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Foul, fetid, fuming, foggy Philadelphia (airport)

To my great surprise, I went to Philadelphia last week. I'd known for weeks that I was going to Pennsylvania, but I hadn't realized that the town I was going to is basically a suburb of Philadelphia and that my hotel was even within the city limits. So I apologize to all of you Brotherly Love Citizens that I did not warn you of my impending arrival. I thought I was going to some town a ways out from Teh Big City. And who knew that cities on the east coast had trains and things like public transportation? It somehow did not occur to me.

My First Water Ice/GelatiPhilly was very nice - I stayed in Chestnut Hill, which is all just too too chawming and historical. George Washington rode through there, though I'm not sure if he slept. Many many years later it was home to another momentous occasion as I walked through it on my way to get my first water ice. I am such a nerd that I had extensively researched Rita's before leaving for Pennsylvania and had mapped out directions to the two locations nearest to my hotel. I had decided to try the mint chocolate chip cream ice, but when I arrived the only cream ice they had was orange. So instead I had a black cherry gelati¹. The water ice was great and yummy - it's an Italian ice with little ground-up bits of the fruit in there. The frozen custard was great and yummy and creamy. I didn't much care for the two together, though, so I did my best to eat them separately although they were parfaited² in the same cup.

Once all of my meetings were done, we took the train out to the airport so that I could catch my 5:35 US Airways flight to Cincinnati. The trip organizers had printed off my boarding pass online, so I knew when I arrived at the terminal at 5:05 that I was going to have to book it to the gate. There was no time to check my carry-on, which I like to do because I hate dragging it around with me. I just made my way quickly to the gate, which was - of course - the one furthest from the entrance. I kept checking the Departures screens in the hope that boarding was delayed, but they all said "On Time." When I got to the gate, though, no one was lining up to get on the plane - there wasn't even a plane at the gate. I sat down in one of the chairs and collected myself, feeling bad for all the people standing in a line next to me. Their flight had apparently been cancelled. By 5:30 I found it really bizarre that all the signs still said my flight was "on time" but there was still no plane at the gate. I finally asked someone about it and they informed me that despite all the boards and signs, my flight was not in fact on time and that all the people I'd felt sorry for earlier were in fact my flightmates. My flight was the one that had been cancelled but no one had bothered to change any boards or screens.

I waited in line for an hour for the one US Airways gate attendant who could "help" me. When I got up to him, he told me that a) the next time I could fly out was 2pm the next day and b) the cancellation was due to weather in Cincinnati and therefore the airline was not responsible for paying for my accomodations. Super! I called and vented to friends and family and tried to figure out how to find phone numbers for the people I know in Philadelphia to see if they had a couch for me to crash on. Then a friend suggested that I call and complain to the airline directly. When I did so, they immediately put me on the 8:45 flight to Cincinnati. Easy as pie! Easy-bake pie! I don't know why this was so difficult for the gate attendent. I got on the plane and we sat on the tarmac for a few more hours. At one point we taxied out onto the runway and it looked like we were going to take off, but someone stole our place in the takeoff order (or something) so the pilot decided we should sit on the runway with the engines turned off so that we could conserve fuel and avoid having to go back to the gate to refuel.

Between the rush and stress to leave and the threat of too-little fuel I was very paranoid about the flight, which I don't usually have a problem with. I thought the plane was going to explode when the engines started up and they sounded funny. I thought the plane was going to crash back into the ground as we took off. While we were flying I thought that one of the wings was going to fall off and we were going to plummet to the earth. When I was filming the lightning on some clouds not too far away, I thought we were going to be struck by lightning and lose all our electrical power - or whatever happens when you're struck by lightning - and head nose-first for the ground. By the time we went through a rough patch of turbulence I was absolutely convinced that we were not going to make it to Cincinnati and that there was no point in clutching on to the armrests and yelping because it wasn't going to do anything to stop our inevitable crash. So I sat quietly and relaxed and waited for death to come. It didn't happen then and it didn't happen when we seemed to be landing at a strange angle or when our landing gear seemed to come down too soon or any of the other harbingers of doom that I spotted. We landed in Cincinnati just fine! What the hell? I was absolutely convinced I was not going to survive that flight. I didn't quite know what to do with myself when I landed because I hadn't given much thought to picking up my car or driving home - I figured someone would retrieve it from the long-term parking after my remains were scraped off the pavement.

On the way home, I was stopped at a sobriety checkpoint in Colerain. It was everso exciting. I've never seen anything about it. It was terribly poorly executed, because they started putting up signs for it way before the checkpoint came up. I thought, 'I could have turned there, I could have turned there...' Not to mention that the whole police force of Colerain, Hamilton County and every other administrative unit seemed to be focused on one part of Colerain Avenue, while drunk drivers were probably plowing people down all over the rest of the area. It was still a cool sight to see. I felt like I was in a movie and I'd have to tell the fugitive under the blanket in the back seat to shut up.

¹ Gelati? Was it more than one gelato? No, it was not. It had nothing to do with gelato. I don't understand.

² I have coined a verb. Awesome.

srah - Monday, 24 July 2006 - 12:01 PM
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Comments (5)

gravatar Aunt Pat - July 24, 2006 - 12:13 PM -

What? No snakes on the plane?? You worried about eveything else, I would have thought that snakes would come up too!

gravatar srah - July 24, 2006 - 12:17 PM -

Good point. I am now retroactively afraid of snakes on the plane.

gravatar cari - July 24, 2006 - 2:45 PM -

I want to try water ice. Maybe I'll visit Tony when he's in Philly sometime.

gravatar Aunt Pam - July 24, 2006 - 3:00 PM -

Yeah! You experienced Rita's Water Ice! AND you didn't die! AND you got to see the charm that is Philly! AND you survived all your phobias and fears! AND you didn't DIE! I would be jealous (of everything but your near death experience) except I returned a few short weeks ago from Philly and I think literally ate it all up (including 2 trips to Rita's in 2 days)

gravatar sarah - July 25, 2006 - 4:10 PM -

poor srah. i hate flying. i know k gave you our numbers in case you should ever be in our city limits again. feel free to use them.

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