Air Travel Sucks, or Why I Love New York

JetBlue Plant

Scene: JetBlue baggage claim, 2:07 a.m.Photo: Chris Rovzar

Hey folks, it’s Daily Intel editor Chris here, speaking in the first-person singular. You may have noticed that we’ve had a couple of substitute editors for the past few days — the hilarious and able Noelle Hancock and Dan Amira were helping out while Jessica and I were on brief vacations. On mine, my boyfriend and I rented a car and drove down Highway One from San Francisco to Los Angeles. (We wanted to soak up the old California, you know, before this whole equal-marriage thing made it too gay.)

I tell you this because I want to share a pair of stories. Here’s the first: While in San Francisco, we went to a delightful little breakfast place called Dottie’s True Blue Café. When we turned up, we saw a line out the door — at 10 a.m. on a Thursday. It must be a great place, we marveled! So we dutifully got in line and waited for upwards of fifteen minutes. When we finally got into the little restaurant (yes, the line was out the door), we were shocked to see that there were three empty tables. They hadn’t been cleared, and the floor staff was mildly ignoring them as they schlepped around delicious-looking omelettes filled with fresh local ingredients (did you know it’s possible to put avocado in every single piece of food? Even sausage?). The manager was puttering around in the back, rolling some silverware into napkins.

As we watched, four stools at the counter also opened up, but no one seated the parties in front of us. In fact, the diners seemed content to quietly wait, captivated by the sixties movie tchotchkes on the wall as though no restaurant ever before had ever thought to put a black-and-white head shot of Elizabeth Taylor next to one of Sammy Davis Jr. As the wait continued, and nobody made an effort to seat the people in line, I slowly went insane. “I don’t know what is making me more crazy,” I told my boyfriend. “That they are being so slow about seating all these people in line, or that my even saying this out loud confirms the stereotypes that everyone in this restaurant has about New Yorkers.”

He, being more patient, shushed me. Then I asked the people in line in front of us whether they wanted a seat at the counter or a table, hoping to make the process more efficient. They looked at me as though I had asked to borrow a coat hanger to duck around the corner to perform a quick, pre-brunch abortion.

California, it turns out, has no sense of urgency. Our sandaled friends whom we visited on the trip assured us that it was because people there have their priorities all figured out. They know what’s important, and that does not include getting impatient and frustrated over a few minutes of waiting. When I pointed out that I like to choose how I use my own time, not have to waste it on other people’s being slow, they just observed that I was choosing to use my time on anger.

Anyway, we had a lovely trip, really quite nice, and fell a little bit in love with the state. We tasted wine, had delicious tacos, and really relaxed. And then we returned to New York.

Our JetBlue into JFK flight was delayed by about an hour, which was frustrating as we both had some work to do when we got home. We landed just before 1 a.m. and proceeded to dust off Terra Blue chip residue and wait for our bags.

And wait. And wait. For no discernible reason, the luggage was taking forever to arrive on the conveyor belt. As the minutes ticked by, we (okay, I) got more and more impatient. I began quietly plotting my revenge on JetBlue, figuring out what I could do to inflict the most amount of damage on the company with the least amount of effort. A sternly worded letter would do the trick, I figured. Or maybe making some innocent desk employee feel bad about himself and his life choices.

But I was stewing in silence, because over the last few days I had learned that I apparently have an unhealthy level of anger and should really just “chill out.” Nobody else gets worked up about having to wait for a while, right?

Wrong. New Yorkers get worked up about it.

Roughly twelve minutes after we started waiting for our luggage, the passengers around us started to go bananas. Like, a-giant-piece-of-fruit-fell-on-an-old-lady-Bonkers®. They began chanting “Give us our bags! Give us our bags!” and “JetBlue sucks! JetBlue sucks!” A young man with a video camera led a twenty-person charge on the baggage-claim office. Airport employees began acting like Paris Hilton, pretending to be on cell phones as they walked by us in a (failed) effort to avoid abuse. By 2 a.m. people were walking up and down the empty baggage carousels. At 2:07, a man took one of the fake potted plants off a display and sent it around the conveyor belt, to see if anyone was even on the other side of the airport wall to see it. In the above photograph, the plant is on its third rotation around the carousel. Every time it went by, the crowd cheered.

The wait for our luggage lasted for about 90 minutes. A JetBlue employee eventually told angry customers that someone on the loading dock had “missed a cue.” He was booed. By the time our bags arrived, someone had crawled through the entrance flaps to see what was going on, another person had slammed open an emergency door (setting off a piercing alarm), and JetBlue employees had barricaded themselves in a back room. When the luggage did come, each piece was greeted with applause (especially one frantic woman’s deep-fat fryer). My bag was one of the last to come through.

By then it was 2:35 in the morning, and everyone around us had gone to crazytown and back again. I was exhausted, frustrated, and had grown a weird rage pimple on the side of my neck. But as I looked around me at the haggard, hysterical, and potentially violent people around me, I was also delighted. I was home.

God, I missed you guys.

Air Travel Sucks, or Why I Love New York