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High Anxiety: Padre Steve and Flight Delays


I am not as good of air traveler as I used to be. I get anxious when I travel by air now.  Sometimes when I fly it feels like I am Mel Brooks at the beginning of the movie High Anxiety http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_phD__FPsQ or Robert Hays in Airplane. The only thing missing from modern air terminals are the incessant bands of religious zealots that used to be a staple of large airport lobbies back in the 1970s.

Almost every time I travel by air I have the title song from High Anxiety going through my mind: “High Anxiety, it’s always the same. High anxiety, it’s you that I blame. It’s very clear to me I’ve got to give in, high anxiety, you win.” 


Despite the absence of those bands of zealots, who I almost miss going to the airport is never fun. It starts with long lines at the check in counter and through the TSA checkpoints, endure more lines at the gates and get stuffed into a packed aircraft next to someone who insists on taking up their seat plus a third of your seat. It finally ends when you pull out of the parking lot after waiting an unbearable length of time at the baggage carousel of doom for the checked bag that may or may not arrive when you do.

However I have this miserable experience down to a science.  I make sure that everything in my pockets can fit in my baseball hat, I wear shoes that come on and off easily and may backpack is set up so that my computer can be taken in and out quickly. I don’t carry any liquids whatsoever even those that are allowed by TSA. I find the trouble of bagging tiny containers in quart size plastic bags to be too much effort to make it worth while.  My backpack which has accompanied me since Iraq fits well in the overhead compartments of most aircraft and I only carry it so I don’t have to check anything at the gate.

Today has been another adventure in air travel. At Houston Hobby Airport the TSA operates the new scanning devices which enable the agents to look at your naked body. This is not new technology. I saw it used the first time in the movie Airplane. Somehow the thought of my naked body being exposed to anyone other than Judy is not comforting. I wonder what TSA does with these images.

Today I flew out of Houston on the American Airlines subsidiary American Eagle. To make it to the airport I had to catch a cab from the hotel and build in enough time for Houston morning rush hour traffic, so I was on the road by 0720. I had, the operative word had a flight that was to depart at 1020 and be in Dallas by about 1130. My connecting flight was scheduled to depart at 1335. That would have been great. Two hours to make connections right? But no, the scheduled aircraft had a mechanical problem and the replacement did not arrive in Houston until 1145. By the time I took off it was 1225 by the time I landed it was too late. I missed my flight by about 5 minutes. It was pushing away from the gate when I got off of the Sky Link train. I was able to get a picture of it as it left.

Now I get to wait until 1830 local time to take off to arrive in Norfolk about 2220. That is 10:20 PM to the no-military types. Thankfully I was able to get some Tex-Mex food and a couple of beers as I wait out the nearly 5 hour interval between flights. At least I don’t have Robert Hays’s “drinking problem.”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl4plPGRG8o

By the time I get home, Lord willing, or as my Iraqi friends say “Inshallah” it will be nearly midnight, about 18 hours after I left the hotel. I could have driven Judy’s Mustang straight through in just a few hours more.

Oh, High Anxiety, you win… looks like I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue…

Oh well… c’est le vie.


Padre Steve+


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Filed under aircraft, film, Just for fun, Loose thoughts and musings, purely humorous

Fly the friendly Skies: Adventures in Fast Round Trips…

Well my friends it is about 2100 or 9PM Eastern Standard Time and I am about 50 minutes from landing back at Norfolk after a long day of flying.  I keep thinking of lines out of the movie Airplane like “I picked a bad week to stop sniffing glue” and “You’d better tell the Captain we’ve got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.”  “A hospital? What is it?” “It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.”

But you might ask “Padre Steve I thought you were in Houston.” Well I was and when I landed I had multiple messages from my wife, the office and my bishop to get hold of her because she was being admitted to the hospital for some kind of massive infection. Thanks to the ladies in kurt travel office I was able to get a flight back out of Houston Hobby, had to do the O.J. through DFW to make my connecting flight, last one in the aircraft before they closed the doors and now have under an hour until we land in Norfolk…as my Iraqi friends say “Inshallah.”

Anyway so as soon as I get home I run to house to pick up some medical equipment that she needs and then dash to the hospital.  The dogs are going to wonder what the hell this is all about.

Anyway, apart from that the travels have been uneventful and American Airlines now has Wi-Fi.  I have also read a bunch on Kindle which really makes my backpack lighter as I used to have anywhere from three to five books with me any time that I travel. I finished the book Afgansty: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-1989.  That is a sobering red because with some exceptions they tried to implement many of the modern ideas that we have been trying and failing to do the past 10 years. It is well worth the read. The I read at the recommendation of Judy a book about a young boy who died and went to heaven and told his startled parents about the trip. Interesting read, not my normal selection but interesting, despite Jesus being there it bore no relation to Texas. Finally I have started the classic book about the Titanic disaster A Night to Remember by Walter Lord. I read it the first time back in  7th Grade at Stockton Junior High School.

I have a bunch of other books for the next trip I make next week should everything go well with Judy. I am assuming that they will but you never know. Pray for Judy to get well, she is not enjoying this.


Padre Steve+


Filed under travel