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Doing it my way in New York again - Kathy Jefcoats

Well, folks, I am headed off to New York again but this time I am flying. For the first time. Not the first time flying to New York but the first time flying ever. I always think that makes me sound like such a hick but it's true. Someone asked me once, "You mean you've never been on vacation?" I said, "Of course, idiot, I just never went anywhere I couldn't drive to."

When I lived in St. Louis, my family had to pass the Lambert Airport to get to our church. The best part of the trip was getting Dad to stop under the flight path and watch the planes come in and go out. I never really thought about people being inside, it was just awesome to see something that huge up in the sky, unsupported by, well, anything. And more than a little scary.

See, I have always been afraid of heights. It was quite a feat to get me up inside the Gateway Arch but once I did that, getting to the top of the Empire State Building was a piece of cake. I was pretty disappointed to have Osama bin Laden force the closing of the Statue of Liberty when I went in April 2002 but it has reopened and I hope to take it on this time.

I've only ever been inside an airport once, to pick up my mother-in-law from Atlanta. That must have been in the late 1980s, the good ol' days before we learned to be afraid of our own shadows. My kids and I drove up from Macon, parked anywhere, walked right in, figured out where she'd be coming in and waited. I don't think anyone even talked to us. From what I understand, it is a lot different these days.

I am a huge fan of A&E Network and could listen to Bill Kurtis talk all day long, what a voice that man has. But I never watched "Airline" until I decided to fly for the first time and thought I might learn something. The couple of episodes I've seen have included people yelling loudly "to be compensated," because of some slight they feel the airline inflicted upon them. And since everyone knows the airlines never make a mistake, these people were surely picked on and deserve "compensation." I have yet to see what that "compensation" might be. I don't know if it just doesn't happen or if the producers don't want to encourage other travelers to demand "compensation" for every perceived slight.

Everyone wants compensation. I heard on the radio last week that a Jonesboro diner found rat parts in turnip greens at a cafeteria-style restaurant. He wants "compensation" because the experience has turned him against all food ? except hot dogs. He claims that it is the only food that he can eat because he can actually see what's inside it. I wonder if he's ever read the ingredients on a package of hot dogs? I think I'd rather eat rat parts than speculate on what's inside a hot dog. Well, maybe not, but I think you see my point. If he'd said a peanut butter sandwich, I could understand it better.

But I digress. I will be flying out of Atlanta Saturday afternoon with my best friend, Claud, who has traveled the world with her husband. We will both be staying on Long Island, she with her elderly aunt, me at the Plainview Inn. Over the next week, we will explore her old stomping grounds in Glen Cove and take on Manhattan. I think I will get at least a column or two out of this.

Am I ready to fly for the first time? I don't know. I did buy travel insurance, thanks to Clark Howard, and am flying Air Tran, thanks to Boortz, so I am hopeful. I have researched "modern" travel (think post-9/11) and am up on what I should and should not take. Thankfully, there is no need yet to take an Uzi with me to Long Island so that will be left at home. And I know we will have a wait since we have to be at the airport at least 90 minutes before the flight leaves.

I just hope I don't have to demand "compensation." Wish me luck.

Kathy Jefcoats covers cops and courts in Henry County. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or by e-mail at kjefcoats@henryherald.com .