A Rozy View on Life

I am John Rozelle, hear me ROAR like a dinosaur!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

What do a Kansas farmer and a hippo have in common?

While driving on a highway in Kansas I saw a sign that stated, "One Kansas farmer feeds 128 people." I was reminded of this billboard a couple weeks later while observing a hippo in its "natural" environment.

Not only were there a tremendous amount of fish feeding off of some sort of algae on its back, but I also had the opportunity to see the hippo go #2.

I hate to be incredibly childish (that's a lie), but it truly was a fascinating experience. I watched as the hippo's excrement (of a very impressive size) rolled down the "ocean floor" of its "natural" environment. Many more fish flocked to the rolling lunch, as others swam to the source to feed off the recycled nutrition. Although perhaps too vivid a picture, it is quite pertinent to the Kansan farmer statistic. The hippo is sure to feed at least 128 fish, most likely 128 fish families, if not more. Farmers from Kansas and hippos in "natural" environments, I thank you for feeding our world.

Even if it is me that you are eating.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Why it doesn't pay to be my friend

Reason #17
When you take off work for a week to hang out with me in Missoula I show my gratitude by shooting off half of your tooth with an “Air-Soft” gun.

(He was a little shocked and upset)
Turns out the plastic BBs are really not that soft after all.

(This picture is just kinda creepy)

(Then Shane recognized the humor in the situation)

Shane, my friend, I humbly apologize and thank you for your forgiveness.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The airline gods must be crazy-The Final Conclusion

I arrive in the Frankfurt airport circa 8:30 am. I desperately desire a secure location to nap, and I suppose that my gate would be the safest and most logical. I approach my marked gate, in order to check in prior to boarding, but am met by a security guard that would not grant my entrance to the gate. Somewhat similar to the shuttle driver. The security agent tells me to come back after 11am. My flight is scheduled to depart at 12:15pm.
I am forced to find another location to nap in-the waiting area for a different gate. This is a very similar gate to the one my plane is to leave from, except that it is not blocked to my access. Once entering a pleasant sleep, I am rudely interrupted by an airline attendant vocalizing quite passionately that all the people waiting in the waiting area must leave. I ponder why it is considered a waiting area if people are not allowed to wait in it, and if they do not want me to nap in this particular area, why do they not allow me to nap at my own gate’s waiting area? An enigma.
Upon arising in a moderately frustrated manor, I decide to use the restroom. Any rumors about German engineering being impressive are utterly false. Whoever’s idea it was to put two swinging doors (three if you include the one to the stall) in one tiny restroom should seriously be fired. There is barely enough room to open the doors and walk in, and this is ignoring the reality that there are others in the restroom, not to mention travelers with bags/backpacks. I digress.
At 11 am I decide to return to the path which leads to my gate, and am met by a line of people awaiting entrance to the terminal which holds their corresponding gates. The same security agent retains customers and denies entrance for some mysterious reason. Eventually, near 11:20 am, the agent allows access to passengers, and I expect to go through security once again. I believed this delay was due to security checks. Indeed there were no security checks, merely a vastly open and empty terminal.
I arrived at my gate to check in (my flight leaving at 12:15 pm), and found no airline employees. I decided to start a line and wait in it, to guarantee my position on the flight. After standing there for 40-45 minutes, and having one previous airline attendant walk by eating an ice cream bar saying “Wow, I can’t believe nobody is working here yet,” another airline attendant arrived to serve the line of the 50 customers that now wait behind me. This with about 10-15 minutes of expected departure. The attendant, upon looking at my tentative boarding pass, surprisingly remarked, “You have not been booked on this flight.” “I have not been booked on this flight!” I exclaimed, “You’re kidding me.” “No, you haven’t been booked, and this flight is completely full,” she stated matter-of-factly. Until this point I was able to find my circumstances somewhat humorous, but now that my flight to Croatia was now in sight, I was not amused at this being snatched from my grasp. I was utterly amazed. “How could this flight not have been booked?” I pondered to myself. At this, frustration grabbed a hold of me, and violence now became a very vivid emotion. I tried to restrain myself.
Upon a moment or two of typing, the attendant handed me a boarding pass and said, “This will work.” “I’m on the plane?” I asked, “I have a seat?” She affirmed that I did, and relief began to take over. Once again I pondered to myself why she would tell me I didn’t have a seat, then hand me a boarding pass with a seat number on it. Why question a good thing, I guess. As I stand there in line to get on the plane, my name is called on the intercom by the attendant that gave me the boarding pass. She told me to talk to the other attendant. Upon conversing with the second attendant, she stated that the flight was full and I indeed did not have a seat and should wait behind the desk. “Would you please make up your mind! Stop toying with my emotions!!” I yelled to her in my mind. After waiting for a matter of minutes, the second attendant then takes back her previous statement, and tells me that I have a seat on the plane. Suspiciously I take the boarding pass and head to the plane.
I arrive to my seat on the plane and am met by a 40ish year old woman sitting in my seat. “Grand,” I think to myself. “Maybe, just maybe, she truly is sitting in the middle seat, not my aisle seat, and is just waiting for the right passenger (me) to arrive before she returns to her proper seat.” I ask her, “Are you sitting in this aisle seat?” She replies, “Yes, this is my aisle seat.” Well, no surprise I suppose. I decide to further clarify, and continue looking at here in amazement. She reads her boarding pass, at which I direct her to her rightful seat, the aisle seat behind me. Phhheeewwww.
Our pilot later comes on the intercom stating that we will be delayed as baggage attendants remove luggage belonging to passengers that did not make it on the plane. “A good safety measure against terrorism,” I think to myself. 40 minutes later we take off.
Although my original flight to Croatia was to arrive more than 24 hours previously, I was uncertain of the location of my luggage. I supposed that it sat in the Croatia airport, eagerly awaiting my arrival. My baggage was not on the baggage claim belt, as I suspected, so I ventured to the lost/found baggage office.
My luggage had not yet arrived in Croatia, which surprised me moderately, considering that it should have originally been in Croatia more than a day ago. Upon asking, I am told that my baggage is still in Frankfurt. I fill out the appropriate forms and leave the office somewhat glad that I do not have to lug three large bags on the bus to Rijeka.
Sometime later I make the connection of the baggage attendants off-loading luggage from passengers who “did not board” and my confusion in the Frankfurt airport. I then, partially in anger and partially in amusement, think about having to wait an extra 40 minutes on the plane before takeoff in order for my bags to be unloaded. Oh, the luck.
My bus ride from Zagreb to Rijeka consisted of two Croatian men (in their fifties) talking about Americans. This conversation was partially in Croatian and partially in English. I went to sleep and woke up about an hour later to conversation about Americans. I hate to end on this moderately boring and insignificant note, but this nearly ended my travel adventure. My bags were expediently returned to me in Rijeka the following day, to which I found incredible delight.
I was now home, to my Croatian home anyway, and had clean underwear. Life doesn’t get much better than this, ladies and gentlemen. I have learned even more to enjoy the small things in life. Like airline employees’ coordination or general efficiency.
This is your disgruntled airline passenger of the month signing off.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The airline gods must be crazy...Part 2

