A few days off.
I had a simple plan but you know what Robert Burns said about that, The best laid plans of mice and men... Anyhow the idea was that Thursday and Monday would be covered by my fellow employees, who wanted to trade days off, and I would take an unpaid Friday. That with my normal Saturday and Sunday off would give me five days, and I would take a quick trip to Vegas. Then P on the afternoon shift went nuts, cursed out the owner on his voice mail and was fired. I moved up to the afternoon shift and my days off switched to Monday and Tuesday. Luckily Diane offered to cover the weekend and Ann said she would work that Thursday for me so I didn't lose my deposit on my trip but oddly enough I had Monday and Tuesday off, had to work Wednesday and then left on Thursday. What a week it's going to be.
Wednesday turned out to be a typical February day, slow. Tourists don't travel this time of year and Diane was off on her marathon cleaning. For some reason she feels she can only clean everything in site on the days I work so I end up stuck behind the counter. I did stock and clean the cappuccino machine, I wanted things to be in order before I left. But the night drug on.
Most of my customers were truck drivers. There were those who paid with their fleet cards but most paid cash. I ended up dropping $1100 in cash by 6 pm. At the end of the night I dropped over $17oo in cash. Not a bad take for a slow night.
Finally the night came to an end. I stuck around for a while because Steph was her usual late. As I was waiting a guy came in and asked if we had Camel 99's. Amy said "no we only have 100's". I was laughing because 100's refers to the length of the cigarette and 99's are a brand of Camels. I got the customer his smokes and handed them to Amy, who turned beet red at her mistake. Seriously, that was the most interesting happening of the night.
Before I left I decided to air up my tires, and it turns out they needed it. I got some quarters from Amy and she asked "are you driving there?" I told her no but I was driving to the airport, that is 240 miles away. Again there was that look of logic slowly sinking into her mind. Sometimes Amy doesn't snap to simple things.
I went home and did another paranoia run through of my packing list and got ready for tomorrow. I was going to have to leave early to catch my flight so I went straight to bed. Tomorrow I leave for Vegas!
Found money 2 cents.
5 am sucks, just saying. I had to get up early to make the 3 1/2 hour drive to the airport. But the positive side is you encounter almost no traffic on the highway at 6 am on a Thursday morning in early February. There is a drawback, unexpected weather. Although most of the time it was partly cloudy when I got near Santa Fe I hit heavy fog followed by snow, and slow driving. Finally I passed "The City Different" and got back to clear weather, and lots of traffic. Regardless the time of year there is always traffic between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, which is why they are expanding the highway into three lanes. Even with bad weather and people who don't know how to drive the speed limit I arrived about an hour earlier than I planned.
Cloudy skies, a half hour later fog and snow.
I decided to stop at the Reservation gas station, about 20 miles north of Albuquerque, they generally have the cheapest gas in the area. If I tanked up now I wouldn't have to do it on my return trip. I even had time go grab a snack before getting back on the road. Seriously, travel in the off season if you can get away with it, summer is overrated.
I always park in one of the off airport lots, they are about half the cost and they have shuttle buses that drop you off at the front door. If you park at the airport you have to find a spot, which are too narrow, then haul your bags across the lot, then through the parking garage (why is the enclosed lot for short term parking anyhow?), across the drop off lanes and then into the terminal, all for twice the price.
I did have to laugh, the shuttle showed up and I got on. He pulled out and then swung around through the lot looking for his next pick up. When he finally found them they had parked right next to me. He could have saved himself a trip. With nobody else on the lot we headed to the airport.
Here's a hint, if you want to get through security quickly, wear a Disney shirt. The TSA guy commented on Mickey and waived me through. I did have to wait because the screeners always freak out over my stash box, it looks like a personal hygiene product but it's really a hollow can with a screw off bottom, when I'm just taking a carry on I always remove the bottom and put it on top of everything but the guy decided he had to double check it because the top was heavy. It's built that way so it feels real but I didn't mind.
Finally I put my shoes back on and found my gate, thus started the long wait. I always hope some supermodel comes along and asks if she can sit down, but that never happens. This time it was three guys on their way to a drag queen contest in, of all places, Billings Montana. At least they were entertaining.
Suddenly half the passengers phones began to ring and then came the announcement, I was going to have to change planes in Phoenix (it was a cheaper flight) but there was a problem. It seems the incoming flight had mechanical problems and returned to the gate, the desk attendants told us there would be a slight delay and as soon as they had more information they would let us know. Immediately people went running up to the desk to ask about connecting flights. After they calmed them down they made an announcement that as soon as they had a time schedule they would do what they could for connecting flights but they couldn't do anything if people kept interrupting them.
The Drag Queens weren't worried, they had an 8 hour layover so it was either Albuquerque or Phoenix. They broke out their lap top and started talking about the pageant and last years winner and the general catty stuff one would expect. I think I know more about their shows then I ever cared to. I also figured out the one guy liked the middle guy who was dating the third guy. I don't know if they were all aware of just how transparent their love triangle really was. By the way the middle guy liked the extra attention he got from the first guy which will lead to real trouble in the future.
You could cut the sexual tension with a knife.
