Back home

The dog and I are back home. The guinea pig, rabbit, wife, and children will only return Sunday.

I came home early because I teach tomorrow morning to kick off the winter semester. The ticket agent at the American desk at SJC decided to charge me $130 to take the monitor as baggage, so Elvi and I decided to ship it more cheaply. My flight was delayed an hour and we had plenty of time, so I checked in and Elvi and I took the monitor to nearby downtown San Jose.

We circled a little bit before realizing that S. Almaden Blvd. was not S. Almaden Ave., but we found the Greyhound bus depot. My Web research had revealed that shipping the beast by bus would cost only $66.

The plan was in mid-spring when the Greyhound guy told us you could only ship electronics a maximum of 1,500 miles. I, of course, complained that I hadn’t seen that on the Web site. Elvi shushed me while the guy consulted the computer.

You know how you can tell that someone is plain dumb? This guy wasn’t that. Sure, he was working the dawn shift in bus cargo, but he seemed smarter than that. Young guy, too – maybe mid 20s. I hope he has a better future ahead of him. Nevertheless, he only found the true state of matters after we prodded him.

Greyhound would ship the box, but couldn’t guarantee the standard three or four days in delivery time. He said it would take five to seven days. We were shipping the box to Burlington, Vt. because Greyhound won’t take it across the border, but that is not a problem. Elvi and the kids flew out of and will return to Burlington, with drives from and to Montreal. If the box gets to Vermont by Sunday morning, she can pick it up and bring it home. Otherwise, I’ll have to fetch it myself.

The flights home were far more interesting to me. At one point over the western US, the clouds, aircraft, and sun aligned to produce a rainbow effect that skinned the clouds. They looked like cotton oil slicks floating in a puddle of blue sky.

As I was turning away from the window, I caught a flash of white. I turned back and saw a white twin-engine passenger jet, possibly a 737, flying away to our 7 o’clock. It surprised me so much, I let out an actual verbal gasp. We either flew directly beneath it or its flightpath passed just in front of us above. It was westbound, so I’m guessing it was only 1,000 feet higher than us (no way was it 3,000 feet above, which is the other likely option, I think). I believe FAA regulations call for three miles of horizontal separation and that was not maintained. The white jet was essentially directly above us.

Was this a real near miss or is my brain making this appear worse than it was? I’m not sure. But I will look into whether or not the public has access to near-miss reports.

Waiting for the flight to Montreal in O’Hare, I happened to sit next to an animated man who was talking to a much quiter man. They were talking acting and movies. The animated man had all the drive and charisma of an agent with the knowledge of a pretentious director. In five minutes, he dropped quotes from Jacques Derrida, Walt Whitman, and Quentin Tarantino. Animated man was a director, it turns out.

The quiet man was from France and is pursuing an acting career. Animated guy was full of horror stories and was at the same time enthusiastic and discouraging. The conversation was a blast to listen to. I probably ought to have introduced myself with “Hello, I’m a stupid writer monkey type,” or something, but the conversation was just too deliciously entertaining as it was.

Why were they flying to Montreal, do you suppose?

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