So there I was ready to leave Tucson, Arizona, on the way across the universe to a far off galaxy called Romania. I was sitting in an exit row aisle seat instead of a middle seat, something I was able to accomplish because of my mad charisma, fair use of puppy dog eyes, and my winning Eddie Haskell smile, that has gotten me what I wanted (and into more trouble) since I first learned the art of the suck up. Just before takeoff the flight attendant came to give us the rundown about the exit row, as if his few spoken words could ensure that us disparate twelve could actually save the lives of the rest of the passengers. The conversation went something like this.
“As you all know you are sitting in an exit row,” he began.
The woman beside me began to cry.
I glanced over and saw the fear etched on her face as tears poured down her cheeks. She began to sob uncontrollably.
“What’s wrong, ma’am?” he asked.
She only cried harder.
Suddenly I was aware of everyone around me staring at her, and kind of looking at me, as if I’d just done something like pinched her, or Von forbid, groped her. The woman was clearly of Mexican origin, possibly, but looked older, her skin worked by the constant heat of the sun.
“Ma’am, please.” The flight attendant had no idea what was going on, but his eyes started to roll back in his head like a calf about to be slaughtered, which might happen if he lost control of the passengers and the flight was forced to leave late.
“Hey,” I said, giving her everything Eddie Haskell ever taught me from repeated forced viewings of Leave It to Beaver, back when there were only four channels and you got what they gave you. “What’s wrong? Is everything okay?”
She sniffled and wiped her eyes. “Why are we in Mexico?”
Both the flight attendant and I exchanged a confused look.
“Ma’am, we’re not in Mexico,” he said.
“But you said.”
We both looked at each other again.
“You said I was sitting in Mexico,” she continued.
This time the truth was revealed. I started to smile, but hid it with thoughts of John McCain naked (something that might stun the normal person into coma, but usually only renders me with a sick feeling of the inevitable and will always keep me from laughing).
“No ma’am. I didn’t say anything of the sort.”
She stared at me.
With the cobwebs of a naked McCain still attached to my mind, I smiled a little weirdly and said, “He said we were sitting in an exit row.” Not sitting in Mexico. I pointed to the door and the extra leg room.
Relief and embarrassment crossed her face and soon, she was a normal passenger again, no longer in fear of the exit row. I wondered if she were illegal. If she was, and we had somehow gone to Mexico without her knowing it, she wouldn’t be able to get back across unless she paid the human smugglers anywhere from 1 – 10 thousand dollars and crossed the border on foot; and even then it was life and death dangerous. Regardless, the flight attendant was so happy that the situation was handled that he forgot to complete his complex briefing. Thankfully, we didn’t need to do what he never told us to do.
I arrived in Dallas with an hour until my next plane. This one was a 9.5 hour junket where we’d be packed like cattle to Frankfurt, Germany. The gods must have been smiling, because there were 100 open seats on the 777. I was in a five row all by myself. I watched Dinner with the Schmucks, which I found surprisingly amazing, and The Other Guys, which was a disappointment. Then I slept for three hours as the flight attendants tried to change the space-time continuum by making us feel like it was time to sleep, when it was actually seven P.M. The flight arrived in Germany at 7 AM local time, or midnight Eastern Standard Time.
I went through customs, grabbed my bags, then went to find the check-in counter for Romanian Air. The information desk girl had a good time at my expense. She sent me up the escalator, which was obviously wrong. On the way back down, I was so enamored with being able to take a cart filled with luggage up and then down an escalator, that I almost forgot about gravity. It was only at the last moment that I was able to reach out and grab by 60 pound pack and keep it from avalanching on the petite frauline in front of me. Still, by the sharp intake of breath from behind me, my attempt at Germanicide did not go unnoticed.
Now I sit in a German bar in the airport waiting lounge. I just had an amazing pesto mozzarella foccocia sandwich and am drinking an heffeviesen. Mmm. Breakfast. The computer clock reads 1:23 AM Pacific Time, but my watch reads 9:23 AM local. My mind and body aren’t yet in synch.
Oh yeah, I also read The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano. I’m going to talk about that book in greater depth in an essay later. I have mixed feelings about it. It’s both incredible and not so incredible, which may say as much about me as it does the book.
Two hours until my flight to Bucharest.
Time for a nap.
Am now in Bucharest.
I need more nap.
Waiting on a flight to Oradea.
It was delayed twice.
I’m now in flying Tarom, Air Romania. On previous trips I flew CarpatAir, or Carpathian Airlines. I think the hub shut down, though, so I’m flying Tarom. Not so impressed so far. I’m jacked in so close to the guy next to me, we could share a colonoscopy. Plus, we’re flying in a refurbished AN-42 prop plane. Last time I flew in one of those I was 2150 feet above Bangladesh in 1993, watching as members of 1st Special Forces Group hurled themselves in to the wide subcontinental sky. That one had a rear ramp and benches along the sides. I think it held more people.
I need a nap.
And a drink.
I am in the hotel. I got upgraded to a two room suite. Nice! It's late. I have a bottle of wine and a bottle of water. I bet I drink the water first. I'm dying of thirst. Notice this water is flat. You have to order it flat or still, which means the same thing, or with gas. Different, huh?
Cheers. See you all in the morning,