The continuing saga of one girl’s quest to cut through the red tape. Read previous posts HERE..

Ah first class. The swift ease of being whisked to the airport or private jetway by your trusty driver. The elegant roll of your Louis Vuitton valise as it passes ratty backpacks and broken Walmart suitcases, hobbling pitifully on one wheel. Sure, the security line may feel a bit pesky and dirty at times, but when you remind yourself our national security depends on this type of germy bureaucracy it ceases to be such a nuisance. Once through, you arrive at the gate just as they pre-pre-board your class. First class. Elite first class. Before even the babies and feeble children and wheelchair bound old ladies with oxygen tanks can get on, there you are, easing back into a plush seat while a smiling flight attendant bestows upon you a warm, moist towlette (to wipe those pesky Walmart germs away), homemade vegan cookies, and a glass (not a plastic cup like the peons in coach get) — a glass of fine champagne. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight indeed!

Is this what traveling first class is like? Who the hell knows — not me. I’m guessing your version of plane travel, like mine, verges more toward the “those peanuts will cost $10 and your flight is severely delayed and we can’t do a thing about that morbidly obese child behind you kicking your seat like a Muay Thai demon and oh also our in-flight movie would have been really awesome but the system’s broken so suck it. Have a nice flight asshole.”

Hit the Jump to find out what went down on a NYC street between Anne Hathaway and The Elf…

“It’s hard to remain calm and pale-faced as opposed to maniacal and red-faced when you’re dealing with airports and buses and Carnival cruises with their razzle dazzle stage shows…”

Not that I need a valise or a moist towlette (free champagne sounds pretty all right though), but traveling ain’t as fun as it used to be people. Unless you’re George Clooney or Richard Branson, but let’s get real. Sure plane travel hasn’t always been as rosy as a 1950s beach blanket melodrama, but still. Meals and bite sized snacks used to be free. Flights used to be pretty much on time. It didn’t cost $25 to check your luggage. Per piece. And it seems like there’s more turbulence these days too. Let’s blame the economy for all of this. Weather included.

You know what I mean. Airports and flights and security lines scream bureaucracy like the world’s most boring banshee, only now that the airlines are broke and destitute (ha) it’s worse. I made fun of the crazy, red headed Jet Blue flight attendant a while back, swilling beer and fleeing down the plastic slide to splash into his 15 minutes of fame, but now I kind of wanna meet the dude. His 15 minutes of fame seems to have been just that, so it may be tough to find him now. He’s probably working for Amtrak.

It’s hard to remain calm and pale-faced as opposed to maniacal and red-faced when you’re dealing with airports and buses and Carnival cruises with their food poisoning outbreaks and razzle dazzle stage shows. Note: I’ve never experienced a Carnival cruise and doing so sums up my ultimate nightmare, but their site says: “our stage shows are designed to razzle and dazzle,” so I’m just the messenger here.

Let’s continue. Over the holidays traveling from LAX to AUS (Austin not Australia) I found myself sneakily stuffing my purse into a bag, which I then stuffed into another bag so I wouldn’t have to pay to check a bag. It worked, which maybe makes me like a female Jason Bourne-type character, only less glamorous. One rule is never lose your temper, and if you feel it surging, don’t lose it on the overworked and underpaid gate agent. Unless they’re a total a-hole. At least you’re getting on a plane and going somewhere. They have to deal with… you.

“The snow was slushy and when it hit my face felt a wee bit like little daggers rather than puffy snowflakes. The wind pulled a Pacquiao on my $1 umbrella turning it inside out like a bowl…”

I don’t have solutions for you people when it comes to this travel mania, I only know how to share my tales of woe and fury. I’m not sure if first class is actually so much better, or if the valise toting elite don’t experience germy bureaucracy. The scary truth is – I doubt they do. And that’s just the way it is. George Clooney can jet to his Italian villa with some model and the Beckham clan in tow, while most of us are waiting in lines and dealing with lost baggage just to plunk ourselves poolside at the Flagstaff La Quinta. Hey, it’s not Lake Como but it’s a body of water.

As evidence of this travel divide, and in parting, I will regale you with a tale about my reality and a very famous movie star’s reality clashing head on — this is a story of foot travel, not air travel, but it completes my long gestating thesis:

A few years ago I experienced my first New York City winter. One blizzardy day I slipped on the sidewalk, landed on my tailbone, stifled tears and hobbled into the closest store which, this being Chelsea, was a men’s clothing boutique. The two dudes working there cared more about the snow I was tracking in than they did about my distraught, slightly crippled appearance. After a few moments of silence since they didn’t bother to ask if I was OK, I got up and hobbled back into the whipping wind and snow.

I careened down the sidewalk and struggled to open my umbrella since the snow was slushy, and when it hit my face it felt a wee bit like little daggers rather than puffy snowflakes. The wind pulled a Pacquiao on my sad and wimpy $1 umbrella, turning it inside out like a bowl. I felt my temper start to rise so I crammed the broken umbrella into a trashcan like an enraged crazy person. My hair stuck to my face and I actually did resemble a homeless person – but it was OK since everyone else on the street that day looked as insane and frustrated and hobo-esque as I did. But then, like a mirage, she appeared.

She had on a fancy, cherry red coat, her dark hair was perfectly in place and immune to the whipping evil blizzard, her shiny black heeled boots seemed to glide through the snow, and her clear umbrella remained perfectly perched above her perfectly dry head. We walked toward each other. Who the hell was this person with the magical umbrella? We all looked like escaped cons next to this beauty queen. Why wasn’t her freaking umbrella turning inside out and getting squashed into the trashcan? Beeyatch! Then, as we passed each other I realized why: I’d just witnessed Anne Hathaway, gliding down the street in a Manhattan blizzard, like Glenda the Good Witch descending in her perfect pink bubble. Literally people, she had some magical movie star bubble around her I swear. Or maybe her umbrella was Prada or something, which obviously beats a $1 street vendor umbrella. Whatever the reason, this tale leaves us with two conclusions:

1. Traveling is stressful

2. No matter what US Weekly says, stars are NOT just like us. They travel in magical protective bubbles courtesy of Prada.

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