While I’m trying to do justice to their journey I can’t help but give you a look behind the scenes as well as some of the interesting side notes I find in traveling in a group.
Our party consists of veterans Nick Habersetzer, Merlin Stockhausen, Norbert Carter and Francis ‘Jerry’ Wanty. We have a bit of a ‘Rat Pack’ feel. Others have compared us to the current TV series Better Late Than Never.
-At Chicago O’Hare my troop got hung up at security. One vet had metal in both knees and an ankle. Years of hard work also took a toll on his mobility. While maneuvering the full body scanner, Merlin Stockhausen had to lift one arm with the other to get it to extend to the TSA directed height. Finally the guy at security scrubbed the idea and said, “Please step out sir, we’ll just pat you down.”
-Another veteran’s carry-on bag set off some travel warnings at security. The carry on is a small Bermuda greenish/blue hard shell case with clasps; almost like a makeup case for a Barbie Doll. The carry on dates to the 1950s and probably hadn’t been open since. The case belonged to the veteran’s wife. She had passed more than a year ago. The TSA donned blue plastic gloves and dumped the contents into a tub. There was a canister of shaving cream, a half dozen random razors, small bars of hotel soap and a light blue rosary mixed in with an array of bobby pins. The TSA was kind and returned all the items to the case and gently closed the clasp.
-The same vet was told to empty his pockets and take off his belt. A hand full of loose change clattered on the metal table. It was accompanied by a pocket full of peppermints and one aluminum pull tab which was destine for the plastic canister at the VFW. And another rosary.
-The stewardesses for Korean Air arrived at our gate in a high-fashion wave. Like church just let out. The fellas stared and commented in their out-loud voice. “They all look the same,” said Nick Habersetzer. The airline obviously had a very strict dress code and appearance standard as they all had a similar cookie-cutter look: short khaki skirt, light blue button down blouse, scarf that resembled a starched piece of Origami caught in a brisk wind and there was an overall loveliness.
-The stewardesses walked the same, smiled the same, laughed the same; it was like an episode of Kate Plus 8 times two.
-I find I am woefully inept at Korean Air technology. I’m in the middle seat on the plane and the Korean to my left is just showing off. He’s removed his shoes and socks and sits in his seat like a bird in an oversized nest. He has also easily mastered his TV remote. We all have our own remote on Korean Air, even though our personal screen is easily within arms reach. The device is slick; a TV remote on one side and a typewriter keyboard/PlayStation control on the other. Very Macgyver.
-I look for the button on my device that will change all the symbols and slashes to English. I also look for the button that will make my neighbor put back on his socks, at least. In dimwit fashion… I can’t find either.
-The flight is about 13 hours. I simply can’t believe a plane this size can carry enough fuel to keep us in the air that long. Norbie Carter is wandering the vast cabin trying to keep circulation in his legs. He finds my seat and taps me on the shoulder. “Would you like to go to a movie with me?” He chuckles at his own wit and keeps moseying down the aisle. I love ‘old-man humor.’ At least now I do…. it’s better than the teen years when your father came into your bedroom on a Saturday morning at 11 a.m. banging a wood spoon on the bottom of a West Bend Company pan telling you this is was a standard wake-up alarm for princesses in England.
-The Koreans are more than happy to see us. Even though they really don’t know us their enthusiasm feels genuine as we’re greeted at the gate. Emily Lee is our coordinator. She’s in her late 20s and full of smiles. Her team is armed with cameras, a willing hand for luggage and more smiles as they struggle to comprehend our Fargo English.