The Wind Beneath My Wings or How Not to Get Screwed Out of a Decent Seat On Southwest Airlines

illustration-crammed-plane-590-590x428There are a myriad of skills parents have to teach their children. We all know what the big ones are, but it’s the, let’s call them the lesser skills, the ones that don’t even make the Top 10,000 Things Every Kid Should Know Before They’re 18 list that I have spent the summer working on with my daughter.

The two of us have been traveling a lot together and I’ve seen this as an opportunity to share my wealth of knowledge on all things related to Southwest Airlines. Most importantly, I’ve been educating her in the ways of successfully securing the least annoying seat on a Southwest flight.

If you have an expense account where you can pay the $12 “early bird check in” to ensure you’re the first to get on the plane then this is not news you can use. But for folks who like the adrenaline rush, the almost gambling high, the roll of the dice, if you will, of being perched on a computer exactly 24 hours before your scheduled departure time pleading at your screen “Come on baby, give mama at least an A 20 boarding pass” then prepare yourself for a teachable moment or two.

In fact, responsible seat gambling is the first area I instructed my daughter in. You don’t want to be the idiot, the wanna be “whale,” that throws caution and common sense to the wind and favors taking a dangerous spin on the Southwest roulette wheel of boarding by checking in the day of your flight, or worse, at the airport.

It’s like rolling snake eyes because all you’ve “won” is probably the dreaded C 30 and beyond seat designation. If this happens may God have mercy on your soul and most assuredly your spine that’s going to be getting an origami beat down in the middle seat.

Now, just because you have what I would call a “high value” boarding pass doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.  Only the lazy or novice traveler would take their A 18 as a sign to relax.  What an experienced Southwest warrior does is use the pre boarding time to assess the fellow passengers herding around the gate.

There are personality types that I’m always on alert for and try to avoid once I’m on the plane and praying for an aisle seat. Of course, everyone knows to beware of sitting anywhere near a small child. If I can, I like to put at least a five-row boundary between me and the 5 and under set.

Extra caution must be exhibited towards any parent who already has on noise canceling headphones before boarding the plane and does not seem to be carrying so much as a board book or a Cheerio for their little one.

Almost as bad as a bored child who thinks kicking your seat is “awesome” is the Grumpy Business Traveler. This person, usually a guy, seems super ticked off he’s stuck flying with the general public in cargo class adjacent conditions. His audible sighs and reluctance to get off his cell phone combined with acting like he called dibs on sticking his legs in the aisle the whole flight =  jerk alert.

I’ve also been schooling my daughter to always be scanning the passenger horizon for the bubonic plague, TB or Ebola nomad. Also know as the open mouth cougher and/or full frontal sneezer. These fools act as if they’re in training for some sort of disease decathlon where their bodily fluids are being measured for distance traveled, velocity, and force.

Any intrepid traveler knows it’s not just what you see. It’s also what you smell. When everybody else is lounging in the gate area you should be taking a stroll with your olfactory senses at Defcon 5 as you sniff out the discernible odor passenger.

It’s not just B.O. I’m talking about. One time a woman had so much Joy perfume on I thought the flight attendants were going to suggest the pilot do an emergency landing.

The most irritating passenger, by far, is the hoarder. We all know these humans. They’re the ones that think carry on limits are for suckers. Last month, a lady on our flight to L.A. had a suitcase so stuffed it looked like she was partaking in the human trafficking of Santa Claus. She was also lugging a backpack and a cooler.

I pointed her out to my daughter and shared that no good ever comes from a carry on cooler. She gave me some sanctimonious grief that maybe the cooler had an organ donation in it or something.  When we got on the plane this woman had opened her Igloo and was laying out a feast of assorted foods that smelled like death running a marathon in Texas without a liberal application of deodorant.

I gave my daughter a nudge and whispered, “mother knows best.”  She would have responded back, but it’s hard to talk when you’re covering your mouth and holding your nose.

 

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have anew book out and for a limited time only it’s just 99 cents for a heaping helping of Snark! You are now gazing at the second book in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

The Road to Hell

d3f64f5b77695f1e5d199db2ace120c6If you ever feel like your family is in need of some special bonding time to reconnect and rejoice in togetherness than look no further than a 12-hour car ride to your spring break destination to eradicate those emotions. It starts out all good and then by hour ten you’re fantasizing about escaping to sweet, sweet, freedom by hitching a ride with the driver of the Frito Lay truck you “I spied” at your last bathroom break. There’s at least a 30% chance he could be a serial killer but at this point those odds don’t scare you.

 To be sure the long car ride of today is a massive upgrade from the road trip of yesteryear where as a child all I had to keep me busy was license plate Bingo and riveting games of I Spy with My Little Eyes. An added bonus in the excitement department was my father threatening, about every 125 miles or so, to pull the car over and “give us what for.” Which he never did but it certainly was a vacation cliffhanger. Would this be the time he finally stopped the car? What kid would be the first to get the “what for”? Would all of us be “what for”ed and what really was the “what for”? It was so riveting one year my oldest brother started a betting pool. The winner was the kid who correctly guessed the first and last city my dad would threaten us with the “what for”.

 Today, you would think there would be no need for a “what for” because when most families hit the road they’re basically driving a mobile Best Buy. iPhone, iPads, laptops and heck our car even has one of those thingamabobs so everyone can get the Internet 24/7 thus lulling me into believing that all this technology will ensure a peaceful 12-hour ride down the interstate punctuated by a few brief gas, bathroom, and food breaks.  Sadly, this is not how it goes down. The first couple of hours are a breeze but by hour four I see signs of a breakdown in communication and by hour six, the half way mark, I’m beginning to question the intelligence of my family.

 It begins when not one but both kids violate the prime directive and take off their shoes. The smell is overpowering and not even a two pack of Gain Febreze can power through the stench. I roll down all the windows for a fresh influx of clean air. My mom math tells me that a car driving down the interstate at 80 miles per hour for five minutes with the windows down should equal a vehicle that no longer smells like a high school locker room that time forget. Something must have been wrong with my addition because when I rolled the windows back up it still smelled to such an extent I felt woozy leaving me no choice but to pull over and seal both pairs of kids shoes in gallon size Ziploc bags.

 Just as my nasal passages are healing I’m greeted by a request to stop yet again for a bathroom break. This has me worried and ticked off. What in the hell is wrong with my kids’ bladders? Are they deformed and reduced to the size of cashews or is there some kind of blockage? I swear I can’t drive for more than an hour without one of them pleading for me to stop. Reluctantly, I exit off the interstate for another potty break and while both kids are taking care of business I discover what the problem is.  While reaching into the cooler in the back of my car for an icy cold beverage I come up empty-handed.  Nothing but ice chunks. My kids have consumed what amounts to a 12- pack of Vitamin Water.  No wonder I’ve had to stop so much. I guess the good news is they’re fully hydrated.

 One of the by products of hydration must be the need to freely and zealously express one thoughts because both of my children start fiercely complaining about the other one. It’s like the floodgates of “everything you ever did to annoy me” have been opened. When my daughter starts bringing up perceived injustices her brother committed during the Christmas of 2004 (which I’m dubious she can even remember) I’m forced to go full “what for” on the both of them. I sound so much like my dad I’m freaking myself out a little but I don’t stop. Oh no, I’m on a roll and then I get it. This is what the “what for” is all about. It’s a parental stress reliever. A vacation mantra. A chance to let it all out without ever taking your eyes off the road.

***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find the new winter Snarky line of clothing and accessories. (Flannel Snarky P.J.’s anyone?) Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.)
 Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.