Learn from Experience

Tom Smith

tom smith | make green bay weird | feb. 2019

Last month in Frankly Green Bay I was writing how I was so impressed by the Smugglers 30th anniversary performance in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada at the 30th anniversary of Amigos, that I planned to see the Smugglers at the Seattle Pop Punk Festival that occurred January 10th -12th. My work schedule would only allow me to attend Saturday, the final day of the festival, which was headlined by the Young Fresh Fellows.

On Saturday, January 12th, I arrive at the airport way ass early — we are talking three and a half hours before my flight. Part of the reason for this was that I didn't want a repeat of my experience departing Green Bay's airport on my way to Saskatoon to see the Smugglers last November. For that trip to Saskatoon I had unfortunately arrived to the airport very near to my departure time. I, of course, have a very valid and legitimate excuse for my being late; that morning when I got up to get ready to go, I turned on the TV and started channel surfing, and I discovered “Fletch" was on. One of the rules I live by in life is if “Fletch" is on, you kind of have to watch it a little, which I did, and then I got wrapped up in it a bit and sort of lost track of time.

I'm dropped off at the airport and I hit the ground running through the terminal.

As I'm approaching the TSA checkpoint I hear my name being paged. I hear my name being paged as in “final call for." I instantly panic, I run up to the TSA agent you first give your boarding pass and ID to, I get my ID out but I'm having a huge issue showing her my boarding pass. I have a bunch of printed off sheets in my left hand that included things such as my boarding pass, my itinerary for the trip, bus route maps of Saskatoon, my ticket to see the show, and my hand is shaking so hard I can't pick the pages apart. The TSA agent gives me a look like “what a wreck this guy is" and offers to get the boarding pass out of the papers for me, and I was like “oh, thank you."

She scans my boarding pass and I then tell her, “They're paging my name, will the act of you scanning my pass alert them that I'm here?"

She responds, “Oh no, you're on your own."

She seemed to have an inner glee telling me this. So what happened next was me taking off my shoes at a speed that I could never duplicate again even at gunpoint, I quickly shove the shoes in the plastic bin, instantly followed by my belt, the contents of my pockets, my coat went into a second bin, and I then sped to the body imaging machine where I flashed the Diamond Dallas Page Diamond Cutter at record speed, they clear me and I snatch the contents out of both the plastic bins and run like hell. I did not bother to put my shoes on, so I'm flying through the terminal in my socks.

As I approach my gate area I got the impression everyone was looking at me — great, I haven't even gotten out of Green Bay yet and I'm making a spectacle of myself. The situation gets worse. As I'm running I drop my Supersuckers winter hat. I didn't realize it at first and when I finally did I had to do a Scooby Doo skid stop to turn around and pluck my hat off the ground. I then proceed to my gate and give them my boarding pass and passport for verification. I also apologize for being so late. I sit in a corner while the plane is boarding and put on my shoes, belt, coat, get my wallet back into my pocket, and board the plane. I wasn't even the last person on the plane — second to last.

My recent journey to Seattle started out uneventful at first. I was at the airport so early that I had time to play some Galaga in the airport's arcade and have breakfast in the restaurant. My bill at the restaurant came to $13.13, not really the total you want to see when you're about to board a flight. Someone older than me asked in the restaurant what year 9/11 happened.

I was so early I had to wait for the TSA checkpoint to open. When it did open, I was the third person in line and lo and behold, the TSA agent I first interacted with was, “Oh no, you're on your own" from my trip in November. She did not recognize me, probably because I wasn't a frantic mess. She verified my ID and scanned my boarding pass and I said thank you and then I said, “I also want to thank you because you were a huge help to me when I was running late in November." She gave me a weird look as in “I have no idea what you're talking about" that morphed into “Oh yeah, that guy.' I figured since every TSA worker missed a paycheck the day before they needed some positivity. I did notice the workers at the checkpoint were in great spirits and sadly, no uncensored rap music was being played.

As I'm waiting there, my flight is already boarding, an announcement comes over the PA, “THE AIRPORT IS CLOSED," which caught me off guard but also I was disappointed they didn't immediately turn off all the lights. Within a few minutes they then informed everyone that because of the ice rain going on, they were currently sanding the runways. A little bit later they announced my flight had been delayed from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. A few minutes later, they start boarding my flight again and I overhear a Delta employee say to someone, “The captain just checked, everything's fine, we should be taking off in 10 minutes." I'm all excited because 10 minutes wouldn't be that far past our original departure time and I had an hour layover in Detroit. My seat was located next to the window with the same vantage point William Shatner had in the “Twilight Zone" episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."

The plane does not depart in 10 minutes as promised. I'm looking out the window and I notice they are deicing wings, spraying them with this orange stuff. A worker gets out of his truck, hand checks all the different spots of the wing that he can touch, gets back in truck, truck goes away. We are just sitting there, nothing's happening, then the truck comes back, deices with the orange stuff again, once again worker gets out, checks the wing, gets in truck, truck goes away. Nothing is happening still. Truck appears, sprays the wing of the plane, now with green stuff. I, of course, make a joke in my head if the Great Muta is a member of the Delta ground crew. The green stuff did the trick because we were soon in the air.

My flight arrives in Detroit about a half an hour late. The guy seated next to me and others already know they've missed their connecting flights. There's an announcement made to let people with connecting flights go first, but of course, no one listens to that. A savvy, sage sky traveler headed to Boston was assuring me with the 30 minutes I had, I would make my flight. He knew he was boned, but he insisted I would make my flight and gave me this advice: “Don't stop to use the bathroom." I'm still worried because Detroit has one motherfraking huge airport. What if my connecting terminal is on the other side from where I exit this plane? I, of course, don't have a smartphone and can't look that stuff up. I also didn't want to ask a flight attendant because on numerous occasions I heard them tell other members of this flight that the best option is to check the screens once you depart the plane.

When I do get off the plane, I went up to the first Delta employee I saw behind the desk and politely asked where my gate for my connecting flight was. I was elated it was less than eight gates away. I made it to my flight with six minutes to spare — and I even had time to stop at the bathroom.

(End of Part One)

Recently I had a day that was filled with highs and lows. I was so happy to announce that Tom Johnson and I had booked at the Green Bay Distillery on Friday, May 24th the first Mudhoney show in Green Bay since they played Rock N' Roll High School in 2001. To make this bill even cooler, Boris The Sprinkler will be doing their first show in Green Bay in almost two years, and the Hussy from Madison (quite possibly Wisconsin's best band) will be opening the show. Tickets are on sale online and printed ones can be purchased at the Exclusive Company Green Bay. Unfortunately, later that same day I saw the news that Debi Martini, bass player and singer/songwriter of the Red Aunts, unexpectedly passed away. My condolences to all her family and friends. I didn't know her personally but I have a lot of friends who did and I see the pain her passing has caused. The Red Aunts were one of my favorite bands of the '90s and I was very proud to have set them up at the Concert Café with the Cheater Slicks in 1997. That show was dynamite and I remember the whole band was very pleasant to work with.

Live long and let it slide.


Since 1984, when he first began selling records at Galaxy of Sound inside the Port Plaza Mall, Tom Smith has been part of the Green Bay music scene. Promoting his first show in 1986 and hitting his stride with the Concert Café (1995-2001), Smith continues to promote shows in Green Bay. He first honed his journalistic chops while serving as a student DJ at WGBW, interviewing such icons as Motörhead and the Ramones. Today you can find him championing live music and managing The Exclusive Company in Green Bay.

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