Friday, June 15, 2007

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...Part Two

So after leaving the DeSantorium at 6:15 I high-tailed it back to Chicago O'Hare, driving like a stunt man in a Burt Reynolds movie. I made it to the Enterprise car rental with plenty of time to drop off the car and take the shuttle back to the airport.

Once there I was told that my flight was jam-packed and was asked if I wouldn't mind taking the 12:00 flight which still had 25 seats available. I agreed and THAT was the moment that everything else went to hell in a handbasket.

The TSA confiscated my makeup box, which has always flown in my carry-on luggage for the last 5 years.

Why is my makeup in my carry on bag? Because ALL of my costume is in my carry on bag!

If I get to town and my prop case doesn't arrive I can always head over to Home Depot or WalMart and scare up what I need to fill out two or three ring gags and some walkaround but if the costume, shoes, wig or makeup aren't there then I'm royally screwed, so they always fly with me. Those things can't be easily replaced in Anytown, USA.

Well, the makeup box doesn't fly with me anymore. It has been thrown into the trash in the interest of National Security. It's greasepaint, neither a liquid nor a gel, and all less than three ounce maximum.

Whatever. It sucks, but whatever. I can always go out and buy another box, brushes and makeup.

The gate for my flight changed three times before we finally were allowed to board. We left the gate and then sat on the runway for the next THREE hours before the pilot told us that the flight was being cancelled due to severe storms in Newark.

No one from American Airlines could be bothered to tell us anything more than "Try again tommorow."

Nothing about how to get on another flight. Nothing about how to retrieve our luggage. Nothing about who to call at American that MIGHT be able to answer our questions. Nothing.

I quickly realized that if NO planes were leaving Chicago for Newark for the rest of the day that getting a hotel room or flight was going to get really ugly, really quick. I tried to get a rental car and simply drive home but none of the car rental agencies at O'Hare allow that sort of thing.

So I grabbed my bags (more like stole them back as I got to them before American put them in their storage room, assuming that we'd all be giving American a chance to screw us over again on Wednesday) and caught a cab for the Amtrak station downtown. About an hour and fifteen minutes away from O'Hare in busy, rush hour traffic.

I was able to buy a ticket to a NY bound train that would more or less be taking a direct route (as appossed to the first train the agent offered which went from Chicago to NY by way of Washington DC and would require me to leave my prop case to be sent later as I was only allowed two pieces of luggage) that left Chicago at 10 PM, giving me 5 HOURS to sit in the bar and play trivia games since there in NO WiFi in Chicago's Amtrak station.

Five hours later I boarded the train, plugged in my iPod and tried to catch some sleep. Fat chance. You ever try to fall asleep on a passenger train? It ain't easy, even with a handful of Xanax.

So after not sleeping the night before, I spent another sleepless night on the slowest moving train in the Amtrak fleet, one that, after CRAWLING eastward across Ohio, Pennsylvania and Upstate NY, arrived a New York's Penn Station a staggering FOUR HOURS LATE!!!

Oh, and 19 hours into my trip I discovered that the train I was on had SLEEPING cars. Of course no one had bothered to tell me that when I purchased my ticket and now an upgrade was not available.

What a suckfest!

Something like this ALWAYS happens to me after the last show of the season. One year it was a blowout in the middle of nowhere in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan, usually it's a late night speeding ticket from a hardass cop who spots my out-of-state plates. But it's always SOMETHING. I should just PLAN on a major headache following the end of a tour so that I can begin to take some level of pleasure in watching what new method fate has come up with for testing my spirit and resolve.

So to recap, 2 days of no sleep following a "nine pack" weekend. Three hours on a runway and then a slow, expensive cab ride to a slow, expensive train ride which really made me wonder if I couldn't have gotten there faster by jumping off the train and simply walking home from Chicago.

And I lost my makeup box.


1) Don't EVER fly American Airlines if you can avoid it. There is a reason they are less expensive. It's because they suck. Hard.

2) Don't fly with your makeup in your carry-on luggage. Make sure that you travel with the phone numbers of distributors you can rely on to FedEx you makeup and/or brushes overnight in the event that the airline loses your luggage.

3) Trains still have sleeper cars, remember to ask about them.

As for me, I'm going back to sleep.


Anonymous said...

