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Hartselle Enquirer

A return to reality

By By Bob Martin, The Alabama Scene
We (my wife Nancy and I) spent the past week sailing the Western Caribbean on a cruise with the cast of the National Public Radio (NPR) show “A Prairie Home Companion (APHC).”
It was the fourth cruise sponsored by the show and the cast entertained us virtually fulltime every day, including two complete APHC performances, a passenger talent contest, nature lectures, writer’s workshops, dance lessons, formation of a cruise glee club, and performances by the individual cast members and groups at venues throughout the ship…all this plus shore excursions at Key West, Belize City, Costa Maya and Cozumel.
Two in the cast of performers have Alabama connections. Fred Newman, the show’s sound effects man, hails from LaGrange, Ga. and married a Birmingham girl. Linda Williams who sings with her husband Robin, attended junior high in Montgomery and also lived in Anniston.
The show’s host Garrison Keillor also performed constantly throughout the cruise, showing no effect of a stroke he suffered last fall. He gave us, in his own unique style, a complete description of the event, including driving himself on the interstate at a speed of 42 m.p.h. to the hospital in Minneapolis and patiently standing in line waiting for the triage nurse. When the nurse asked what was wrong, he told her “I think I am having a stroke.”
We ran into a few acquaintances on the cruse; retired Madison County Circuit Judge John David Snodgrass and his wife and retired State Supreme Court Justice Janie Shores. Yes, there were a lot of retirees on board.
Watching Health Reform pass at Gate D27
As we returned to Tampa, the departure point for the cruise, for the flight home to Montgomery last Sunday, I thought we had suffered enough airline reality on our trip the week before to board the cruise ship in Tampa. When Delta Airlines called at 5 a.m. to tell us our departure flight at 8:15 a.m. from Montgomery to Tampa via Atlanta had been cancelled I immediately suggested we might just cancel the entire flight and drive. But fortunately we were going a day early and when Delta rebooked us on a late afternoon flight arriving in Tampa about 11 p.m. we decided not to drive.
That flight arrived in Tampa on time, but…you guessed it…our bags didn’t. The first clue we noticed was that the luggage carousel for our flight never started. So there we are standing in Tampa International Airport with the clock ticking toward midnight filling out forms for lost bags when one of the ladies at the lost baggage desk says to me: “You know we’ve had this happen before and the luggage usually arrives on the next flight.”
Nancy wanted to go on to the hotel but despite the fact that we were on a plane obviously not carrying anyone’s luggage, I insisted we wait the additional hour. It was one of the rare times in differing with her about something that I was right. The bags got there and we got to the hotel about 2 a.m.
On the return flight we left Tampa this past Sunday on time at 2:20 p.m. EST, and arrived in Atlanta on time at 3:55 p.m. EST with high hopes by me that we would get to Montgomery on schedule at 7:05 p.m. so I could start preparing this column. We arrived at Gate D27 in Atlanta thirty minutes before boarding time on Delta Flight 5513 operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA).
The first sign of a problem was the announcement of a 30-minute boarding delay even though the plane was on the ground and its previous passengers had long since exited the aircraft. Then came the announcement of another delay because there was no flight attendant. After another half hour we were told that a fuse had malfunctioned and the interior lights in the plane’s cockpit didn’t work.
Then we learned there were no available seats on any other Montgomery flight until Tuesday. It was at this point when Montgomery lawyer Charlie Paterson and I decided to give them a bit longer before renting a car and driving home.
A few minutes past the time I watched health reform pass Congress we boarded the plane but not before our bags were soaked by the rain, somewhere on the tarmac in Atlanta.
But now it’s back to reality in Montgomery…bingo, buffoonery and black-eyed peas.
Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. Email him at: bob@montgomeryindependent.com

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