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The Last Mile

So, Christmas was awesome. But here I will kvetch about the return trip.

I got a good deal on Southwest Airlines for a one-way flight. Unfortunately, Southwest doesn’t fly to San Francisco, so I booked for San Jose. When I got to the airport, I tried the automated check-in thingy: credit card … okay … flight number? Gee, well, I have that … okay … confirmation code?

Look, silly computer, if you know my name and my flight number, what need have you of a string of random digits?

Fortunately, the human-operated line was nearly nil. I told the lady I was going to San Francisco. “You mean Oakland?” “Oh yeah, San Jose . . . you guys fly to Oakland?” Given that I no longer live in Silicon Valley, and that Oakland has a mediocre shuttle bus connection to BART, this is now slightly less asstastic for me than San Jose, which has a free shuttle bus to Caltrain, which can sometimes get you to BART, on the rare hours that it is running, or the VTA, which can very slowly transport you to a mile hike to the Fremont BART. Well, I could catch a cab to the Fremont BART. What, fifteen miles? Figure $20? $30? Well, I saved $70 by not flying through SFO, so it works out . . .

I went to the ID check to get to the terminal. The lady told me to get in the left lane. She motioned to the far left lane, where people were exiting the terminal. Since this was clearly not a security line, I got in the left-most security line, and very quickly and efficiently got myself scanned. I’m very good at this. And I was waiting for some time at the head of boarding group B to grab a nice seat on the plane.

When it was time to board the plane, I stuck my ticket under the scanner, and the guy said that wasn’t it, did I have the extra paperwork they gave me at Security? Eh? I pulled out the ticket sleeve with my baggage tag. No, you see, I had been selected for extra screening . . . they should have done that at the security check point . . . we helped delay the flight another half hour which was how long before the the TSA managed to finally send a jovial fat man and his sidekick down to the gate to wand me down and paw through my bag while everyone else waited on the plane. To be fair, we had to wait for a flight attendant to show, and there was a couple that bailed at the very last minute when they realized they had left their keys in the rental car. At long last I found my way to the very rear rear of the full plane. But at our touchdown in Vegas I got to move forward and secure a vast expanse of leg room in an exit row.

An announcement came over the PA. “If you look out to the right,” we all turned to gaze at The Strip, “you can wave goodbye to your paycheck.”

Now, back to the question of getting home from the airport. Caltrain doesn’t run past, oh, 6PM on Sundays. BART runs until just past midnight, but there’s no BART in San Jose. And the VTA . . . well, we got in about 11PM, so I wasn’t going to wait for the slow-ass light rail plus bus connection plus possible hiking in to Fremont to catch the BART. I grabbed a cab.

The cabs in San Jose are $.25 per 1/10 of a mile. Or, $2.50 per mile, or $25.00 for ten miles, or, with enough twists and turns to get out of the airport, and the BART being some miles off the highway still, a modest $50.25! I paid the nice cab driver a handsome fare, and figured that if nothing else this made his holiday a bit merrier. I grinned at the thought of paying perhaps $100 if the BART weren’t running and he had to go to Walnut Creek. Yuck!

I could have rented a car for less than $40, but then I would have had to return it.

BART was, of course, awesome. The train waited to pull away at Fremont, and then a timed transfer to the Baypointe in Oakland, and all for somewhere around $5.

Next time I fly Oakland, and if for some reason I’m doing San Jose, it better be during the day when I can grab Caltrain, or else I will bribe a South Bay friend with dinner if I have to.

I got home late, to find Newsweek rambling about “Seeing Purple” as if Barack Obama would be our next Preident. At the apartment door was an obstruction — a silvery balloon that said “It’s a Girl” hanging above a bouquet. Did I have the wrong apartment? No, this is me. And the bouquet was addressed to the same number, but the name of a probably former tenant. The key let me in to the same bleak lodgings I had left last Wednesday. Apparently, somebody had a baby, and received flowers about it last Wednesday from some management company. There was no contact information to report the error, and it has been a week and I’m sure the new Mom has bigger concerns than some misaddressed bouquet, so I graciously gave the flowers refuge.

This morning, it was raining outside. Serious, runny rainy, not the winter drizzle that is all over Walnut Creek many other winter mornings. I had something of a cold, and did not want to walk around in the rain, with a sore shoulder-back thing . . . but I steeled myself, and slept in a bit . . . I got up and brushed my teeth and felt none-too-good, called in sick, and slept until noon. I still have some sneezes and a little bit of neck pain, but the extra day has done me good.

This afternoon, I took a long lunch at the coffee shop, a sandwich and orange juice, chased later by a mocha. I checked in with work via IRC. (Yes, yes, we are a geek company.) I wandered off to Safeway and bought a whole bunch of Orange Juice on sale, along with walnuts, apples, and bananas. Then over to Target, where I picked up a floor lamp with enough illuminative power so that the home office, while it is now dark out, is a sufficiently well-lit place to sit and do computer stuff. Bleakness reduced. And I have been tidying up, now that there is enough light to reveal the need for tidying.

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