I didn’t plan on writing right now. Now, as in at this exact moment as I type this. I did plan on getting started writing again, some time over my trip. Just not now, on the plane.  I’m bringing my old school, big lap top with me on a long, by sea, by land and by air trip. Sure, I could write on an iPad or iPhone. But I have these fat fingers and my dexterity with these pork chops makes typing on any device painful.

I’m on a plane, heading to Boston with my wife Debbie.  Tomorrow is visiting day at our kids' camp. They are in Maine. Smithfield, Maine. Camp Matoaka.  It’s the best and most wonderfully magical camp in the world. 

Of course I’ve never seen or been to another camp, ever. So, I have nothing to compare it to. Based on how much my kids love it and can’t wait to get back there, and based on how much it costs per hour, it better be the best.

Our flight from Fort Lauderdale to Boston is short; only three hours. My plan was to sleep for 2 hours. Its a late flight and right after we land, find the luggage, take a bus to the car rental place, I have to drive for 4 hours to Maine. So, I wanted to sleep on this flight, not write. It’s not like I’m some prolific writer anyway.

I can’t sleep, so I pulled out my typewriter.

When we got to the airport in Fort Lauderdale, I walked us over to the First Class line, which was empty. The common folk, cattle car line, where I was booked, was over flowing with hot, salty, fast food stuffed Miami bodies and muddled by an obstacle course of luggage mountains. I wasn’t in First Class, sure, but the choice was easy. 

Debbie pulled back on my arm to stop me as I swung our luggage into the elite lane. She hates public confrontations and embarrassments. I seem to fall into one embarrassing confrontation after another as if I was on crystal meth.

I always try to upgrade to First Class, as I imagine everyone does. At the coach counter, I ask if there are any First Class seats open. When there are, I ask how much for the upgrade. Out of hundreds of attempts, only two times has the price seemed reasonable to me and I paid; once it was only $50. The normal response to my request is that if I pay $3,500, I can move up. 

This time, I tried a new angle, I headed right into the First Class line. Deb held my arm, pulling me back, and I just dragged her and all of our luggage up to the gentleman behind the First Class counter. He looked up and seemed extremely happy to help us. I think he was beginning to worry that he might have to take care of a common person soon if another aristocratic First Classer didn't show up soon, as the line for peasants was stretched out for miles.

As I handed the agent my ID, I knew I was going to ask him if there was an upgrade available and how much. That right there would be admitting that we didn't belong in the line to begin with. Would he humiliate me and my wife in front of  this heated crowd and send us slinking to the back of the massive line? This could have been horribly embarrassing for my wife. For me, not so much; I'm used to it. 

As I said my line, “so…are they any seats in First Class that we can upgrade to for a small fee…” the Delta agent looked up with a warm smile and said we were numbers 1 and 2 for upgrades. He added that they were free upgrades. What! I was shocked. He said there were many 1st class seats open and that we were guaranteed to get the First Class upgrades. As we were going to be in First Class, he directed us to go to the Delta Sky Club and they would issue the upgraded tickets there. We wouldn't even need to deal with the workers at the gate.

Ok, how cool. This had never ever ever happened to me in my life; a FREE upgrade to First Class. I heard about it in theory, just never saw it happen in real life. Third Class people suddenly being bumped to mingle with the best the world has to offer, the First Class people. I figured with a First Class seat, I could get some sleep and be ready for all the airport baggage, car rental hustle and bustle and the long drive from Boston to Maine in the dark.

We breezed through security and found the Delta Sky Club. We proudly walked in and I had a mission; get those First Class tickets issued. As we entered, I said to the super sweet grandma behind the counter, “hello, we are on the 1PM flight … Boston and the check in guy, he says, like, we’re number 1 and 2 for upgrade to First Class, or whatever.” 

Shit, that sounded so awful. As the words were coming out, they sounded like I was faking them. Like when you got caught in the hallway during class and some assistant principal douse-bag snuck up on you and asked what you were doing between classes. And I actually said, "whatever."

