Monday, November 18, 2019

My Best Punchlines—#1

Annamaria Back Here on Monday

Having produced a serious blog only few days ago, thanks to the MIE birthday celebration, I am not up for anything earthshattering today.  Given the general state of things, amusing is the best I can hope for, and that will be a stretch.  So here comes a true story out of my past that gave me a real-life opportunity to deliver a punchline.

Sometime in the early 80’s 

One of my clients, a huge international manufacturing firm, had offices and plants all over the world.  In the US, though the headquarters was in Stamford, Connecticut, most of the plants were in the south.  My contact at the company, the director of training, was a wonderfully bright and warm woman, a great colleague in every way.  We had many, many life experiences in common.  The only time our relationship strayed from delightful was when we traveled on business together.  You see she was terrified of flying, something we had to do with a fair amount of frequency.  She came by this terror honestly.  Several of her fellow employees were involved in the worst ever crash in JFK airport history.  Three, as I recall, were among the five survivors.  They suffered injuries but eventually recovered.  What saved them was that they were in the last row in the plane.

As a result of this, Adele (let’s call her) insisted on sitting in the very last row of any plane we flew on.   On the early spring day in question, our destination was a noon meeting in Chattanooga.  We would make it with forty-five minutes to spare by leaving LaGuardia at around 8 and changing planes in Atlanta.  In those days, the saying went, even if you were going to hell, in the Southeast, you would have to change planes in Atlanta.  The trouble was that Atlanta was prone to fog, especially in early spring.  And it was then and is still at least two miles between wherever you are and any place else you need to be in the Atlanta airport.  

Until we got into Atlanta airspace, the flight went as usual.  I did my best to distract Adele with funny stories, while she gripped my right forearm with both hands.  If the plane hit even light turbulence, her fingernails got into the act.  Since I was the consultant and she was the client, I did not wince.

When the pilot told us that Atlanta was fogged in and we would be in a holding pattern for a while, I wondered how long my right hand could survive without blood circulation.

Our flight landed forty minutes late, cutting our time to change planes down to about twenty minutes.    Except that Adele and I were the last ones off our flight.  Make that twelve minutes.


The monitor said the flight to Chattanooga was leaving from Gate 10.  It was during that sprint through the airport that I realized that, despite the programs enacted in the previous decade, women would never achieve equality with men in business until we got rid of the high heels and narrow skirts.  Guys were zooming past us!  Unfair!!

When we arrived at Gate 10, we found a LONG line snaking through the waiting area and quite a way down the hall.   As we neared the boarding door, we realized that on that line with us were scores people going, not only to our destination, but to Nashville, Louisville, Birmingham, and Baton Rouge.  So we were about to get on a plane that was going where????

I was worried.  A beleaguered airport staff member confirmed that we were in the right place.  But.  But.

As we exited through the boarding door, we discovered a semicircle of airport mini vans to take us to our plane, but there was no indication of which bus was going to which plane.  To my question, a member of the groundcrew waved vaguely at the identical vehicles to our right.  I chose one at random.  I stuck my head in the door.  Around the periphery of the interior were a dozen or so men, seated with their attach cases on their laps. 

I said, “Pardon me, boys…”

 Everyone laughed but my client.


  1. Now THAT'S funny! LOLLLLL.
    Well done, Sis.

  2. Thank you, Bro. I figured we could all use a laugh this week.

  3. So... was it? And did you get there? Inquiring minds and all that...

    1. The answer is pretty mundane, EvKa. All the little buses stopped at all the planes. There was a guy next to each one, holding a piece of paper that said "Nashville" or Baton Rouge" etc. 1980's low tech at its best. We got to the plant at one pm, in time to finish our meeting and catch the last flight out for home. The alternative, if we missed the connection to Chattanooga was to return to NYC and reschedule for another day. "Adele" would have had to endure a flight with no pay off. She wept just thinking of it.