At the end of one summer during college I decided I needed a vacation. Working at a golf store and standing around watching TV was, as you can imagine, quite exhausting. So I decided a vacation was in order. I was going to fly out to Colorado. At least, that was the intent.
The fun began well before the wheels lifted. My first stop was in Phoenix and my gate was B-45, a gate conveniently located, from my position, roughly near Venus. As I approached gate B-45 covered in sweat, I noticed it said the next destination to be "Chicago." Now I'm not claiming to be a geography whiz, but I'm pretty sure Chicago isn't Phoenix. And I'm relatively positive it isn't even going the right way. So I did what any idiot would do, I attempted to locate airline personnel before takeoff. This is, if you've ever flown, about as easy as finding Jimmy Hoffa using Helen Keller. Three metal detectors, one state-of-the-art GPS locator connected to a Russian satellite and a pack of bloodhounds later, I was successful in finding a woman with the appropriate attire. I then proceeded to have a conversation of which the word "flabbergasted" was invented.
"Hello," I greeted, placing my hands on the counter. "I have a question for you."
(No response or acknowledgement of my existence)
"Thank you. This is a new shirt. Say, what gate is this?" I started off easy.
"B-45," she said, again without looking up from the newest People magazine.
"I'm so sorry for your neck problem," I said, sympathetically. "Did the surgery hurt?"
She looked at me without moving her head. I decided not to get too cute as this scene was starting to remind me a little too much of The Exorcist where the girl's head spun around and she started speaking in tongues.
"Ahem. Right. Is this flight 1405?" I asked.
"No, this 747."
"Oh," I said, confused. "So this plane isn't going to Phoenix."
"No, this is going to Phoenix."
This made me pause. "But this isn't flight 1405 to Phoenix."
"Yes. We're going to Phoenix."
"I understand you're going to Phoenix," I said, getting frustrated. "I hope to go with you. But my ticket says my flight number is 1405."
"Well your ticket must be wrong."
"Okay," I said, starting to walk away. Then I quickly walked back. "So, am I going on this plane?"
"If you're going on 747," she replied in a manner suggesting my brain had been replaced with gummi bears.
"Well the TYPE of plane I'm going on is a 747," I explained. "It says THAT on my ticket. But it also says my flight number is 1405."
"And?" she asked.
"And, call me dumb, but I like to get to where I'm going. I'm kind of a stickler for stuff like that."
"Well I can't help it if your ticket is wrong."
"But I can't get on the plane if I don't have a correct ticket."
I thought about finding somebody else to help me, but when I noticed her "Employee of the Month," button, I decided against it. Apparently this was as good as I was going to get.
"So let me get this straight," I said after taking a breath. "This is flight 1405, only it isn't. The plane I'm getting on may or may not be a 747. Heck, it might not even be a plane. It could be a giant pumpkin with wings and the pilot could be a piece of chicken. And it's definitely going to Phoenix. So, since it's going to Phoenix, I can get on. But since I don't have a correct ticket, I can't. So essentially what you're telling me is I can get on this plane when we board, only I can't."
"Hmm? I stopped listening after the marshmallow part."
"What?! I never said anything about a marshmallow!"
"For lunch I'm getting chicken."
As I was smashing my head against a nearby water fountain in an attempt to both drown and knock myself out, another woman came over and talked to Miss "Employee of the Month." I overheard her saying to change the number of the flight to 1405.
"Ah ha!" I shouted to the fountain before improvising a little "Oh yeah!" break dance on the way to the counter consisting entirely of hip thrusts, butt wiggles and raising-the-roof gestures.
After clearing the screen and starting over, she obediently tried to re-type the name of the flight, although ended up looking like a one-fingered raccoon playing Nintendo. And the raccoon would've done a better job.
"I didn't realize 'Phoenix' was spelled with a dollar sign," I mused.
Her cracking knuckles and piercing glare clearly indicated her gratitude and awe at my obvious spelling expertise.
Feeling downright slappy about myself, I sat gleefully at my correct terminal waiting for my correct flight as "Miss Employee of the Month" continued her laser-like glare. However, my slappyness easily deflected her stare, ricocheting it to my left and caused a nearby vacationer to spill coffee all over his fanny-pack. I couldn't have been happier. That is, until I started to board the plane and noticed my seat partners Narcoleptic Sally carrying son, I-Never Stop-Crying-ha-ha-good-luck-sleeping-loser and Samantha the Hut. I quickly sobered and presented my ticket to Miss Employee of the Month, who was grinning like an idiot.
"Have a nice flight," she said cheerfully.
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny just because. This classic Kelly column originally published in June 2010.