It's a long way to Bardstown
November 11, 2009 | 3:40am — well before the crack of stupid. Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Ring-ring. Rise and shine! Rise and shine!
I'll rise, damnit, but I won't shine. I am often awake at 20 minutes to 3 in the morning, but it's different when you have to get up. My flight out of Ontario was scheduled for 6:20am and that meant being on the road no later than 4am.
Let's be frank: very few people look their best catching a 6:20 flight, and the terminal was full of bleary-eyed faces with barely kempt hair.
And let's not mince words here: air travel in coach class is among the most degrading experiences of the post-9/11 world. Apart from having to empty your pockets and take off your belt and shoes to walk stocking footed through the security checkpoint, the TSA now recognizes three castes of travelers: neophyte travelers, casual travelers, and expert travelers; you are expected to sort yourself into the appropriate line based on your proficiency at checkpoint skills. And even if you know the routine, the whole process of divesting yourself of possessions before walking through the detector and then collecting and reassembling your possessions on the other side, is something that no-one can do gracefully and efficiently.
When you get to the departure gate, the airline wastes no opportunity to remind you that there are additional castes you may not belong to. Those in the elite classes — that is, members of the Skymiles Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond medallion programs — not to mention the exalted members of the SkyTeam Alliance programs — get to enter through the "Breezeway Lane" at their leisure, while the hoi polloi must pass through the general boarding lane in cohorts summoned by zone 1, 2, 3, or 4.
Once inside the plane you discover that they have held a contest to see who could design the smallest, most uncomfortable seat where you will remain with your seatbelt securely fastened for the duration of the trip. Theoretically there are intervals when you are free to "move about the cabin" but those times coincide with times when the aisles are blocked by carts for the "in-flight service." And in-flight service now consists primarily of selling you food and headsets that used to be provided free of charge. I remember nostalgically my very first airplane flight in 1965 when every passenger on the international flight received a little tote bag containing slipper socks, a sleeping mask, and toiletries for inflight freshening up; and you got to choose your meal from a menu, and there were free cocktails besides. Ah yes, those were the days.
In Atlanta, I found that the departure gate for my connecting flight had been changed from the one printed on my boarding pass, so I rode the train from terminal B to terminal D, only to find when I ascended the escalator from the subway that the gate had been changed again and was now back in terminal B. Oy, veh!
At the gate I met up with Jim and Angela who had flown in from San Francisco and learned that the 3:55 connecting flight would leave at maybe 5-ish. And even after we were entombed — I mean emplaned — we sat there for nearly an hour while they readjusted cargo "for the center of gravity" — I'm not making this up — and took care of other aviation matters in the cockpit. Hopefully they were not just playing internet hearts or checking their stock portfolios.
As a result of all this, we arrived long after dark in Louisville. We picked up a rental car and decided to have dinner before driving to Bardstown. A nice lady at the welcome desk suggested that we might like the Cardinal Hall Of Fame Cafe at the university. And we did have very tasty meals in what was essentially a sports bar with food, surrounded by TV screens Cardinal memorabilia. Since almost all of the clientele were men and all of the wait staff were young women, it had the testosterone level of Hooters but without the cleavage.
Arriving in Bardstown we found the General Nelson (Best Western) without trouble. What else was one to expect? — Angela had brought her talking GPS and Jim had his GPS-equipped iPhone, and between the two of them and their electronic gear I was guided around each and every curve of the highway. My printed driving instructions from Google Maps seemed quaintly old fashioned amongst all the high techery.
Last updated on Aug 29, 2016