Hmm yes, Southwest Airlines. I had been somewhat upset that we were not going to be travelling this journey with Greyhound(7). I guess God had just been a little too kind. But Glory Hallelujah! Along came the so called budget airline of Southwest.
We were in culture shock right off the bat. Big long lines at Midway airport. Americans love signs and Midway loves America. The problem was there was so much choice in signs that we were left rather confused and flabbergasted as to which ones to obey. The lines were all long and we had no idea what lay ahead so we queued(8) like confused obedient docile sheep(9). We’re Kiwis. We are good at that.
American airport security was not ready for me. I have flown before and carry a cotton bag with me to dump my laptop, belt, wallet, jacket, other junk, keys and more keys into. When I approach the scanning machine, I slap my bag in the tub, whip my shoes off, release my laptop into its own tub and wham, chuck it all through. I was nasty-object-free, but the ever so polite security man kept telling me to empty my pockets, take my belt off etc, etc. This became somewhat of a recurring theme for me. But hey! This is America, people are nice to you here. Some kids rather reluctantly went through the metal detector before me. The guard was encouraging them through by offering them high fives at the other side. I walked through the detector, no annoying beeps. Naturally I put my hands out and slap…… with laughter and joy I received my first high five from an American or come to think of it, any other airport security.
Now we fly budget airlines in Europe, so we had metaphorically sharpened our elbow spurs and donned our crash helmets and knee pads in preparation for the pushing, elbowing and kicking that are a necessary part of fighting your way onto a Ryanair(10) flight. Survival of the fittest is an expression that is synonymous with Ryanair. So there we were sitting on the edges of our chairs waiting for the scrum(11) when something truly bizarre happened. A man in a blue shirt and fawn shorts, walked up to the microphone and said “Shortly we will be boarding flight 252 to Sacramento. All disabled, old and people with children can board now. The rest of you please line up at the numbered pillars in the middle of the floor in the order of your boarding pass numbers. We will be boarding this flight in numerical order so please look at you neighbour’s boarding passes to check that you are in the right order.” Well. I will be danged! This is America and they do things differently over here. Whoever would have thought that flying a budget airline could actually be a pleasurable experience?
The flight was almost uneventful. They actually gave us-free-of-charge an okay meal and as many peanuts, pretzels(12), crackers(13), coffee and cranberry juice as we could consume. And the really strange thing was they actually went through the plane and took our orders rather than trying to drag everything down the already too narrow aisle. But it did get bizarre again, and bizarre in that way that things get in America. As we landed, one of the airline hostesses sung a song to us about flying with Southwest. This was just darn right weird, why must people in this country be so darn happy and especially at work?
So here we are in California.
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You may have noticed some bracketed numbers in this chapter. These numbers correspond with explanations and definitions that are in an accompanying glossary. To read the glossary you will need to by the yet to be released book. Sorry 🙁
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