Sunday, January 27, 2013

Welcome to The Middle Seat!

Welcome to The Middle Seat! For those that don't know me or who are not familiar with this Blog, I will get you caught up shortly. I say caught up because this Blog has actually existed for the past year and a half. I should explain a bit more. I started the Blog in May of 2011 and I "retired" it in July of 2012...more on that in a minute.

Flash forward to today and The Middle Seat is can thank The Reading Eagle for agreeing to carry The Middle Seat as part of their Digital edition. This was important to me because as much as I enjoyed writing about my travels I also found at times the Blog made my travel worse...I looked for problems so I could write about them. I also realized I needed some affirmation (okay lots of affirmation) that people actually read it (they did) and liked it (some did or so they said). I discovered this more after I put this Blog into "retirement". In any event, the Blog has returned. Now let's get you up to speed...

I travel for a living. Actually I negotiate labor agreements for a living and since my "territory" is the entire United States, I travel...a lot. The work does not come to me so I go to the work. Now  I know other business people travel more than I do but given that I am "on the road" at least 40 weeks a year, I felt that qualified as enough travel to tell people. When you travel that much...things "happen" and that is what I will be sharing with "adventures". For instance, two years ago I flew to Florida in mid-December (with my wife) simply so I could achieve the highest status on my preferred airline. It was a brilliant plan and I did achieve my status...our flights home were also canceled which meant we drove home to Pennsylvania (I needed to be back for work). Oh yes, and I got the stomach flu somewhere around Rocky Mount, North Carolina. It wasn't pretty. My wife drove by the way...

Some ground rules. I think this is important so you know what you are signing up for here (you got an idea just a second ago). This is not a travel site Blog. You most likely won't learn a significant amount about air travel, rental car or hotel tips and "best practices" from a veteran traveler...unless you pay really close attention and have a great imagination. What I have always tried to accomplish is to provide some humor for your week while along the way sharing a bit of my travel life with you. If this seems like it is not something you want to invest your time in...I fully understand. If, on the other hand it is something you do want to follow...welcome.

Posting: I will make every reasonable effort to post once a week. This should be fairly easy to accomplish since I have roughly a year's worth of previous posts that I can tap into if need be...and I probably will. On occasion I may use a previous post if it makes sense to provide new readers (I know huge assumption on my part) a bit of insight about me, my family or the site...and if I run out of time! I plan to have new posts on the site by each Monday morning...we'll see.

Grammar: I do my own editing and proofing. I am bad at this. Understand that and you will feel less compelled to write me and tell me about all of my "errors".

Comments: Please do so! I welcome the feedback on the Blog site, topic ideas and of course your positive comments!!

So without further delay and with my apologies to "veteran" readers, I am posting my original post from May 11th, 2011. I am doing so because I think it will give you an immediate understanding of me, the type of Blog this is and how I other words, it's a great way to get to know The Middle Seat. I hope you enjoy...buckle up.

Departure Day:  (Originally posted on May 11, 2011)

4:45 AM: The alarm on my smart phone blares the calypso music my wife calls “Caribbean Dance Party”. It is departure day for another business trip and like most nights before departure day, I sleep fitfully. Not wanting to oversleep I awaken roughly every hour calculating how much time I have before I must get out of bed. It is a ridiculous exercise I repeat for nearly every trip. My smart phone has never failed me even though hotel wake up calls have. Nonetheless, I am a creature of habit.  Inevitably I hit a deep level of REM sleep moments before the alarm sounds. Today is no exception and I groan as I exit the bed.

5:15 AM: After a slow start I move steadily now to meet my self imposed 5:45 AM departure deadline multi-tasking as I go. I am not a good multi-tasker. I have coffee brewing, eggs cooking (slowly) and I decide to pack the car while all this is going on. I enter the mud-room and awaken Chase and Murphy, our Golden Retriever and Chocolate Lab “experiment” (he is NOT a pure breed). While I am not a deep sleeper, I do sleep better knowing the dogs will at least startle any potential intruder providing me some sense of security as the “protector” of the house. That comfort has now been thrown out the window. Today they would be better named “Coma” and “Tose” as both are out cold. They look like teenagers being awakened for the first day of school, squinting through the bright glare and seemingly asking, “What’s your problem”? They follow me out and while I load the car, they take care of their morning “business”, except Murph is taking longer than usual. Eventually, I discover why, I have solved the mystery of the missing Ziploc bag from the table a day earlier. The car is packed, the dogs are back in bed and the eggs are overcooked.

5:47 AM: I congratulate myself for basically hitting my deadline. The weather forecaster on “Way Too Early” (It is by the way) says it will be a beautiful day in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic (I live an hour from Philadelphia). “Thunderstorms cropping up in Minneapolis…expect airport delays and rough weather out that way”. I connect through Minneapolis

7:14 AM: I have parked my giant SUV in the parking garage. My car hits the yellow colored “no vehicles larger than 6 ft.” sign with a loud screech and bang every time I enter the lot. While the car seems no worse for the wear, the sign could use a coat of paint. I continue this ritual as I have yet to get stuck in an up or down ramp.  I head to the self-serve kiosk to print my boarding pass. I checked in yesterday but with a new company issued laptop, I am unable to print on my printer at home. This technological speed bump is easily fixed by most people except me. I have neither the patience nor the ability to remedy this situation without using a debit card…so I complain and work around it as much as possible. While checking in I failed to notice my seat assignment so I am thrilled to discover that I am in First Class to Minneapolis. I am on a waiting list to San Francisco, my first destination this week. For the first leg at least, my Florida trip in December has paid off.

7:52 AM: Philadelphia to Minneapolis. I have boarded the plane, A Boeing 757. Unlike most aircraft, on these you board at a secondary door behind first class and go left instead of right. While I am thrilled to be among “the elite” this morning, the boarding procedure eliminates my primary way to pass the boarding time. That is, to see what passengers look like “famous” people. Given the circumstances, I am happy to skip the game.

11:44 AM (CDT): Minneapolis to San Francisco. COACH!!! I AM IN COACH!!!? I obviously spoke too soon and now I question why I would take a weekend out of my life last December to become “Super-Duper Elite” only to be assigned seat 20B on a flight over three hours. The “B” must stand for “Basically no leg room” or perhaps “Be miserable for the next three plus hours”. Either way, there isn’t and I am.

1:55 PM (PDT): We land in San Francisco and while it was not an enjoyable experience my emotions are tempered as a “medical emergency” occurred on board that required paramedics to greet our flight and remove a passenger. No word on her condition but she walked off under her own power…barely. My smart phone prompts me to switch to west coast time but I reject it as “too much technology”. Getting out of my seat I bang my head on the overhead bin. A number of people gasp and many ask if I am okay. I do my best “that didn’t hurt impression” and pack up. No medical emergency just humiliation as I appear to be some “rookie” flyer…the label further enhanced by my seat assignment of 20B.

3:07 PM (PDT): I have retrieved my rental car and arrive at my meeting destination. Late. The drive over was temporarily improved by the fact that my rental car had satellite radio. Unfortunately no one had activated it and while the “preview” channel tries to be enticing. It isn’t. After a two hour meeting takes three, I depart for a dinner meeting and then head off to my hotel. Lights out at 10:00 PM left coast time and my nearly twenty-one hour day is complete.

1:45 AM (PDT): The Caribbean Dance Party starts all over…my “smart” phone thinks it is 4:45 AM…too much technology and my day begins way too early…

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