There I am at the Denver International Airport, in line for my Frankfurt flight. Then my name gets called on the loud speaker to approach the desk. “I bet they couldn’t fit me in coach and had to bump me up to first class,” I though to myself.
Turns out the flight had been double-booked and I was the passenger that was selected to receive a later flight. How thoughtful. Upon asking the customer service desk attendant about the next possible flight and hotel accommodations for the night in Denver, the response was less than ideal. No flights in the near future and no hotels to put me in. Bad combination. So she decides to send me to Washington/Dulles Airport to receive lodging and get a Frankfurt flight the following day at 6pm. Whatever.
Upon arriving in Washington D.C., the customer service desk attendant hands me a voucher for a discounted hotel stay. Notice that I did not say “Complimentary Stay,” but merely a discounted price. I suppose they thought they made up for my hassle by giving me an extra flight from Denver to Washinton. She then said that the voucher was really worthless, since all the hotels were full anyway. Upon this encouragement, she offered me a blanket to keep my warm while I slept in the airport. I hate to be selfish, but spending the night in an airport after a day of travel and preceding an even longer day of travel overseas, this solution was not acceptable in my sight. I asked for the assistance of a supervisor and received directions.
The new customer service agent/”supervisor” makes arrangements for me to stay at the Hilton (compliments of the airline) and to be picked up by the Hilton shuttle. Upon arrival of the shuttle, and after accepting three pilots and another customer, the driver denies me permission to board the craft and claims that his hotel is completely full. Not exactly the response I had desired, particularly considering that the local time was 1am. We exchanged a few words, none violent or inappropriate, and parted ways.
Another visit to yet another customer service representative ensured my reservation and called the shuttle service to demand they not deny my entry and safe passage.
Shuttle #2. Everything went smoothly.
As I entered the Hilton, I realized this might be the nicest hotel I had ever been in. The desk attendant stated that my room did not have a shower, but I was free to use the fitness room showers in the morning. “What kind of Hilton is this?!” I quietly pondered. Free is free, I suppose.
Turns out my room lacked yet another lodging accessory, a pillow. At least I had towels in the bathroom (not sure why, considering there was no bathing apparatus) to use as a pillow……I was a cub scout once.
It appeared the reason my room had no shower was that I was staying in the presidential suite. A pleasant surprise. Although I must admit I think I would have preferred a shower over huge 2 story window wall and excessive mirrors. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy looking at myself, but what I enjoy even more is looking at myself when I am clean and showered.
In the morning I traverse over to the fitness center. Not to improve my physique, but to improve personal hygiene. The stairs to the locker room shower are gated off, truly not a surprise considering my recent luck. After searching for an employee and attempting to come to some sort of solution, I am again redirected to the main desk, at which point I am issued another key to another room to make use of its shower facilities. Let me tell you, this shower was saaweet. Glass door, a built-in tile seat in the shower (for those who find showering a strenuous activity-I opted to stand, considering my recent visit to the fitness center which lacked any sort of physical activity), and two shower heads.
After improving my declining cleanliness, I put on my one day old clothes (and socks) and began yet another day (or two) of intercontinental travel.
I made use of my free food vouchers and entered the dining facility. Based on dress and overall appearance, I was the only person there in the full-time Christian ministry. Who would have thought that, in the Hilton?
So, wondering what delectable tastiness I should order in this fine establishment, I opted for that which would not contradict my current economic status. A hamburger and french fries. Don’t worry, in order to blend in to my surroundings I ate my hamburger with a fork and knife. But only half of it. I then followed my meal with a tasty cappuccino and began planning for the upcoming year in Croatia.
Washington/Dulles Airport. It would seem silly to expect smooth sailing at any point in my journey. The first question asked of me was in regard to me considering taking a different flight to Frankfurt the following day, for the sum of $600-$700. Although quite appealing, I opted to get to Europe as soon as possible, in light of my already tardy arrival. The attendant questioned my travel plans and excessive amount of boarding passes displaying different times, days, and locations. Another attendant asked for my receipt for the purchase of extra baggage, to which I could offer no such evidence. I was then forced to pay the necessary amount and eventually was let free.
My boarding pass had been stamped with multiple “SSSS”s, which I suspect stands for “Systematically Search his Suspicious Self.” I was led to an elite line of customers awaiting security check. Passengers ahead of me were individually led into a private room to receive a special security check. Needless to say, I feared the worst….the rubber glove.
Once again special providence was given, and I was led through a series of somewhat normal, yet more thorough security checks. No significant issues arose. I now wait in the Frankfurt airport, curious to the normalcy of the remainder of my trip…….

