Very occasionally a good thing happens to good people. Now before you start writing, I do not of course, see myself as a good person. But as you all know from reading the blog, Gordon most definitely is. And as the T shirt says “I’m with him”.
So a good thing happened. We had booked business class tickets to Madrid which is to be the starting point of a six week vacation. Twenty four hours before the flight is to leave we go on line to check in, and discover that our seats have been changed and we are no longer sitting together. Gordon sees this as the good news I have been talking about, but I do not. I persuade him to go into the seat plan and change the seats back to the original ones we had chosen. It is at this point we realize our good luck. Our new seat assignments are not in business class, they are in first class.
We have no idea why we have been upgraded, and we are certainly not going to draw attention to the fact by asking, or even by moving our seats.We are going to play dumb, something that comes easily to one of us, and I will leave you to decide which one of us that might be. But remember the T shirt.
So, as quickly and as quietly as we can, we check in and print out the boarding passes which clearly state “first class”. Is it too good to be true? We have never flown first class before, and we are offering silent prayers to the Travel Gods.
Te the Airport reality really sets in when we go to check in at the business class lounge. The charming man behind the counter looks at our tickets, and says
“Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in the first class lounge”
We are so new to this level of luxury that we had no idea there was a first class lounge. But if there is, that is definitely where I belong and I certainly do not need to be asked twice.
The first class lounge is huge, and unlike the business class lounge where it is always hard to find a seat, it is virtually deserted. It is decorated in black and gold with giant Chinese vases sitting on expensive looking tables. All rather faded and in need of a face lift, much like the handful of guests occupying the high backed chairs. I am rather disappointed to tell you that they look just like the hoi polloi in business class (the guests not the chairs) . We definitely raise the tone of the place.
Gone are the peanuts and triskets that are the snacks offered in business class. In their place are trays of sushi, and an array of french cheeses, all of which can be washed down with endless glasses of bubbles. I am quite disappointed when our flight is called.
It is at that point that I decide to visit the washroom. Having done what I came for, I go to wash my hands and there, sitting on a lovely marble counter between two extravagantly shaped basins with opulent fixtures are the expected dispensers of soap and hand cream. What isn’t expected is the brand name and description
Now, dear readers, I am the first to recognize a little zany, off beat humor, but when one has paid thousands of dollars more than the average Joe to travel with United, does one really want to use products from the cowshed, especially a “zesty hand soap” from a “grubby cow”. Exactly how zesty is that soap? And then there is the hand cream from a cow pat – how moisturizing is that?
Now you may not know this about me, and I am hesitant to mention it to you, but I have had many close encounters with cow sheds. At this point I will pause while you try to accommodate this unlikely piece of information, but before your mind wanders into the surreal, I should tell you that my brother was a farmer for most of his working life. I certainly have no intention of besmirching the way my brother looked after his cows, but I am hear to tell you that cowsheds and personal hygiene do not go together.
I am still thinking about this as I enter the aircraft, where a very charming but seriously age challenged attendant directs me to my seat. For a moment my mind wanders from the cowshed to the flight attendant. Won’t it be embarrassing to have someone who appears to be older than I am attending to my every need for the next eleven hours? But within minutes she has brought me my first glass of champagne, so I am sure I will get over it.
Next she brings me, what the airlines call, my “amenity bag”, and once more I discover the unappreciated benefits of the cow shed.
I must admit “bullocks soothing moisturizer” has a certain ring to it. But “relaxing pillow mist” from a sleepy cow does not.
What was United thinking of? This gives a new understanding of the term “cattle class”, a description United should realize was never intended for their most luxurious class of travel.
At this point, my mind flashes back to the first class lounge where, if you remember, there was a tray of sushi. This was a nice arrangement of rows of different sushi rolls next to an elegant display of salmon sushi. Now both Gordon and I are partial to sushi, and our favorite is the salmon. We picked up a small side plate and a pair of silver tongs that were placed next to the display and lent in to take a couple of pieces. Our forward motion was suddenly interrupted when a young lady (I am being kind, she was neither young, nor a lady) holding a large dinner plate and what appeared to be a small shovel, elbowed her way in front of us, piercing my right foot with her stiletto and so cleverly preventing me from moving. I gasped in pain while she, with one practiced scoop of her shovel, removed every piece of salmon sushi from the display and piled them indiscriminately on her plate.
As she rapidly disappeared into a dim corner of the faded lounge, an image flashed across my mind
Another cow heading for the cowshed.