Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Boston, Part 5: Escape from Boston

Once again, the morning was difficult. I never really had a good sleep that night, waking every hour or two, tossing and turning. Eventually it was just time to get up, pack my things, and head out to the last event of my trip. While I packed, I half-watched yet another History Channel documentary, this one about Liver-eatin' Johnston, an old Indian killer from the west. True story! Then I snagged a individual-sized Boston creme pie (which was apparently invented at my Hotel, the Omni Parker House, also credited with inventing the famous Parker House roll that will be gracing so many family tables later this month on Thanksgiving) for breakfast.

It was now time to go to work, and ss I made my way to our assigned room, I realized I still felt uncomfortable (and a little queasy) about the conversation the night before. I was gonna have to process that quick, as the colleague in question was appearing with me on a panel. We both entered the room, and made a point of talking to other people. Real mature, I know, but I couldn't figure out what to say. I was mostly waiting for her to say something about how she was drunk and feels like a fool.

Eventually the event gets going and we manage to make it to the end. I make a quick exit, and as I am about to the stairwell, my colleague says she needs to make something about last night clear to me. I figure this is the point where she either apologizes or tries to clarify any misinterpretations I may have had about what she was saying.

I was wrong.

She starts with some soliloquy about how she had been sexually harassed and therefore that made Sarah Palin a superior candidate in her mind to Barack Obama. My tongue was on bite mode and I just nodded and listened. But then she gets back to race and starts making some claims about being powerless as a white person because of descriptive representation in her former hometown, blah blah blah.

I try to interrupt by saying I'm uncomfortable, but she keeps cutting me off. Eventually, I say something along the lines of, "I don't know why I can't end this conversation. I don't want to talk about this with you." She goes off about liberal fascism and how I obviously can't tolerate any different perspectives ... and I just say Enough. I have a plane to catch. Gotta go. See you next time, in Chicago, in the spring. Bye.

And walk away.

And feel like I'm gonna puke. I'm really bad with this sort of thing. I never knew I was such a puss when it came to confrontation.

Anyway, I grab my bags from my room, check out, feel way to flustered from the conversation to figure out how to take the train to the airport and say fuck the extra $20 and hail a taxi. Taxi gets me to the airport, where I'm a lot earlier than I expected to be (like 2 hours). I go over to Legal Sea Foods, or at least the airport equivalent of it, and enjoy some fried clams and a crab roll (and a couple bloody marys to boot). Ok, I didn't enjoy the crab roll, but the clams were good.

I eventually go to my gate, 45 minutes or so before boarding, and wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.

About 30 minutes after the original boarding should have started, they announce there is a small mechanical problem currently being fixed (nevermind the idea that any problem on a machine that flies several thousand feet in the air can be small) and that it would only be another 10 minutes. About 15 minutes later, the same guy gets on the intercom and I reflexively reach for my bags. But he isn't beginning boarding. He's letting us know the flight has been cancelled.

They have us all get in line rebook, but it takes so long that by the time they get to the end (where I, of course, was standing) one flight to Philly (where I was connecting) had already left and the next was about to. After that, there was only one more left in the day but it got to Philly too late for me to catch a connecting flight to Clevo. And somehow, this problem wasn't technically the fault of the airline (evil, incompetent U.S. Air) so I'd be stuck paying for my own hotel. This was not acceptable, so I threw a fit. At this point, I couldn't think of anything else to do, and I was still all eaten up inside about the race-tinted conversations of the night before and that morning. After my tantrum ended, I asked if I could be rerouted through a different city. The lady at the desk said yes, and sent me through to Charlotte. I didn't bother asking why she failed to check that in the first place, just grabbed my bags and new boarding pass and hiked down to my new gate.

I eventually arrive at Charlotte (which is the nicest airport I've been to in America), then get my ass back to Cleveland, where it is, of course, freezing. I deplane by 930, get my bags by 10 to 10, pick up Smelly Ellie from my friends in Lakewood by 10 after, and am home before 11. Thank god.

Boston, I had a good time with you. I'm not in a hurry to go back, but these last couple trips have moved you off my list of cities I avoid going to to the cities I'd go to if someone else is picking up the tab list. You are still no San Francisco or Chicago or even New Orleans, but you aren't an Atlanta or Houston or Los Angeles, either. Congratulations!

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