This is kind of a long story so I'll be breaking it up into parts. Unfortunately, I lost the notes I made then, so I can't remember any names or other such details.
Anchorage via Waco
In December 2000 I got to go to Anchorage, AK, to visit my very close friend who lived there at the time. I was to fly from Knoxville to Houston to Seattle to Anchorage. Cheap flights from Knoxville always have lots of stops like that. My flight out of Knoxville got delayed several hours due to heavy fog in Houston, but we did finally get the go-ahead. I knew that I would miss my connecting flight in Houston, but they assured me that they would get me on another flight that night. Okay, no worries. This is my vacation and I'll go with the flow.
I'm a people watcher. I like to study how people interact (or don't). It's interesting to watch which people in a crowd end up talking. On the plane to Houston there were three seats in each row, one on one side and two on the other. I was in the single seat. The guy in front of me amused me to no end in the way he was very blatantly admiring (lusting) and practically hitting on the girl next to him. She was one of those typically beautiful women who attracts that kind of reaction from many men. She seemed to be fairly receptive to him, but she might have just been trying to be nice. I could almost see the thought bubbles over his head... "Man, I'd love to get all up in that."
About half-way through the flight the pilot announced that we were being diverted to Waco, TX, because the fog in Houston had gotten too bad to land. The flight attendant announced that they would arrange for transportation to a hotel. I could see Mr. Horny Toad's (the guy in front of me) thought bubbles explode into possibilities. He was thinking, "Oh, what an opportunity!" I think I even laughed out loud a little.
Unfortunately, I had a cold, and we all know what happens when you fly with a cold. Your ears hurt really bad, especially on those smaller planes. For whatever reason the descent into Waco was especially fast and my eardrums felt like they were bursting. And I couldn't hear, and I couldn't talk because of the pain and stopped up feeling in my head. I was essentially deaf and mute.
After we landed in Waco I found myself next to two older ladies in the airport. We were waiting to find out about the hotel arrangements. They announced that people would have to share rooms for the airline to pay for them, so I thought I'd hook up with the least threatening people I could find, viz., those two older ladies. I'm pretty innocuous-looking, too, so when I approached them they agreed to share a room with me. I figured a couple of grandmas were the least likely to end up being ax-murderers killing me in the night and stealing what little I had with me.
My roommates whose names I've lost and forgotten.
Because of all the delays and the diversion to Waco I hadn't gotten to eat in a long time and was starving. Somehow my grandma roommates and I ended up getting a ride to the hotel in a white stretch limo with four men who were traveling together (all of us on that same flight). On the way to the hotel we asked the driver about places to eat. He said that after we got checked in he could drop us off at the Cracker Barrel that was about a mile down from the hotel. He said he couldn't wait for us and take us back to the hotel because he had another group to pick up soon. The older ladies didn't want to walk the mile back to the hotel, but I was that hungry that I would have walked 10 miles if I'd had to. I offered to bring them something back. The four men said they wanted to go to Cracker Barrel, too, and that I could tag along with them. The grandmas looked askance at a young woman (I was 32) going off with four strange (not weird, just unknown) men (probably mid-thirties to mid-forties) in a stretch limo and then walking a mile at night with them. I felt no danger whatsoever. These were not the gang-raping types of guys. Sometimes you can just tell those things.
The limo and the back of one of my dinner companions who(m?) I thought was cute, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
I do have to admit that I pondered the strangeness of the situation as it was happening. It did seem like one of those funny scenarios you'd see in a movie or something. And as we pulled up to Cracker Barrel in that shiny, white limo I wondered what people might think when they saw four men and one woman climbing out of it. What would you have thought?
Stay tuned, part two is coming soon. I know you're wondering what neutrons have to do with anything. ;-)