Benefits Of Being Deaf

While being deaf has its challenges such as making phone calls, sitting in meetings, etc., it also has its benefits. I’ll outline a few below.

Sleeping – When I go to bed, I remove my hearing aid. So I can’t hear a thing. Which allows me to sleep like a baby. πŸ™‚ There could be a raging thunderstorm going on outside and I would not know it. If there are a lot of lightning flashes outside my bedroom window, I might wake up from that. But even then, that doesn’t happen often, especially since I work nights and sleep days.

Especially since I sleep days, being deaf has its advantages there. My neighbor could be cutting the grass right next to my house and I would not hear it πŸ™‚ And as I live on a highway, I get lots of traffic in front of my house and I don’t hear them either as I sleep πŸ™‚

Exempt From Jury Duty – Because I’m deaf, I’m also permanently excused from jury duty. When I got my first jury summons many years ago, I had my doctor write a note to excuse me from jury duty. As a deaf person, there is no way I can follow court proceedings.

Which is just as well because I have no desire to sit in a courtroom for hours watching two sharks in $2000 suits present their case. I don’t think I could do that, even if I was hearing.

Noisy Distractions – Being deaf also allows me to block out any noise around me by turning off my hearing aid. If I want some peace and quiet while reading a book, for example, I can just turn off my hearing aid and read in peace. Or if I’m at a restaurant and there’s a bratty child crying his lungs out because his mom would not let him have ice cream, I can turn off my hearing aid and block that out πŸ™‚

Airplane Boarding – This is one benefit that I feel bad about sometimes. Since I can’t hear my group number being called while waiting to board an airplane, I have to tell the gate attendant that I’m deaf and cannot hear my group number when it’s time to board. So the gate attendant would let me preboard along with the other disabled people. The problem is, I don’t consider myself disabled. I don’t look disabled either. So I got some disapproving looks when boarding my plane going to Los Angeles and back home last month. But nothing I can do about that.

Some airlines would sometimes post the “group number now boarding” on the monitor by the gate. Others don’t. If I do use an airline that posts the group number on the monitor, I’m than happy to wait with the other passengers. But I also have no problem being able to board before everyone else either if I have to πŸ™‚

These benefits are all I can think off right now. I’m sure there’s more that I have not thought off yet. If any other deaf people have other benefits to being deaf, post a comment or send me a message at my Facebook Page.

Until then, stay tuned πŸ™‚

 

 

Deaf People And Drive Throughs

Last year, I made a comment on Facebook about deaf people going through drive throughs and how difficult it is for them to do that. That comment came up on “On This Day” on my Facebook profile today, so I thought this would make a good subject for today’s blog entry.

Even though I can speak and I can hear (somewhat), I still have my own issues going through a drive through at a fast food place. For one thing, there is no person for me to face and read lips. Pretty much everything sounds the same when not reading lips, which is why I don’t make phone calls either.

Years ago, drive throughs had those old speakers that would have too much static on it and garbling the order taker’s words too much. In addition to that, there was no confirmation screen next to the speaker. Whenever I would have to go through one of those drive throughs, it was hit or miss if I got my order right and it was a lot more miss than hit. I would avoid drive throughs for that reason alone and would only use it if I had to, such as if I had small children in the car with me or if the dining area is closed.

Today, most modern drive throughs have clear sounds on their speakers and have an order confirmation screen. My kids are now grown and I’m usually the only one in my vehicle. However, I still avoid them whenever I can. I usually walk inside a fast food place to get my food as it is a lot easier for me. But if I want the late night munchies, then yeah, I’ll go through the drive through.

Even with clear sounds on the speaker, I still have a hard time understanding the order taker. So I listen for key words like “One moment, I’ll be right with you.” or “Good evening. May I take your order?” If I hear those key words in the latter phrase, then I’ll say something like “I’ll have the #2 cheeseburger combo with a coke.”

I then wait for the order to pop up on the confirmation screen and if it matches what I said, I say, “That’s it.” and I pull up to the window to pay. I’ll have my money ready because the confirmation screen also indicates the amount that I owe. IΒ  don’t usually have any issues ordering at a drive through this way. But even then, I still prefer to go inside.

At least I can still use a drive through if needed. But what about the deaf people who can’t hear or speak? I’m curious to know what do they have to do. I know sometimes they can just pull up to the window and write down what they want, but I’d like to know their experiences on this subject. Please comment below, message me at my Facebook Page or email me at comments@deafgeekyguy.com and I’ll do a followup to this article if I get enough comments.

