes me wish I had earlids.

4) The Befuddled Fencepost – This anti-multitasker is good for one thing, and one thing only; creating traffic jams. As soon as the plane starts boarding, this boob will get as close to the boarding door as possible and stop, content to let his small brain ruminate on its single thought: “If this is Group One boarding, that means I am just seven groups from getting on the plane. If I gotta stand sumwhere, it might as well be here in the middle of everything!” This is the same guy that, after standing in every single passengers way, will get on the plane dead last and be forced to stuff his jumbo steamer trunk in the overhead twenty rows behind his seat. As soon as the plane lands, he’ll jump up, rush back to his bag, then force his way through everyone to get back where he started from, mumbling something about ‘catching a connecting flight.’ At the top of the jetway, there he’ll be, staring at the connecting flights board with that same confused look on his face as passengers once again stream around him.

5) The Sneak – Closely related to the Fencepost, this guy is the one that feels that boarding groups don’t apply to him. When the first zone is called, no matter what group he is actually in, he’ll make no eye contact, just drops his shoulder and barge past everyone to be the first on the plane. Guess what, highspeed… There is no prize for being first to board! The airlines cut those out years ago to save money, right before they cut out pillows and flushing toilets. If the gate agent calls him out on his ruse, The Sneak will get very indignant, and in a squeaky, pissy voice inform the agent that ‘He’ll NEVER fly this airline AGAIN!” If only. This guy used to be the kid that was always picked last for the kickball team.

6) El Grande Gigante – There is no way to miss his sweating mass as he lumbers down the aisle. His enormous belly rubs against BOTH aisle seats (C and D for the Alphabetically Challenged) as he waddles his way to the back of the plane. And though I struggle to not make any eye contact in the hopes he will spontaneously combust into the world’s biggest grease fire, there is no doubt where this mass of humanity will end up sitting. Next to me. Before takeoff, he’ll whip out his own custom monogrammed seatbelt extension. Then, as I am forced to use his massively greasy folds of blubber as an armrest, I’ll be treated to the spectacle of his bi-hourly feeding ritual; handful after handful of Crisco shoved in his gaping foodhole while quaffing a Coke Zero. Murphy’s Law of Averages being what it is, this lardass will also be my seatmate on my connecting flight.

7) Hot Redhead On Her Way To Nymphos Anonymous Rehab – She never sits next to me.

8 ) First Class Ass – This dickhead honestly believes Frequent Flier miles are currency, and mere mortals should be impressed at his vast portfolio. Has no problem boldly shouldering his way past those same mere mortals in line, because after all, he will be SITTING IN FIRST CLASS! It’s always a pleasure to watch his face as I, a mere mortal, sit down next to him.

9) The Spatially Challenged Spaz – Somehow, she manages to sneak four overstuffed bags into the plane, then can’t understand why her ten pounds of shit doesn’t fit in the five pound overhead. Frequently, she has one of those little football dogs packed in one of those bags. By the way, those dogs are called football dogs because all they are good for is kicking field goals.

10) I have only heard rumors of the tenth person you meet in an airplane. This guy is the unsung hero, a figure of folk legend, the champion of veteran road warriors the world over. There have been days where airline incompetence and attitude has pushed me close to emulating him, though I lack the boules en laiton . His name is Gerard Finneran; the man who, way back in 1995 made a bold statement, and left his own brown mark of freedom onĀ  the first class drink cart.

While I don’t necessarily agree with G-Finn’s actions, I certainly do understand.

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Jan
07

Euro-travelin’ – The Rest

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Paris. International City of Romance. The City of Lights. The Epicenter of All Things Culinary. Who wouldn’t want to go there on a European vacation?

Us, that’s who.

Even after Paris won the Rock-Paper-Scissors contest, both Sleeping Beauty and I were hesitant about our decision. We’d already booked a flight out of Brussels in two days, so we knew our journey would be ending there one way or another. And Paris just seemed so… well… touristy. The departure board at the train station was tempting, with delicious sounding places like ‘Lillie Flandres’ and Crepy Villers’ on offer.

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Jan
06

Euro-travelin’ – Strasbourg

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To some people, buying a train ticket to a place you’ve never been in a place you’ve never been, with no idea where you’ll be staying that night or even if you’ll take that train all the way to your destination would seem like an exercise in stupidity. To me it’s an adventure. Thankfully Fiona agrees, or if she doesn’t exactly agree, at least she plays along well.

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The next morning, I saunteredĀ  to the ticket window at the train station and requested two tickets to the top of the Jungfraujock. The guide books had warned that the ride we were about to embark on was ‘the most expensive train ride in all of Europe.’ Most expensive?!?! That’s really saying something in this part of the world. Turns out those guide books weren’t kidding. I knew with certainty after signing the slip that my dreams of owning a real Swiss watch would never come true, and my nightmare of bankruptcy became one signature closer to reality, previous night’s winnings or not. But hey, it’s a vacation, so what the hell?

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