I’m on my return flight home, although technically I’m not on the flight. I’m sitting at gate A-11 at the Detroit Airport, waiting to board my delayed flight to Tampa.
Oh, airplanes. Nothing seems to fascinate and irritate people more. My Delta flight from Buffalo to Detroit took off 50 minutes later than its scheduled departure time, which means when we landed I had to haul ass across the airport to catch my connecting flight to Tampa.
When I reached gate A-11, I learned that my flight to Tampa was delayed an hour-and-a-half, giving me time to order a sammy from Quiznos and watch the Factory Girl DVD I purchased a couple days ago from a grocery store in Buffalo. (You know how I feel about Sienna Miller.)
Filled with a sort of detached glee, I picked up a family-sized bag of Reese’s Pieces. I figured if I wasn’t going to make it home for Dancing With the Stars, I might as well make it a Blockbuster night airport lounge-style.
The guy who sat across the aisle from me on the flight from Buffalo didn’t share in my amusement.
“Fuck,” he griped as he approached the Delta desk and learned of our delay. “You’ve got to be friggen kidding me.”
I knew he had a suitcase full of thawing Sahlen’s hotdogs – a typical take-home for many native Buffalonians. Hot dog-lovers claim Sahlen’s makes the best hot dog, but it’s all intestines to me.
So I ordered the Quiznos – a veggie sub minus mushrooms, onions and olives – and a bottle of water. I wheeled my carry-on (the same carry-on that United insisted I check) over to a newsstand kiosk and purchased a gargantuan bag of Reese’s Pieces, which is when my master plan started to fall apart.
First: my sandwich came so densely loaded with olives and mushrooms I had to use a rake to scrape them off. Second: the SEALED Factory Girl DVD was missing.
Sure, the thing was $5 at the 10-items-or-less checkout counter at Tops, but the package was SEALED.
The Sahlen’s hotdog guy plopped down beside me and resumed bitching about our delay.
“My hot dogs are thawing,” he said.
“Sahlen’s?” I asked.
“The best.” He replied.
Before our conversation could go any further, he placed a phone call, presumably to his family back in Tampa.
“Are the chicken livers defrosted?” He yelled into the receiver.
He was so loud everyone in gates A, B and C could hear him.
“No. They’re in the FREEZER. Listen. No … listen … pull them out and defrost them and then sauté them.”
There was a pause, followed by a sigh.
“Jesus Christ. I’m not gonna get in until 10 o’clock tonight.”
Another pause, followed by: “No. No. Sauté the chicken livers and mix them into his Beneful or whatever it is your mother feeds him.”
As I nibbled on my Reese’s Pieces, I cursed the staff at Tops for selling me a $5 DVD without the DVD and the staff at Quiznos for selling me a sandwich brimming with olives and mushrooms.
With the chicken liver situation settled, the Salen’s guy moved onto newer and louder topics – specifically where his car would be parked when he landed in Tampa. There was a Sabres game on and the Sahlen’s family would be damned if they missed it to go to the airport.
So I loaned the native Buffalonian a pen so he could jot down the lot, and politely entertained his questions after he hung up with his daughter.
“Are you from Buffalo or Tampa,” he asked.
“I’m from Buffalo, but I live in St. Pete now,” I replied.
“Same here. Six years in Florida. I live in Odessa. Ever heard of it?”
“Yup. My in-laws live in Odessa.”
To which the Sahlen’s guy countered: “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.”