Until then, stay tuned πŸ™‚

Not All Deaf People Know Sign Language

I wanted to put this out there – not all deaf people know sign language. I’m one of those deaf people that do not know sign language. Yes, I know some signs, but I’m nowhere near fluent. This subject came up when a video was posted on Facebook that was entirely in American Sign Language (ASL). I mentioned that the video didn’t have captions. It did have captions, but it wasn’t working on my end. Any video posted on Facebook sucks for captions. But that’s a topic I’ll discuss another time.

Anyways, some guy commented that since I’m deaf, I still should be able to understand the video since it is in ASL. I commented back that while I’m deaf, I do not know sign language. I was deaf at the age of 2 and grew up in the mainstream hearing world. I went through speech therapy to learn to communicate verbally. I did learn some signing later on, but not enough to carry on a conversation.

And I’m not the only one. There are lots of other deaf and hard of hearing people who don’t know sign language at all or only know bits and pieces.

And yet, this guy insisted we deaf people should know sign language.Β  It’s not the first time that I’ve dealt with this misconception about the deaf and hard of hearing people and it certainly won’t be the last. I’ll be making a video on my YouTube channel to talk about this subject in more detail. For now, I just wanted to put this out there – not all deaf people know sign language. Please don’t go assuming that they do. Thank you.

Stay tuned for further updates on this topic.

Facebook Page Created

I added a new Facebook page for the general public to complement this blog. That page will also have updates whenever I update on Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter.

Click the Facebook icon on the upper right of this blog if on a desktop computer. If you’re on a mobile device or tablet, the icons are at the bottom of this blog. I’m working on a new theme that will place the icons on the top of the page instead of the bottom for mobile devixces, so bear with me on that.

You can also visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/deafgeekyguy

Today, I was supposed to write about my hike at Will Rogers State Park, but that will be put on hold for right now. A couple topics came to light recently that I wanted to write about. I hope to get both articles posted later today.

Stay tuned for further updates. I’ll post on my Facebook page when the articles are posted. Thank you πŸ™‚

Los Angeles Vacation – Visiting My Family

This post is waaaay overdue, I know.Β  But as I explained a couple posts back, Blogger was giving me so many problems to the point that I didn’t want to write on Blogger anymore. Now that I have WordPress, which is a lot easier to write on, I can finally finish writing this.

Today, I’ll write about meeting my dad and sister. First, I’ll talk about meeting my dad. He picked me up from the airport on Monday July 17 as I wrote about in a previous post. After we left the airport, he took me around to see some sights. We went through a town whose name escapes me at the moment. But pretty much every house in the neighborhood had roofs like you see in this photo, which is a stock photo from the Internet. I do not claim any credit for it. I thought that was pretty cool and I felt like I was in Mexico – LOL.

We ended up going to a place called Hennessey’s Tavern, located over in Hermosa Beach. It is an Irish style pub that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We went to an outdoor patio located on the second floor overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was an awesome view. There were several volleyball courts near the tavern and a lot of them had some 2 on 2 action going on.Β  I didn’t take any pictures there because of my no-phone policy when I’m meeting someone one on one in a sitdown place. I’ll talk about my no-phone policy in a future post, but anyways, it was about 11am Pacific time. My body was still on Central time, which would make it 1pm for me, but I decided to have breakfast anyways. I ended up having scrambled eggs with toast and breakfast potatoes. It was a very delicious breakfast and the breakfast potatoes were especially very good. In fact, the best breakfast potatoes that I ever had. I just now made a mental note to post a good review on Hennessey’s Tavern on a few of the review sites like Facebook and Yelp. But I’ll say this right here – if you are ever in LA in the Hermosa Beach area, go to Hennessey’s Tavern. You will not be disappointed πŸ™‚

My dad talked to a customer sitting at a table next to us and asked if she could take a picture of us and she did as shown below.

After we ate, we decided to take a walk by the beach. We had some time left on the parking meter anyways. I took a coupleΒ  pictures at the beach. The first one is of the pier. Lots of people around that day.

And the next picture is of the beach itself, looking north of the pier.

According to a nearby lifeguard station, the water temperature was in the mid 70’s. Near the beach, a temporary arena was being built for an upcoming beach volleyball tournament. There was enough seating to hold a few hundred people if not more. I thought that was cool.

We then left and went to Palos Verdes. There, we stopped at a museum called the Point Vicente Interpretive Center. The following is a quote from the website that I just linked.

This beautiful park, located adjacent to the Point Vicente Lighthouse, offers recreational and educational opportunities to the public.

