Well, I made it back to Los Angeles, and the elves were able to find a somewhat-clean doormat to welcome me back.
For a while last night, I wasn't sure I'd make it. When I logged into the American Airlines website to check-in early, I clicked on Reservations/Check-in, but got the worrying response that there was no reservation for me. I tried a few other avenues, but no luck, so I started to track down the phone number to call Customer Service. That's when I had my brainstorm. I realized that I didn't have a reservation -- I'd paid for the travel already, so that must have had "a ticket." So, I began searching the airline's homepage for another link and found it. And logging in with my "Record Locator"...bingo, there it was!
One might think that hiding the listing of those customers who actually have tickets, as opposed to the prominently displayed "Reservations" might not be the ideal way of handling things, but then if we were dealing with the concept of ideal and airlines, there wouldn't be any fees for checking a single bag, and boarding would be oh-so-much easier.
Going through TSA, I had the same situation I always tend to have. Given that there is a paucity of Chicago-style pizza in Los Angeles, I always buy a frozen one or two from the grocery store and bring it back. And also some left-overs wrapped up in aluminum foil. And it always gets flagged by the O'Hare X-ray machine. At this point, when they call me over, I just say, "Frozen pizza and pancake." (More on the latter in a moment.) This time, the guy checking things laughed. "We'll have to run this through our E.A.T. protocol for testing," he smiled. We chatted a bit, and then he mentioned, "You have no idea how much frozen pizzas we get here, with people taking them to other locations." I can believe it.
Usually it's just frozen Chicago-style pizza that I bring back. This year, I made a switch. There's a small and hugely popular chain in Chicago and Northern Illinois -- Walker Bros. Original Pancake House. (They're part of a larger national chain that's just The Original Pancake House, rather than teamed up with the local Walker Bros. folks.) They make great breakfasty-type things, but are known for two gems: the glorious Apple Pancake (which is more like a cross between an apple souffle and apple fritter than a pancake, with melted brown sugar bubbling on top), and the German Pancake. People in Chicago fight over their preference. Mine is clear: I've never had the latter, and have only eaten the former there for the past several decades. I should note, for those arguing for the German Pancake -- which is paper thin and shaped like bowl, dusted with powered sugar and dripped with lemon juice) -- that on the menu they have a little icon next to "Walker Bros. Favorites"...and there's one next to the Apple Pancake, but not the German Pancake, though in fairness it's given equal billing at the top of the menu.
But it's the Apple Pancake that is, for me, near-heaven. And easily deserving of its "Walker Bros. Favorites" badge of honor.
I only get the Apple Pancake, not just because it's so amazingly delicious, but also because I only get to Chicago a few times a year, and when you only have so few opportunities to have an Apple Pancake, you shouldn't waste them. I've noticed that for the past few years the menu says that you can buy a frozen one to take home, but I never have -- but this year I figured I'll give it a try. So, it joined my frozen pizza in my carry-on. We'll see how it turns out.
Anyway, I'm largely up to speed -- I'm one of those who likes to unpack as soon as he gets back from a trip. So, there's only a little more to catch up on. And then...the beloved Cubs are on ESPN tonight -- what a lovely welcome home gift -- against the hated St. Louis Cardinals. Who the Cubs beat yesterday in both ends of a double-header. This is something that doesn't happen often. I don't mean beating the Cardinals in both games of a double-header, I mean -- for the past decade or so -- simply beating them, period. So, you relish it whenever you can...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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