September 22, 2013

One Awful Layover

I posted a story back in July entitled "Great Layovers" in which I shared some of my favorite layover cities and how I enjoy spending my time while on the road.  Today's post was intended for the next week, but current events got in the way and took center stage on the blog for two months.  Now back to previously scheduled programming.

After all these years on the job, I still love layovers and treat them like short vacations whenever I can, but the truth is, they aren't always worth writing home about.

Biking along Venice Beach - Click hear to read "Great Layovers"
As with so many things in life, layovers are most often what you make of them.  I had two layovers in July that turned out at least as well as I had in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles.  Due to the location of the hotels, neither one appeared especially promising on paper, but as I've said before, a layover is what you make of it.

In San Francisco, I met up with a good friend and got a "behind the scenes" tour of the city.  We found a watering hole off the beaten path, had one of the best burritos I've ever eaten and paid a visit to a famous scenic outlook that would have showcased an amazing view of the city if it hadn't been for a thick layer of fog. Go figure...fog in San Francisco. In L.A.  I took my own advice and rented a bike. I spent the afternoon soaking up sunshine, people watching on the beach and topped it all off with a burger and a beer at a table with an ocean view. Two great layovers in a row...but sometimes, regardless of how hard I try, a layover just can't be saved.

A nasty layover may be bad for any number of reasons.   My most common complaints are related to the quality of the beds, noise, location and early wake up calls, but sometimes the problem is with the company I keep. While I may have little control over the pilots with whom I share the cockpit, I absolutely get to choose the people I hang out with on layovers.  But sometimes I find myself fooled by the Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde types who aren't the same in the cockpit as they are after a few drinks.

Halfway through the second day of a three day trip, the captain I was flying with explained that he had a girlfriend in the city where we were spending the night. He told me about her with pride and invited me to meet her and "some of her friends" at the bar later that night. "I'm buying" he told me.  That was all I needed to hear.  I AM a cheap airline pilot after all and I rarely turn down free anything.

 I'm not crazy about flying with single captains. I'm an old married guy, happy at home and completely uninterested in chasing skirts or fulfilling the duties of a proper "wing man."  Most of the single guys I fly with are newly unattached, sewing their wild oats and a total annoyance to a guy like me...but the captain seemed like a nice enough guy and I enjoyed his company.

That night, I freshened up, changed clothes and headed downstairs where I found the captain perched alone at the hotel bar. It had been my plan to arrive fashionably late with everyone else well into their second drink, so I was surprised to find the guy alone as I pulled up a stool and ordered my first of two beers. My personal "bottle to throttle" rule is 12 hours, so I had plenty of time to enjoy a good local brew, but I didn't want to get too far ahead of our guests.  With this in mind, I slowly nursed my beer while we waited for the girlfriend and her friends to arrive.

It took me over an hour to drink my limit but we were still sitting there alone. Finally, I explained to the captain that it was getting late and excused myself for the night...but he would have none of that. It took some convincing, but I agreed to stick around and ordered a rare third beer just about the time the girlfriend and ONE friend walked in and sat down.

Surely you know where this is going. It became immediately and painfully obvious that the captain had a third wheel problem that he hoped I could handle. Have I mentioned how much I hate being a wing man?

There was so much wrong with this...first of all, both girls were drunk as skunks and had just driven themselves to the hotel. Second, the third wheel (my surprise date) was at least 15 years older than me and looked like she had, at one time, been an attractive woman. Third, I'm a happily married man with over 20 years of faithful marriage under my belt and this lady made it very clear she was looking for a place to spend the night.

Within two minutes of sitting down, the third wheel was practically in my lap and trying to get her hands down my pants...I don't mean that figuratively.  I glanced over at the captain and shot him a look that said something between help and I hate you...but he was enjoying the show and offered no assistance.

Like a small child with Attention Deficit Disorder , my "date" was distracted by a gold class ring I wore on my right hand. At her request, and in a desperate attempt to divert her continued advances, I took off and gave her my ring. A move which I immediately regretted as my ring promptly disappeared inside her bra.