The Interpretive Center opened in 1984 with a mission to present and interpret the unique features and history of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The almost 10,000 square foot newly expanded Interpretive Center, re-opened on July 15, 2006, features exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the Peninsula, with a special emphasis on the Pacific gray whale. This premier whale watch site provides spectacular opportunities to view the annual migration of the Pacific gray whale, from December through April.

It was indeed a beautiful area. IΒ  learned a little about whale watching. Unfortunately, the whales weren’t out at this time, but I do have plans to return to LA in the near future so I can see them. We also went to see a huge battleship called the USS Iowa, I believe. I forgot to upload the picture of the battleship from my phone, which is currently charging at the moment, but I’ll post the picture of the battleship in the near future.

He took me back to my hotel after that as it was a long day for me. We made plans to get together on Wednesday (this was on a Monday) as he lives over in Orange County, or the OC as the locals call it.

Tuesday night, I met with my sister Kate for the first time since she was a little girl about 25 years ago. We went to an Italian restaurant called Fritto Misto, located over in Santa Monica. It was small, but busy. We didn’t have to wait long for a table though. I just had a simple spaghetti plate with marinara sauce. My god, it was one of the spaghetti dinners that I ever had, if not the best. In fact, nothing around in my hometown could even compare to this. Just no contest. This place was awesome and I still have to make a review for them as well on Facebook and Yelp.

I got to know Kate as well as more about my dad’s side of the family. I also got to meet Kate’s 4 year old son, RJ, who is an awesome little kid. After we ate, she took me through Santa Monica for a little sight seeing and we even visited the famed Gold’s Gym on Venice Beach for a photo op. That photo is on my Facebook profile for my family and friends only. After that, I went back to my hotel to rest up for the next day.

On Wednesday, I met with my dad with plans to go to the Griffith Observatory. We parked about a mile away from the observatory so we can hike up there. Hiking is what I enjoy doing. I forgot to load my GPS unit with geocaches for this particular area so I didn’t get a chance to geocache on this trail. I will next time I visit.

Anyways, the trail was steep at times and we both had to pause for breaks a few times during the hike. Follows are a couple pictures of the observatory, taken from the trail. We still had about a half mile to go from the point of this picture.

And the next picture, we were still a quarter mile away from the observatory.

And yes, for those of you who have played the video game Grand Theft Auto V, that is the same observatory where the Galileo Observatory is in the game, right down to the last detail. When I finally reached the observatory, I felt like I was in the game itself – LOL.

Once at the top, we visited the observatory inside and also explored the grounds. We even went to the roof, where I took a selfie of myself with the famed Hollywood sign way back in the distance behind me. The sign is to my right. You can barely see it, but it’s there.

We thought about hiking closer to it as there was another trail that leads to it, but we both were tired after the hike and decided to hike back to his vehicle. The hike down the hill was easier than the hike up, but we still had to be careful as it was steep at times and me with two bad knees that tend to buckle at times if going down a hill. The knees held up well and didn’t buckle once. Props to my doctor for a job well done doing surgery on one of my knees when I tore an ACL 10 years ago.

After we left Griffith Park, we went to a place called In and Out Burger. I never had their burgers, but my dad said they have the best burgers ever, so we went to the location near the LAX airport. The place was super busy. Imagine a new fast food place that just opened up for business and customers flock to it to try the new place. But I was told this place was busy like that every – single – day. I was shocked. They even had a security guard at the door to help maintain order.

The menu was simple – just hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and fries along with beverages. We waited about 15 minutes or so for our food, then we ate outside to watch the planes land and take off since we were next to the airport.Β  While we were eating, a massive C-130 military plane made a landing. The plane was fucking huge! I’ve never seen anything like it and both my dad and I were like, “Holy Shit!”. We both marked out over that plane.

After we ate, I took a couple videos of a commercial plane landing and a commercial plane taking off. I still have to edit the videos and upload them. When I get those videos done, I’ll post them here. And as for the cheeseburgers that I ate, I’ll say this – best cheeseburgers that I ever had. Even better than Mickey Lu’s, located here in Marinette, so says my dad – LOL.

He took me back to my hotel, where we said our goodbyes since I fly back home the next morning. I had a great time getting to know my dad and hope to see him again next year.

Thursday morning, I met with my sister Kate again for a quick breakfast before I have to go to the airport. We talked a bit more, I got to know a bit more about her family, then it was time for her to go to work and me to the airport. I had a great time with Kate as well even though I didn’t see her as much. I hope to see her again in the near future. I had a great time in Los Angeles and will definitely return.

