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Notes from the Flightline….

Jun 7

In Rants, Travels at 10:46pm

Man it was rough at Kennedy. I mean, it’s never easy at that nexus of sweat, angst, nerves and fatigue nestled near the Brooklyn shoreline. It’s a classic case of way too many of the frayed, obnoxious and demanding being serviced by way too few of the disinterested and disgruntled.

The cafeteria line was really long, made longer by people demanding specialty food alterations that really didn’t have a prayer of making anything that had been baking under glass for several hours in the noxious JFK terminal air taste any better.

One of the guys slinging food behind the counter did a quick, mostly covert move and appeared to get his finger so far up his nose as to indicate there might have been something truly valuable up there, but, ahhh, relief, he turned around and put on gloves. Thank goodness….with the motley and colorful variety of pizzas served there it would be tough to pick out a booger.

I got stuck behind two pleasant ladies who insisted on debating the various tantalizing merits of almost every offering, but then got themselves one slice of cheese pizza to split and moved forward. I was right behind them at the register when they sparked a lively debate with the cashier about getting the pizza/salad combo price and were informed the discount didn’t apply to a piece of plain cheese pie.

It was all cordial and chummy, but it took several minutes to agree to the ala carte pricing. And then! Drumroll please! The search for the wallet begins! Both of these ladies had shoulder bags the size of say, a large turkey. They were both crafted in that puffy, fabric-y style that looked like they were stitched together from the also rans at last year’s county fair quilting contest. Colorful is the kindest word I can find at this writing.

Eventually, the wallets were found, and the aforementioned pizza was bought. Why do women do that? Wait for the cashier to tell them the total and have a hand out before they in turn reach for the dough? I mean, they hadda zip open these bags and begin a rummage that would make the search for the holy frikkin’ grail look as easy as a connect the dots game on a Denny’s placemat.

I would not have put my hand inside one of these bags. The innards were spilling out and looked a bit reminiscent of that plant in Little Shop of Horrors. I was waiting for one of them to belch “Feed me!” in guttural tones. I’m surprised these women had all their fingers.

See, men don’t do that. They belly up to the counter, $20 in hand, and just fork it over. Like Robin Williams says, you get your McBurger and fries, grab your McChange and get the McFuck outta there. Maybe it’s cause we all remember our first illegal beer bought at a bar and we had no idea what it was gonna cost so we had a twenty ready to go so as not to get embarrassed by having to fish out some extra dough on the spot. Dunno. Might be genetic. Might be that chromosome right next to the one that causes Male Refrigerator Blindness.

Back to the ladies. Oh, we’re not done!  They also asked for cokes with lots of ice cause they had just got back from Europe, and you know, “In Europe, they just don’t serve anything with ice! I mean, really! They drink their soda warm! Can you imagine? And you can’t get tap water anywhere, it’s all in bottles, they cost like $6 each! I tell you, we’re glad to be back in America!”

And by golly, we’re glad to have you back…

I got on the plane and was seated next to someone who was part of a group that couldn’t get seats together so they were shouting to each other over the aisles. Pleasant. My neighbor allowed in a loud voice as he probably shouldn’t have just had those 4 beers. It was a swell flight. More tk…..

David duChemin says:

on June 7, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Joe – Some day we’ll all sit together in group therapy and talk about these moments. Amazing we’ve not all gone shouty crackers and stuffed someone into the overhead bin for the duration of a flight…Safe travels.

Eugene says:

on June 7, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Hahaha, the part about the ladies’ bags being the size of a turkey is hilarious!

Tommy says:

on June 7, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Mr. McNally, this made me laugh out loud, then almost cry… I have never related to one of your posts more.

Hope you feel better.

Ben Madden says:

on June 7, 2009 at 11:57 pm

So true!! Come on ladies, don’t act so surprised when it’s time to pay.

Bon voyage, Joe.

Gwrey says:

on June 8, 2009 at 12:17 am

True. Very sad but true! :)

Great read!!

Stormin Norm says:

on June 8, 2009 at 12:20 am

a coworker and I caught a packed late-nighter. I waited until all seats were filled, he was several rows in front of me. I gathered all of the barf bags in the row and leaned up and said” Hey Dude, I know how weak your stomach is, I’ll see if I can get more.” and tossed them into his lap. You shouldda seen the looks from the others around him!

Brad Gingerich says:

on June 8, 2009 at 12:29 am

Joe, you are hilarious! Love reading about your various adventures and escapades…keep it up, Brad

Sherri says:

on June 8, 2009 at 1:49 am

…still laughing about the booger. high-larious. excellent writing too Joe.

Anyone who has travelled extensively can empathize with your experience(s)…sometimes I catch myself staring in disbelief when crazy (scratch that, typical) stuff like this happens. “is this really happening?”

Jim Cutler says:

on June 8, 2009 at 2:56 am

Joe, The Waiting-till-they’re-given-the-total-price-before-even-attempting-to-begin-opening-the-handbag is like my #1 or #2 pet peeve in life. It drives me freaking crazy when I see it coming. I’m a New Yorker and a guy so I’m not only completely ready with the dough an hour early, I’m also already stressing that the bill I have is slightly larger than what the total is gonna be, and therefore gonna slow myself down for a few extra seconds. I wish it was socially acceptable to yell “All right you knuckleheads, get out your damn wallets now and be ready.” Of course, I can dream, can’t I?

