There is an art to getting stuck in cities via airline issues or mishaps. My history of missing airline flights or somehow finding myself stuck in various places proves to me that I owe my guardian angel a beer. While I’ve airline’d my way hither and yon a fair amount over my lifetime and been mostly issue-free, there have been a handful of instances where circumstance intervened and for whatever reason, did so in a way very much to my benefit. The two that stand out most:
I returned to England from Iraq in late June 2003 and dove right back into the grind of re-equipping, re-organizing, and recuperating everything and everyone, but myself. One day my commander found me and ordered me to leave for a couple weeks, a directive made with love, but augmented by the promise of physical harm if I refused. So, I planned a few things, then on July 4th hopped on a plane whose first layover was in Chicago. I was standing next to the desk adjacent to the door leading to my connecting flight when it was announced that this particular flight was overbooked by one seat, followed by the standard offer of overnight this and dinner that to anyone willing to forfeit their seat. I turned around, said, ‘Yes, please’, and this was how I spent a perfectly lovely day and night during the Taste of Chicago in the so-named city. I ate myself sick, moseyed around the downtown beach (!), then that night, retired to my room on the 18th floor, withdrew the curtains covering these enormous windows overlooking the city, sat on the bed and watched three sets of firework displays over different parts of the waterfront. So, yeah. That didn’t suck.
The second happened this week when I mistimed the speed and efficiency of Portland public transport. (The blame lies exclusively with Vahid and Shari whose threats and strong-arm tactics brought me to that side of the world in the first place, resulting in my having to repeatedly endure unsafe quantities of alcohol and food. Unforgivable, I know. And yet, saint that I am, I will find a way to forgive.) Let it be known that if you’re going to be screwed by public transportation, there are few places better than Portland to enjoy the screwing. A genuinely lovely American Airlines dude provided me with just the right amount of lube for this impromptu orgy of misfortune by saying, ‘Meh, it happens’, then hooking me up with a no-charge ticket for the following day (I could’ve kissed him! Hard! On the lips!). I returned to the city, ate a sandwich the size of my head, and then retired to heaven (Powell’s City ‘O Books) to wile away a perfectly bright and clear day. This was rounded out by beers with Vahid and some truly heinous jokes told by a shit-faced elderly dude. You can’t buy good fortune like that. Such things are bestowed only by a caring and benevolent God.
I have always loved the Pacific NW. It just looks and smells cleaner, the people are nicer and more outgoing, and everything tastes better because it’s fresher, usually because it was likely just caught, killed, or harvested that morning. I’m not a big proponent of long recaps of short trips, so I’ll just present you the following as a list of factual statements and encourage you to use your imagination and embellish at will:
Shari runs the finest unadvertised bed & breakfast in Wenatchee, definitely, but maybe anywhere, period. Her entire family plays a key role in this endeavor, sharing the tasks of being both excellent bartenders, stellar cooks, and remarkably engaging/charming children. Their attitude toward guests is that if you have to leave, well, that’s your loss, but the offer is extended to stay as long as you like and choose fun and fulfillment if you change your mind. This is so unfair. The nerve of them to offer such happiness. How dare they be such perfect hosts.
I’m convinced that Vahid is working part-time for the Portland Tourist Board because he’s everything that they could possibly want in a tour guide/propaganda executive. I love Portland more than my family now and I have no idea how it happened, I’ve been brainwashed. Again: So unfair.
Sometimes Brandon drinks and when this happens, I can’t highly enough encourage others to be there not only to help him with the drinking, but also to watch the show and listen to the conversation. A fascinating person regardless of alcohol intake, if you place him in his element (his deck, his beer, his pizza, his nuts (beer)) he’ll tell you whatever you want to hear. He also successfully fought off the urge to show us his vasectomy scars, which is the kind of restraint that I sincerely appreciate in a host.
So, the moral of this story is that if you’re presented the opportunity to travel with the prospect of meeting such people, there should be little in the way of actual thought to keep you from making the trip. And if thought tries to get in the way, bang your head against the wall until the voices stop.
Sir @ August 26, 2009