On my next post, I’ll write about my solo hike at Will Rogers State Park in more detail.

Stay tuned πŸ™‚

Work in Progress

Looks like I’ll go with this current layout for now. It seems to be more mobile friendly than the previous dark blue layout that I once had, which was not mobile friendly.

Tomorrow, I’ll put in a custom header banner, but for now, the gray banner on the top will suffice.

Coming up on Monday – I’ll finally finish writing about my trip to Los Angeles that I took last month. Now that’s procrastination πŸ™‚

Upcoming in the near future – In addition to writing on here, I will do videos as well. I’ll do them on my YouTube account and link them here. Just a matter of doing some practice videos first to make myself comfortable, then when I feel I’m ready, I’ll do the video blogs in addition to writing on here. This will be a bigger project and might take a few weeks at the minimum. I already have the video editing software and know how to use it. I also have a video camera and a tripod. It’s just a matter of being able to present myself on camera, which I’ve never done before.

Stay tuned πŸ™‚

 

New site – Same old Blog :)

Good morning. If you have found this blog either from my previous site or happened to come across here by accident, welcome and thank you for stopping by. πŸ™‚

Previously, The Deaf Geeky Guy blog was over on Blogger. But I was having several issues with Blogger. Among some of them:

  1. Composing and editing – There were times when I was having issues in composing a journal entry on Blogger on both the desktop and mobile version of Blogger that I got frustrated to the point of not writing journal entries anymore. The page would not load or when it did, it would not respond if I tried clicking on something. Sometimes I would have to reload the page in order to get it to work and I was getting pissed off.
  2. Comments Section – A few people have said to me that they were unable to leave comments on my blog over at Blogger. I tried different settings, but still no comments. I had not written an entry for weeks when someone recently found my blog by accident a couple days ago and tried to make a comment, but couldn’t. Luckily that person told me on Facebook just the other day. I knew that was the last straw and decided to cut all ties with Blogger.

I did some research and decided WordPress was the best way to go. It was just a matter of deciding whether to get a free WordPress page with limited control on what I can do there. Or getting my own domain and have more flexibility on what I want to do with it.

I decided to get my own domain. I found a hosting site, registered the domain, and had WordPress installed on it. With my own website, I can do a whole lot more with it. I can make this site just a blog or a full fledged website. I actually have plans to make it the latter, but for now, I’ll do with the blog.

Back on Blogger, I saved my entire blog and had it imported here. Every post I made on Blogger is also on here for those of you who are new to the party πŸ™‚

I’m still working on figuring out WordPress and I’m also looking at other themes that I can use for this site. The theme that is up now is just temporary until I can find one that I like.

I’m liking WordPress right now, but if WordPress doesn’t work out, no problem. Because I now own this site, I can do what I want with it. If I wanted to, I can remove WordPress and put in another app to host my website such as PHPBB or something else. The sky’s the limit for me here.Β  DeafGeekyGuy is not going anywhere even if the layout may become different. Websites change their layout all the time and mine will be no different.

Now that I’m back to the blogging world, I’ll resume my writings about my Los Angeles trip that I took last month. I’ll do that on Monday or Tuesday when I’m off work.

Stay tuned πŸ™‚

Los Angeles Vacation: My First Experiences With Uber

Today I’ll talk about using Uber for the first time. For those of you who do not know what a Uber is, it’s basically a ride sharing service and an app for a smart phone is required to use it. More information can be found on the Uber website.

 I’ve had the Uber app on my phone for several months in the hopes that the Marinette-Menominee area
(where I live) would have it. I even heard rumors about Uber coming to my area. But the rumors turned out to be untrue.

Still, I left the app on my phone even before I booked my Los Angeles trip because it would be nice to have if I was out of town visiting cities that has Uber. Once my trip to LA was confirmed, I knew the app would be useful.

The first time I used Uber, it was on Tuesday, July  18. I was not scheduled to see my family until later that evening. I had the day to myself, so I decided to do some hiking. I had Will Rogers State Park on my to-do list almost from the day that I booked this vacation. More on my day on Will Rogers Park on a future post.

I looked at the Uber app on my phone and read the FAQ’s so I can understand how to use it. I then went outside of my hotel and waited by the entrance. I fired up the Uber app and looked at the app. I was like, wow. There are several Ubers driving around in the vicinity of my hotel. On the map, they are represented by little icons of a vehicle driving around the map. I thought that was cool and I regret not getting a screen shot of the map.

