Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Monday, January 29, 2007

My celebrity weekend, part 1

Well, it started on Friday night around 11pm. I had to fly back from Los Angeles to Chicago for a meeting on Saturday morning, and for these kinds of things, I've developed kind of a routine, which is:

- fly overnight and get 2-3 hours of sleep on the plane
- get into wherever I'm going at 5am (or so)
- go to wherever I'm staying (in this case, my apartment in Chicago) and get another 3 hours sleep
- go to the meeting, recording session, runthrough, etc.
- fly back on the last flight of the night, and then be back in Los Angeles by midnight or so.

Piece of cake, right? I do this about once a week.

Now, as you can imagine, I've gotten very good at working the upgrades so that I can fly in First Class as much as humanly possible. It can make a huge difference in how these trips go, and I'm dedicated about making it happen. Now, most of the time, my airline of choice is United, but because American is running a special at the moment (25,000 bonus miles if I make 3 trips into O'Hare before Feb 28!), I'm on American.

American's rules about upgrading a little weird, compared to most other airlines, so you gotta pay close attention if you're gonna try it. With most airlines, you put in the request in advance and if there's room, they confirm it. If there's not, then they put you on the list, which means that when you're at the gate, if First Class isn't full, then they move you up into an empty seat. On American, however, if you don't get confirmed into First Class, you have to wait til you get to the airport and then ask to put yourself on the list AGAIN for the empty seats. Then the priority of who gets what is based on how early you showed up at the airport. It's a totally wack system, if you ask me, and if I hadn't asked about it at the gate, I would have missed my chance to move into First altogether.

However, I'm not the only one who was confused by this rule! I'm standing at the counter waiting on my upgrade to be called, and there's a tall stocky man standing beside me trying to get the gate agent's attention while she is checking out the upgrade list.

The conversation went like this:

Tall Stocky Guy (TSG): "Excuse me, miss, I wanted to see if..."

Gate Agent (GA): (not looking up) "Just one moment, sir."

TSG: "I just wanted to make sure..."

GA: (still not looking up) "Just a moment, sir. I need to call these upgrades out."

TSG: "Yes, I know that and I wanted to get..."

GA: (absolutely still not looking up while picking up the PA microphone) "I'll be right with you, sir. I just need to announce these upgrades."

TSG: "Wait, please..."


The entire terminal breaks into applause as TSG, a.k.a Mike Ditka throws his hands up into the air and then bangs them on the counter.

Then GA looks at Mike with a completely straight face and says "Yes, sir, how can I help you?"

Iron Mike's trouble's were not over, however. Mike had been given the illustrious seat 5B in First, which is the back seat on the aisle, and of course, they seat everyone in First Class first, which means that now Mike is in his seat, and the entire population of Economy (a totally full flight) would be filing past him as if he was the king and they were his subjects. Which, let's face it, they were. I mean, this is a flight bound to Chicago, and the Bears are one week away from their first Super Bowl appearance in 20 years, which was with Iron Mike.

There was a moment where I thought maybe I should ask if he wants to trade seats with me, who was living in anonymity in 6F, the back window seat. But before I could ask, he quickly pretended to be asleep, as Economy started to board. Honestly, I can't blame him. No less than 15 people walked by, whispering to their friend "Wake him up! It's Ditka!", but thankfully nobody did.

I have to say the biggest surprise about seeing the man in person is that he's much taller than I thought he was. I'm so used to seeing him on TV, being dwarfed by his players, that I was genuinely surprised to see that Ditka is, in fact, taller than me. Turns out those football players are a LOT taller than me, which is probably the reason that I do not play football. Well, that, and the fact that I don't really follow football.

However, I'm not as clueless as my good friend Alexandra Billings, with whom I was on the phone when all this was happening.

Me: "Alex, I'm on the plane with Mike Ditka!"

Alex: "That's fantastic, sweetie! How exciting! Now, is he the baseball guy?"

This all being said, the flight was very uneventful, and Ditka managed to get off the plane in Chicago without too much hubbub. There was an American representative waiting for Ditka on the jetbridge, and he quickly escorted him to a motorized cart to drive him through the terminal. (Nice service! Even Pierce Brosnan didn't get this, although he stole my seat, which is a whole other story.)

As he was getting into the cart, I said "Good luck next Sunday, coach!", to which he said "Thanks, kid." and then sped away into the pre-dawn darkness of Terminal 3. Bleary-eyed, I was kicking myself for not asking for a ride with him. Not so much because I was hoping for quality time with the guy, but because it was 5am and I was tired!

Well, you win some, you lose some. We'll see next Sunday.

Go here to see part 2.


Anonymous larisa said...

yeah ive seen ditka many-o-time on that motorized cart @ ohare... wearing a ditka shirt too!

but - did you sleep with him? offer a bj at least?

1/29/2007 9:48 PM

Anonymous Alex said...

Ohhh......THAT Mike Ditka!

1/30/2007 12:51 PM


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