"But I have a meeting in Fort Wayne."
"Ain't that the luck? You never know when your number's up. Like this morning, they recalled the tires on this cab because the tread's been fallin' off, but I said, forget about it. Know why? 'Cause when your number's up, your number's up."
"Maybe I'll just get out and talk to the ticket agent."
"Which terminal, did you say?"
"That's okay, I can walk from here."
"From the middle of the expressway?"
"I need the exercise."
8:05 a.m., counter.
"May I help you?"
"Is this Northeasterly Westernmost?"
"Yes, but all our agents are attending anger-management classes right now. May I help you? I'm the flight delay concierge."
"I need to get to Fort Wayne."
"I understand. Unfortunately, we are experiencing some labor turbulence at this time, but while you're waiting, I can suggest our unisex health club, our sky's-the-limit gambling casino, or our all-you-can-eat buffet and complimentary sponge bath."
"How long will the pilots' strike last?"
"We also have seminars at the local community college."
10:35 p.m., gate.
"May I have your attention, please? Northeasterly Westernmost Airlines is pleased to announce a tentative agreement with our pilots union, so we'll begin boarding immediately. Please line up, and have three forms of identification ready. Also, our mechanics are currently staging a job action in support of our striking flight attendants, so we'd like to ask each of you to take a moment and look around your area of the plane to see if any bolts seem to be missing. Then Sal Barsky, our executive vice president for customer relations, will be offering you a choice of nonalcoholic beverage and four smoked almonds. Welcome aboard."
11:05 p.m., in flight.
"Good evening, this is your captain. Welcome to Northeasterly Westernmost flight 528 to Fort Wayne, Toledo, and Weehawken. We'll be flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet tonight and arriving at one of our destinations in approximately 45 minutes. Our movie is Return of My Dog Skip and we have two Hindu lunches left over in the galley if anyone's still hungry. Now, I'd like to hand the microphone to Marv Ackerman, our president and CEO."
"Thanks, Ed. As any of you who've seen our new TV commercial know, we at Northeasterly Westernmost are really sorry about our shoddy record of service this summer. We ruined your business trip, your honeymoon, and your family vacation, and we feel just awful about it. So before we screw up again, we're going to stop making promises we can't keep. That's why the next time you want to fly somewhere, we suggest you just come down to the airport and hope for the best ? like we do. That's the honest way of doing things, and that's the only way we know at Northeasterly Westernmost. Now, let's watch that movie."
"Excuse me, Marv, this is the captain again. I just want everyone to know I'll be coming back to the cabin in just a moment to subdue that passenger in 25A, so don't be alarmed ? that's why we carry the handcuffs. But if you're squeamish about that sort of thing, you might want to close your eyes for just a moment and turn on the meditation tape."
8:25 p.m., next day, cab.
"Well, whaddya know, Mac? Got you again, eh? That's coincidence. How was your flight?"
"That air rage is something, ain't it? You can see why people go nuts. But like I always say, when your number's up, your number's up. Like if that guy in front of us changes lanes one more time, I'm gonna blast him with my flamethrower. So, what was the convention?"
Copyright 2000 by Garry Lee Wright. All rights reserved. GLW's on WGN (AM radio 720) Chicago. Listen and email at wgnradio.com.