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by: -RoG-

Where to begin, where to begin... well I suppose I might as well get the good stuff out of the way first since there was very little of it. Re and I recently went back to the East coast for my friend's wedding and to hangout with some friends 'n family back in Richmond. Seeing everybody again was just as fun as expected, and amazingly, the girl even showed up at the wedding to marry my buddy Lucas despite his penchant for thunderous public flatulence. Good times all around.

But let's backtrack a little bit. On Tuesday the 13th, we headed out of Burbank, CA on a red-eye flight through Jet Blue Airlines to JFK airport in New York for a connecting flight that was supposed to take us down to Richmond, VA. The flight out of Burbank went perfect. The plane was right on time, Walker Texas Ranger and Conan O'Brien were playing on the TV and we even arrived at JFK a little bit early. Everything seemed to be going peachy.

And that's pretty much where the good news ended.

We got to JFK sometime shortly after 5am and when we had arrived, our connecting flight was still "on time" with no apparent delays. But shortly after we got to our gate, the announcement came up that our flight was delayed for about 30 minutes. Sure, it sucks to be delayed an extra 30 minutes when you're only an hour away from your final destination, but worse things have happened in the history of mankind. No big deal.

About an hour passed and still no flight, then they changed the notice to say it was delayed for yet another 30 minutes or so. Great. So not only had we waited twice as long as they had said it would take, but now we were gonna have to wait another half hour? Oh, if only we knew that the nightmare had only just begun. More than a half hour passes (again) and we're eventually told that our plane will be leaving soon, but from a different gate. So we all rush off to the new gate location only to discover that our plane is delayed again.

Time continues to pass and we get yet another gate change, this time it's the very last gate in the airport and we figure that at least they can't send us any farther down the line. That is, unless they wanted to make us stand outside in the cold on the tarmac while we waited for the flight to arrive. You know, just for kicks. Hey, at that point, I wouldn't put it past 'em. Unfortunately, while they may have not been able to move us, they sure as hell could keep us waiting there at our gate. And keep us waiting they did.

The notices on the departure billboard about our flight delays continued to increase in hour-long increments. Eventually, all of the flights in the airport had been cancelled EXCEPT ours. Our flight was even mysteriously vanished from the departures billboard at random intervals, only to pop back up later on with additional delays. Wondering what was up, we spoke with some of the other would-be passengers who had just talked with one of the Jet Blue reps. They said our flight was the only one that had a good chance of leaving the airport that day, but they couldn't say when. Furthermore, we were informed that all of the update times we had been seeing on the billboard were inaccurate. No really? After seeing those delay times go by one after another for half the day, pretty much everybody was laughing at any updates that were posted by that point. "Hey look everyone! Only 1 more hour 'til our flight leaves!" (cue laughter)

Having been fed up with waiting, we asked if we could just get our bags back so we could make arrangements to get a car or stay in a hotel. Nope, apparently our bags were in that "airport limbo zone of mystery" where not a single person on earth could retrieve them for us. I imagine that if I ever visit the Bermuda Triangle, I'll see lots of unclaimed luggage floating around.

Soon the day became night as the delay notices continued to pile on every hour or so. Around 7:30pm we finally heard from one of the actual pilots that our flight had been officially cancelled and that there would be no other flights to our destination until Friday. Gee, it only took them about 15 hours to tell us the obvious.

According to them, now all we all had to do was head on down to the luggage area to try finding our bags and then figure out just what in the hell we were gonna do next. Of course, when we got to the luggage area, there was a huge line for the help desk with people from our flight and other Jet Blue flights wanting to know where their stuff was. We were all told that our flight numbers would be called out on the overhead speakers and we just needed to sit tight.

Two more hours went by and still not a peep about our luggage. I got fed up and started wandering in and out of all the luggage carousels, knowing full well that I probably wouldn't find our bags. The thing is, after you've been in an airport for over 17 hours, you'll do just about anything to distract yourself. Reading the ingredients on snack packages, counting how many times the crazy old lady gets up to check the flight status billboard in an hour, see if the bathroom on the other end of the airport is any better than the one right next to your gate, etc. etc. It's all part of the distraction game and every last one of us plays it during situations like this.

Anyway, I get to the last carousel and what do I see in the middle of a huge pile of suitcases? Yep, our luggage. They hadn't even announced on the speakers that the bags from our flight had been unloaded, and in all likeliness, they had been there when we first arrived. Kinda makes you wonder how much longer they would've waited to announce it. I'm guessing we wouldn't been stuck there for another couple o' hours at least.

