Here I am sitting in good old Cleveland Hopkins Airport, and surprise surprise, my flight’s delayed. It seems there is always a travel problem for me when I come through Cleveland, and sometimes not due to weather, mechanical, or other predictable reasons. Travel problems in Cleveland are a norm for me. Some of you maybe sitting at home singing that song from that TV show “Cleveland Rocks.” Some of you out there maybe thinking “hey, maybe you just like sticking around Cleveland longer”.
I say to you … No, it doesn’t .. and No, I don’t.
Cleveland and I have had a pretty uncomfortable relationship over the years. Cleveland isn’t the only city I’ve had issues with. Paris and I have a contentious relationship mostly because its full of French people. St Louis and I are like quirky friends that don’t exactly know if we can trust each other. New Orleans, that evil es-girlfriend that I regret visiting, but not too proud to not call on her again (and again and again).
Cleveland is like that guy who wants to be like, but whatever he does seems to backfire into something that just makes our relationship worse.
I started coming to Cleveland about 12 years ago. If you never been, it still remains a very blue collar, very midwestern, very steel driven city. Driving around town, you can still smell the smoke and fumes from centuries of industry. Even it’s historical areas call back to days when America was built on the back of Cleveland labors. With Lake Erie to the North and the Cuyahoga River valleys running through the metro area, it can be a pretty place to visit.
But then again, centuries of industry have a way to real havoc on that beauty. I mean, one of their claims to fame is that their river caught on fire. Who does that? There really isn’t as much to see as you might think. The Rock n Roll hall of fame is nothing more than a building that has pictures you can download off of the internet … just without paying $30 to get in the door. The downtown area has some old buildings, but once you have driven though, that’s about it. They have some interesting sports stadiums but … Cleveland sports teams play there, so good luck with that.
So much of my problems with Cleveland come from circumstance. When I was coming here a lot, I was coming here a lot. One calendar year, I visited the city five times. Each time I was here, I had to deal with a company that always seemed to battle over what was best for my place and theirs … and every time I was here it snowed; including once in May.
Weather is a battle with Cleveland. It is just south of the Lake Effect Snow Belt, which means … yeah … May snows. Not just that but lots of it too. In one epic trip I made with long time Bear Feeder, Rusty Johnson,. We drove through white out conditions down from Buffalo, in a trip that too way way way too long.
It’s the flights I always groaned about. Back in those days when I was based in Wichita, the only good flight was a DFW connection, in a place that had one extra seat per row than the commuter flight should have had in a 2-1/2 hour flight that always was sold out out — that meant I always seemed to bet the last row aisle seat, which was really a middle seat with the flight attendant on one side, and the toilet pressed against the other. Seems they upgraded that route to be a MD-80 … you know, those planes that were built in the 1970s that used to be called DC-9, but changed their names 15 years ago, and still flying? Way to upgrade Cleveland.
Honestly though, Cleveland tries. I can honestly state for all my visits to Cleveland, I am confronted with some great people being nice in their own genuine way. When I first started coming here, a colleague turned me onto a hotel where the concierge lounge was manned by a foul mouth hilarious but motherly attendant. She was such a great personality that you would find dozens of business travelers sitting in the lounge silently as she spouts off about everything from her clunker of a car to the quality of egg rolls .. and every one in that room said they were staying at the hotel just because of her. After she retired, there was the legendary Janice at the Embassy Suites who tended bar five nights a week and never forgot a name, home town, place of work, and whatever life story you told her over a good bourbon or three. I might not visit for a year or two and she still remembered me … and everyone.
So forgive me if I am not in a rush to hurry back to Cleveland; we just have that bad relationship thing happening here.
But if my plane doesn’t arrive from DFW soon, I may never get the opportunity to leave.