Pharmacy chick checked out for a week and went home to visit her dad. I needed some R&R and needed to see how things were at home. Because he lives in a small midwest town, about 800 miles away, I decided to fly. There is a huge difference between flying in a major market and a small market. I’ll take the small market every time.
1. The airport: In my city, I am thrown into the cauldron of the great unwashed. Herded like cattle (MOOOOO) thru roped areas for tickets, luggage and then security, throngs of people meet the scrutiny of unsmiling TSA people with their raised eyebrow stares and their little blue flashlight. It must be a magic flashlight because it scrutinizes my drivers license, and if it passes muster, I get to move on. If it doesn’t…well I don’t wanna know. I suspect I am going to jail or taken away for a full body cavity strip search by Helga the TSA supervisor. In the small town airport, there is 1 security line. It opened about 10 minutes before we were supposed to board, and the Pilot was ahead of me.. note to self..if HE doesn’t get thru, there isn’t much reason for me to even try.
2. The Plane: Going to the small town, everybody on the plane looked the same…a bunch of lilly white people wearing jeans and sweatshirts. They either lived there, used to live there, or were visiting relatives from there. When I flew back and changed planes in the hub city, it looked like a meeting of the United Nations on that plane. I sat next to an Indian man who smelled like curry and across from me was an Asian lady scolding her toddler in Chinese. On the way over, the plane was half empty, but after we made our Hub city transfer on the return flight, we were delayed because apparently there was one more passenger standing on the plane than there was seats to place him. Whups. Glad it wasn’t MY seat in contention. You’d need a crow bar to pry me out of my seat thank you. I am going home on THIS flight.
On the short leg of the journey (30 minutes) , the flight attendants zoom thru the cabin tossing 25 calorie snacks and glasses of water. They zoom thru 10 minutes later to collect everything “regardless of their contents”, and we land. Our pilot was a game show host in a previous life, I am convinced. During the safety demonstration he said something I hadn’t heard before and it went something like this: If we have a loss of cabin pressure the masks will fall down..yada yada yada…if you are in the lavatory, there is a YELLOW TAB FOR YOU TO GRASP AND THE MASK WILL RELEASE..GRAB THE MASK AND PLACE IT ON YOUR FACE.
I being the CHICK, I worked that concept over in my head. If i was on a plane that was losing cabin pressure the last friggin place I’d want to be would be the toilet. Chances are, I’d be with my pants down, with no seat belt and tossed around like a rag doll. The last thing I’d likely find is that yellow TAB. I began to wonder..would they look for my body in the bathroom in the rubble of the plane? And, if they do, would they laugh when they found my body? “Hey Joe, come over here and catch a gander of this…this chick has no pants on!…but she managed to get the mask on! It nearly became reality when we had turbulence from hell for the first half-hour. Since I knew I had nothing but work/stress/ and employee hassles to return to the next day, the idea of dying on a flight and moving to heaven actually appealed to me for a moment. The pilot handled the plane like the PRO he is and we landed safely. Good thing the TSA let him thru security.
3. Rental cars. In the big city, we get off the plane, find our way to the staging area for all the rental car busses. Everybody sizes up everybody else when the bus comes…who gets on first…and more importantly, who gets OFF first and into the rental line. You then spend 45 minutes in line getting the car you already spent 45 minutes ONLINE reserving (whats up with that anyway??) going over everything you already did online. Once you sign your life away, you may leave with your car. There are acres of cars to choose from and you are free to argue with your spouse over whether you want the blue one, red one or the black one with the white stripe. In a small town, you find the white phone that says “Ron’s rental cars” and pick it up. Ron answers the phone and says “Be right up!”. He picks you up in an unmarked mini van and drives you to a converted closet at one of the motels near the airport. There are 6 cars. 5 of them are rented. You get the ONE sitting there. There is no razor wired fenced yard. There is no “do not drive backwards over strip” sign. Ron flips you the key and says..”see you Saturday”.
Ironically, when I returned the car, There was a sign at the “office”. Be right back. if you have an emergency, dial 555 123-4567. I didn’t have an emergency, so I waited. Apparently “right back” is relative…30 minutes later I was sensing “emergency”. I had a flight to catch. I dialed the number and Ron answered the phone. “Ill send Stan right down”. Stan was rounding up cars at the airport. God only knows where Ron was. He arrived in his own car so we used my rental car…that I was told to bring to the hotel INSTEAD of the airport, and drove it to the airport. Okay…more work for Stan.
4. The counter help: In the big city, I used curbside check in, handed off my luggage and bid it adieu. Hopefully I will see it again. Its a long way from the curb to the plane. There are over a hundred places for those bags to end up lost. In the small town, the same girl printed my ticket, moved my luggage, and then raced upstairs to board me on the plane. There is 3 planes at the entire airport. Only 1 of them is flying out in the next 4 hours. I assume its mine!.
I also played some golf on my trip. I went to the small town muni course. I came in unannounced ( a no-no in a big city) and asked “can I play?” and was greeted with “YUP, 10 bucks…first tee is by the sign o’er there… see ya”. And I was off. The next day we played a big resort course. The tee sheet was full. Good thing I had a tee time..there would be NO walk-on’s, and no “Yup, 10 bucks” here!
There are no traffic jams in small town USA. There is no reason to worry about “crossing traffic” to make a left turn. For most people HOME and WORK are moments away and the idea of a commute is completely foreign. If you get a half hour lunch, there is time to drive home, eat and go back. I visited a friend I used to work with 30 years ago. He lives in a smaller town. I live in this huge metropolis. I have access to a million more stores, cultural events, museums and activities than he ever will. He has it made. I hate it here. I’d trade him in a minute. I spent 2 evenings with his family. My heart ached about leaving town again.
I wish I had never left “home”. I’m a highly paid but over stressed professional working for a huge company who wouldn’t care if I dropped dead tomorrow as long as I did it on my own time. I feel the pull of simplicity and smallness. I am tired of the complicated…tired of traffic reports…tired of everything being so far away. I am weary. I dont need half the stuff I have. I don’t even want much of it anymore.
Moving now would be like trying to uproot and transplant a Redwood, especially where Mr Chick is concerned. He is happy where he is.
Pharmacy Chick would leave like a prisoner set free if given the chance. All I need…is that chance.