What really annoyed me was how they could've just let us take our luggage earlier that morning had they removed it from the "airport limbo zone of mystery," rather than yanking our chains for an ENTIRE DAY. At least then we could've left the airport at a reasonable time and made other plans.

I'm not big on Valentine's Day, but I can think of MANY better ways to spend it than sitting in a fucking airport all day long. Amazingly, we didn't even have the worst of it. You might have heard on the news about how Jet Blue actually kept some people waiting in the airplanes all day long, just sitting there on the tarmac. Why they couldn't drive some of those staircase trucks up to the planes and let people off is beyond me. Had such a thing happened to us, I'd be typing up this story from a prison cell after having killed my way off the plane.

Rather than get back in line so I could yell at the "luggage help desk" people, we decided that since we had already spent an entire day of our vacation at JFK airport, it was time to get the hell out of there. As you can imagine, all the local hotels were completely booked, so we rented a car instead. Surprisingly, they had plenty of cars still available. I guess most people were afraid to drive in the winter weather. Not me. Then again, most people weren't stuck at the airport all day long since 5am.

The car rental place gave us a Monte Carlo and with that, we headed down the highway in our recently acquired purple pimpmobile. Believe it or not, we drove in shifts all the way to Maryland before finally crashing. No, not the car, I mean crashing as in sleep. In all honesty, I could've easily made it to Richmond on sheer anger by that point, but we wanted to get some shuteye so we wouldn't waste the entire next day sleeping in.

While sleeping at the hotel was as comforting as the sweet release of death by that point, taking a shower there was as cleansing as a swim in Jersey. The shower head was one of those "waterfall" style ones that try to make it seem like you're under a warm, comforting rain. Normally, those shower heads achieve this effect nicely. This one, having no water pressure whatsoever, made it seem like I was under an unsettling stream of lukewarm urine. Oh don't worry, I was still able to wash the shampoo out of my hair... in the sink.

Later the next morning, we left the hotel, made our way down to Richmond, and our nightmarish travel experiences had finally ended.

Or so we thought.

After spending the remainder of our short vacation with friends and family, we headed to D.C. on Saturday night to stay in a hotel for the new day and then catch an early flight back home on Monday morning. Everything was going fine in this hotel when we checked in on Saturday night. The bed was there with no dead hookers stuffed in the mattress, the shower actually worked, and all the food was way overpriced. In other words - everything was exactly what I'd expect from a decent hotel.

What I didn't expect was how our room was on the floor where an entire junior high hockey league was staying that night. How did I know that they were staying on my floor? Why, it's because they decided to warm up for a game by holding a practice scrimmage right there in the hallways the very next morning at 7am! Who needs that wake-up call when you can rise to the sounds of hockey sticks and pucks crashing into your door? So I opened the door and roared something about how people were trying to sleep and they went silent. Then a few minutes later, the game resumed as if I hadn't even said anything. Amazing. Not wanting to have "assaulting minors with a hockey stick" on my arrest record, I decided to call the front desk and they finally got some security guy up there to get rid of the hyper lil' bastards once 'n for all. I'd like to think he shoved the hockey sticks up the asses of those kids' parents, but things like that only happen in a perfect world.

Could this sports awakening be a sign that our travels back West weren't going to be any easier than our journey to the East coast? Yes, apparently it was.

Instead of getting to spend Sunday relaxing at the hotel and hanging out friends in D.C., we heard it through the grapevine that all Jet Blue flights had been cancelled. Sure enough, when we checked on the status of our flight, it showed up as being canceled. To make matters worse, there weren't any other flights until Tuesday.

Being at our wits end with Jet Blue, we told them to forget about rescheduling our flights and to just give us our money back which they did (though we're still waiting to hear how they're gonna make up for the huge JFK airport debacle). We then booked a new flight with United Airlines. They had a flight going out of Dulles airport to Denver and then to Burbank. Problem was, the flight was that same afternoon, so we had to rush to get packed, return our rental car and make it to the airport. But hey, at least we had a flight!

Oh wait, did I say we had a flight that day? No, according to the teller at the United Airlines ticket counter, we somehow had a flight booked for the following day. Well that's just great. Here we were at the airport, having rushed our asses off to get there on time only to discover that they booked us on the wrong flight. Fantastic!

After arguing with the ticket lady for a while, she finally informed us that they had a flight we could take, but it was at the OTHER airport in D.C. Reagan International. Even better, it was leaving in an hour and we had to rush if we were gonna catch it. So, we paid 35 bux to some "super" van company to rush us to the airport. Of course, they were driving some other customers riding in the van to other destinations too and guess who was last on their list of stops? Yep, we were. Of course we were.