After refusing to retrieve the ring, I stood up and again turned to the captain for help. I'm not sure what I was thinking. He certainly had been no help thus far, but his girlfriend finally came to my rescue. She scooted into the seat I had just vacated and proceeded to engage in what I can only describe as heavy petting with the third wheel.  It was obscene enough that every eye in the bar was on the two of them as they kissed and touched each other in places that made me blush.  It was definitely time to leave...but I really wanted my ring back!

One of them finally emerged with the ring, which I grabbed as quickly as I could and turned to make a hasty exit. As I left the bar, I turned to the captain and said "you sir, are an ass hole!"  And that was it for the night...or so I thought.

Back in my room, I took a hot shower to wash off the nasty, added the captain to my "do not pair" list and settled into bed where I read and watched a little TV before falling asleep around  midnight. I slept soundly until a knock on the door woke me at just before 3am.

The captain and his brood were in the hall, unable to get into their room which was directly across the hall from mine. I assumed they were too drunk to use such an incredibly complicated room key (insert sarcastic look here), so I propped my door open and stepped out into the hall.

That little move was my greatest error of the night.  It only took a moment to realize that there was actually something wrong with the key, but with my back turned, the three of them entered my room and let the door close with a loud slam. I genuinely hope you are enjoying the mental picture of me, half asleep, barely dressed and alone in the hallway.

After beating on the the door to my room for what seemed like an eternity, the captain finally emerged sporting an evil grin.  I looked over his shoulder and could see that my "date" had removed her clothes, crawled into my bed and passed out. Now...when I say passed out, I mean comatose. Like...completely out...and it gets worse.

As I tried to revive the, the captain and his girlfriend took the opportunity to escape. I heard the door shut behind them as they left, looked over my shoulder and realized I was my room...with a naked and passed out woman...who I did not know!

 Fortunately for me, the captain hadn't exactly thought through his escape. I opened the door only to find him and his girlfriend desperately working with the key. I remember thinking...drunk and stupid, what a great combination!

It took some convincing, but the two of them went back into my room and retrieved my unwanted guest. Unable to stand on her own two feet, they carried her out into the hallway and looked at me like it was my responsibility to help them into their room. I smiled as I walked past the three of them, entered my room, dead bolted the door and crawled into the OTHER bed. I was so happy to have had two.

I have no idea how the three of them got into their room...and I couldn't care less.

The moral to the story...

I learned early in my career to have rules for layovers...two, to be specific. First, I always leave at least 12 hours between my last drink and sign-in...and I never drink alone with female flight attendants (Consider that rule 1B). Rule number two prohibits interacting with the flight attendants on a one-on-one basis. Not that I'm any great catch, but I don't need the temptation. In case you haven't heard, keeping your first wife is a great addition to any retirement plan.

While the story I shared here was not a technical violation, it certainly broke the spirit of my self-imposed rules. I probably should have gotten up from the bar as soon as it became apparent I had been set up, but I didn't want to be rude. Next time, I won't worry quite so much about social graces.


  1. Some guys just never leave being a dumb teenager behind. This one is a shining example. Could you have called security and gotten the drunk out of your room? I hope to hell no one took pictures and you called your wife when you got up and told her the story. Yep, knock that name off your who I'll fly with.

    I hated guys like that (see we girls got dragged along too!) I got left at an apt with a guy I hardly knew. I called my brother to come and get me. Never spoke to the guy again.

    1. Pictures...someone always seems to have a camera and something they want to upload to facebook. No pictures this time, thank goodness.

      Regarding my wife...I share all these stories with her. Much better for her to find out from me.

  2. Oh, that's priceless. I'm still laughing as I type this... Thank you so much for sharing.

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  3. I'm curious. How did your flights go the next day and was the Captain at all apologetic? I would think such behavior would be frowned upon by the folks in Corporate HQ, as it doesn't reflect positively on the brand the Captain represents.

  4. awesome story! If my husband come home with a story like that I would be cracking up!

  5. Wow - two thoughts crossed my mind - what an awkward next day in the cockpit - unless Captain A***** has no morals at all - and - what what other cities does he have girlfriends in! Terrible!! Good for you for sticking to your guns on it all!