It's been a while, but I'm finally back in Athens and ready to get back to the daily grind... well, sort of.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about my vacation in the least. Over the past week-and-a-half, I hit Denver, San Diego and Salt Lake City and had a blast, but the final day was a bit... challenging.
I got to the Salt Lake Airport around 10:30 a.m. Mountain time yesterday. My girlfriend was taking an earlier flight than I was, so I had to get there early for a 2 p.m. flight. When I checked in, the Frontier Airlines employee didn't ask for my ID, which I thought was odd, but hey, it's Salt Lake City. The Mormons are trusting people, I figured.
About 45 minutes later, I got around to inspect my boarding pass a bit closer. Turns out, they had checked me in under the name "Michael Hale," which obviously, was not me.
This was the second time in three weeks that I had gone through airport security with a boarding pass that did not have my name on it, with multiple people checking it against my driver's license and sending me through. Unbelievable.
I rushed to remedy the situation, but my bag was already en route to Nashville. The Frontier employee promised to contact the Nashville airport, however, and have my bag waiting for me upon arrival in Atlanta.
The first leg of my flight was from Salt Lake to Denver. The woman in front of me had her seat reclined all the way and continued to try to push it back further throughout the flight. The kid behind me kicked the seat the entire way. At least three children screamed throughout, and due to storms in Denver, the flight circled the airport for 45 minutes before we were able to land.
When I got to Denver, my connecting flight had been pushed back by 90 minutes, which meant I'd be getting home awfully late. When I boarded the plane, the flight attendant -- a very nice young lady who undersold the significance of the sacrifice she was requesting -- asked if I would mind trading my window seat for an aisle. This seemed like a minor issue until I realized it was because I was being seated next to two energetic and completely unsupervised children.
It was two boys -- probably 3 and 5 years old. Their mother was seated with another child about six rows away. As far as I could tell, she did not speak English, but had little interest in speaking to her kids either way.
The nice flight attendant, feeling sorry for me, simply brought me two free drinks without me ordering them. The problem, however, was that she was not responsible for my area of the plane throughout the flight, and her replacement in handling the two kids was a rather effeminate gentleman who clearly was not a fan of children.
He insisted that the kids use proper manners. They insisted on ringing the service bell every few minutes and telling him they wanted pizza and had no interest in saying please. (And no, the flight did not serve pizza.)
Eventually the flight attendant stopped paying any attention to the children, which meant they were now my responsibility. Every two or three minutes, they started shouting "Mama, Mama" (pronounced "ma-MAH, ma-MAH," a phrase that will haunt my dreams for years). Mama had no interest in responding, so then I was forced to help them change the channels on their TVs, fix the headphones they had purposefully torn apart, explain the flight's lack of pizza, repeatedly order more apple juice, etc., etc. At one point they asked for my credit card so they could order a Pay-per-View showing of "The Pink Panther." I wish I was making this up.
Although the children were apparently starving throughout the flight, I'm guessing they must have eaten something during their time in Denver, because let's just say that every few minutes the smell around our particular seating area became unbelievably unpleasant. Eventually they would decide they needed to get up to use the bathroom, and since I was in the aisle seat, that meant I had to move.
The problem was that they didn't want to wait for me to move. I picked up my cup of water and iPod, and they would simply flip up my tray and climb over me before I had a chance to stand, twice spilling water all over my lap.
Even beyond the kids, the flight was awful. We were in the air 45 minutes longer than we were supposed to be. Some woman was laughing uproariously at reruns of "House of Pain" for about an hour. When we finally landed at 1:30 a.m., the flight attendant informed the crowd that the last train from the D terminal to baggage claim left in 10 minutes, and we'd all have to deboard as quickly as possible. As you can imagine, this didn't engender the most hospitable of atmospheres.
I was lucky enough to make the train, and while waiting for its arrival, a woman wearing a priest's collar came up to me and told me she had prayed for me on the flight.
"You always hear about flights like that," she said. "But I'd never actually seen it happen until now."
As you can probably guess by now, I waited at baggage claim for a while before an employee finally arrived to inform me that my bag never came from Nashville (the bag, by the way, which I paid $15 to check). I finally arrived home at 4 a.m. this morning, and as of the writing of this post, Frontier still has no clue where my bag is. This, sadly, leaves me desperately low on Polo shirts.
Anyway, the voyage left me needed a bit of extra sleep today, so this post comes a bit later than I had anticipated, but in honor of my return to work, here are some links to get you through a Tuesday afternoon...
-- A big thanks to Ryan Scates over at Bulldog Illustrated for his kind words in listing this blog among his best covering the Bulldogs. While I won't comment on my own contributions, I couldn't agree more with the rest of his selections.
-- T Kyle King compares SEC and Big Ten fans, which is probably a lot closer battle than comparing the actual football programs.
-- Wally Hall of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ranks the SEC quarterbacks and has Joe Cox coming in dead last. (h/t Blutarsky)
-- Battle Hymn Notes takes a look at Georgia's immense success on the road during the Mark Richt era.
-- The AJC's Bill King asks the reverse of that question, wondering why Georgia has played so much better on the road under Richt.
-- Bleacher Report looks ahead and tries to identify the five most important in-game matchups of Georgia's season.
-- The Athens Banner-Herald looks at some of what remains on Georgia's to-do list for recruiting.
-- The Red & Black's Tyler Estep looks at what some folks are saying on Twitter about the Bulldogs.
-- Don't forget the annual Countdown to Kickoff charity event hosted by Matt and Jon Stinchcomb and David Greene will be this weekend.
-- Tony Barnhart looks at the uber competitive SEC West and thinks it'll be another banner year for Alabama.
-- Phil Steele has his list of coaches on the hot seat in 2009.
-- Chris Low answers some reader mail, including a question about fan access at SEC Media Days, which begin a week from tomorrow.
-- Paste Magazine looks at the 10 best rock and roll documentaries ever made.
-- EW.com has some info on the new characters being added for Season 4 of "Friday Night Lights."
-- And finally, I'll reserve making any comments on the film itself, but Newsweek has an interesting article that identifies how much of "Bruno" was actually real and how much was staged.