Posted by: Panamá Jeff | July 21, 2009

Idle Time Is The Devil’s Workshop

aaTravels and Airport Instances: Ok so just after my last email I made a trip to Texas via Miami, and can I tell you all what a pain in the ass it was? Some of you already know what sort of luck I have when I travel, it happens all too often, in fact I come to expect it. I left Panama one early Thursday morning, arrived in Miami and after going through customs I learned that every flight, around 6 of them, to Dallas\Fort Worth had been canceled due to weather in DFW. I was forced to get a hotel for the night and try my luck the next morning, although I’m sure there are much worse places to be stuck in this world than Miami, plus I got to see an old friend so it wasn’t too bad. After arriving in DFW the next day I learned that my bag had been ‘misplaced’ and they would deliver it to me at my mother’s house when they located it. I called 3 or 4 times a day for the next few days only to get the exact same answer every time and that was that the courier service had just left the airport and would deliver it within 1-6 hours. There is nothing more frustrating than getting the run around when you know it’s simply not true, they either expect you to believe what they are telling you OR they actually believe it themselves. The day before I was to return to Panama my bag was delivered, I wouldn’t have even bothered opening it if it weren’t for the 3 bottles of rum inside!

 Fast forward a whole day, time to leave Texas and head back to Panama. It is an early morning flight, I am running behind schedule, we get on the highway and traffic is completely stopped and backed up for as far as we can see. So we take a detour and make pretty good time, in fact once in the airport I have time to actually eat breakfast before showing up at the gate to get on the plane. Well I have all the time in the world because my plane has just been delayed 2 hours, but the kicker is I am trying to of course make the connection in Miami to get back to Panama but I am meeting a friend of mine in Miami to get on the same plane as me. We purposely planned it this way because my friend, Tim, has never been on a plane, much less out of the country, so we figured it will be tons easier for him to navigate immigration and customs in a foreign country with me. Luckily for us, our connecting flight has been delayed as well but about 15 minutes before I land in Miami to try to make this connection, the pilot says they just closed the airport due to weather. Now I told you I come to expect it but this is getting a bit ridiculous! So we circle the airport for about 30 minutes before we are cleared to land, now since the airport was temporarily closed, my connecting flight may still be on the ground. After landing the pilot comes over the intercom yet again to inform us that we have nowhere to park, all the gates are occupied so we have to sit and wait for someone to leave, probably my connecting flight! At this point I am calling Tim but it’s going straight to voicemail, so I am assuming he is on the plane headed for Panama City. Finally after we pull up to a gate and I exit the plane, I ask the gate agent if I can make this flight, if the plane is still here. At first he says “no, they have left already…well you can try to make it if you run”.  “So they are still here then?”, I asked. “Well you need to hurry” I am thinking, why can I not get a straight answer from this guy but I have no time, I have 51 gates to cover and fast, not to mention I’m carrying a laptop backpack full of electronic goodies. About 30 gates into my mid afternoon airport jog my friend Tim is calling me asking me where I am that he is standing at the gate with the gate agent holding the plane for me and that I better hurry! I love walking on to a plane nice and sweaty and breathing hard, it’s a very rewarding experience, I recommend it to everyone. Ok so all the obstacles aside, we are on the plane, headed back to Panama, everything is ok except the fact they lose my luggage yet again. Perfect example of travel tales by Jeff.

 DW_logo                                                            More Airport Instances:  Now for the good stuff:  On the long plane ride home I had a lot of time to think and we all know that idle time is the devil’s workshop. So I am thinking how not to pay for parking since I left my car at the airport while in Texas. Now I have been to this airport and parked my car plenty of times but never more than an hour or so to pick someone up, which brings me to the idea of claiming I lost my parking ticket and that I was just picking Tim up from the airport. If you lose your ticket you have to pay for an entire day, which I thought was $10. It could work, just make him carry all the bags, right?  Well normally they have a stand outside the airport you can pay a cashier or next to that is some sort of self serve automatic payment machine,  tonight he cashier was behind the glass with a closed sign up in the window and the automatic cashier was wide open being worked on. I went up to the glass anyway asking him if he was open, then I explained that I think I lost my ticket and I was just here to pick up my friend. “You need to make sure you look everywhere, all of your pockets, in your car. You have to pay $18 if you don’t have it!” he seemed genuinely worried. I returned with an even more intensely worried face, “$18!? Are you serious? I looked everywhere! I think I may have thrown it away in a trash can somewhere”. So he tells me to hang on for a moment, gets on the phone and talks to someone for a few seconds, then asks me what sort of car I am driving and tells me to go through the left lane when exiting the parking lot and pay $3 to the woman he just called on the phone. Now that takes a little bit of Spanish skill.

 Since the cashier and the auto-cashier are both closed, only 2 lanes to get out, and everybody has to pay at the gate, the line to exit parking lot is long. Hopefully by now you all know what the driving is like or at least have an idea. So we are sitting there in the car, waiting and have had a pretty long day and I obviously wasn’t thinking straight (my excuse) but somehow I either let off the brake or let out the clutch but slowly push up against the car in front of me. It’s an SUV as well, but with a plastic cover over the spare tire on the back and you can hear the thing crack slowly. At this point I wasn’t even sure what the noise was, I looked at my friend Tim, “Did I just hit them?” Even after it was decided that yes I did hit them, I didn’t even have the right mind to back up off of them! After what seemed like 30 seconds the passenger gets out of the car and walks towards the back, looks at both cars, confirms it to the driver of the vehicle and gets back in the car. Then the driver gets out and takes a look, looks at me and gets back in the car and pulls forward. Normally I would have said something but I was going to wait and see what they said to me first, but during this whole time I still have not backed up, I felt incredibly stupid afterwards but I obviously wasn’t thinking! Makes for a good story though don’t you think?  Tim is pretty much used to my shenanigans but for the first 30 minutes in Panama, some craziness started early.  

 Quick Notes: 

Commercials on tv; a lot of time they don’t have the advertising to play commercials during shows. It acts as if it is going to commercial break and comes right back on, now that is not a bad thing!

Sauces on sandwiches; mustard? mayo? Or ketchup? “Yes, all of them”   Not just those 3 either, I eat subway sometimes a few times a week, and when they order the sauce or dressing for their sandwiches, they say todo or all of them. Yes, every single one of them! In fact I was there yesterday and I always pay attention to what people in front of me order, plus it’s a good reminder of what certain vegetables are called, the woman in front of me asked for mayo, mustard, ketchup, sweet onion sauce, oil and vinegar! They love it and sometimes I do it too!

First ticket; I finally accomplished it!  I was ‘talking on the cell’ or calling my friend to tell him I was close and to come down, well a cop motioned me over. I was sick and tired and had been at work all day too, I didn’t even bother trying to talk my way out of it, I said “give it to me! Hit me with it!” He kept trying to talk to me about it,  I just kept saying “yeah uh-huh, give it to me” So I got it, but he wrote it for my license plate not  being visible,  a $30 lesser infraction than cell phone chatting. Oh and get this, I go to pay it where the officer told me to go AND where it says on the back of the ticket and was told no, that is not where I pay for the ticket but rather have to drive to the other side of the city close to the airport, which can take days in traffic.

 “Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death. You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, or when. You can only decide how you are going to live. Now!”


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