Two Weeks in Europe
Thursday 2 August: The Return
Got up early to catch a plane back home. The flight to Chicago was lovely, but it started with a snag when an elderly woman began coughing and the airline refused to let her fly across the ocean. They had to bring in a translator to explain to the woman — who did not want to give up her seat — that she couldn't go until she saw a doctor. Coaxing her off the plane took ten minutes.
I was wide awake on this flight, so I watched a whole mess o' stuff: The Post (which was, as I'd heard, good but not amazing); Talladega Nights (less funny than I remembered from the first time); The Social Network (on this, my fifth viewing, I finally understood some details about how Eduardo was muscled out at the end); and a documentary about Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee — played by Tom Hanks in the movie I'd just seen at the start of the flight.
I also watched three episodes of the atrocious NBC comedy AP Bio. Patton Oswalt is funny as the principal, but the show is just a gruesome trash fire. I know I'm biased because I'm a teacher, but it's really disgusting how there are never any good shows about teaching. In this case, our hero is an egomaniac loser fixated on self-destructive hedonism and revenge against his academic rival who somehow stole his job at Harvard or something. Watching previews, I thought perhaps the three lady teachers in supporting roles would be decent representations of teachers, but NOPE. It's all sex jokes and pooping their pants.
Imagine if the only cop shows we ever saw were of loser dirtbags using kids to take down their enemies? Or if the only shows about soldiers featured pathetic dorks who have no idea (or interest) about what they're doing? I'm constantly amazed by the piss-poor stories we see on The Box with Colors when it comes to the classroom. (The only notable exception I can think of is Season Four of The Wire.)
Anyway, we got into Chicago at 2:00 PM, with a connecting flight to Madison leaving at 3:30. No problem, right? Wrong! Because the Chicago Customs Office is a barnyard of dysfunction. Unlike our entry into Germany, France, and the UK, coming into the US was a maze of confusion and mayhem. No distinctions between where people were coming from or what they had with them (or whether they had other flights to catch). Just one huge line for everybody.
At one point we asked if we could get expedited to make our flight. The woman just shook her head. "You're not gonna make that," she said in the most bored, matter-of-fact voice I've ever heard. "You have to take the bus to Terminal 1, so even if we let you through now, there's no point." Thanks a lot, ma'am. I know your job probably sucks, but come on. (Of course I'm not very angry at her; it's the system that's really to blame here, as is so often the case.)
Eventually we get shoveled through, and get to the United desk just as they announce that the plane has closed its door and there's nothing we can do. So we have to wait a few hours for the next flight. (At least there is a next flight. At least we didn't have to take the bus.)
In a daze of groggy confusion, we finally get back to Madison. All of the usual taxi cabs are gone, apparently out servicing The Crossfit Games. (Why don't those people jog to their hotels?) We order Chinese food and watch 30 minutes of My Cousin Vinny before we're both out cold.
Hooray, we're home!