By staff writer Dan Opp

Send us your poor, your hungry, your tired masses yearning to make their connecting flight from Philadelphia to Albany. To a large contingent of passengers hoping to fly out of Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, March 27th, these opening words accurately assess what should be US Airways’ mission statement.

We were certainly poor, as it cost an arm, a leg and a virgin sacrifice to get plane tickets today. We were unquestionably hungry, because in-flight meals now get served about as much as a pre-pubescent freshman. And, if nothing else, we were definitely yearning to make that connecting flight.

The trip down to Florida was smoother than a 4-year-old’s inner thigh. Everybody was punctual and efficient. Babies slept happily. I awkwardly groped a flight attendant. It was basically everything I hoped it could be. I even won a contest to become a registered sex offender in every state on the Eastern seaboard, pending the flight attendant’s testimony.

Thankfully for confused travelers, US Airways now provides a “Guide to Flying Standby.”

The return trip, however, has not run nearly as smoothly. I say HAS not because I’m writing this to you from Gate F31 in the Philadelphia airport. The journey up to this point has been filled with frustration. Take note that the similarities between “frustration” and “castration” extend beyond their respective pronunciations. Either way, someone’s balls end up in a jar.

It all began innocently enough when my trusty companion Brad and I arrived at the airport in Fort Lauderdale. Shortly after a thorough shoe inspection from airport security, we arrived at the gate approximately 45 minutes before our 4:55 PM flight, only to discover that we would now be waiting in the airport for three more hours because our flight had been delayed to 7:05. The incompetent gentleman at the desk informed us that the delay was due to inclement weather in Philadelphia. I looked out the window and saw nothing but blue skies. He then tried convincing me that the weather in Fort Lauderdale has no correlation to the weather in Philadelphia. Yeah right, and I could sail to the other side of the world without falling off the edge. Nice try buddy, I wasn’t born yesterday.

Fast forward to shortly after 10 PM and Brad and I have successfully arrived at Gate C8 of in the Philadelphia airport. Despite this accomplishment, we were still facing a glaring problem. Our flight to Albany had allegedly left over two hours ago. “No problem at all,” assured the desk clerk with the vacant gaze. There was a 10:55 flight leaving for Albany from Gate F31. I naively assumed that Terminals C and F were only two terminals away from each other. I was wrong. Dead wrong. (Camera zooms in on my spine-tingling stare. Fade to black.) The reality of the situation was that Gates C8 and F31 were separated by a greater distance than any two points within a single building anywhere in the world. After passing by every other terminal in the airport, traversing two hallways that extended beyond the horizon, navigating a rickety rope bridge, and making a base jump onto a moving luggage cart, we finally found Gate F31. Thank God for the treasure map and cryptic riddle we got back at C8.

Once at Gate F31, we went to exchange our now useless boarding passes for new, guaranteed-flight-home boarding passes just as the last vegetable with a desk had assured we could. Well, it turns out she was wrong. Dead wrong. (Camera zooms in on my spine-tingling stare. Fade to a close-up picture of my ass.) Our flight had been (SURPRISE!) delayed and, technically, it wasn’t our flight. The flight was booked full, so the desk jockey with the frothy mouth put us on stand-by. I’d like to summarize our progress to this point. We had originally been scheduled for the 7:55 PM flight to Albany. We were now on stand-by for the 12:15 AM to Albania. People in Philadelphia have terrible spelling.

After all the people who were in cahoots with The Man were allowed to board, it was finally time to inject some spunk into all of the empty, downtrodden stand-by hopefuls. Or so I thought. But I was wrong. Dead wrong. (The camera zooms in on my spine-tingling stare. My stare zooms in on the breasts of that hot girl seated three rows away.) There were six seats available on the plane and guess who was holding numbers 7 and 8! That’s right. It was Brad and myself. I’m not even joking. Just thinking about it makes me weep and sniffle as I bury my face in that hot girl’s bosom. Hey, a guy can dream.

Anyway, Brad and I were now faced with the unenviable task of getting transferred to yet another flight. This time, the airport employee was actually courteous and helpful and placed us on the first flight from Philadelphia to Albany for the impending morning. His boss then asked him to breathe in some chloroform and proceeded to drag his lifeless body away. I, in turn, asked the boss about the likelihood that our luggage would arrive in Albany with us the next day. He assured us that it would. I considered it unlikely. Basically, this guy was giving me the run-around instead of the reach-around I desired.

Looking around, Brad noticed that there was virtually no one else in the entire terminal. So, with nearly seven hours to kill and the vast expanses of an empty airport all to ourselves, we started racking our brains for something cool to do. Prepare yourself for incredible disappointment. The best we could come up with was when, in a fit of machismo, Brad challenged me to a footrace to the end of the terminal approximately 50 yards away. Needless to say, I toasted that bitch like a Pop-Tart. Yes, that’s right. I whupped Brad DeMay of Clayton, NY in a footrace, hence his inclusion in this article.

As I finish writing this, it’s a little past 4 AM and our flight is scheduled to leave at 7:10. Surely by now we’ve fulfilled Murphy’s Law and everything that could possibly go awry already has. Then again, I could be wrong….