Without consulting me directly, or at all, the Veep appeared from the sky one day in September first to ruin and then to improve my life.
London, earlier this year: I promised two friends that I would maintain an annual tradition by dining with them in Toronto this summer. Both are investment advisors, and both a good foot taller than me. Walking into a restaurant, flanked, makes me look like an itsy bitsy Mafia boss, a man I call Don Disturb.
My mother's family then called a gathering for Boston in September. It seemed logical to combine the trips and to not pay for any of it.
Using air miles and hotel upgrades, I flew from London to Toronto in business class and spent 10 days lounging in an upmarket hotel suite in downtown Toronto. Then a flight to Boston for four nights in a hotel that mirrored the country it was built in: once quite something, but now dilapidated and cheap.
All went swimmingly until the return trip. Because I'd used miles from two airlines, I had to fly first to Toronto and thence to London. With hotel checkout at 11 a.m., an 18-hour trip beckoned; half of it spent aloft.
I spent hours smoking outside Logan airport in a zone not dedicated to that purpose. No one seemed to mind. I had been doing the same thing outside the cheap hotel, where a sign said that no smoking was allowed "in this area." Which area, I asked myself. The Boston area? The Western hemisphere? Such imprecision is international: a sign outside London's Gatwick airport says "No smoking outside the airport." My apartment is outside the airport.
Back at Logan, as boarding time approached, a two-hour delay was announced. "Poor visibility" was the official reason given, even though it was the clearest day in Boston since 1631. I soon enough ferreted out the truth. Joltin' Joe Biden was flying in, and airspace the length of the Eastern Seaboard had been closed as a consequence.
In this regard, Logan has form. In 1977, my Mum and I had been trapped for hours on a plane that had just landed there, because Jimmy Carter was flying in. Democrats, they just get in the way.
Biden's need to do nothing of importance in Boston, rather than in Washington, D.C., meant that I would miss my Toronto connection. I threw myself on the mercy of a fellow named Phil at the American Airlines lounge and thus, AA bumped a lucky traveler into first class on British Airways. I was booked to fly home direct, Boston to London.
We now recall with fondness the memory of my beloved suitcase, aged 10, which was smashed either by the handlers in Boston, or Biden's people.
In the end, I arrived home two hours earlier than I would have otherwise. Against all odds, Biden had at last done something useful during his vice presidency. Happy holidays.
ROGER CROMBIE is a London-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at email@example.com
December 1, 2011
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