Saturday, March 17, 2012

Would you rather be trapped in a monument or trapped on a plane with teenagers?

The answer is monument.

Trust me.

I experienced both this week and I'd much rather be stuck at 620 feet in The Arch than stuck at 30,000 feet with a bunch of 16 year olds.

I was in St. Louis for work and at the conclusion of our conference I had about 3 hours before I had to go to the airport, so I set out for the Arch. It had been a big topic of conversation all week - with the question always being "are you going to go up in it?" I'll admit, I did no real research before going. And because of that, I went.

Had I realized that the trip to the top happens inside a "capsule" I may have stayed on the ground. Five people sit in the capsules, we were in Capsule 5, which operate like a cross between an elevator and a ferris wheel. The door that you climb in is 4 feet tall and not incredibly wide and is glass, so that's the only window in the pod.

The picture seriously doesn't do it justice. I mean, look how close together the seats are and remember that we have legs. Legs which require room. Room, which is lacking. Severely.

So, we rode to the top, which takes 4 minutes, looked around for a few minutes, chatted with the ranger and then lined up to take the next tram down. We were assigned Capsule 4 for the return trip, which, I guess thanks to gravity, only takes 3 minutes. After waiting for the incoming folks to get out five of us climbed back in to our pod and waited. And... waited.

That's when we heard the people waiting to get into pod 5 say that the door wasn't opening. Yup, the people sitting where I had been a few short minutes before were stuck in their capsule. Yikes! Everyone else got out of their pods and returned to the observation area, which was a touch crowded. After a few more failed attempts at opening the door they lowered the pod down a slot so the stuck folks could get out at door 6. Yay!

25 minutes later, after a helpful engineer came to the rescue and they did a few test runs, we loaded back in to pod 4 and made our way back to the ground.

It wasn't awful, but not necessarily something I'd wish to repeat. Well, until later that evening that is...


My flight back should have been calm and laid back. It was only an hour and 40 minutes and I was seated next to a co-worker who agreed that talking was overrated, especially after a week of being in conference-land. She had ear plugs and a magazine, I had my iPod and Nook.

Unfortunately what we also had was a group of teenagers seated beside and behind us.

Give me young children on a plane any day, but never, ever, ever again do I want to be seated near a group of adolescents whose chaperones (quite smartly) were sitting at the opposite end of the plane.

They were almost 16 and almost 17. I know this because at one point they all shared their ages and birthdays and detailed stories about why they didn't skip a grade like maybe they should have. Although really, none of them should have skipped a grade. In fact, I seriously question the effectiveness of whatever school they are attending because:

  1. One thought DC was a state
  2. Another argued that it was DC city in Virginia
  3. They were shocked to find out their visit to DC wouldn't include going in the Oval Office
  4. They'd be going to the Mall, but, it's not, like, ya know, an actual mall so it's really annoying it's called that
  5. Oh, and some S thing. What's that? Oh, it's called the Smithsonian. Yeah, that's probably it.

Combine that with flirting, giggling, silly photo taking, seat pushing and countless other ditzy comments that really made me question their intelligence NON STOP for the entire flight.

The last 20 minutes when I couldn't have my iPod on was especially painful. And, kinda made me wish I was still stuck in that stupid Arch!

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