I picked my destination as Will Rogers State Park and picked my pickup point as my hotel. I then chose the standard Uber Ride and sent in my request. The app immediately told me it is looking for a nearby driver. About 30 seconds later, a driver was located and is on its way. And within 2-3 minutes, the Uber pulled up. I was impressed. I’m so used to waiting 30 minutes to an hour back home for a taxi. 

The Uber driver took me to Will Rogers park and dropped me off by the visitors center at the park. The ride was about 11-12 miles and took about a half hour through the crowded LA freeways. Once the driver dropped me off, the cost of the ride was charged to my PayPal account (my preferred method of payment.). The cost? Just $15 and change for the ride. That’s cheap for how long it took to get there and the distance as well. I was immediately sold on Uber.

After my hike, it was time to go home. I booted up the app to request a ride back to the hotel. I choose my hotel as my destination and as for my pickup point, there was a few spots at the state park for pickups. I walked over to a Uber preferred pick up spot about a hundred yards away from the visitors center, marked myself on the map, and sent in my request. Within 30 seconds a driver was found. He was like 5-7 miles away and his ETA was like 9-11 minutes. I could see his car on the map and can track his progress as he makes his way to me.

The driver arrived within 11 minutes of sending in my request. Considering I was at a park kinda out of the way, that was still impressive.  And it still was faster than calling for a taxi back home – LOL. The ride back to my hotel took about the same time as the ride there and was another 15 bucks.

I used Uber 3 other times during my stay in LA. The next day, I was set to go to Griffith Park Observatory with my dad. He texted me with an ETA sometime after 12pm. It was 11am when I got the text and right after I received that text, my hearing aid beeped with a low battery warning. I was like, crap, I forgot to pack spare batteries. I looked at the Google Maps app on my phone to see if there was a nearby CVS so I can get spare batteries. There was one about 2 miles away. Too long to walk there and back.

So I went out of my hotel, requested another Uber to take me to CVS and within a minute, a driver pulled up in front of the hotel. It only took like 6 or 7 minutes to get to CVS. I was only charged 6 bucks for the ride. Now that’s cheap when I consider it cost 8 bucks flat rate for a taxi ride back home in Marinette and Menominee. 

Once I got the hearing aid batteries at CVS, I requested another Uber. One showed up within 3 minutes of requesting it and took me back to the hotel and another 6 bucks was charged to my PayPal account.

I used Uber again to take me back to the airport after checking out of my hotel and saying goodbye to my family. The driver showed up within a few minutes after I requested it. The ride to the airport, which was about 10 miles away, only took about 15 minutes on the congested freeway. Despite the amount of cars, traffic still moved and did not stop at all. The driver dropped me off at my terminal and the cost was only 13 dollars and change. 

I was very impressed with Uber overall. It even has a ratings system for both the driver and the rider. The ratings system is based on a 5 star rating. Every one of the drivers that picked me up had an average rating of 4.7 stars or better. I had no issues with any of my rides and gave them all a 5 star rating. In addition to that, each driver gave me a 5 star rating as a rider. I was proud that I earned 5 stars on each of my rides. I know a perfect 5 star rating won’t last. I’m sure I’ll encounter a driver that might be an asshole who thinks I might have shut the door too hard or maybe I tracked in some dirt into his vehicle or something. But no one’s perfect and I’m sure eventually I’ll be given less than a 5 star rating as a rider. 

The nice thing about Uber is that I can do it all from an app. No phone calls needed. Great for deaf people like myself. It’s one of the reasons why I hate taxis back home. Only one taxi service takes taxi requests by text message and they are not always available. The rest, I would either have to ask a friend to call for me or use a telecommunications relay service to call the taxi for me. I dislike having to do either.

I really hope we get a Uber in my hometown, but that is not very likely. But I’ll be keeping the app on my phone for my future trips out of town. If you are planning on a trip to a large city and need a way to get around, give Uber a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Tomorrow and Wednesday, I’ll write about my visits with my dad and sister. Until the, stay tuned πŸ™‚ 

Los Angeles Vacation: The Traveling – Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about my flight to Los Angeles. Today, I’ll write about my return home.

That morning, I said my goodbyes to my sister before she had to go to work (I said goodbye to my dad the day before as he lives an hour away in Orange County). After saying my goodbyes, I went for a morning walk by my hotel, then decided to go to the airport early.

I went to my room, packed my clothes and did one final inspection of my room to make sure I didn’t forget anything. I then checked out at 9am and requested a Uber on the Uber app (more on Ubers on tomorrow’s post).  The Uber arrived within minutes and I was at the airport within 15 minutes. Traffic was not too bad. 

