October 29, 2019

Just Saying…

There’s No Place Like Home

By Q.C. Jones

November marks the middle of old QC Jones’ Fall travel season. While many of you were enjoying the last few weeks of the Summer and the lovely change to Fall, your humble reporter was engaged in the busy days of Fall Convention Season. During these weeks, I have been no stranger to the fine TSA and coffee shop folks at the QC Airport. Allow me to say this, Delta, and a few other airlines love me. Not so much because I am a wonderful guest aboard their flying machines, but rather I maintain a cheery disposition regardless of how I am bent, folded, stapled and otherwise mutilated.

For those of you who might envy my business travel, perhaps even confusing it with the fun vacation you enjoyed with your children, grandkids and other loved ones, I thought I would devote just a few moments to share my experiences.

Every trip starts with a 3:45 AM alarm. Don’t ask me why, but when setting up these trips weeks in advance, that early morning flight makes such sense. I will simply get on the plane at Quad-Cities International and be at my destination in time for lunch and my mid-afternoon meeting. Somehow the night before I leave, the cold hard facts start running through my mind. Get up at 3:45 AM, take a quick shower and blast across the bridge and arrive at the airport at 4:45; exactly one hour ahead of the flight out.

Try as I might, I never get to bed early. Lord knows, I plan to do just that, but I usually find I forgot something needed for the trip. It’s a quick shot over to my office, grab whatever it is and then not find the pillow until 11:30 or so. I tell myself I will just close my eyes and wake up with four hours of quality sleep. It never happens. I wake up in a sweat – did I miss my alarm? Nope, it’s only 1:45. I drift off and dream of forgetting to pack my dress socks. I jump up and check the case. Socks are there. It’s now 2:45 in the morning. I set an extra alarm on my cell phone then toss turn and roll around. When I finally doze off into deep slumber, the alarm starts blaring with the cell phone joining in seconds later.

Dragging myself into the bath, I turn on the shower to warm up the water, then brush my teeth. Hurrying into the shower, I am scalded with a stream of 200-degree water. Shocked but still in the final semblance of sleep, I step out and brush my teeth again and forget to comb my hair.

The predawn darkness drenches familiar landmarks in an eerie look. Nothing more dampening to the human spirit than stirring about in those strange hours between night and morning. While I sort of enjoy 4:00 AM preparing for a hunting or fishing adventure, setting off on such a trip has lost even remote resemblence to fun.

The airport parking lot is massive. When the wind is stirring about, even gentle breezes feel like hurricane gusts. If the temperature is cold enough to generate snow, the little ice pelts feel like minature bullets rattling into one’s face. Rain seems to extend the 100 yard walk from car to building by double.

OK, into the airport. The line at the security check is always long early in the morning. This is actually a good thing because it gives one time to mentally prepare for going through the little machine. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the drill here’s a quick outline:

  • Take off belt, shoes and empty pockets, even pocket lint, into a small plastic tub.
  • Remove liquids from all carry-on luggage. Nothing bigger than three ounces is allowed. This means the fresh bottle of shampoo gets jetisoned.
  • Go stand in an x-ray tube to check for metals and weapons.
  • Discover your pant leg is clinging to your leg and your tucked in shirt has created an strange image.
  • Get a pat down/body search/groping from the nice TSA guard.
  • Discover your carry-on has something that appears strange on the x-ray machine.
  • Answer a few questions about the moldy sandwich left from some past trip.
  • Walk barefoot to the nearest chair. Put on shoes, belt and repack bags and head to the plane.

Fast-forwarding to the plane… the seat assigned to you is always in the most crowded part of the plane. The person next to you is suffering from a dangerously contagious cold. Regardless of the airline, it seems the seats are designed for an 8-year-old body and QC’s long legs and 47-acre body don’t match the plan. Based on sleep deprivation, I still manage to doze off into dreamland.

  What do I dream of you ask? Do Dorothy’s words from the Wizard of Oz mean anything to you? “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” Nope, we’re not back in Kansas, Toto, it’s the QCA. Just saying.

Filed Under: News