Monday, January 12, 2009

Catch Me if You Can

Today I became a particle in the ether. I was an excited electron, put into uber-orbit.

I wrote the above line about a month ago. I was laying on an Aerobed on a hardwood floor in LoHa (Lower Harlem, for those not in the know). I had just eaten a healthy dose of good cheese and salami, played wii, and taken a shower. I reflected on my day. That morning I arrived at San Francisco International Airport, and was dropped off at the entrance to the international terminal. I wasn't flying overseas, but I rolled my suitcase through groups of foreigners dressed up to a level that Americans simply can not achieve while traveling. With no line at the check-in kiosk, I proceeded on to the Virgin America gates.

In front of me on the escalator were three people, all between the ages of 22 and 32. Each wore head to toe comfortable black, with a small red Virgin logo on their sleeve. "oooh my flight attendants are very hip and young," I thought. I descended with them and watched as they smiled and laughed at funny things I couldn't discern before they disappeared down the jetway.

I boarded the aircraft and slid into my clean, leather, aisle seat with full width under-seat storage - none of the half-width aisle seat storage you find on the major carriers these days. The entire plane is lit with colored LEDs that change in color slowly with the time of day. I felt like a musical note. Together with my fellow notes we all composed a song by someone with two almost-first names.

My seat had a mini touch screen TV that let me control its pitch and yaw. I set up playlists and figured out which shows I'd watch before we even left the ground. The TV menus had options to use email and send text messages in addition to watching programming. When I tried to select one of these features the Virgin told me that these features were still in development, and would be rolled out soon. I found this particularly compelling. What a show of confidence from the Virgin! It put itself out there and let me know that, "hey, we've got some neat stuff in the works but we're not all there yet." I appreciated the candid honesty.

Right before takeoff, the captain, one of the three young, fit people I had falsely followed down the escalator as flight attendants came out of the cockpit to do the pre-flight chit-chat. Hello young, fit aviator. He indicated that the emergency information movie would be playing shortly. I watched it: a glorious hand-drawn cartoon animation of the usual strangely diverse clip that is most definitely entitled "My Great Movie" on an iBook near you.

I ended up watching a Top Chef marathon for the entire flight. This means that the Virgin gets Bravo. Bravo! I have cable at home and they don't include Bravo. We landed at JFK a full hour early after about 4.25 hours of travel. I walked off the plane with my rock-star self and right to the baggage claim area where bags were already rolling off the conveyor belt.

Ahhh, so this is why Leo did it!

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