Whaddup Oprah — I’m in Chicago!

For those of you who think many of my First Time Fridays have been easy or even cop-outs, keep reading.

Today I flew to Monica’s house in Illinois (an obvious first). The trip there involved many firsts.

The journey started with me taking the Metro North train into Grand Central Terminal. This was the first time I took the train solo. I’ve gone to New York City handfuls of time in middle and high school to watch a Broadway show, but not often for travel.

My loving brother woke up an hour and a half early to drive me to the train station before work. I then bought my ticket and headed to the tracks.

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Does anyone else think the benches at the Poughkeepsie Train station look like the connecting walkway between the Quad Commons and the Dion Center?

Along the way, a young man asked if I had fifty cents, since he had supposedly left his debit card at home. I had easy access to the one-dollar Sacagawea coins, which was how my change was given to me from the ticket kiosk after purchasing my own ticket, which I gave the man. It was only ten minutes into my trip and I had already helped someone.

After I got on the train and claimed a window seat facing the Hudson River, the woman sitting behind me asked me to verify that this train was going to Grand Central. I told her yes. It was weird to think that me, someone who barely thought she knew what she was doing, was then being the one who others asked for help.

The train ride, which took about an hour and a half, was fine. I listened to music the entire time because the girls sitting in front of me were talking too loudly to focus on reading.

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A nice castle I saw on the train.

I arrived at Grand Central Terminal at 8:30 and waited for Alex’s train to arrive. When I first texted Alex for subway guidance earlier this week, she told me she had off from work today and offered to escort me to the airport.

I’m so, SO gracious that she helped me, because it was clear from the first second we got underground that I am absolutely clueless about the subway system. Alex worked the ticket machine to get the type I wanted (one with multiple swipes) and then I tried to put the money into the wrong slot. What a derp.

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Once I got my ticket, we headed on the subway to the Port Authority, and then got on the E train, which took us from Manhattan to Queens. I’ve never taken a subway by myself before, so I’m very thankful Alex accompanied me. If it weren’t for her city expertise, I’d probably be stuck in New York.

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We took the E train all the way to the JFK AirTran connection. Alex took the AirTran with me, too, and then helped me find my terminal. At around 10:30 we said our goodbyes; I headed to security and to find my gate.

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I got through security fine, but the guy in front of me got stopped for having a knife in his bag. I ate my bagged lunch at the airport waiting area, wrote part of this post and waited around for my flight.

My first flight boarded at 1. I had an aisle seat next to a nice woman. Kit was our flight attendant and she was very nice. She served me mini pretzels with a bright smile.

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The flight took off on time, and I have to admit I was a little nervous about it. It’s been exactly five years since I last flew and I forgot what to expect. This was also the first time I’ve flown by myself. But all went well, and we landed an hour earlier than expected.

 

I arrived in Detroit and trekked across the illogical, but clean, airport to my next terminal. Detroit has this tunnel that lights up according to the music, which I thought was very strange, and especially unexpected for people with epilepsy.

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I liked the Detroit airport much better than JFK. There is much more seating and the bathrooms are way bigger, and cleaner.

My second flight, to Chicago, was on time as well. Or so we thought. We boarded the plane at 5. I was sitting next to man who looked exactly like Raj from The Big Bang Theory. Again, I had an aisle seat.

This plane was much smaller and many people had to check their bag, but I, luckily, got away with both my purse and my two carry-ons. The flight attendant on this flight was not nice at all. She was nasty from the moment I saw her interact with Raj Jr., who had placed his briefcase in the overhead compartment, even though they asked that only large bags be placed there and smaller bags under the seats.

Raj Jr. had a big problem when the flight attendant handed him his bag and demanded he put it at his feet. The situation immediately grew tense as they began to bicker back and forth.

Raj Jr. then got on his cell phone and called Delta to complain about this flight attendant. Even when passengers were instructed to turn off all electronic devices, he remained on hold. The man sitting across the aisle from me sent me looks of understanding, as we both knew the mean flight attendant would have something to say about this.

And we were right. After all of the safety instructions were given, she finally noticed that Raj Jr. was still on his phone, and she demanded he put it away. He then yelled at her that he was on the phone with her employee to complain. Things were getting awkward for me, because I was stuck in between the two of them.

As our plane started to move, Raj Jr. was still on the phone. He finally hung up just as we were positioned for take off.

That’s when we learned our flight would be delayed 30 minutes due to increased air traffic in Chicago. I was not excited to spend 30 more minutes sitting next to Mr. Angry, but it had to be done.

The time passed quickly, and soon enough we were in the air. This flight was also a lot shorter than expected, especially because I passed the time playing solitaire on my iPod. Mr. Angry seemed to calm down a bit more after he was given salted peanuts and Sprite.

As we prepared to land, Raj Jr. actually broke his character and spoke to me. He told me how he flies every Thursday and that our mean flight attendant is always working. He also said he was upset because his next two flights were cancelled. I didn’t have too much to say to that.

I arrived in Chicago at 6:30 CST and met up with Monica, AKA gimpy, at the car. We had a nice drive back to her house and then dinner with her parents, sister and grandparents. Monica showed me around her neighborhood and took me downtown. We stopped at a gas station, which gave me some good advice, especially considering all of my travels.

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I realized that she’s the first of my college friends who I’m visiting at home, which is very ironic, considering she lives the farthest from me.

In addition to all of those firsts on the journey to get to Monica, this is also the first time I’ve been “West” and the farthest West I’ll be for a while. I’m staying in Illinois for the weekend, and then we’re roadtrippin’ back to school. Stay tuned next week for more firsts!

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