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The airline gods must be crazy

I show up to the airline counter to find a line of angry customers. The cause of their frustration: multiple delayed flights to and from Chicago. I joined them in their concern, as my flight to Croatia was originally intended to go from Wichita to Chicago to Frankfurt to Zagreb, Croatia. Recognizing that my initial flight was to be delayed, I employed a particular strategy that I learned while studying at Wichita State University. It is called logic. Based on my deduction, I realized that if I were to miss my first flight, I would in turn miss the rest of my flights, thereby arriving in Croatia long after my team.
I approached the counter with my 95 lb bag, 75 lb bag, and two carry-ons (standard for those overseas travelers). The airline employee at the desk concurred with my deductions and readied herself to help me in my dilemma. I asked if there was a possibility of flying out of Denver instead, and she looked into the situation. During her search, she recognized that I purchased my ticket through a travel agent, to which she stated, “Never do that again.” Upon realizing I had a paper ticket (due to the travel agent), she stated, “Never do that again.” So, we’re off to a good start.
To save time (an American value called “multi-tasking”) she asked how many bags I would be checking and how much they weighed, while she still worked on my connecting flights. She was not impressed with my answer, and consulted some international guidelines. It would cost me and additional 300 some dollars for the heavy bags. In her near-infinite kindness, she continued to look into regulations and discovered I could get by with only paying $120 if I could transfer enough of the weight over to a third bag. Lucky for me, I had packed my army duffle bag.
While transferring my skivvies from one bag to another and continually weighing the bags to achieve proper weight distribution, many frustrated customers watched as I publicly handled my base layer of clothing. At this point I am also holding up the rest of the line, but luckily did not receive any verbal abuse.
The kind employee then asked me if I had a visa to Croatia. Upon heartily laughing to myself, I stated, “No, but it is in process.” Oh, how many times have I made that statement? Way too many. She then question my period stay in Croatia to which the response was, “One year.” She replied, “Well, it says here that you cannot enter the country unless you have a visa or return ticket for within six months.” Cleary I had neither.
Once again, in her near-infinite kindness, she made another call to see what could potentially be done. While on hold she apologizes for the wait, but mentions that there could be a $20,000 fine for the airline for letting me on the plane.
I also ask her if it is a big problem that my last name is misspelled on my ticket (only one letter off). Her reply, “Yes, that’s a big problem.” “Uh-huh, I see…..” I think to myself. She says that all that will happen is that I will be double searched at all the checkpoints. “Yippee,” I sarcastically think to myself.
Eventually the conclusion comes. She says that it would suffice to give me a formal warning that I could be deported from Croatia. Like this is the first time I have heard that. I feared something worse.
She states that is one seat left on the flight to Denver, then also one seat left on the flight from Denver to Frankfurt, then proceeds to book them both for me. It seems that everything is going to work out just fine.
Then, once again in her near infinite-kindness, she says that she will not charge me for exceeding the weight limit on one of my three bags, and also will not charge me for my extra bag. What once seemed grim turned into a quite pleasant experience. Thank you, my unnamed near infinitely-kind airline employee. You have made my life much more enjoyable, and to you I salute.

The airline saga continues……..