So The Lady Janet and I spent the last week in NYC. We went to BEA, the annual booksellers’ convention known as Book Expo America, and met with people from Random House, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Time Warner, etc., and snagged a whole bunch of free books — my current read is God Without Religion by Sankara Saranam (whatever, but not yet published). Here’s our booth.
We stayed in a place just off Times Square, which has an amazing 20-foot Cup O’ Noodles that actually steams. Pretty cool.
The place we stayed at was a new hotel called the “QT” that was very interesting. The front desk was like a snack counter in a movie theater, with packs of gum and cigarettes under a glass countertop, and there was a small swimming pool in the center of the foyer that you could look into from the bar. I just kept thinking that it was “tragically hip,” and our tiny, tiny room looked like this and like this. Yep, that’s about it. Not a chair, not a table, not a drawer, not a hook, just a nice bed with a bench around it and a fridge in the closet.
I had a meeting with one of the publishers in the Flatiron Building. It’s a NYC landmark, but unfortunately, they’re renovating, and the whole exterior was covered in shrouded scaffolding, so you couldn’t even recognize it. But our meeting was in a conference room right in the “point” around a triangular conference table, so that was kinda neat.
By Monday, we were missing Emily really badly, and anxious to get home, and we got on board the airplane from Hell. United 287 was supposed to get us to Denver and on to Sacramento so we’d be home sometime between 8:00 and 9:00 Monday night, but there was a weather situation that delayed all of the flights out of La Guardia about 3 hours, and the full horror story goes something like this:
We boarded the plane at 1:40 for a 1:55 flight. The air conditioning had failed, so it was about 85 degrees on board. They had an “air truck” come out and pump cool air through the vents, so after 15 minutes or so, it really wasn’t too bad.
A few minutes later, we taxied out towards the runway, and the captain came on and said, “We’ll be taking off shortly, but because of some weather delays, we’re currently 22nd in line for take-off.
On United, you can listen to the radio conversation on channel 9, so we’re listening, and around the time we’re going to take off, the contoller says, “United 287, prepare for takeoff,” and our Captain says, “Give me a minute, I need to make a call here,” and Control says, “I don’t know who you need to call, but you’d better make it quick — if you don’t take off right now, you’re gonna be sitting here for a very long time. Captain says, “I need about 20 seconds.”
Control says, “United 287, it’s been 40 seconds, what’s your call?” and the Captain says, “We’re coming back in.”
Turns out that there is a mechanical problem, and the Captain comes on and tells us that there is an error light that they haven’t been able to clear, and the error is “non-deferrable.” So we sit at the gate for awhile and the Captain tells us that maintenance is going to try cleaning the pressure sensors, but that doesn’t work, so they need to get a replacement part, which takes awhile, and they can’t install it right away because now there’s lightning on the runway, and when they do install it, that doesn’t fix it, so they need to get another part, then another.
I’ve made that sound like it took about a half an hour, but it was about 3 or 4 hours, and they eventually let people get off the plane to get food or whatever, but they limited it to five people at a time because of some security issue with too many people on the concourse.
Around an hour later, they informed us that we’d all need to get off the aircraft because the flight crew was running over their allowable service time and had to take a break, so we all got off the plane for an hour or so.
Then they had to test the replacement parts, and after that, they let us back onto the plane. But then they didn’t have enough fuel for the most recent re-route, so we had to wait for refueling.
It went on like this like a bad Twilight Zone episode, where they just kept saying things like, “Well folks, we sure do apologize for the inconvenience, but we think we’ll be taking off in just a few minutes,” but it went on for hours and hours. We eventually made it to Denver about 14 hours after we boarded at La Guardia, and we spent the night at a Days Inn, and got home Tuesday evening.