Don Horne says:

on June 8, 2009 at 2:58 am

Oh the joy of flying these days, no wonder I head straight to the airport bar!

“Both of these ladies had shoulder bags the size of say, a large turkey.” …When you start talking of poultry, I picture you using them as impromptu light stands for some SB-900’s :)

stephen says:

on June 8, 2009 at 4:54 am

flying sucks… we know…

Darren says:

on June 8, 2009 at 5:08 am

First class isn’t what it used to be 😉

tom aellis says:

on June 8, 2009 at 7:41 am

OMG, perfect.

Everytime I’m at the checkout counter at the food store and behind a lady, young or old, I say a little prayer “Please don’t pay with a check, please dont’…….) But, they do. Who uses checks anymore????
Keep truckin’ joe.

Joe H says:

on June 8, 2009 at 8:46 am

Just what I needed to read before my 8-hour flight next week! (And Joe — JFK’s in Queens!)

Carol says:

on June 8, 2009 at 9:40 am

I’m guessing they had puffy hair and thick Jersey accents too. Did every sentence start with “Oh my Gaaawd….” ??

The second biggest mystery in life is…which is supposed to be puffier. The hair, the purse, or the fake boobs? My money is on “hair” but, you know, I could be wrong about that. (Don’t even bother trying to figure out why all of them always seem to go to the bathroom in groups.)

Younes says:

on June 8, 2009 at 9:53 am

The joys of flying :), makes you wonder why you’d want to do travel assignments in the first place sometimes…yet we keep coming back.

Kathy Marciante says:

on June 8, 2009 at 10:09 am

TOO FUNNY!!! ….but so true! Did they look for the “exact change” and then place it all on the counter so the cashier has to pick it up penny by penny? Welcome Home!

Lisa says:

on June 8, 2009 at 10:26 am

As one of the few females in existence that does NOT carry a purse…this made me laugh my ass off!

Ron says:

on June 8, 2009 at 10:30 am

I’m sitting at Heathrow reading this on my phone and do you know what? Those gals with the turkey-sized bags are here too! What is it about middle-aged American ladies?

Yep……air travel sucks!

Heinz says:

on June 8, 2009 at 11:16 am

Flying on a commercial airliner is just not something that anyone with an average level of intelligence should do. Sheep would find the experience quite normal though, pleasant even. Heinz

Ranger 9 says:

on June 8, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Mr. McNally is on medical leave of absence. Today’s guest blogger is Andy Rooney, author of One Hundred Zillion Squillion Trivial Things That Really Irritate Me.

Ian Lozada says:

on June 8, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Joe, I’m disappointed. With all that time in line, you didn’t set up 17 SB-900’s to take a beautifully lit photo of the handbags?

Ty Mattheu says:

on June 8, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Hey Joe….

Having fun yet?


How bout now?

Not yet?


Bill Bogle, Jr. says:

on June 8, 2009 at 3:22 pm

It is like the people who go into Starbucks, and cannot make up their mind, staring blankly at the board, looking like people who wandered into this new and different place and cannot grasp the concept of ordering.


Sorry, I get irritable before I get coffee.

Thnaks Joe for your travel sense.

Bill Bogle, Jr.

Joe McNally says:

on June 8, 2009 at 3:23 pm

stormin norman…hey man, that’s really twisted…and very funny. Nice work….you gotta laugh and poke fun at just about every thing out there, cause so much of it is nuts…good job, Joe

Barbara Nitowski Molyneaux says:

on June 8, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Hi Joe– I recently stumbled across your blog and have had a great time reading about your adventures in Photo Land. It’s been nice reading your thoughts about friends and family too. It’s like mulling over old times with a bottle of wine and a cheap cigar. You haven’t changed in 33 years! You have the same drive, work ethic, tenacity and……. sick sense of humor. Kidding… I have a big smile on my face.

Kevin says:

on June 8, 2009 at 6:26 pm


David says:

on June 8, 2009 at 7:22 pm

It ain’t only American women. Same thing in Japan…

Chris says:

on June 8, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Joe: Your airbag shot reminded me…I once brought a doughnut on board that was in one of those “windowed” bags, the same size and shade of white as the airsick bag. Don’t know if these exist anymore; but I’m sure you can think of a few pranks if you can find one…

Scott Spagnoli says:

on June 8, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Oh man-
That shot out the jet window brings back memories of my wife and I sitting on the tarmac at the same airport, nothing to eat or drink, for over 7 hours, then suddenly our flight is cancelled due to “weather.” Found a hotel room in Flushing at 3 AM, then had to get up, go back, ended up waiting another 3 hours on the tarmac, but finally left.

JFK is Satan.

George says:

on June 8, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Too many hours on planes and too many airports…… I have great empathy. Fortunately I fly to the same locations throughout the year – makes seating easier to get and airports easier to navigate, but it is still travel and I still have to put up with Agnes and Mabel.

