Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The last-gate blues

Lots of airline adventures this past weekend. US Airways lost my wife's luggage on the flight back from Kansas City -- we ended up standing there by ourselves at baggage claim, like the kid at the end of "Sleepless in Seattle." Meg Ryan never showed up, but my wife's suitcase did -- about six hours later. Did you know they have somebody bring your found luggage to your house? The woman was very friendly. I hope we never see her again.

The other thing I noticed, as we hustled through the airport to catch the flight out of Charlotte (we were a little late to the gate), was that our gate was the absolute last one at the end of the concourse. And when we got back, we ended up at the absolute last gate at the end of ANOTHER concourse.

It seems like every time I fly, the gate ends up being the one at the far end. I walk by people sitting peacefully at the gates along the way, but I never see anybody get on a plane there. I'm thinking those people are airport employees taking a break in those seats, because they know all the actual passengers have to go down to gate E-64.

I'm going to call this the Law of Terminal Frustration -- no matter where you're flying, your gate is always the one at the end of the concourse.

It goes with the two other rules of modern life:

  1. The Grocery-Store Theorem: The line you're in is the one where the customer in front of you can't figure out how to work the debit-card machine.
  2. The Law of Interstate Congestion: When there's a lot of traffic on the highway, whichever lane you're in automatically becomes the slowest. (The Midas Corollary: The car you get stuck behind is always blowing exhaust like a coal plant.)
Any other natural laws along these lines that we should get on the books? Scientists really need to look harder at this instead of, you know, finding planets and stuff.


Anonymous said...

I've often said that if you and one other person are the only two people in the locker room at the Y, it must be a law of physics that your lockers will be right next to each other and you will have to get out of one another's way.

Anonymous said...

In my former life as a traveling consultant, I experienced this many times. On several occasions, I arrived in Atlanta at D-36, and my connecting flight went out of A-2, a distance of almost 2 miles. Usually with about 20 minutes to make the connection. When I had a couple of hours, the gates would end up right next to each other. I figure that the gate scheduling is handled by the same computer that changes fares 200,000 times an hour.

Michael said...

If you really want to add to this list, check out this comprehensive list of Murphy's Laws:


Anonymous said...

As a mom, I can attest to the consistencey of this "law" - if you are about to go out of town, and your child has the sniffles, one of two things will happen. You'll take the kid to the pediatrician, who will roll his eyes at you for wasting his time over a trifle. Or, you will skip the pediatrician and go on with your trip, where your child will promptly develop strep throat with a 103 degree fever or a raging stomach virus, and you'll become more familiar than you ever want to be with the medical facilities at your vacation spot!

Heru said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Heru said...

"The law of being late for an appointment"

This law comes into play when one is running a tad bit late leaving one area of Charlotte to get to an appointment on time in another area of Charlotte. This law states that all traffic signals will be red upon your arrival at them. To facilitate the above law, Section 2, subsection 4.763 states that you must get stuck behind a driver, preferably a large truck doing 25 mph in a 45 mph zone on a busy two lane, no passing zone road that features many traffic signals.

Section 3, subsection 1.01 states that you must pass through at least one construction zone, preferably on a the same busy two lane, no passing zone road described in Section 2, subsection 4.763 and that you will arrive there when traffic from the opposite direction currently has the right-of-way.

Section 4, subsection &*#%! states that in the event that you may actually get to the area that your appointment is located in with time to spare to confortably arrive on time, you will run into a detour caused by an accident that directly blocks your access to the parking lot of the building that your appointment is located in.

Jason said...

The grocery store theorem, collarary I:

The self-checkout will be the shortest line, however, the person in front of you will be chosen randomly from the following list:

1. 80 year old grandmother who stands in front of the touch screen and stares at it for 10 minutes before someone comes over to help her.

2. Large woman with 5 kids buying two carts full of stuff and paying with food stamps, which can't be done at the self-checkout.

3. Man and wife who zip thru the whole transaction, then realize they forgot one last item and one of them runs back to the store to get it while you wait.

4. The guy with two items and one of them doesn't scan.

5. The 40 year old woman who scans everything, but the last item rings up 10 cents higher than she remembers it should be, so she calls over the attendant to argue about it for 10 minutes.

Jus' Tressie said...

as one who grew up on airplanes i've done considerable gate research and you are correct. no one flies from those front gates.

i've also found that if i pick a stall in an empty bathroom someone will come in right behind me and choose the stall right next to mine...with five others empty. i don't like to share bathroom functions.

also, the less gas you have the more gas guzzling pit stops you'll encounter - construction zone, stop and go behind a school bus, etc.