Dear Pat,

Dear Pat,

The way you tell this story made my face hurt from laughter. I am sorry it happened to you...bu dag gone was it funny hearing what happened to you...and what happened to you after it happened to you.

Love the site-
Keith "Bobalouie" Karas

Anonymous said...

"The circus is a jealous wench. Indeed that is an understatement. She is a ravaging hag who sucks your vitality as a vampire sucks blood, who kills the brightest stars in her crown and who will allow no private life to those who serve her, wrecking their homes, ruining their bodies, destroying the happiness of their loved ones by her insatiable demands . . . She is all these things . . ."

Unknown said...

I feel for you...

I have the distinct impression that TSA agents and stewardess are using 'security' as an excuss to completely screw people that bother them. Imagine if waitresses were allowed to kick people out of restraunts b/c they annoyed them. No one go out to eat.

But yet we have to fly don't we? That's why the bigwigs could care less. They take private plans. No TSA, As much liquid as you can carry, and the airline doesn't treat you like shit.

What happened to this country?

Gary said...


You are now officially the clown hero of the blogosphere.

See BoingBoing today.

Cheers! Gary Peare

24-HOUR-MAN said...


Anonymous said...

We've been terrorized, is what happened. And we let them win. If our country was as secure as it should be, there wouldnt be a reason to search and exclude things from the plane. Yet the gov is stopped from doing what is right by the conspiracy theorists and freedoms wackos.

Sorry to hear bout your end-of-season BS. Strikes me as typical, as you stated.. This didnt happen on a monday, did it? heh

Anonymous said...

The TSA is all about the illusion of security. That's why they have the magnometers turned up to '11'. After all, a man wearing jeans (METAL ZIPPER! RUN FOR THE HILLS!) with a metal button (METAL BUTTON!!!! HE'S A TERRORIST!) and $0.27 in his pocket (I kid you not!) is a complete threat to National Security.

At least my name hasn't made the "Naughty People Who Can't Fly" list.

If we really wanted to be secure, we would be traveling naked and would be required to say "ALLAH SUCKS!" and walk on Mohammed's picture before getting through security.

[Hello to my friends in domestic survelliance!]

Anonymous said...

As an American Airlines pilot, I would like to extend my sincerest apologies to you for your mistreatment. It happens more often than the company would like to admit. Of course, I can't actually do anything about it, because dissenters have a bad habit of losing their jobs, and I have a wife and two kids to feed.

Maybe if the company would stop treating us like crap to pad the wallets of the executives the employees would collectively give a crap. It's amazing how every time we agree to a pay cut or some concession that the company "NEEDS to SURVIVE" some executive gets a few million as a reward for negotiating it, totally negating the effect of the concession.

We pay out $75,000 plus for our ratings and flight time, and the company expects us to live on entry-level office wages. There used to be a time when little kids would say "I wanna be a pilot when I grow up!" and I could tell them to go for it and it was totally worth it...

The TSA hassles us pilots too. I have a list of things that I *MUST* have with me to legally fly the airplane. Included in that list is a flashlight. We used to have large, nice, weather-resistant Mag-Lite lamps with the company logo on them. The TSA confiscates them as "potential weapons". I might use it to "take control of the aircraft." I AM A FRAKIN CAPTAIN, I AM ALREADY IN CONTROL OF THE DAMN AIRCRAFT! Of course, if I actually SAY that, I get labelled a "security risk" and lose my ratings. At least all they can take from you is your stuff - Those damn trolls can take away my CAREER with a few paper forms.

At least you guys make people happy when you work. I can't say that anymore. This used to be fun and respectable and people used to appreciate us. It's a drag anymore. The security farce and the corporate greed have sucked all the fun out of it, and the passengers get shafted and hate us. It's not our fault, it's the bloodsucking thieves at the top, but we have to take the flak.

Meh. I didn't mean to turn this into a long rant; It's easy for me to get agitated anymore. I guess just keep your head down and good luck with the other guys. Just don't stop flying because of the trolls and the crap, because then they win.

Anonymous said...

Given that the problematic item turned to be only the makeup, that makeup is small in volume (I assume) but critical and difficult to replace, and that there is a probability of seizure when transported in hand luggage and a probability of loss/delay when transported checked, can you get *two* makeup boxes, perhaps one of them smaller? Then you'd end up without either only in case of *both* luggage loss and TSA seizure, which is much lower probability than either of these.