She squinted her eyes at me. Her vision was fine. She was trying to take all of my buzzing energy and my crazed story in. I handed her my row 29 plane tickets and asked her to print up our First Class tickets.

“Oh, by golly, who told you that,” were her exact words to me.

I felt Debbie kick my ankle pretty hard.

I slowly answered, “the man at the counter; no, I mean the woman. It was a man. Yes a man. The ticket counter.”

“Do you know his name,” she asked me in a drawn out and steady voice.

At that point, I wasn’t sure if it was a man or woman. Plus, I don’t go around taking names. What the hell would his name matter anyway? Either I’m first on the list or not, I reasoned in my mind. 

I took a long breath and tried to seem cheerful as I responded, “No, I didn’t take his name, just like I don’t know your name either. He said to come see you at this place and you could get me into First Class, as an upgrade, based on my status.”

Wow, I immediately thought to myself that I was telling her, based on my status as a possibly preferential human being, that I was entitled to an upgrade in class standing. I was digressing into bizarro world in my over calculating, imprecise brain.

“So, as the front ticket manager (I upgraded his status too so she would feel compelled to comply with the ordered upgrade) said, that we are first in line for the upgrade and there are plenty of seats available and that you would take care of this, can you help us now,” I asked with a smile.

“Ohhh, we can’t do that. They can only do that at the gate, just before you board,” she said with a southern grin. She continued, “if you get upgraded, they will let you know as they begin to board the plane.”

My dream of sleeping in a cushy, roomy First Class seat was slipping away. She was kind enough to allow Deb and I to stay in the exclusive Sky Club, were you get free food, alcohol and clean bathrooms. Deb and I took a seat and drank some coffee as I ran through options on how to not let this opportunity to pass us by.

After only about 6 minutes, the sweet grandma lady who we were talking to as we entered the Sky Club, and I don’t know her name either, came back to us and said, “does your wife have a Delta Sky Member number?”

I said that she did not and she said, “well, without the member number, she can’t be on the list in the first place. She would have to be linked to your number. If you go on to Delta and sign her up and give me the number, I’ll link it to yours and see if we can get you on the list and get you those First Class seats.”

“Wow, thank you so so much,” I said. “I’ll just log on to Delta, sign her up real quick, get you the number and we are good to go?” I asked.

“Yes-sir-ie,” she said with a real grin and she walked back up front.

I quickly grabbed my iPhone and got on to Delta’s web site. This process should have taken the maximum of 3 minutes. It took me nearly 25 minutes. The site is not optimized for cell phones and every time I had to change a date or scroll to another tab, things went badly. In the end, after two near seizures and a ton of body sweat, I finally got a Delta Sky Mile Number for Deb. 

Hey Delta, I have a great idea for you: OPTIMIZE YOUR WEB SITE FOR CELL USERS. Here is a fun fact, 80% of web searches are done on hand held devices. Delta’s web site is almost impossible to use with a cell phone. The scroll of years for dates of birth was like trying to use a fax modem to download porn in the old days; took too long and wore me out. Trying to roll down from 2019 down to 1971 was virtually impossible. Each attempted roll of the date dial caused the screen to enlarge or back track. It was a nightmare. What should have taken 3 minutes took 25 minutes. I want my 22 minutes back. If a million people have used this and each lost about 20 minutes, in a class action suit, based on minimum wage per Bernie Sanders, this would be worth $5 million dollars. ($15/hr x 1/3 of an hour x 1 million people). 


With Deb’s Sky Mile number in hand, I walked back up the counter. There were three Delta workers behind the desk, an older man and two older women. The lady who I was talking to previously wasn’t there. But then again, I wasn’t sure.

I asked the three of them, “hi, a nice woman who works with you guys behind this desk came back to me and my wife 25 minutes ago and told us to get her a sky mile number for my wife and then we would be number 1 & 2 in line for an upgrade to First Class.”

They all looked at me with bewilderment and the middle lady spoke, “which lady? What was her name?”

