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Viva Las Vegas by Ami Gates April 2014

Well, there we were, sitting in the San Francisco airport, trying to decide whether to get on the plane. The lady behind the airline flight desk for flight 931, clearly on Prozac, had again announced that our plane was delayed due to mechanical problems that could not be resolved. Apparently, the mechanics were still on the plane, trying to fix it.

The announcements came in every 15 minutes for over an hour. Each time, the flight desk Prozac lady would get on the telecom, and with a voice filled with the apathy that only narcotics can offer, she stated that the mechanical issues of the flight were still being resolved and further announcements would be made in 15 minutes.

I, meanwhile, had been working on my computer all this time. Jeremy and I had arrived at the airport about 2 hours early. We were very proud of our punctuality. We had arisen, eaten, pooped, bathed, dressed, prepared meals, and had arrived well in advance of our flight with the plan of relaxing and getting some wok done. And so, there I was, getting some work done, coffee in hand, and standing in front of my make-shift standing station.
My computer was plugged in just to the left of a guy about 31, likely an employee of Google or some other computer firm. Each time the flight desk lady made her announcement, he looked at me to see if I had a reaction, as though looking for permission to have one himself. After the 5th announcement, I smiled at the Google Guy and went to find Jeremy, who was doing a spot of shopping.

“The mechanics are still on the plane”, I said. “They are still trying to fix the plane. The plane that we are planning to then board and enter the sky with.”

“Yes”, he said. “I heard”.

“Well, have they lost a mechanic on the plane, or is there a part missing? What is taking so long?” I demanded.

“I don’t know”, said my wonderful husband who is ever so patient with my non-conformity issues.

“So, when do you draw the line?” I asked. “When do you not follow along like a mindless, trusting herd of cattle on to a plane that it still being fixed?”

Jeremy looked at me. I could see that he had elected to not think about it and to just trust that these undoubtedly highly educated and competent mechanics who are still on the plane will correct the mechanical issue.

My question was uncomfortable and so we began to consider the idea of actually not getting on the plane.

We went back and forth for a bit, Jeremy with rational comments, and me with sarcastic attacks on the likely skill of the mechanics. In the end, we decided to get some more information.

Our next step was to visit the flight desk lady on Prozac to explore our options.
We cautiously approached the counter, as if sneaking up on a large beast. We gingerly requested permission to speak, and then suggested that we might not want to board the flight. We created the excuse that we had suddenly decided to go to New York instead.

She looked at us with a gentle smile that I found alarming. Then she spoke.

“But your luggage is already on this plane”, she said quietly.

“The broken plane?” I said, to confirm.

“Yes”. She said calmly.

Jeremy looked at me.

“Can our luggage be removed from the plane?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t think so”, she said kindly.

“That’s OK, I said. What are our options if we decide not to board this plane?”

“But your luggage is on the plane”, she again noted.

I became impatient.

“Do we have to travel with our luggage?” I insisted.

This question made Jeremy very uneasy. I had now suggested that we did not want to board the flight nor did we want to travel with our luggage. He felt certain that in less than a minute, two guards with purple gloves would come to collect us and then would thoroughly investigate whether we had other dangerous materials stored in our anuses.
He started to nudge me.

The flight lady smiled again. It was a broad and long smile that seemed to drip off of her face a bit before she elected to remove it.

I asked the lady if Jeremy and I could discuss the matter for a moment and return. She agreed.

Jeremy and I then walked several feet away and out of ear-shot. We sat next to each other and quietly whispered about our options. There was the issue of the luggage of course, but what kind of idiot gets on a plane with mechanical failure to avoid being parted from their luggage.

True we agreed.
But, were will we go?

And then, like a beacon of light, it was obvious. Let’s go to Las Vegas and watch the final games of March Madness.

I could not have made a better suggestion. Jeremy was ready to give up our luggage entirely with the prospect of driving 10 hours back to Las Vegas to meet this clearly perfect suggestion. We had actually just been in Las Vegas about 10 days earlier, staying at the Vdara, watching all the basketball games, and enjoying the coffee and cigars. We had then driven to Lake Tahoe for some snow hiking and then to San Francisco to fly home.


Thus, we found ourselves in the current predicament.

We had two challenging choices before us:

Board a large metal tube that manages to defy gravity and still has mechanics on it, trying to correct an unknown problem, or, go to Las Vegas.

Yeah, that took about 2 seconds.

We returned to the flight desk lady to inform her that we intended not to board the flight and in fact were not going to board any flight.

She smiled. I smiled. Jeremy smiled. She smiled again.

At this point, I thought, I better say things. I asked her what might be done in this case. I assumed that we would lose all of our money (we had first class tickets) and probably our luggage as well.

However, with the grace and kindness of an angel, she gave us a full refund and then called the plane crew and asked them to remove our luggage from the plane.
I endeavored to hide my shock.

Jeremy and I just looked at each other. Incredulous surprise could hardly describe our reaction, but we remained silent, poker faces intact, and simply thanked her. We then quickly (but not in an apparently quick way) ran away.

Our next stop was luggage claim. We had been told that our luggage would be removed and returned to us at the luggage claim area. Therefore, we brought this message down to the luggage claim girl.

The luggage claim girl extended the length of two computer stations behind a counter that was sufficiently high enough to make even a tall person feel unimportant and unwelcome.
With an extra-large smile and my most pleasant voice, I carefully asked that we be reunited with our luggage. The double wide woman handed me a paper to fill out. She slide it across the counter so that the top of it just barely made contact with my hair line.
I completed the form and returned it to her. As she took the paper she scowled at it. She then stared at me as though the small portion of hair on the top of my head that must have been visible had offended her. She then disappeared (with some effort) though a door behind her. In several minutes a man arrived with a wide and friendly face, he shook his head at me and told me that I would not be getting my luggage. He told me the plane was already gone. I, knowing this to be false, began to contradict him, but Jeremy quickly stepped in, agreed, and then learned the next steps that might allow us to someday see our luggage again.

As such, we departed from the airport 3 hours after arriving with nothing less than no luggage and nothing more than our relief. So it was off to Las Vegas with us, and 10 hours later we arrived. Our luggage arrived 3 days later, which in my mind was almost as amazing as our ability to wear the same cloths for 72 hours.