Sunday, April 8, 2007

Always Pack A Pair of Earplugs

Beauty is Everywhere
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

April 8, 2007, New York City, NY; Newark, NJ; 33,000 feet; Atlanta, GA; and Orlando, FL, 8 PM:

Always Pack A Pair of Earplugs

The Super Shuttle picked me up half an hour late.

While I waited, I watched a number of their trademark vehicles pass by my street, perpendicularly whirring up and down Broadway and Amsterdam.

Thirty minutes after the designated pick up time, I called for an update. The dispatcher told me “8-9 minutes.” Once again, I tried to sit tight and just wait.

Alas, with each subsequent passing of their distinct blue van with yellow lettering, I couldn’t help but think, “What the fuck is going on here?” After the fourth sighting I was sure the driver was lost, and was simply going about in circles.

Finally, one of the vans turned left onto my street and picked me up. Luckily, at 2 PM there was very little traffic.

So, after we picked up the woman with the big black handbag that looked like a big pirate’s treasure chest made of leather—it literally had randomly placed gold chain links and a big fauxly-rusted padlock on it—we hit the West Side Highway at a healthy clip, and sped south at what felt like a hundred miles an hour.

After cruising through the Lincoln Tunnel, we got onto the always-depressing New Jersey Turnpike and made it to Newark International in record time.

Without asking, the guy at the check-in counter kindly offered me an earlier flight into Atlanta, where I would have to change planes to Orlando. Subsequently, the unexpected extra-hour made me pretty happy.

Alas, happiness is as fleeting as love is fickle, because an hour later I had to sit on the plane next to an old Indian guy who smelled like caramelized urine.

Moreover, there was also a big boisterous Southerner who sat directly in front of me and proceeded to try and make friends with everyone.

He would later flash his Super Bowl—or something like that—ring at me, just to make sure that I knew he was “somebody.” The fact that this bozo was flying economy just like the rest of us nobodies, only indicated to me that, if anything, he was no more than a has-been. And truth be told, I really couldn’t give a fuck who this guy was anyway, for I’m neither a sports fun nor very fond of loud-mouthed folks who unnecessarily impose upon other people’s airspace.

Then there was the little boy who was screeching incessantly, just to my right of me.

His mother merely smiled in order to dodge all the darted looks that our fellow passengers were shooting her way. Apparently, she believed in free-range chickens and the inalienable rights of children to cluck away at will.

Usually, when it’s a baby crying you’ll cut the parents some slack because the air pressure on their little ears can be brutally painful at times. However, if junior seems fine and is merely wailing because he is whining or having a good time, I think it behooves the conscientious parent to shush them up just a little—merely a minor common courtesy when you’re stuck for a few hours at 33,000 feet and the innocent bystanders about you have nowhere else to go.

Thankfully, the unusually rapid and rather shaky take-off one experiences when flying on a small Boeing 717-200 jet helps one forget, if only for a moment, about the surrounding din and stench.

Moreover, fortunately I’ve flown enough to learn a few lessons—pack lightly so you can take your bags with you; drink lots of water and don’t drink the coffee; and always pack a pair of earplugs.


Landing was just as rickety as the little voyage had begun; we literally teetered back and forth a bit, from side to side, just like a see-saw, as the captain attempted to get his bearings on the ten feet of pavement they gave him to land his 60-ton bird on.

Thus, ultimately, with my trusty ear plugs, a somewhat startling start-and-finish and the requisite fantasies about chatting up and charming the pretty stewardesses (uh, excuse me, you mean umm “flight attendants”), I quickly forgot about the dissonant everything-in-between.

If only unrequited love was as easy to forget…

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