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2002-12-25 - 11:36 p.m.

Christmas Day

Happy Christmas!

Today was very full. We woke up slightly late (I hit the snooze), said Merry Christmas to each other, and got ready to go. We arrived at the airport just fine, though, and The Scientist dropped me off with our bags to stand in line (we weren't offered the option of e-tickets when we ordered our plane tickets) while he went to park the car at the "park and walk." Yes, that's right, park and walk. 15 minutes later I was near the front of the line when he came walking up, saying that he parked the car but that the barriers at the parking lot were all up and there was no one to pay and no ticket to take. We hoped that our car would still be there when we returned and that we wouldn't be towed away for some sort of violation. There was nothing we could do about it, though, so I tried not to think about it.

After we got our tickets, we waited in the security line for about 20 minutes. It was really long (down the hallway) but relatively efficient. Our plane left mostly on time and I think we landed a few minutes early. We didn't have seats together, but a nice French woman changed with me so I could sit by The Scientist.

We had one stop and our plane change was uneventful. We stopped at the airport McDonald's for breakfast (completely packed on Christmas morning), but since it was 10:35 a.m. we had lunch instead. McDonald's should serve breakfast 'til 11. Who wants a cheeseburger at 10:30 a.m.? We had to order in a hurry (we went through the "walk through" lane--that seems to be a theme) and then amused ourselves while eating by studying the menu and figuring out our optimal (i.e., cheapest) ordering scheme. I never get the combo meals because I don't drink soda and I can't handle a fast food milkshake (too much lactose), so The Scientist usually gets a combo and shares his fries with me and I order a single sandwich and drink water. Since we had pressure to order quickly (who knew the line would move so fast?) I ordered a cheeseburger because I wasn't that hungry. Turns out, I should have ordered a Big-n-Tasty. It's $0.99 while the airport cheeseburger (the tiny one) was $1.15. Why would a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and a bigger bun be so much cheaper? What's in it? Scary non-meat filler? Granted, we would have only saved $0.16, but it was a strangely compelling exercise for us.

stars

Our second plane also boarded on time, despite the man who walked by with his wife and said, "Don't worry, they won't leave without us," and proceeded to walk away from the gate on some mysterious airport errand. Message to loud annoying man - yes, they will leave without you. They were among the last people boarding our plane, but they made it and we left on time.

I'm a shameless conversation eavesdropper, especially on airplanes. I don't actually want to talk to anyone (except The Scientist) but I'm fascinated by the random conversations complete strangers will get into while traveling. In the row in front of us were two people traveling together, a woman in her late 40s and a man in his late 20s, and a girl in her late teens who was travelling with her family (sitting further back in the plane). The man and the woman had come from Florida so they had been up since 4am and travelling all day (they shared this immediately). They were going to visit the woman's son who was in Alaska, possibly in prison (I'm speculating based on some vague comments she made about his whereabouts). She mentioned having to "go get all legal" when they arrived and needing to "talk to the lawyers" about whatever was going on with her son. The man was her son's best friend, but there were clearly some Mrs. Robinson vibes between the two of them.

The girl chatted with them for a while and then went to sleep (she was sick with a cold). They talked with each other and as the flight went on got more and more obnoxious. The man hassled the flight attendants (reaching over to take items off the beverage cart), the woman complained about everything, and they were constantly pushing their call button for something. After a while this became (free) grapefruit juice after (free) grapefruit juice. A female flight attendant told them she wasn't giving them any more (I think she used the excuse that the plane was "out" but I find that hard to believe) because she knew they had brought liquor on the plane and were making drinks (FYI, grapefruit juice and vodka is called a "Greyhound" which I found somehow ironic).

Meanwhile, the teenaged girl's father kept coming up to check on her and every time the drunk guy would pour on the redneck charm so he (the father) had no idea what was really going on.

The flight attendant told them that bringing liquor on the plane was illegal (because the airline could be responsible for them driving drunk or getting into trouble after they left the plane but wouldn't be able to "control their alcohol intake") but that she wouldn't say anything if they would put it away. The woman was clearly drunk, slurry her words, falling asleep, waking up to pee every 15 minutes, and the man was on his way. The man apologized to the flight attendant ("oh, sorry, I didn't know that") but then began bitching about how he thought it was OK to bring liquor on the plane and that the flight attendant was being a bitch. He got more and more indignant and belligerent, hassling the female flight attendant until she said, "Sir, you had better stop it or you will be in some serious trouble when this plane lands." He finally subsided when the male flight attendant intervened (I think he brought up that it was Christmas and couldn't everyone just settle down and get along).

The Scientist and I were exchanging wide-eyed horrified-yet-amused glances during all of this and I was envisioning air marshals and the drunk guy being arrested as he left the plane. Since he calmed down, that didn't happen but I think it was a close thing. My dad told me later that the pilot could have landed (somewhere in Canada?) or turned the plain around if the guy had caused any more trouble. After we landed (in Anchorage, thankfully) the more-sober-but-still-probably-loaded guy started packing his cigarettes (Marlboro reds) before we even left the plane. As The Scientist and I picked up our bags from below the seats in front of us, we spotted the now-empty plastic liquor bottle (one of the flask-shaped ones but much bigger than a flask is) with the label torn off on the floor. Nice. What I'm wondering is how they got it on the plane in the first place. It doesn't make me feel all that confident in the airport security measures.

My parents were entertained (my dad) and horrified (my mom) by the story and we made sure to point out the drunk people when we were waiting in baggage claim. Our bags were among the last off the plane, but they finally came off and we could leave.

stars

tree with lights

The Far North lived up to expectations, being cold and snowy (in fact, it was snowing when we drove to my parents' house). My Dad had only put up the Christmas lights outside recently, but they were good. My parents had bought plastic luminaries at Sam's Club (or Costco, I can't remember) which I had thought sounded really cheesy when my mom told me about them on the phone, but I was wrong--in person they looked great, especially covered with a dusting of snow. I'm not sure how well they would work without the snow around them (it might be more obvious that they were plastic) but these looked really nice.

The rest of the family was waiting when we got to the house, so we took some pictures, ate a late lunch, and started opening presents. Everyone got great stuff (including me). My haul included lots of Philosophy Amazing Grace scented products, some books and CDs, kitchen stuff, hot pink fuzzy slippers from my brother JR, and a wireless mouse from The Scientist (since our main present to each other was TiVo back in the fall). We got a beautiful Tiffany-style lamp from my brother JK that he and his girlfriend M. got at an auction (in person, not eBay).

After relaxing for a while we went to see The Best Friend, MJ, who was leaving that night to go home to Boston. Her parents met The Scientist for the first time and we hung out, talked, and had a beer before she had to leave for the airport.

Except for the travelling (and even that wasn't so bad), it was one of the most laid-back Christmases I've ever had.

 

 

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