Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Two Dollars Means a Snack To Me

Actually, it means a big deal to me now what with the cost of fuel, the upcoming election, and El Niño.  I checked in at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in Sunday afternoon to catch my 5:18 PM flight to Boston.  I was leaving Wisconsin after the wedding Karen and I attended.  I had the rental car to return.  Wreck on I-94 caused a big delay for me, but I did make it in time.  I had decided to purchase the fuel option because I hate looking for gas stations near airports I don't know.  We only used half a tank to go to Wisconsin and back, so I should have either floored it in 2nd gear most of the way back or just skipped the fuel option.  Lesson learned.

In addition, Illinois has the worst highway system in the nation.  At least the highways I have traveled.  I don't understand how more people don't die on I-94.  It looks to be forever under construction and with lack of adequate signage until the last minute and lane splits here and there, I am surprised more people don't meet the Jersey barrier more often.  Illinois, I hope you are reading this.  Fix freaking I-94 already.  I see you are able to collect tolls just fine.  Finish the damn road!

Oh, speaking of tolls.  I-94 has tolls.  I was used to this in New England.  However, some of the tolls on I-94 are exit tolls, but are unstaffed.  You have no option but to throw change in a basket.  80 cents to exit to the airport.  What?  I have no change on me.  I have a $10, but you're not getting that, basket.

I got to the airport and saw about 49572390749023745983465293 people inside waiting to check in for United.  A United employee walked up to me and asked if I needed to check in.  "Sure," I say.  I was sort of astonished to see a real employee.  Most airlines have replaced airport staff with touchscreen kiosks and phones and little plastic signs that read "POSITION CLOSED".  I felt special.  Like I had come in to contact with the last real United airport employee.

He checks my bag, prints my boarding pass, and then asks if I paid him.  I look a little confused and he points at a sign that says "$2 to check in".  What the hell?  I don't know if this is new across the board or just because I was using the curb side check in.

I got in to the airport, had something to eat and drink at the airport, talked to a guy coming back from Alaska (not someone from the Deadliest Catch, but could have been), and then wandered over to my gate.  The board counts down by saying "boarding begins in __ minutes".  Then it said we were boarding, but I looked out the window and saw a key component missing:  the airplane.

Sure enough, we had no plane.  They waited around and finally told us to go to gate B10.  That was even more confusing because at that moment, gate B10 was boarding for New York.  So people thought we were supposed to get on that plane and wondered if we were going through New York to get to Boston.  I skipped all that and went and got some tea.

We departed over an hour late, but the pilots floored it and we went as fast as the 737 was allowed to go.  Got in late though.

Today I went to the new Red Hat office building in Westford, MA.  My team has a really cool work area now.  I talked with a lot of people and did get a good bit of stuff done.  One more day this week in the office, then the Summit starts.

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