I really do have to start carrying a little detective note book to scribble down witnesses names and info.

“I don’t know her name, just like I don’t know the names of you wonderful people,” I said. I continued, “But here is my wife’s sky mile number and you can now hook it up to mine and put her and I as numbers 1 & 2 on the upgrade list; here it is,” I said with some desperation.

The three of them seemed to hear me say, “I want to smuggle a kilo of cocaine into this flight and I need your help doing it.”

Together, they looked back and forth at each other, over and over, each time shaking their heads no and mouthing the word “no” to each other.

The man said, “We don’t have any list. This all needs to be done at the gate.”

I said “ok,” and just kind of stood there, feeling like Mike Tyson just threw a viscous left hook to my left temple. Mike’s best punch was his left hook. He knocked out all of the top heavy weights with his left hook. My bell was ringing.

As I started to regain my composure, as the ref was counting 6, 7 and at 8, I gathered my composure. I noticed the guy and one of the ladies behind the Delta Sky Club desk were looking over some papers and the man said to his lady co-worker, “I think they ripped you off.”

I recognized the papers, they were dealership work order service papers. I may not know a lot about anything, but I sure do know a little about many things. I’m a non-expert at anything and sometimes everything.

I stepped a little closer to the desk again and said, “the dealerships cheat all of us. Say you go in for service and they estimate 2 hours for a repair but they actually do the job in 30 minutes. They charge you for the 2 hours of labor the originally estimated; not the actual time it took. Have you ever gone in to a dealership for service, and when its time to pay, they tell you it took less time than they thought and then you to pay a lesser amount?”

The man sitting next to the woman said, “Hell no! Exactly. And she didn’t need to get new tires this last time. They estimate the times based on what the industry average time to make the repair is. They cheat us all.”

I said, “we should all band together and file a giant class action law suite against the dealerships for ripping us all off for all of these years and for billions of dollars.”

All three of the older Delta workers behind the counter were becoming my fans. Maybe the cocaine I was pushing was starting to work.

The lady in the middle asked me, “how do you know if your tire is bad?”

I said, “put a penny in the thread, if you see the head, you need a new tire; tires dead.”

That was the right prescription; they opened up to me. The man, said, “you know, he’s right. Here’s a penny. If you see just the top, you got a little time left on the tires.”

“Yes, yes, but if you see his face, get new tires right away,” I added.

The woman was having fun. She asked me “can tires still be good after 25,000 miles?”

When the health and welfare of others is involved, and where those areas intersect with distinct facts and areas of expertise of which I have limited knowledge, I dig right in and answer anyway. Why not?

I became really animated, “Well, it all depends how you drive. I driver super fast and furiously. I take turns (I acted out a high speed turn as I leaned over the counter) at super high speeds. I take off fast and slam my breaks all the time. For me, a tire will never make it to 25,000 miles. Sometimes my tires don’t even last one day.”

The three Delta workers were cracking up. I knew it was time for me to leave the desk area. Always leave on a high note is my motto.

As I walked away, the male worker hollered after me, “What kind a work you do?”

I smiled and said, “I’m a race car driver.”

I went back and sat with Debbie for about another 15 minutes and then we decided to head out to the gate. I was hoping that we could somehow have made it to the top of the upgrade list, if one even existed.

As we were just about to exit the Sky Club, the man behind the desk asked to see our boarding tickets. I handed them over and he looked something up in the computer.

I’m thinking, why would he bother if only the gate people could do the upgrade.

He looked up to me and said, “who is your favorite agent now?”

I looked down to the ticket he printed out; seats 1A and 1C - a window and isle in First Class. My eyes drifted up to his name badge, RICHARD.

I said with a smile, “Richard is my favorite agent” and all three of them cracked up with laughter.

The excitement of actually getting the upgrade to First Class for free made me so incredibly stoked, that I can't sleep and I figured I would tell the story before I forgot Richard's name. If I die tonight because I crash my rental car, due to sleep deprivation during our late night drive to Maine, that would be a poetic end to the upgrade. Just say’en.


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