Each day, millions of people across the globe begin their travels in much the same way as I began my quick trip to Minneapolis - sitting in airport, suffocating in a cold tomb of a concourse, drinking a six-dollar cup of bad coffee at an airport bar while some over-fragranced woman next to me shrieks office gossip and fashion woes into her Treo.
We're talking insanely-fragranced. My eyes were burning. This woman must spend thousands a week to smell this...powerful. Chanel No. 5? More like Chanel No. 5,000.
Does she bathe in the stuff? Is there some mysterious internal trigger inside some upwardly-mobile women that screams smell powerful, be powerful? The overwhelming scent could melt through just about any corporate glass ceiling invented by Man, if for no other motivation that to get this woman into her own, well-ventilated, executive office.
The woman, from what I could make out, was trying to track down a date after a business meeting in Chicago. Apparently, there's not a single guy in all of Chicago who wants to go out with her Saturday night.
Very attractive bottle-blonde, probably late 30s or early 40s. I can't help but wonder if the perfume played any role in her inability to get a date. Even sharing a cab would probably require Hazmat training and protective gear...
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CHICAGO (ZP) -- There are few words to describe my history with connecting flights through Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
But the phrases "Connecting in Hell," "Shithole Central," and "Goddamned Worst Airport in America" always seem to come to mind when discussing one of the world's busiest airports.
It is the place where good people turn into zombie-like vagabonds, thanks to missed connections, overbookings galore, and wrong gate assignments.
Jimmy Hoffa? Buried on a Michigan farm? Please. Has anyone checked ORD's Concourse L lately? I think I saw the former union boss wandering the food court, holding a crumpled Pan-Am boarding pass from 1975.
I won't even talk about the customer service, because, well, ORD isn't exactly known for providing the smoothest travel experiences.
Missed that connecting flight to Barbados? Well, be prepared to barter for favors like it's your first day in San Quentin. I'm almost certain I witnessed some guy at a rebooking counter trade two cartons of Pall-Malls, a copy of Hustler, and a pack of gum for a stand-by seat...
I sat at my gate in Concourse K, facing yet another ORD delay on my way to yet another destination, having my first-ever conversation with an honest-to-God, bona fide Angry Samoan.
Nope, I'm not talking about a member of the classic punk outfit, either.
I'm talking app. 330-350 pounds of normally jovial Polynesian, a very BIG man from American Samoa, traveling east to spend a few weeks with his girlfriend.
He was going to miss his girlfriend's birthday, thanks to a missed connection. The airline made him buy two tickets. And, per the details of our conversation, it was apparent that the pair hadn't had sex in a very, very long time.
And he was going to be sitting in O'Hare for another nine hours, waiting.
I was amazed by his ability to periodically apologize for his use of profanity during our conversation.
No apology needed.
This was his first layover in the Black ORD of Death, the pit of lost hopes and vacations, the village of the damned, tired, and even horny.
He won't be apologizing on the his way back west - if he ever made it out of Chicago.
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MINNEAPOLIS (ZP) -- I was only an hour late as the plane touched down at Minneapolis/St. Paul International.
My cohort/travel host, the ZenFo Mom, was on a flight later than mine that was already an announced delay, so I sat out on the curb by the baggage claim, chain-smoking and chatting it up with a rather energetic grandmother of two nice-looking grandkids.
The woman had just returned from a visit with her daughter and had what seemed like thousands of photos of toddlers - taken with a standard SLR and printed in triplicate before she returned to Minnesota.
The woman was adamant in her sheer hatred of digital cameras, refuses to work with those "damned computers," and doesn't IT to do what it says it promises to do.
Plus, digital photography just isn't as rewarding. Any idiot can use a digital camera, but how many folks still know how to use things like standard, analog SLRs?
Um, yeah. Sometimes old people are smarter than young people.
Apparently, her daughter is addicted to digital photography but never got around to installing basic antivirus software on her computer.
So here's my preservation tip of the day: keep a back-up of your digital photos. Invest in some high-quality analog prints and, if possible, analog negatives. Bare minimum, back up your data and install (and update) antivirus software.
One bad worm can eat a shitload of baby photos - and make for one pissed off Granny.
- MORE ON MINNESOTA THIS WEEKEND -