LAX is a huge airport and the terminal itself was huge. I had no idea where to check in to get my boarding pass. But thankfully, an American Airlines employee saw that I looked lost and approached me and asked if I needed help. I said I do need help and said I needed to check in. He asked if I had a boarding pass. I said I don’t. He took me to a self check in kiosk. But I didn’t have my paperwork with me with the information on it that I needed for self check in. 

“No problem,” said the employee. “Follow me.”

He took me to the check in counter to an open register and asked for my drivers license, which I produced. Within a couple minutes, he printed my boarding passes and told me where I needed to go. I thanked him and headed for security. I actually had to go three security checkpoints before getting to my gate.  The first two were simple – I just had to produce my boarding pass to prove that I’m a passenger and was allowed through to the main TSA checkpoint.

Having gone through security back at Appleton, I know what to do now and was ready. I passed security with no issues and soon, with two hours or so still to kill before boarding, I took my time walking and following the numbers leading to my gate. Once I located my gate, I decided to get something to eat. I stopped at a restaurant called Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza. I thought about getting  a pizza, but I didn’t want to wait too long. The restaurant was packed, so I ordered a simple breakfast of 2 eggs with white toast and breakfast potatoes. It was good. I paid my bill and headed for my gate with still 90 minutes before boarding.

The gate area was packed, full of people waiting for their flight to Honolulu. I knew a  seat would open up once the Honolulu passengers started boarding, so I picked a seat at a bit away from the gate itself.

I sat down and look at the American Airlines app on my phone for another update to see if my flight is still on time. That’s when I got my first travel advisory. Severe storms are impacting Chicago at the moment, which may affect travel for inbound and outbound flights at Chicago. I had the option to rebook at no charge because of this. But I declined the option. 

I checked the Weatherbug app on my phone and took a look at the radar. Sure enough, a nice sized cell was heading right for Chicago. It was all red on the radar.

I alternated between reading my tablet and checking the app for updates.  My flight is still on time. So far, so good. Soon, the passengers for Honolulu got up to board and I raced for the nearest seat by the gate  After the Honolulu plane left, the gate agents left and soon after that, the new gate agents came in for the Chicago flight. I informed one of the gate agents that I’m deaf and will need to hear my group number. No problem, the agent said. He would let me preboard. I felt kinda bad having to board before everyone else, but if American Airlines would post the “Group Number X Now Boarding” on the monitor, I wouldn’t have to do that.

Flight leaves at 1pm. It is now 12:40pm, typically time to board. But we didn’t start boarding until 12:50pm. I knew right away that the flight is now going to be delayed. But no alerts on my phone just yet. I boarded and got to my seat. At that moment, I received my first alert via the app to my smart watch – the flight is now 10 minutes late. It will lake off at 1:10pm. 

I had the window seat and soon my seatmates arrived – a pair of women traveling together. The alerts continued on my phone. Flight now departs at 1:20, then 1:30, then 1:40. I was like, shit. I said out loud to myself, “Damn, I’ll be cutting it close to my connecting flight.”

My seatmates heard me and one of them said, “Us too.”

I asked them, “Where are you going?”

“Appleton,” they said.

“Really? Me too,” I replied. What are the odds? Over 200 people on the plane with odds that they are either going to Chicago or connecting to somewhere else and my two seatmates are both going to Appleton.

We talked for a little bit and made a game plan together on making it to our gate at Chicago. I checked my app to see what gate I would have to go to so I can plan my route. As it turns out, the gate for the Appleton flight got moved further away than it originally was and I was like, shit! That means I got more ground to cover. The plane finally took off around 1:40pm PT with an ETA to Chicago of 7:50pm CT. My flight for Appleton leaves at 8:30pm CT. Both my seatmates and I knew there were no margin for error at this point.

My seatmates and I made a game plan to connect to our Appleton flight, which is basically to run like hell and whoever gets there first, to let the gate agent know that the others are coming. The plane landed about 20 minutes earlier than expected, but it still took a while to disembark as we were at the back of the plane. But once off the plane, we all ran like a bat out of hell to make our connection.

To get an idea of how far we had to go, download the interactive map of O’Hare Airport and choose Terminal 3. We got off at gate K19 and had to go all the way to gate G21. We ran fast enough to give Usain Bolt a run for his money. My legs, already sore from two days of hiking, were cramping up. But I kept going. We all made it to the gate together with 5 minutes to spare. 

Once on the plane, my seatmates and I gave each other a fist bump for our victory in making to the gate on time. My legs were sore, but I had such an adrenaline rush from all that running that the cramps didn’t bother me. 

