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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Running through airports


It occurred to me that the entire post 9/11 generation will never know the thrill of running through airports.  Nor their parents, any more.

I traveled on business in the seventies and eighties, and invariably had to meet my corporate boss, or go straight to a meeting on arrival.  I usually left home in a suit and heels.  I can still hear the click, click, click on the concrete of the concourse. 

Once I elected to travel in jeans and sneakers, because I could change at the hotel and get to the restaurant on time.  Sure enough, I encountered my boss’s boss at the connecting airport, who lectured me on the perils of lost luggage and the importance of appearance.  I think he also told me I should always show up ten minutes before my boss and leave after he left.  Does that still apply?

Coming home from corporate once my boss, who was the president of our subsidiary, our director of manufacturing and I lingered in the bar.  Somebody eventually checked a watch.  Not me, never wore one.  The plane was at the gate!  The three of us took off running.  The two of them were men with long legs, but I was holding my own, head down and clicking along.

Blam! Straight into two men coming down the concourse.  In American Airlines pilot uniforms!  They kept me upright and heard me explain the plane leaving NOW!  One of them turned and whistled down the president and the director of manufacturing.  That United flight had left the gate.  However, they would be happy to escort me and my travelling companions to the American counter where a flight to the identical destination was boarding.  The pilots got us on board, and Frank and John and I  got back to Cleveland on time.

There was no direct flight between Cleveland and our corporate headquarters.  Always a connection in Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta. One time, a Thanksgiving or Christmas, there was a mass of college students crowding behind me at one of those airports, but I was next in line for luggage check.  As I idly glanced at the arrival/departure board on the back wall, my flight went to Cancelled.

I confirmed that at once with the agent, as a deafening din of outraged students behind me roared in protest.  A small young student at my shoulder burst into tears.  “I don’t know how to get home.”  The agent at the next counter called out “I have two seats to Cleveland leaving in twenty minutes.”

“Cleveland?” I asked the sobbing girl.  “Yes.”

I grabbed her hand and dragged her straight down the counter, steps ahead of the hoard that jumped the velvet rails.  The seats were ours. It all happened in ten seconds.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” as we hurried to the gate.  I wonder if she still tells the story of getting home for the holiday.



19 comments:

  1. I've only ever been in an airport once...to see my folks off on a holiday. It seemed a very exciting place.

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  2. How happy I am that I never had a boss...but in retirement I've done a great deal of running through airports - though not in heels, thank goodness.

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  3. Reminded me of the OJ commercial. I can just see you jumping chairs and doing the OJ thing...the airport thing, not that other thing.

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  4. What an exciting life you have led!

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  5. I enjoy running down those moving rubber concourses at modern airports, overtaking ordinary pedestrians at about 40 miles per hour. You have to remember to slow down at the end though.

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  6. I have so many airport stories, I sat in a plane a very small plane for 2 hours once in the middle of a very heavy thunder storm, they said it was to dicy to fly, and when our plane landed at one airport the motor fell out so that was rather a long delay. These were all small country airports and small planes but all the big international ones I have been to are alway smooth running and no problems so far anyway.
    Merle........

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  7. The first times I flew there were no indoor concourses. Back then they still rolled the stairs right up to the plane on the tarmac. I think you can still run for your plane though. Once through security those concourses are long and vast.

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    1. I remember those planes, and my dad going on business. Our fingers curled in the chain link fence, watching him off or back.

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  8. Way to go, Joanne, with those pilots and getting alternative seats ... I'm thinking you were a bit of hot stuff in your heels and suit! And how kind, to help out that young lady. I'm sure she remembers you quite as well as you remember her. Great memories you've shared!

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  9. Your story point out another thing that the flying public will never see again, changing airlines. I recall many times in London trying to switch to a slightly earlier flight home. Take the paper tickets (those are gone forever too) and get the agent to put the magic mark on it. Never understood the mark made by the agents. I have changed airlines many times with no fee, long ago. Today changing flights within the same airlines is costly.

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    1. How many times we beat it to the airport early to catch an earlier flight home. That little mark was customer service, what do you think.

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  10. I LOVE your new header photo. (It is new isn't it?).

    I am sure that the young woman remembers you kindly - how could she not. Quick witted and kind are a wonderful mixture.

    How well I remember travelling for work. One time (during a pilot's dispute) I travelled in an army plane. The troops are NOT given a lot of comfort while travelling.

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  11. I agree! That header is beautiful. I almost missed that goldfinch. I think it's a goldfinch.

    Wow! Those pilots were really nice, hunh? The way you helped that young girl just shows what you're made of. You could take care of a dozen grandchildren with no trouble at all.

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  12. I am sure that the young lady will always remember the kind stranger who got her home for the holidays.

    My favorite funny movie is Trains, Planes, and Automobiles. Traveling has never been easy and rushing and anxiety are even more a part of it today. If only Scotty could beam me up, I would be more excited about planning vacations.

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  13. I'm working from home these days but I'm glad I never experienced any of what you mentioned above in the past. You sure had your share of experiences :)

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  14. I am ever so grateful that when I started the suit and heels business, short 1 and 3/4 were the norm. I called them the dowdy pumps. Yea, things were more fun back then.

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  15. The "click, click, click..." of the heels! I can hear it now. Plus, trying to stride in those straight skirts was a real challenge!

    So very glad I now wear jeans and shoes that make sense and walking much easier.

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  16. Oh I do remember the days of being dressed for business travels but didn't have to dress like that in later years as business attire became some what more casual. I think today, bosses still expect you to arrive early and depart later. At least it helps to make a good impression but I don't think the Gen x generation cares for making impressions. I'm not sure about the generation afterward. It was nice of you to help the young girl who needed to get to Cleveland. Have a lovely weekend. x

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  17. I can only imagine running in heels. You're my new hero!

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