Return Flight

Denver airport is big. It is efficient. Most of all it is comfortable to be stuck in for hours. Most anything you want is available at one of the four stops on the tram under the big white Tee-Pee.

Things move fast at the Denver airport. Security lines that would take other airports hours to process handle these number with ease.

Behind a young southern couple heading home the two could not hide their whispers from me. She was offended by the smell of the man in front of them who continued to pass gas with every few steps. The young man tried to distract his partner while we were all trapped in the nylon queue behind the smelly man.

My attention next focused on the $1,000,000,000 counterfeit bill that had casually been dropped dozens of times that morning. But each person that passed it had an instinctual urge to pick it up. It looked just like money. Each chuckled in amused disappointment to find a scripture verse on the back (crazy Mormons.)

After screening I go straight to the gate where I ask to be placed on the stand-by list for the next Detroit flight. The chances of me getting on the flight, I am told, are “slim and none.” Still, my name is on the list so I sit and wait, reading my book.

An hour before the flight takes off the first class is full announcement is made. Some are discouraged by this. Over the next twenty minutes they read a list of names several times. They repeat that the flight is full, there are no seats and all stand-by seats are taken. Others are discouraged as well.

Here is the valuable lesson in travel my friends. The plane is full and loaded, they have said several times that there are no stand-by seats open, and yet, my name is called. Never walk away from a flight when your name is on the list.

As I collect my ticket at the gate, there is a woman in her mid forties wearing shorts and a gray thick Boulder sweatshirt. She is sheer granola from the back woods with freshly shaven legs having a dispute with the agent as to why she doesn’t have a seat.

“My shuttle was late” she pleaded in an attempt to board. But the agent would have none of it and restated the rule “you need to check in thirty minutes prior to the flight or your reservations are subject to cancellation.”

I am on the plane. My carry-on in the last overhead spot I quickly get in my window seat and dig for the belt to strap in. Then, she appears. The backwoods mama gives me a dirty look and sits down in the middle of the three seats next to me. As I am putting the arm rest down to separate our space she blurts with a bitchy bite “I don’t talk on planes” in my direction. My smile and nod is returned by a cold stare.

Two hours and fifty-two minutes, five chapters of my book, two episodes of The Office and one of My Name is Earl later I open the window shade to see what our approach to Detroit is.

The woman looks out the window and asks me nicely “how much longer do you think?” I turn to her with a warm smile and in my kind and velvet voice I say “Sorry, I don’t listen on planes.” Then I open my book and finish one more chapter as we taxi in silence.