If you have somebody reachable by phone, you can also have them send you a spare via overnight package delivery as a third line of defense.

This way, the Fate will have to pick a way to annoy you without having to involve makeup loss.

Anonymous said...

why the hell didn't you just go downstairs and get on the cta rapid transit. you would have been downtown faster than a clown can blow up a balloon doggie.

Anonymous said...

Oh my lord, I couldn't stop laughing after reading this one, including the reply from the American Airlines pilot. As a Canadian, I always assumed that maybe, just maybe, things were a bit "nicer" up here in Canada. But no, up here north of your border we have the CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) which is the equivalent to your TSA. Well, flying from Vancouver to Winnipeg, I was manhandled more than once and told to unbuckle my pants and show my underwear--in front of that metal detector gate no less--to an overweight security officer no less, because my metal clasp set off the alarm. Talk about a grilling! Anyway, I'm fortunate enough not to have lost anything, except my dignity. Oh, sorry, my plane was four hours late, but in Canada we only have two airlines (Air Canada and Westjet), so unfortunately there's not much to choose from when we have a shitty flight. As for flying as a clown, all I can say is: make sure to where the frowny clown make-up. That'll let 'em know how you're feelin'!

Anonymous said...

So glad you enjoyed your trip to my fine city. On behalf of Richard M. Daley, Mayor, I'd like to extend a hearty, "Thank You" - and here's hoping you'll visit again soon!

Hey, next time, if you like, I'll even offer personal service and come confiscate your makeup case at the airport before the TSA agent takes it from you. (At least I could put it to good use.) Anything to help enhance your experience with us!

(BTW, Amtrak often doesn't strictly enforce their baggage limits).

~ Tim, a clown from Chicago

Anonymous said...

It sounds like my TSA experience last weekend but worse.
It was a 6:30 am flight out of MSP on a Sunday morning, and I had to drive 1 1/2hrs to get there. ! So I had left an hour and 15 min to get checked in (which has always been enough time) but that was not my lucky day. Everyone was at the airport and half of them in my line. I finally get to the counter 15 min before my flight is supposed to leave due to a screw up on Frontier's part.I had my makeup in my checked bag but had to pull my case out after asking if my paints would be allowed. I put all liquids in my checked bag and preceeded to security where the "supervisor" took out half of my makeup. I begged and tried to explain to him that I needed my make up for a party at 12:30 back in Colorado, but he just gave me some lame ass excuse. I think they are just over paid rent-a-cops who are trying to be "important". Thankfully he allowed me to RUN back to the ticket counter and leave my paints to be sent on the next flight. I then proceeded to RUN back to security and yell for the supervisor to recheck me so I could get to my gate. This was now 5 min before my flight was to depart so I ran as fast as I could to my gate just to see that they had decided to delay departure. Well I made due with the extras I had at home and what TSA let me take. I absolutely agree with you, 'TSA SUCKS!!'

Anonymous said...

I don't fly too often, but I certainly do sympathise.
And I'd heard plenty of negative tales about American before "9/11" to make me decide never to fly with that carrier.
I'm sure we all understand the need for airport security, but it would be nice if the goons employed in that line of work had a brain cell between them.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about your flight!
You can get into a sleeper just by paying the porter who's in charge of the sleeping car section too.

Anonymous said...

That's a funny post. What's not funny is the brown shirts are allowed to get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Pat,

Its professional jealousy.
I'm just not sure what kind of Circus those clowns are running.

Anonymous said...

I feel you on that one... travelling as ANY kind of oddball performer makes things worse. I do mime and fire performance, and I've had makeup and props confiscated by TSA before- once, I had to argue to keep my $300 worth of fire equipment (which was all thouroughly washed and sans wick, and therefore sans fuel residue) from being tossed in the garbage.

Try flying back from Burning Man... you're body and everything you own is covered in a mysterious grey dust. You haven't bathed properly in over a week. You may or may not be wearing something furry and/or blinky. You're carrying fire equipment and possibly large amounts of body paint. TSA has a goddamn field day.

Anonymous said...

Pat,I'd pull a sad face but I'm not that kind of Clown.AA is a husk of an airline as is, in my opinion, Delta.
The jet blue folk still have some pep.
I'm happy that you've extracted high profile revenge. Good on you.

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