This year I picked up a side gig teaching AP Physics on the weekends. Once or twice a month I fly to some random city, teach physics for a few hours, then fly home. $500 and a night to myself is a good deal.
I am only allowed to book flights through a company approved travel agency, and only 30 days in advance. For fun, I often compare through expedia, and things usually match up ok. Because I work a regular day on Friday, I try not to book a flight before 5PM, so I dont have to ditch out on my real job. The first apparent options to get to Fargo were:
1 – leave at 4:30 PM, layover in Minneapolis, arrive in Fargo at 11:30
2 – leave at 6:30 PM, layover in Minneapolis, arrive in Fargo at 11:30.
Neither of these sounded optimal. I looked again for later flights, and found a direct from Denver at 8pm, arriving at 11pm. Out of the ‘preferred price range’ so I had to request approval. I guess I missed the email saying APPROVED, because I forgot to book the fight until the Monday before, when I was locked out and had to email and ask nicely to have them book the flight for me. Bad Juju from the start.
5:45PM – Long ass security line wrapping around baggage claim, but moving pretty quickly so I don’t panic.
6:30PM – Get to Gate 91 – the farthest reaches of the B gates – practically another universe, with plenty of time to grab a beer. Kinda ghetto down here. One little sandwich shop is my only food option. Dude in front of me in line and behind me in line both other Pastrami sandwiches and cole slaw, but one with provelone and one swiss. Dude 3 sitting at the little counter unwrapping his sandwich gets yelled at by the cashier as I’m trying to pay. She’s accusing him of taking an extra potato salad. He offers to return it, but its already opened. I pay, Dude in front of me has his sandwich called while dude behind me pays. Dude 3, Dude in Front, and Dude Behind have all ordered the same sandwich, and the first two have opened Dude 3’s sandwich, and he wants a new one. I get my little wrap walk away before the sandwich saga gets resolved…
7:30PM – Hang at the gate. just before boarding, a slightly drunk-looking frat-boy-esque guy with an ID on a lanyard and his tiny bubbly red haired female flight attendant board in front of everyone. Is he our Pilot? This should be fun.
8:00PM – I’m part of the last boarding group, so we’re stalled in the chilly hallway for a few minutes while an obese woman squeezes her way to the back of the very tiny plane (2seat, 1seat layout). Then the actual Pilot shows up, scoots past all the waiting passengers, and onto the plane. I find my seat, next to a normal looking woman, and shove all my shit under the seat because a lady in front of me goes 3-4 seats beyond her own, jams a very large bag into a very small overhead bin, and walks back. As people are still boarding, the lights turn off completely for about 10 seconds, then turn back on. Odd…
8:15PM – Lady next to me immediately makes a panicked phone call to her people in Fargo, worried about her horses. Then she continues to read her book, which she insists is hilarious and slaps my arm every minute or so because the hilarity must be shared.
8:30PM – More announcements, more lights flickering, more arm slapping. Fuck….
8:40PM – Pilot: “Well, it’s been 30minutes since the last person boarded, so you can get off the plane if you want and go wait in the terminal. Stay close, we’ll update you ASAP” I’m up and outta that motherfucker as quickly as possible, and score a primo outlet near the gate to charge my rapidly depleting phone.
8:50PM – Gate attendant: “Best case scenario, we find a part, fix the plane, and get going in about 90 minutes. We’ll also look for another plane” Everyone is being strangely pleasant and civil. North Dakotans… they’re like southern Canadians. I charge my phone sufficiently enough and offer my outlet to a hippy who smells like weed, and go to the bathroom to pee and change into comfy leggings.
9:30PM – Fake hopeful updates from the gate attendant: “45more minutes!” Bullshit. Like when Bode asks how much longer it takes to drive somewhere, and I keep saying ’10 more minutes’ because he just wants and answer and has no real concept of time. Everyone else is totally calm and civil. I can’t get over how weirdly nice and understanding all the passengers are.
9:45PM – I practice a google hangout with screen sharing to Matt. In the (increasingly likely) event my flight gets cancelled, I’ll be expected to teach remotely. Thankfully it works pretty well, so a backup plan is in place.
10:00PM – I’ve been sitting next to a friendly man since my pants change, and he keeps chatting. He is having no luck at solitare, and keeps updating me with the new corresponding arrival time every time they update us with a new estimated departure time. Suddenly! A man sprints up to a different gate that has been closed for about 5 minutes, and bangs on the door, yelling and swearing. He carries on for a bit before security takes him away. Some solid entertainment!
10:30PM – “45 more minutes!” says the gate attendants. “2:00AM arrival time” says my seat neighbor. The starbucks in front of me is closing, by putting trashbags over all the displays. Obese woman from earlier eagerly push-waddles her airport-issued wheelchair to the starbucks employees, asking for free pastries. They deny her. She sadly waddles away.
10:35PM – United has kindly been updating me via texts. So encouraging.
10:56PM – we are on the plane! Hopefully I don’t die!
2:00AM – we are here! I am in ND! Now to find and Uber that won’t murder me…
2:45AM. I make it to the hotel, which has an attached casino. 2 drunk guys are chatting as I check in. They’re talking about their girlfriends, who may or may not overlap in some way. My room is at the goddamn furthest reaches of the hotel. Since I’m already wearing jammies, I literally just take my contacts off and pass out.
6:45AM – Wake up! My supermom powers give me the ability to function perfectly on 3ish hours of sleep. Skip a shower. Shitty fake eggs for breakfast, chug coffee. I was going to walk the 1.5mi to the school, but it’s 1* out, so I Uber.
12:30PM – Teaching is fine. I’ve got a lady from the company that hires the consultants in my class auditing my lesson. Fuck it. Fire me. At this point I wouldn’t be too sad. The host school seems to have bought out half a Costco to feed the kids snacks – all sugary garbage so the kids are restless and insane by the end of the day.
2:30PM – There’s an earlier flight to Denver that’s been delayed in arriving to Fargo (probably the same plane from last night?) I sheepishly ask the gate attendant if I can get on the earlier flight. She is very friendly, taps a few keys and SAYS YES!! Karma is a thing!!! Earlier flight – and somehow I even get the coveted single seat!
I sleep through Good Will Hunting and awake upon decent into shitty icy rain/snow in Denver.
5:00PM – Trek about a mile from the gate to my car, which is covered in a solid 1/4” of ice. 10min of scraping and I can see well enough to drive. Arrive home to screaming children and grumpy dad. Living the life!