On the Road Again…

I’m back on the road again after 2.5 years of non-road warrior status… and that’s not the only thing that’s non-status at this point. Hilton wants me to stay another 29 nights to maintain my diamond status, I’m squeaking by with United Silver, nothing on Southwest and god bless, the worst part is what this damn pandemic did to my figure. I miss, miss, miss my prepandemic silhouette.

I thought when I took this most recent promotion to supervisor my days of constant travel were over… but now we’re so short staffed of experienced folk, I’m going out with my ducklings to make sure they learn the ropes.

It’s not helping that my experienced people have no interest in travel – for another couple weeks, we’re not requiring anyone to hit the road. After that, I can force the issue, but during the past quarter decade, employees’ situations have changed. Aging parents, children with increased needs, whatever… they don’t want to be away from home.

I don’t want to push anyone more than absolutely necessary… so here I am, gathering status in obscure or… ah… lesser hotel chains because Hilton & Marriott have no interest in parking capital in small towns.

Actually, the Holiday Inn in Pierre wasn’t so bad, if you ignored the flies. It’s conveniently located across the street from the cattle auction. I truly got to understand my late, long suffering father, who, when we stayed at my mother’s family farm, would go and hide in the car to read the paper to avoid the pests. The farm, with the cow barn and milk herd, was a never ending swarm.

Child, upon opening the car door and letting in three of the little bastards: Daddy, why you sitting in the car?

That poor man. I’d like to say he had the patience of a saint, but his balding head would go bright red as he roared that he was avoiding the flies… but not now, he wasn’t.

But for all the trials of resuming travel, it’s great to be able to… well… travel again. I love going to see different places, and I’d never been to Pierre before. Gods, a capital with 14,000 people. That’s… um… small. I know Sacramento isn’t the most bustling city in the Golden State, but Pierre… huh.

Having witnessed the sights the capital had to offer on the Saturday I was there, I figured I’d go further afield… which meant driving to Badlands National Park (see prior post about the groundhogs).

I’d also forgotten the joys of getting up in the middle of the night to reach the airport for an early morning flight, only to be faced with “we have flight delays out of Denver, so we won’t be leaving for an hour…”

I made the mistake of watching the Hulu documentary on the air disaster in Tenerife last night. At school, in 1977, we were required to read the paper each morning and report on one of the articles and since, as a kid, we flew LAX to London for family visits, I was quite familiar with 747s, so I chose this one for my report.

My young brain couldn’t wrap my head around a fully fueled Queen of the Skies taking the top half off another wide body on a tiny runway… and more than 500 deaths wasn’t something I understood, either.

So while bored last night, I got the complete story. Holy crap. Don’t watch it if you’re going flying any time soon. I mean, I know technology has progressed significantly in the last 45 odd years, but damn. Human error never changes.

KLM wreckage in Tenerife, 1977
What was left of the KLM jet.

What really stuck was the comment about how the KLM flight should never have taken on all that extra fuel before departing, and it likely resulted in increased fatalities.

So it didn’t help on this morning’s delayed flight for the pilot to cheerfully inform us if we get stuck circling over Denver, it’s no problem because we “have a ton of fuel on board.”

Oh. Yay.

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