Liz Gibson says:

on June 8, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Whilst I understand your frustration, not all women are like. So please don’t paint us all with the same brush.

Me personally, I use a man’s wallet that I keep handy in my back pocket.

Becky says:

on June 8, 2009 at 11:36 pm

Ok. So I carry a purse the size of a large chicken because I usually have a camera in it…
I always have my wallet out and am ready to pay so when these women are in front of me I want to scream…but they are my age and I get that they are probably on meds and menopausal and just not firing all cylinders so what is the point?
You have shamed me into investing in a smaller purse…

marcello says:

on June 9, 2009 at 7:32 am

Oh my Gaaawd! (eheh)
are those really chunks of what i think it is on the barf bag?!?!?


Thomas says:

on June 9, 2009 at 8:45 am


It’s when looking inside ladies handbags that you realise that money isn’t all…

Doug Wilson says:

on June 9, 2009 at 9:33 am

Funny stuff, your travel woes read like a Bill Bryson book. Keep sane and stay safe!

reklamcı says:

on June 9, 2009 at 10:11 am

Hi, thank you for the information that you provide.

Douglass says:

on June 9, 2009 at 11:39 am

What, no unruly child kicking the back of your seat throughout the flight?

Agi B says:

on June 9, 2009 at 11:49 am

This type of rant can only be conceived from a perspective when one thinks he is a.) superior and b.) right, i.e. most men on this Earth. Now about the bags, in case you have not realised Mr McNally, we do need the large bags cause you men refuse to take anything sensible with you, or when you do you promptly hand it over to your women as you leave the door. Hun, can you put my valet, mobile and drivers licence in there, since you have a bag with ya’? You see, we do carry the world’s problems on our shoulders and we do not even cause half of it.

Lilianna Story says:

on June 9, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Well I may be the sore thumb here, but this cathartic expression of frustrations with the perils of traveling is interesting- interesting enough to write about it.
What I sense from you, Joe, is an inconspicuous celebration that life does not exist on a conveyor belt. The things that are unusual and sometimes excruciatingly frustrating lend interest to the wonderful thing called LIFE.
I applaud you.
Hats off to the ladies and CHEERS to their turkey purses.

Dave Kallaway says:

on June 9, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Joe…a lot of “you’re so funny” and “I read your blog all the time” comments..all valid stud! I love your stuff! But a little question about you being on a plane. Do you carry a little point and shoot around and take pics on board?? And if so I know you’re not whipping out your D3 to take those..what little camera do you use for rainy day on da plane shots??

Nike Kobe IV says:

on June 9, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I carry a purse the size of a large chicken because I usually have a camera in i….

Fabian Gonzales says:

on June 9, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Joe, this one is for you:

Shirley Robb says:

on June 9, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Oh my…I needed that laugh today!

David says:

on June 9, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Whoa! Is that puke on the outside of the bag??

Ron Browne says:

on June 9, 2009 at 9:19 pm

I always get stuck behind the lady who is trying to refinance her house at the ATM…

Charlene says:

on June 10, 2009 at 8:19 am

That was truly a funny Joe story; I’ve missed those!

Cole says:

on June 10, 2009 at 10:48 am

Oof, air travel.

My worst horror story (hedging out some other only slightly less colourful ones) was a flight coming back to the US from New Delhi, India, by way of Doha, Qatar. About five minutes out of Doha, the 5-year-old in front of me literally craps his pants. His mortified parents squabble about who has to take care of it (all the while, the smell wafts about the cabin), and then the father takes the hit. However, they must not have stowed the dirty trousers well because the smell persisted for the rest of the 14ish-hour flight..

drew says:

on June 10, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Hey guys,

Thanks VERY much for all the feedback! Everything is up and running pretty smoothly, but wanted to let you know that we are working on the RSS/Google Feed issues.

Hang in there,

garrey says:

on June 10, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Hi Joe,
I met you in Boston this year at the NApp convention.
I know you wont remember me, but I was one of those crazies asking you if I could take your picture.
That “Booger”comment and the iphone video were awesome.

Good luck with your new Blog!


Andy MacDougall says:

on June 11, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Great stuff Joe, loved the pizza booger bit !

As for the turkey bags – My lord the lady doth protesteth too much. They all do it, it’s pre-programmed, take everything they could possibly need for any eventuality !


Susan says:

on June 13, 2009 at 9:15 am

LOL! Thanks for the morning chuckle!

Bruce says:

on June 14, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Re the lady paying: I once explained the difference between men and women to my two teenage daughters: a woman will stand at the front of a long line and count out three dollars in change, penny by penny. A man will give a $5 bill and throw the coins in a jar when he gets home at the end of the day. A woman will carry enough change to weigh down a Buick in a tornado. A man won’t carry change because it makes his pockets jingle and his pants sag.

Air jordans says:

on June 16, 2009 at 3:59 am

Great post! I like it!

Malinda H says:

on June 16, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Not ALL girls have bags like that. I personally have money in hand on the way to the register 99% of the time…. but if i see you in line, i may just hafta play “girlie!”
: )

jakob says:

on June 16, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Great post, great writing, sounds like Joe!

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