We arrive at the airport, go through security and are notified that we have just been randomly selected for an extra thorough screening some shit. They take us aside and give us a full search, checking through all our stuff, testing our shoes and bags to make sure we didn't have any bombs hidden inside them or whatever the hell it is they test for. Now I'm all for secure airports, but goddamnit, we had a flight to catch! I'm pretty sure my belt wasn't a bomb, but thanks for checking anyway, buddy. Wanna give me a full cavity search just to make sure I don't have any TNT shoved up my ass while you're at it?

They finally let us pass through the security checkpoint and we rush to our gate. Yes! We made it! We're on our way home! The madness is over!

"Hello! Welcome to United Airlines, how may I help you? Oh you're here for the Denver flight? Sorry, it's been delayed a little bit while we wait to de-ice the plane."


Our flight was delayed a half hour and I feared it would be a repeat of our JFK delays, but we were assured that the plane was definitely leaving that night. Amazingly, we were in the air soon enough and on our way to Denver. As an added bonus, however, we sat directly in front of a mother and her whining infant for the entire 6-hour flight. I swear, they should have flights that ONLY parents and their kids can ride on, that way they annoy the hell out of each other instead of the rest of us who are just trying to make it from Point A to Point B without wanting to murder someone.

Well, we arrived in Denver just in time to learn that our connecting flight had left 4 minutes earlier. In other words, "HAHAHA WE KNOW YOU'VE HAD A ROUGH TIME, BUT WE THOUGHT WE'D GIVE YOU AN EXTRA KICK IN THE NUTS AND NOT WAIT AN EXTRA 4 MINUTES FOR YOU GUYS EVEN THOUGH WE KNEW YOUR PLANE WAS DELAYED!"

There were no more flights to Burbank going out of Denver that night either. Oh the laughs we were having that night, I tell ya. We rushed to the United "help desk" along with several other passengers who were in the same predicament, and found out there was a flight going to LAX in a half hour. Sure, it wasn't Burbank, but it was still in Los Angeles. Close enough.

Here's the kicker though. They wouldn't let any of us get our luggage even though our flight was gone and there were no more flights to Burbank that night. Nope, for some insane reason, our luggage had to be put in "storage" for the night and would then be put on the next flight to Burbank in the morning. So even though we were taking the flight to L.A., we would need to get up the next morning, drive to Burbank airport and HOPE that our luggage would arrive.

With nothing to lose, we accepted the offer and took the flight to LAX. On the flight, I had the (dis)pleasure of sitting next to some pathetic guy who bought himself a copy of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. He tried to play it off like he was just reading it for the articles, but it was clear that this was just his way of tiding himself over until he could get back home to some REAL porn. After he finished "reading" he actually got up to stretch, but he was clearly adjusting his lower regions since he had unknowingly stored some WOOD in his pants. Guess he wasn't searched thoroughly at the security checkpoint, otherwise they surely would've found his "weapon".

After we landed, we still had to spend an extra 30 minutes sitting on the tarmac while they tried to figure out where to put the plane. Another 30 minutes sitting next to Pervo McGee? Sign me up!

Finally, they let us off the plane and we bolted out of the airport and John (Dr. Boogie) was cool enough to give us a ride back to Burbank. We were home, without our luggage, but at least we were home. Back in the land of sunshine (even though it was late night and raining at the time). We didn't care. We were HOME.

The next morning I woke up and headed on over to Burbank (Bob Hope) airport to catch the first arriving flight from Denver, expecting to never see our luggage again. Amazingly enough, our luggage did arrive and it was all perfectly ok. Our trip started off well in Burbank and ended well in Burbank. I think I've learned two lessons here:

1) Don't travel if there's even the slightest hint of bad weather (even if the airlines are all saying everything is "on time")

2) Don't ever leave Burbank again.

So that's my travel nightmare story. It felt like I was stuck in a scene from  "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" in which anything that could go wrong, would. Now that it's all over with, I can at least look back and laugh at all of the madness we went through in our travels. It's gonna be interesting to see what Jet Blue does to make good with all of their customers that they screwed over at JFK airport that day (and believe me, there were a LOT of people). I was told that I'll receive a notice from them in the next month about what they're going to do.

Within the next month!? Well, it's faster than waiting for one of their flights to depart.

If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out:

The Junk Drawer Of My Despair!

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