Saturday, January 29, 2005

Hertz Invites You To Party Like It's 1999

The airport was crowded, there were delays and cancellations posted everywhere, even for the next day. Pre-emptive cancellation, gotta love it! A winter storm was going to hit the southeast and it sounded nasty. The "aircraft making up [my] flight" was late arriving in Atlanta, but they decided not to post a delay because "it will only be five or six minutes."

Yeah, well. We pushed back from the gate about forty minutes late, and arrived in Charlotte late by about the same amount. The flight attendant had announced our arrival gate and I knew my departure gate, and a quick check of the in-flight magazine showed that I'd have to get from the very end of the E concourse to the beginning of the D concourse -- really not that bad, and from what I was hearing in the seats around me, I had a little more time than others to make my connection. I was near the rear of my "aircraft," so I just waited my turn to de-plane (as if there was a choice) and then speed-walked my way to my connection. I was a little out of breath, but I got there with at least fifteen minutes to spare. We sat on the tarmac for a bit more than that before they actually closed the door and pushed back. (I'm not sure quite how long, because I was in the midst of devouring Comfort And Joy. I love everything I've read by Jim Grimsley. But anyway.)

We managed to arrive in Newport News no more than eight to ten minutes late. I'd never flown into or out of there before, and I'd chosen it as my destination simply because it was at least $200 cheaper than flying into Richmond. It's only 70 miles away, so the extra driving time seemed worthwhile. I found the baggage claim area, and since no bags were available, I took care of the car rental and then returned to the carousel. I waited. And waited. No suitcase.

Well, OK, the connection in Charlotte was close. Although, I managed to make it, and I didn't even have a neat little tram to drive like the baggage handler get. Still, my bag wasn't there, so off I went to the USAirways counter to file my claim. "No biggie," I thought, "it will be on the morning flight, they'll deliver it, annoying but not the end of the world." Besides, the guy who took my claim was kinda cute.

By this time, it was after midnight. I stepped outside into the frigid night air and located my rental car. I found my way to the interstate and headed west. I tried listening to the radio for awhile, but soon remembered that I was heading toward central Virginia, where the whole radio spectrum both sucks and blows. I knew that I had a couple CDs in the backpack that had been my carry-on, but initially I didn't want to fumble through that while driving. Then the radio station I'd landed on started to play Journey. It was time to get serious.

I unzipped the bag and managed to pull out a CD that was in a pocket near the top (Explorer, just out on Lost Language, by Tilt). I opened the case, pulled out the disc and tried to insert it into the dash. I figured the slot was over there by the pretty lights somewhere. I tried above the display, then below, then .... WHAT?

A cassette deck?


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