A dozen cell phones went off again as people got updates from the airline. The next announcement came and the flight had once again taxied to the runway only to have to return to the gate. We were told that if they couldn't figure out what was going on they would find a replacement plane. I was thinking "Great" I had no idea what time I would get to Vegas now. There was another rush to the podium and another announcement that they were working on alternate arraignments for those who would miss their connecting flights and would call people up to the podium. It was bad timing because I had to go to the restroom and if they called my name I wanted to be there to hear it, what to do, what to do.
The guy sitting next to me went for a walk and when he came back he was mad at his wife. It seems his bottle of water fell over and he hadn't screwed the cap on tight enough and it leaked all over his chair. Somehow it was his wife's fault and he stormed off to find some napkins or paper towels to clean up his mess, she just took her old newspaper and got the job done before he came back. The guy was so clueless.
Phones went off and the next announcement came in, the airline couldn't find out what the problem was so people, and baggage, were being unloaded. There was another rush to the podium and another announcement. They began calling names but I couldn't wait so I headed to the restroom. When I came back they hadn't called my name and were just getting rid of the people who just couldn't wait.
I have to be in L.A. at 5, what are you going to do?
After clearing out the angry passengers they announced that a new plane had been brought up and "if it gets off the ground safely" they would give us a new ETA. I had to laugh about the idea of the next announcement, the plane had taken off but the Phoenix airport was closed until they cleaned up the debris. They really need to be careful in how they word their announcements in the future.
Finally, two hours later the plane arrived, the incoming passengers disembarked and we loaded up. Boy was it hot on the plane because in the rush they forgot to turn on the ground air. Grumpy late passengers were even more grump. Luckily I was sitting in the emergency aisle and got to board first so I avoided all the standing in the aisle waiting for that guy who's bag is too big for the overhead compartment but insists on trying to jam it in to avoid checked bag fees. Finally we were all on board and off to Phoenix.
When we landed in Phoenix I was sure I was going to have to make the airport dash to catch my next flight but it turned out I was only two gates away from where I needed to be. I had time to hit the facilities, grab a bottle of water and a bag of trail mix and make it just in time to start boarding again. I had selected the exit row on this flight too so once again after the First Class and club members had boarded I was on, and again got to avoid the standing in the aisle while someone tries to jam their bag in the already full overhead compartment. The laugh of the day was a woman was complaining about waiting and someone in her party said "I can't wait to get you to Vegas and get you drunk!" I'm not sure but I think the woman making the comment was the mother of the woman complaining.
Loaded up once again and we were off, on time. The only problem was this plane had a regulation mid body emergency exit door so no window. I didn't get to see Hoover dam or the sites of the Strip as we came in plus I get kind of anxious when we land but thankfully we touched down right away. I was off the plane and in the casino known as McCarin airport. Since I didn't have to get checked bags I headed right to the shuttle van. Well not right to the shuttle van, I had to make a lap of the baggage check area because the helpful signs ended at the top of the escalator, but I found where I wanted to be. Luck was with me because one van had just loaded up and they had one seat left so I didn't have to wait, plus I was the second drop off, things were looking up.
I stayed at the Excalibur since they were having a sale. The drop off area for buses ironically is on the opposite side of the hotel from the front desk so I had to hike through the casino to check in. Thankfully it was Thursday afternoon and the lines were non existent. The desk clerk called up my reservation and asked if I minded being on the 13th floor. I told her I didn't have any superstitions plus it was fun to see the reaction of other people when I punched the elevator button. I found out why I had gotten such a deal, someone was in the hallway complaining about the lack of hot water and the guy was explaining that the hotel was under 50% occupancy and the water was taking a while to get to the upper floors. Oh well, a partial cold shower was worth the savings.
Did I just see twin girls wanting me to come play with them?
What a nice room, perhaps the third nicest I have ever stayed in. It also had a great view of the Luxor across the street. Unfortunately it also had a nice view of the airport, I had wanted to sleep with the window open, as wide as it would go, but the sound of planes landing made that impossible. Surprisingly the room was quiet with the window closed. Way to go Vegas.
Once I had settled in I decided to go find a bite to eat plus I needed some toothpaste, since I only brought a checked bag I had decided to wait to avoid any hassle at the security check point. I decided to head across the street to the New York New York to a nice walk up hamburger place I had visited the last time I was in town. The thing about Vegas is everything changes fast and the place was gone, replace by a bistro that charged twice as much for the same burger. To make room for seating they also got rid of the walk up pizza place. Instead I went to a Chinese place.
After dinner I decided to go for a walk to stretch my legs after the long trip. You could tell it was the off season because there weren't the normal crowds filling the sidewalks, although the guys with the "escort" cards were out in force. I headed to the Bellagio and watched the fountain show and then back towards the hotel. Along the way I stopped at the pharmacy to pick up a few items like bottled water, which is a lot cheaper than buying it from the hotel vending machines, and toothpaste.
By the time I got back to the hotel I was pretty tired, it had been a long day and a long trip and I just wanted to relax. I kicked back with the last of the trail mix and watched Goodfellas, mob movies in Vegas seemed appropriate. Eventually I went to sleep, tomorrow I would "do Vegas".
Found money, there was a dime laying on the floor but it was in the airport restroom and I decided to leave it there.