Monday, October 01, 2007

The Laws of Travel

I'm home and tired (as usual) but had an absolute blast this weekend (and thus the tiredness). I'll do more of a wrap-up later, but today's kind of busy with work stuff that's due today. I got a bit of a reprieve because now the copy edits aren't due until later in the week, but I have an article to turn in today. It's mostly done, but needs some editing and polishing, and I have to put together a list of resources to go with it. The leeway on the copy edits means I don't have to worry about what little work I have to do on that, and it means I don't have to leave the house to go ship them off. I can take care of that tomorrow. On the other hand, I was kind of looking forward to having all the weight off my shoulders tonight. Then again, the weight will be a lot lighter, and I still will have time to relax tonight.

Come to think of it, I didn't hear back from the editor of the magazine when I responded to his request for an article and gave him my ideas. Wouldn't it suck if wires got crossed and when I turn the article in I find out that he wasn't planning on it, after all?

I have found in my travels that there are a series of Universal Laws that apply to travel. Here are the ones I've codified, so far:

1) The more time I allow myself to get to the airport, the more smoothly the process will go. The less time I have, the greater the chances for disasters.
If I have plenty of time, then there will be no traffic on the way to the airport, I'll zip right into a parking space, the parking lot shuttle will leave only a minute or two after I board it, my gate will be one of the first stops, and I'll zip through security. But if I plan based on that schedule and leave later, there will be a nasty wreck on the six miles of freeway between my house and the airport that shuts down the freeway, I'll have to circle the lot looking for a parking space, the shuttle will have just left when I get there so I have to wait for the next one, my gate will be the last stop, and there will be an entire tour group of senior citizens who disregard or don't hear the instructions repeated endlessly while you wait in security lines and who then hold up the line to go back and remove metal or shoes or who send their boarding passes through the x-ray machines in their tote bags so they have to be retrieved before they can walk through the metal detector. I have given in to this law and now leave the house exactly two hours and fifteen minutes before my flight because I'd rather hang around the airport and read than deal with the frustration of things like traffic jams and security messes. The other travelers using those roads and security checkpoints owe me for my sacrifice in making the experience go more smoothly.

2) On my way out of town when I need to catch a plane, my gate will be the last stop on the parking shuttle route. On my way back when I just want to get home, my gate will be the first stop, so I have to ride the entire route before getting back to the parking lot. The odds of this happening increase on the outbound end the later I am for my flight and on the inbound end the later it is in the evening. The really weird thing is that the route is not consistent. They actually change the route to make this happen. This trip, I was in terminal C, which is the A/C bus. On the way out, we went to terminal A first, and my gate was something like C7, which made it the very last stop. On the way back, I had C31, and the bus went to C first, then A. So, whichever terminal I'm in, they adjust the route to go to that one first or last, depending on whether it's the inbound or outbound part of my trip. It's enough to make me paranoid.

3) The earlier I get to the airport for my return flight, the greater the chances are that my flight will be delayed.
I tend to play it safe and will take the earlier options for airport shuttles or public transportation, or if I'm getting a ride from someone, I'll go with the time most convenient for them, even if it's earlier than necessary. Those are never the times when I have to deal with long lines. If I have three hours to go before my scheduled flight, I'll zip through security (often getting selected for the special screening that means I get pulled into a separate, shorter line), then have plenty of time to kill -- and that will be when they announce that my flight will be delayed half an hour or more (up to four hours once at O'Hare, when I was at the airport three hours before my flight). That happened to me yesterday. I chose the earlier of two possible shuttle times, then the shuttle was nearly twenty minutes early. We'd made it to the airport by the time the shuttle was supposed to come. And just then I got the notification that my flight was being delayed. For more fun, the food court in my terminal was closed for remodeling, so to get food I had to go to another wing of the terminal. But I had two hours to kill, so why not? Fortunately, I'd spent the day going to bookstores and signing books, and I'd gone on a Terry Pratchett splurge at Borders, so I could occupy myself in the down time. And the pilot ended up making up time so we got back earlier than our scheduled arrival, so that meant less time on the airplane itself, which is okay by me.

And then I had a half-hour ride on the parking shuttle, so I still got home late. Ugh.

Oh well, lunch, and then I have that article to work on before I go collapse for a while. Next year, the Browncoat Ball is in Austin, and I'm already planning to budget for a couple of extra nights in the hotel. I plan to go down a day early so I can rest from the trip before the festivities start, and then I'd like to stay over Sunday night so I don't have to get up, check out and travel the day after I've stayed up half the night at the ball.

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