The flight took off on time. It was right at sunset too, but my seat was on the east side of the plane, so I couldn’t get a good view of the sunset. But from what I could see, it was beautiful. As we flew over Milwaukee, it was dark and I could see the pretty city lights below. It was awesome!

It didn’t take long for the plane to touchdown in Appleton. The flight was so short that we all had to stay in our seats. The flight was basically in takeoff and landing mode the whole way.. Once off the plane, I said goodbye to my seatmates and we went our separate  ways. I went to pay for my parking, got my receipt and began the walk to my truck. Once by my truck, that is when I breathed a sigh of relief. I was very happy to be in Appleton after the close call of the late flight from Los Angeles. I had a decision to make – do I drive home or get a hotel? I still was wired from the flight that I decided, fuck it, let’s go home. 

I showed my parking receipt to the parking lot agent and was on my way. It was About 9:45pm at that point. I thought to myself, I’ll make it to Marinette and Menominee by 11:15pm easily. How wrong I was.

I reached the Northland Ave. exit in Appleton on I-41 and there was a traffic jam. I was like, you gotta be fucking kidding me. This is not Los Angeles. It’s is nearly 10 at night. why would there be a traffic jam at this hour? My first thoughts were either an accident or road construction. I did recall reading some lanes of  Northbound I-41 to be closed off in Appleton for repaving or something like that. It was indeed construction as one northbound lane was closed.

We plodded along at like 5-10 mph, sometimes stalled at times.The highway opened up back to two northbound lanes at the State Highway 47 exit (also known as Richmond Ave). It took me a half hour just to go three miles. Traffic opened up after that and I soon was driving at 70mph again, slowing down to 55mph through the construction in De Pere, but at least I was moving.

I decided to stop at George Webb in Peshtigo and made it there at 11:15 pm. I was famished, not having eaten since my breakfast back in LA. While waiting for my food, I thought to myself, what if I missed my flight to Appleton? What if I had to rebook? I looked at the American Airlines website on my phone for the next day’s flights. The next flight to Appleton would be for 11am, which meant an overnight stay in Chicago. I’m so glad that didn’t happen. I didn’t know if American Airlines would give me a voucher for the hotel or if I’d had to pay out of pocket. But I didn’t have to worry about that.

After eating my meal at George Webb, I was home by 12:15 am. It was one of the longest days of travel that I’ve had to endure in my life, starting with leaving my hotel at 9am PT/11am CT and finally arriving home after midnight 13 hours later.

But you know what? I’ll do it again πŸ™‚ I’m looking forward to my return trip to Los Angeles in 2019.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about my first experiences with the Uber service. Tuesday and Wednesday, I’ll cover my visits with my dad and sister. 

Stay tuned πŸ™‚

 

Los Angeles Vacation: The Traveling – Part 1

This past week, I went to Los Angeles to visit my real father and my sister, the latter whom I’ve never met as an adult. I decided to write about my experiences in a series of blog posts in approximately 3 to 5 parts as follows.

  1. The Traveling – I’ll be discussing my experiences in traveling to Los Angeles as well as traveling on the return trip. This will be a two parter.
  2. Uber – My experiences in my first Uber rides ever.
  3. My dad & sister – I’ll discuss meeting them. This post will probably be a two parter.
  4. My hiking – I hiked two difficult trails there. Probably a two parter as well.

Today, let’s talk about my experiences in traveling to Los Angeles and back. 

A few months ago, I was talking to my sister, who lives in California  after we found each other on Facebook. We got to talking. Then I brought up the idea of me going to visit her and my dad, also in California. They both liked the idea of me going to visit them. So I used my Triple A membership to book the flight out of American Airlines. I looked at my options. I only had 5 days of vacation. Which meant I needed to limit my traveling time so I can maximize my vacation time once on the ground, so long layovers were not an option.

The American Airlines flight was booked for July 17 out of Appleton at 5:15am and landing in Chicago O’Hare about an hour later. I then had an hour to get to the other side of the terminal to make my connecting flight to Los Angeles, due to take off at 7:22am CT and set to land in LA at around 10:00am PT.

The return flight was booked on July 20 to leave LAX at 1pm PT and land in Chicago at 7:25pm CT. Then I had an hour to get across the terminal for my 8:30pm flight back to Appleton.

