Well, sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t but when it does you can’t help but smile. It’s a dumb, knavish, bought-for-a-bargain smile, but it’s genuine. Spend the next fourteen hours in economy or business? I got a note last night that looked, at first glance, like it was confirming an upgrade. But upon closer look all it said was that it was still pending. I asked the guy when I checked in this morning if it had come through and he typed a way for a while. I gazed off and imagined him saying “yes” and then “no.” I saw the seat assignment before he confirmed. ‘3K’ on a jumbo liner? That can only mean one thing.
So I’m up here in the front now, capturing a few thoughts before they shut it all down. This will happen shortly. United is no longer showing films of their erstwhile CEO Mr. Smisenick. He used to get crazy airtime. Now it is all about the crew and the selfies they took with the US Olympic team who presumably flew United, down to Rio. Everyone looks rather presentable, despite the aw-shucks quality of the photos. Editorial burden, folksie perfection.
Watched Bill make the case for his wife tonight. To be fair I was busy and forwarded past his meander through their early years. In fact, it was fun. Until it wasn’t. Given where the stakes are I wanted to see him say something remarkable and inspiring. He had a few moments that I caught. I was reminded of his ability with down-home truisms when he contrasted a challenge to managing a two-car parade. The framing of the two “Hillary’s” from this convention and from the other was helpful, powerful, and he worked it to a crescendo. But somehow he then seemed tired when he should have risen to a conclusive pitch. Instead he uttered “thank you” and “good night”, before much of anything climaxed. I’m sure he has many well-branded parameters in his mind that reign him in, from following his emotions. Or perhaps those were his emotions.
The lady behind me has indicated that her seat belt is broken. The last person must have pulled it from where it was stuck in the seat to the point where the metal bent. A Chinese ground crew staff is on the scene. The flight attendant, with what I’d guess was a Texas accent, asked the ground crew guy, over and over: “Have you got any pliers? If I had a pair of pliers I could fix that. Pliers. Pliers? Have you got any?” “No. I don’t. I don’t know what you mean.” I pondered. I wasn’t quite sure how to say “pliers” in the moment. I could look it up, but I didn’t think to at the time. (A credit to my limp intellectualism, I did in the end: 钳子，‘qianzi’, I knew that. But isn't that the same as 'scissors'?) Eventually they gave up on the seat belt and the pliers and moved her to another seat.
Off we go.