Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Short South Bend Story

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You all have no idea who I am. Not for real. I know that.

Well, my last novel was published in 2007. Wow. Has it been that long? It has. Pathetic.

Anyway, the publisher booked me on a live morning television talk show. One of those Good Morning America types, without the ratings, or viewership.

I packed a bag. Went to the airport and and flew, first to Chicago, and then over to Indiana.

A limo met me at the tiny airport. And by limo, I mean black Lincoln Town car. The driver held up a sign.

It would have been really cool if more than three people were in the airport.

I stayed at a hotel not far from Notre Dame's campus. In fact, I was told it was walking distance from the hotel.

Seeing the campus would have been awesome, I imagine. But by the time I arrived at the hotel it was nearly 7:00 PM. It felt like it was ten below zero. Everything was frozen solid. I wasn't going to walk--I didn't have clothing for it. I had a leather coat and jeans, that I came in, and a suit for the show in the morning.

Instead, I found a Chinese place that delivered, and watched television in my room.

I did the show the next morning. It went all right. Was cool being on the set of a morning show. The background was just that, background. The set sat in the center of an almost black-wall warehouse. Camera's and cables all over the place.

This isn't a blog about the show, though. Not even a blog to promote my novel -- because you don't know who I am. But a blog about going home.

Ah yes, going home.

After my interview a taxi whisked me back to the airport. This was awful, actually. It was barely 9:00 AM, and my flight wasn't until noon.

But it didn't make sense to go back to the hotel.

I had a book with me. Figured I'd get some coffee, lunch, sit and read while I waited.

So I get back to this tiny airport -- which resembled the airport on the old TV show WINGS, more than a real airport. But I am not well traveled. Maybe the was the norm. Rochester International Airport is a good size, but it resembles a ghost town any time I've been in there ... But I digress.

I buy a sandwich at the ONLY open sandwich place -- and pay Airport prices for it, despite airport size -- and find a comfortable chair among the three in the lounge. Reading is going well. Eating, equally well. And then I look at the time. Still over three hours till my flight.

I think.

My plane tickets are my bookmark for the novel I'm reading.

I look at them.

Hmmm. Seems I am going to fly out of Indiana at 12:20. Won't get back to Rochester until almost 5:00 PM. Have a stop with another couple hours lay-over in Chicago.

I would arrive in Chicago at ... 12:05.

My stomach drops. My PR person at the publisher messed up my flight. Thank God I found the error!

I gather my things and wheel my suitcase up to the airline counter.

The woman behind the desk smiles. "How can I help you, sir?"

Maybe I am tired. I know I am upset with my publisher. Either way, I feel this entitles me to sarcasm.

With that entitlement, I ask, "Ah, yes. My ticket says my plane leaves here at 12:20 and will then land in Chicago fifteen minutes before it even takes off. I only have some college, but I am not sure how is that even possible?"

Without missing a beat, the woman -- still giving me that big smile -- says, "You fly through a time zone ... sir."

Hmmm. A little added emphasis on, sir?

Ah-yeah. I heard it. Deserved it.

It was the longest ten yard walk from the counter back to the chair I'd been sitting in.

Only now, I don't want to sit there. I want to hide. Sit someplace else.

Guess what? There is no where else. Think WINGS. One sofa. A few chairs. I'm waiting for Tony Shalhoub to walk in, partly as Monk, partly as a Taxi driver ... whatever.

So then, just as I sit. Just as I open my book and use it as a hand-held wall to block the woman at counter from seeing the red in my face ... I hear, "Sir? Excuse me, sir?"

I slowly lower the book. Eyes dart around. Trying to find out, One--is someone talking to me? Seems logical, since I'm the only one here. (Di Nero anyone? Anyone? No? Ok?)  And Two--if someone is talking to me, then who is it?

But I know, One, someone was talking to me, and Two, who it was.

I recognized the voice. Last thing it said to me was ... "sirrrrr".  Hard to forget.

"Ah, yes?" I say. Stand. Set my book down.

"We can get you on a flight to Chicago. Leaves in twenty minutes, and then a flight from Chicago to Rochester -- have you in Rochester by 2:00 PM, if you'd like?" Smile is still there. It might have been painted on. I am not sure I saw her lips move when she spoke.

"Um. Yes. Okay. Ah-yeah. That would be great." Then I became Jerry Lewis.

I went up to the counter.

"I need your tickets, sir."

I spin around. Hands pat my shirt. There is only a breast pocket. I pat my dress pants. Nothing.

I smile at the woman. And spin again. A One-Eighty. The tickets are sticking out of my book. I walk toward over, slide them out from between the pages. Head back, hand them over to the woman.

"And your suitcase?" She says.

I try to smile. "Of course."

For whatever reason -- maybe because I was too fucking stupid to recognize time zones -- I pat my shirt.

No suitcase in that breast pocket.

I go back and get my suitcase. Wheel it over. Smile.

I smile, not to be friendly. But because my book and suit coat are still over on the chair. I have to head back there a third time.

I will not spin, I think. I will not spin.

I wait until she tells me I am all set, hands me my new tickets with instructions to Gate 1, because best I can recall -- that was the only gate and I can see it from where I am -- but I sure as shit am not going to say anything sarcastic. No way!

That is when I return to the lounge for my book and suit coat, and I wave and thank the woman as I head to Gate 1, anxious to be home, but thankful to be out of Indiana's airport!

Hey you know what? That's the end of the blog!

Phillip Tomasso

1 comment:

  1. OMG, you had me chuckling out loud! (And I usually don't chuckle aloud reading blogs, except for this one.) I forgot about time zones while I was reading it, too. I'm sure that happens a lot to people. Although most people probably realize suitcases can't fit in pockets, lol!