Let’s talk about going to LA. I could have driven the 90 some miles to Appleton from my home in Menominee, MI at around midnight  the day of the flight since I’m a 3rd shift worker and my body is already on a 3rd shift schedule. But I thought to myself – what if something happens on the highway while traveling to the airport? What if my truck breaks down? What if there was an accident that I would get stuck behind? I decided to go to Appleton a day early and just stay in a hotel. I figure if something does happen while driving to Appleton, I still would have a day to deal with it and still make my flight.

Before I continue, I wanted to mention my job is an overnight manager on duty for a grocery store. One of my responsibilities involve receiving trucks that deliver to the store. Grocery, meat, produce, etc.  Because the store is closed overnight, pretty much all the drivers have my cell phone number so they can call or text me when they are on the way or already at the loading dock. I spent the last couple weeks before my vacation notifying the drivers of my vacation and to contact my coworker instead. Now back to the story.

Once at the hotel, I went to bed around 6pm and set my alarm for 1am so I can go to the airport at 2am to check in. Well, at 11pm, I was woken up by a text message via my smart watch that vibrates whenever I get a notification on my phone. Apparently one driver didn’t get the memo that I was gone. He texted to say that he was parked at the loading dock at the store that I worked at. Oh brother. So I texted my coworker to go unload the truck.

I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. So I was like, fuck it, let’s go to the airport early. I took a shower, got dressed, packed my bags, checked out and went to the airport, which is a small airport. I arrived at the airport a little after 1am and went to long term parking, where I parked my truck and made a mental note of its location. No activity at all in the airport. I was hoping the doors were open so I could at least go in inside and rest and they were. But the lights in the terminal were down, No one else were there other than a janitor, who paid me no mind. So I took a seat by the American Airlines counter and fired up my tablet to begin reading a book. I also used the opportunity to check out the American Airlines app on my phone for updates and make sure everything is on time. So far, so good. I also studied the map of the terminal at O’Hare so I can plan my route to my connecting flight.

Around 2:30am, the lights flickered on and employees began to arrive to the terminal. Other passengers soon arrived as well. At 3am, the counter was open to take check ins. I got my boarding pass and my suitcase was cleared for carry on. I didn’t have to check it. I was happy about that.

I went over to the security checkpoint, which was not quite open yet. I sat with the other passengers and waited.  Once security was ready to go, I let other passengers go first so I can observe what to do when going through the checkpoint since I’ve never flown under the new TSA rules. I made it clear to the agents that I’m deaf and needed to read lips and they were more than happy to oblige, showing me what I needed to do in order to pass inspection, which I did with no problem.

Once inside the terminal, I still had an hour or so to kill before boarding. The gate agent soon appeared about a half hour before boarding. I told the agent I was deaf and wouldn’t be able to hear my group number when called to board. She said, no problem. She would let me preboard. Which I did at boarding time.

The plane took off on time and in the blink of an eye, I was already on the ground in Chicago and it didn’t take long to disembark the plane since it was only a small regional jet with a few dozen passengers. Once off the plane, I still had 50 minutes to make my next connection. I walked briskly to the other end of the terminal. The walk took about 20 minutes and when I got to my gate, the monitor said it was still only 20 minutes to boarding time. Plenty of time for me to hit the head, which I did.

I returned to the gate and informed the agent that I was deaf and would not be able to hear my group number when called. This agent also agreed to let me preboard. I was thankful, but was peeved that American Airlines would not have the “Group Number Now Boarding” flashing on the monitor at the terminal like Delta Airlines does with theirs. But as long as I still got to preboard, I was ok with that.

I got on the plane. It took a while for the other passengers to load up as the plane was big enough to hold about 200 some passengers. But the plane still took off on time. It made good time across the country and landed in LA at 9:30am, a half hour early than scheduled.  I was out of the plane and outside the terminal by 10am, waiting for my dad, who got stuck in traffic on the LA freeway. 

While waiting outside the terminal, I saw a slick black Cadillac pull up. A driver got out, and went around to the right rear passenger side and opened the door., He then popped the trunk to get a suitcase. An older looking man got out wearing what appeared to be a two thousand dollar suit. The man looked to be in his late 60’s and looked very important. My first impression of the man was “mobster” – LOL. The driver told the man where to go check in, shook hands with the man, and the man walked away without saying thanks to the driver. I’m like,oookay.

A few minutes after that, my dad pulled up. I got in the car and we took off and he showed me a bit of Los Angeles, which I will write about in a future post.

I thought to myself, not bad for my first ever solo trip on an airplane. Everything went as planned other than be woken up early at the hotel in Appleton. But little did I know that the trip back home nearly wouldn’t go as planned. I’ll write about that in my next post.

Stay tuned πŸ˜‰