August 05, 2006



On behalf of the Salad clan, many thanks to those who e-mailed condolences, tapped me on the shoulder at work or left comments in the Salad Bowl (two of which I dimwittedly deleted during comment box scouring).

The service in Columbia, S.C., for Grandma Chick was absolutely lovely. It was a pleasure to see relatives we haven't seen in a long time and meet new ones we'd only heard about.

The worst part of the trip? The flying. As usual.

For someone of my, um, stature, flying is not unlike human origami. My legs contort into angles Euclid never considered. My torso? Let's just say I know how the dough in a cookie press feels.

That said, Columbia Metropolitan Airport is a lovely facility.


I'm serious. Last time we were through there, roughly 10 years ago, the place resembled a utility shed. Everything was under construction. Yellow caution tape was omnipresent. You could have used the joint for bombing practice and not really sacrificed many comforts.



The atmosphere is bright and cheerful. White rocking chairs dot the terminal. The shops are modern and well-stocked. Getting through security is a breeze. It's as nice a place as you could find to spend possibly your last moments on terra firma.

It helps there were hardly any people traveling on Tuesday or Wednesday when we were there, but still...

Unfortunately, the comfort of the airport was not a harbinger of the flight to Dulles International Airport from Columbia.


I don't want to say I felt unsafe or that the plane was small, but as we walked out to the Tarmac, I announced, "Last call for passengers aboard flight 1577 on Lynyrd Skynyrd Air."

After I climbed the stairs, I poked my head through the door and asked the, um, plump and overly cosmetically adorned flight attendant, "Do you have any baby oil so I can get to my seat?"


The cabin was so small, I couldn't turn around when I stood up. That might be because I couldn't stand up. Neither could my nephew, who stands almost two inches taller than I.

I half-expected a recreation of the airline turbulence scene in "Almost Famous," when the band flies through a storm and everyone starts confessing their darkest sins, deepest hatreds and true sexual orientation.

Sound ludicrous? My eldest sister-in-law, Faith, had one diminuitive, greasy-haired, twig-like Canadian with a receding hairline in the seat next to her on the flight to Washington D.C. from Tampa announce, "I make beautiful babies." And that was without any significant jostling in the cabin to elicit such a proclamation.

I told her that I suspected he had the "making" part in mind, not the "babies" part.

But that was just supposition.


For me, head room was not an option.

I will say, however, that it was convenient to be able to push the button for the flight attendant with the tip of my nose. And having the air nozzles so close to my forehead kept my skin smooth and kissable.

As if all that wasn't enough Salad fodder, the flight home to Tampa from Washington held even more visual doubloon.


I sat in the front row facing the bulkhead. There was a little cutout that allowed the crew to see the passengers from their jump seats during take-off and landing. From my vantage point, it was like having a little flight-attendant channel on TV.

All of which would have been fine if our flight had been blessed with normal flight attendants.

We were not.


Instead, we got this gent, who could have passed for a paunchier, more flamboyant Martin Mull.

Then I noticed his name tag.

So I turned off the flash on my camera and slid it up the bulkhead so I could photograph it covertly.

The guy across the aisle from me, who looked like Ronde Barber (or Tiki Barber, for that matter), stifled a laugh and said, "You need to put that on the Internet."

I promised him that indeed I would.

What did the nametag say?


Even Grandma Chick would have laughed at that one.

Posted by Jeff at August 5, 2006 03:55 PM | TrackBack

Ebonie is classic, but is that a Fuddruckers logo on his nametag? Did they start an airline a la Hooters, or did this guy forget to switch uniforms after flipping burgers at his other job?

Posted by: Rommie at August 5, 2006 06:55 PM

Couple things

A) Nephew---hot.
B) Plane---I've had cartons of cigarettes that were bigger than that.
C) Flight Attendant Narcolepsy is a serious issue in today's world, many support groups can be found by searching the internet. Remember, everyone is "differently abled."

Posted by: Addison at August 5, 2006 07:25 PM

My guess is he lost a bet with a bartender at Fuddruckers.

I'm guessing she's wearing a United nametag that reads, "Whitey."

Posted by: Jeff at August 6, 2006 12:39 AM

I could never have made that flight. That cabin looks like a matchbox! I would have been a gibbering maniac by the time I deplaned. Shudder!

Posted by: Sandy at August 9, 2006 04:37 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?