Getting to the North (or…no one goes to Akron on purpose)


You’ll be happy to know that I’ve got kindness in the bag, and am moving my focus to the getting thin and published part of my journey, which is good, because I can’t button last summer’s Calvin’s. (uh huh. they still sell them)

I returned from Akron, Ohio on Sunday, where my kindness, which I’ve established is simply my ability to keep my mouth shut, was tested relentlessly. I had never been to Ohio before because I had a sneaking suspicion of what I would find there, and the good people of Akron did not disappoint.

Surprising me not one bit, there were no direct flights to Akron from my city, so I had to connect in Charlotte. I arrived in Terminal C, which is riddled with about 19 Starbucks, Einstein’s Bagel, and descent shopping, but my departure flight…with the same airline I arrived with, was leaving from terminal E…gate 37, which is as high as the numbers go at CLT. It was as if the airline was punishing us for traveling to Akron in something other than a Clark Family-style station wagon.

 I walked for over 20 minutes, and when I arrived at E, gone were the identifiable brands America trusts and loves, and in their place was one coffee stand with 2 carafes and a barista who looked like Uncle Lester, and a Margie and Jack’s shop selling saran wrapped tuna sandwiches made who-knew when.  After noting the destinations of the surrounding flights were to places like Birmingham, Alabama and Fort Something I’ve Never Heard Of, Florida, I surmised that we had been banished to this God-forsaken (quite literally) terminal full of odd balls headed to places this airline hated to fly. We were unfit to be within eyesight or screaming distance of those headed to glamorous places, like Orlando.

Chest heaving slightly from my sojourn, I walked up to a gate attendant to get my 1st Class seat assignment. She looked at me hard for a second and then said, “Honey, this flight aint gonna have no 1st class.”

“That’s funny,” I replied, taking a deep breath to keep myself from any remarks on the technical issues in what she had said, and chose to instead focus on the content, “Because the airline sold me the upgrade. I know it is usually unwise to assume, but in this case, I thought it was fair to deduce that I was being sold something that, you know, existed.”

“Yeah, no. I dunno. Never has. This flight goes to Akron,” she explained and returned her gaze to the important task of trimming her cuticles with her acrylics.

While waiting for my crop duster to board, a Japanese-speaking man got hold of an intercom and was jibberty jink-jink-tink-talking for about five minutes. I seemed to be only person to find this odd.  No staff members raised a bushy brow in confusion.

I arrived at one of Akron/Canton’s 11 gates. Gates. Not Terminals. The SmartCart machine took dollar bills and quarters, like the arcades in the early 90’s.

The rental car people were helpful, manly women. I was mildly alarmed at the number of women I had seen since my arrival who suffered from over-processed hair. It would be an interesting study to check in on the number of women, now in their 40’s and 50’s, who used to iron their hair in the 70’s, perm and color it in the 80’s, sun-in in the 90’s, and attempted recovery ever since.

I rented a cute and environmentally-conscientious Prius and spent far too many minutes figuring out how to turn in on, and later, how to put it in “park”. I’m sure if I was a Mac and not a PC user, this would not have been a problem, but the same flaming geeks bent on undoing the comfortable and familiar interface I’ve become accustomed to, must have been on this auto’s design team.

My stay in Akron was unremarkable, other than the home school convention where I spent 3 days (that is another post or two, entirely), but at the airport, upon my 5am exodus from the city,  a woman in shorts so florescent pink that I felt my heart rate increase, declared the following to her travel mates. Loudly. At 4:45 in the morning.

“Don’t you just hate going through security? (No pause for response) I do. I just hate it. It stresses me right out. I feel like I done something wrong (I glance at the well thought-out placement of her calf-tattoo). LAST year, I wanted to be comfy, so I dressed in my overalls. (I bite my tongue. In half) Had I known they would think I looked like a terrorist (You didn’t. You looked like old MacDonald. Equally disturbing) I woulda dressed differently (Really? That’s the only reason you’re questioning your wardrobe choice?).  They patted me down. It was embarrassing. (Yep. The pat-down was the embarrassing part)”

Let this be a lesson to us all. Any other suggestions for travel fashion  no-no’s? I’ll repost all suggestions as a go-to listing for travelers who hope to never be openly mocked on a fellow passenger’s blog.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Getting to the North (or…no one goes to Akron on purpose)

  1. Celeste

    Hmm… Glad to get a heads-up on What Not to Wear before my own big travel plans next month. :o)

    I’ve seen insane outfits – but mostly they have been while working at Kings Dominion. Somehow when taken out of their ordinary environment, people seem to leave their common sense at home as well. That’s, of course, assuming that they had any stocked up to begin with.

    • Good point Celeste! I’ve heard people complain that they don’t know how to dress up, but I would assert that many of us haven’t a clue on how to dress down. Casual does not equal unflattering.

      Oh, I think Stacy and Clinton need never worry about job security…

  2. Wow, what a question. I anticipate many of these responses will apply to just about any scenario, including – but definitely not limited to – travel.

    Actually, I think it’s kind of a fun game to try and figure out where people live, based on how they’re dressed (doesn’t have to be too accurate, more of a “going home or leaving home?” kind of thing).

    I’ve seen any number of fashion disasters on the runway (the airport kind, that is) – probably in the name of comfort. In general, limiting metal is a good idea for security, but you don’t have to eliminate it entirely. A zipper on a pair of jeans, for example, will not set off the detector. You don’t have to resort to elastic – you can wear normal pants.

    On a practical note, I advocate a jacket or sweatshirt because it is without exception FREEZING once we reach altitude.

    • You make a strong point with regards to zipper v. elastic. I’m with you there. Although I love me some classic black leggings IF YOU WEAR SOMETHING THAT COVERS YOUR REAR.
      I would add additional detail to the bit about metal (and this is based on my experience at the Miami airport):
      Take your cell phones, chains, switch blades, grills (of the teeth), and brass knuckles out of your pockets in advance. And I won’t clarify “in advance of what?”

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