September 14, 2006

Travel Notes.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:44 pm

Suitcase.jpgI don’t do time changes well. I figure it has something to do with normally not sleeping all that much, so traveling abroad really knocks me completely off kilter. In fact, my internal clocks are still completely kaput. Anyway, I thought I’d share a couple travel observations while they are still relatively fresh in my cruller.

Let’s begin, shall we?

JFK Airport

“Getting there” is not “half the fun”. In fact, “getting there”, even from North Jersey, and even when you’re being driven, is a royal pain in the ass and adds an hour and half to an already long trip.

To get to JFK, we crossed Manhattan on, 36th Street and entered Queens. Oy! Now, I understand that the route to JFK might well give one the wrong impression of the Borough of Queens, much as the drive along the New Jersey Turnpike near Newark Airport gives a horrible impression of New Jersey. Having said that, the environs through which the roads pass between Manhattan and JFK – ACK!! Perhaps there are nice parts of Queens. I just didn’t see any.

Don’t Get There Too Early
Given the vagaries of traffic, weather, security lines and the like, I like to arrive at the airport at least three hours before the flight, particularly an international flight. I like to check in, read a book and chill before the flight – sometimes with a pre-flight cocktail or three.

Problem is, at least, for the airline on which I flew, the check-in-counter doesn’t even open until two and a half hours before the flight, which means one has to drag bags all over the airport, or just find a spot on the floor and sit waiting to check in. Not being much of an airport floor sitter, I dragged my bags off to buy some foreign currency, which worked out well, because it was next door to a cocktail lounge. A couple Maker’s Marks and sixteen bucks later, I went back upstairs to check in.

Da Business/First-Class Lounge
At the check-in, the lady directed me to the Business/First-Class Lounge. YOWZA!!

Complimentary cocktails – pour your own! Now, this is very goddamned civilized. I had a couple vodkas and a couple very excellent drinks of a bourbon I have never come across before called, Michter’s Ten-Year Old Bourbon. I’ll bet ya can’t drink just one. I’ll have to look for this stuff in the Mondo Liquor Store near here. Oh yeah, there was stuff to eat in the lounge too.

Let me be perfectly clear about this. It is NOT OK to bend your head over one of the sinks in the men’s room and blow snots out of your nose. For all I know, this practice might be acceptable in your country (this particular gentleman wore sandals, baggy thin cotton pants and a matching cotton shirt that stopped a bit short of his ankles), but please not here. It’s farookin’ gross. OK?

Americans Abroad
I am an American to my bone marrow, and I suspect that most Americans feel the same way. But, people, when you’re in someone else’s country, please try not to act like an obnoxious ass. And, for that matter, spare us regular Americans your bullshit too.

I speak, of course, of cell phone usage and the latest bit of hi-tech weirdness – BlackBerry® devices (hereinafter, trademark usage be-damned “Blackberry”). And, I’m speaking of one particularly obnoxious self-important American putz I saw in the airport awaiting the flight back to the U.S.

Not only did this hard-charging, young, American businessman annoying asshole, decide to treat everyone within fifty feet of him to his swashbuckling business adventure, but he continuously paced about to make sure that everyone at the goddamned Gate to fully appreciated his importance to the global economy. He was so very brilliant that he appeared to not ever let the other party speak, which would have provided us captive spectators with a few seconds of respite.

This crap went on all the way down the jetway and continued even when his ass was finally in a seat (too close to mine). Of course, Mr. Seriously Important Guy ignored the flight attendant’s instruction to turn off all electronic devices, requiring that she provide him with specific instructions to turn the phone off (Bless her heart).

But as soon as the phone was off, out came the farookin’ Blackberry, and his well-practiced thumbs began clicking away and scrolling, clicking….scrolling, clicking….scrolling….clicking. That earned him a second bit of individualized instruction from the flight attendant.

After his second rebuke, and perhaps thinking that the world of commerce might well implode without his attention for even a minute, he insisted on being given a copy of the Wall Street Journal. When the flight attendant said she didn’t think she had any copies of the Wall Street Journal, he pointed to the cart and snottily said, “I see one right there in front of you on the cart!” She, having more class in here eyeteeth than this putz had in his entire body, graciously apologized for her oversight.

I silently wondered how long it would take once we landed for Mr. Business Critical to whip out his cell phone, and the jackoff didn’t let me down. No sooner did the wheels hit than he started in again on the telephone for all of us to hear.

If I had my way, we would have jettisoned his sorry ass somewhere over the Atlantic.


  1. There is a great line in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel “Guards! Guards!”. This putz suffers from “constipated importance.” What a wanker!

    Comment by Bill — September 14, 2006 @ 8:29 pm

  2. I HATE those friggin Blackberries! I’ve been on the receiving end of ’em for a few years now. But at least my people aren’t like Mr. Seriously Important Guy and I know I can count on peace during flight times.

    Comment by Freddie — September 14, 2006 @ 9:01 pm

  3. … welcome back, big boy…

    Comment by Eric — September 14, 2006 @ 9:11 pm

  4. Great post! I’ve often thought of what’s worse, the drive from NJ to JFK or just flying out of EWR and transferring in DC or Chicago. I hate the drive to JFK. (BTW, you didn’t mention that it costs a friggin fortune in tolls).

    I always get a big kick out of the Americans arriving in Narita and trying to crank up their cell phones and Blackberries. They don’t work here since the Japanese have their own system (my Japanese cell phone won’t work outside Japan either). I always see this type whip out their cell phone and then act really annoyed that it won’t work. When I tell them that it won’t work in Japan because of the different system, 9 out of 10 will reply; “Yes it will, this is an international cell phone.” It’s even more amusing when I take out my J-phone, call home, and then say to them; “huh, I guess you were right, my phone seems to work fine here.”

    Comment by Dan — September 14, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

  5. Other than the asshole – I soooo wanna fly with you! Now, I get to see all the hookers, so I can offer that up! 😉

    I love them 1st class lounges…..

    Welcome home!!!

    Comment by Tammi — September 14, 2006 @ 9:47 pm

  6. Dan, my husband gets a special cell phone from work to use when he travels to Japan.

    Jim – it can’t be me this time… I wasn’t on the plane…. I swear! I know all the idiots come out to play when I fly… but I promise… It wasn’t me. I’ve been sitting right here in the loverly state of Massachusetts and bringing down the rain.

    Glad you’re back! *grin*

    Comment by Teresa — September 14, 2006 @ 9:59 pm

  7. Mr SIG seems to be on every flight I take nowdays.

    Comment by hoosierboy — September 14, 2006 @ 10:24 pm

  8. Great post, Jim!…..very glad to see you back…you were missed.

    Comment by Jean — September 14, 2006 @ 10:36 pm

  9. Welcome back, Jersey boy.

    If such an entry exists, that wins my nomination for Wittiest Blogpost Ever.

    The bit about the snot-blower … priceless. A shining commentary of the times, if there ever was one, on the sickening habits of others in public.

    I’m still gathering my thoughts on wedgie-pickers … an ambiguous topic, as sometimes certain conditions do need to be addressed regardless of who’s looking.

    Comment by erica — September 14, 2006 @ 10:45 pm

  10. I would’ve bitch slapped him…you know I would, and I know, you know, I can’t make this shit up. Missed you in Helen my friend…almost needed a fucking Lawyer.

    No Shit…but, fuck a bunch of Helen Poli…fucking pussies.


    Comment by Yabu — September 14, 2006 @ 11:43 pm

  11. I can’t get past snotting in the sink…..ewwwwww. Heeby geebies.

    Comment by Morrigan — September 15, 2006 @ 5:35 am

  12. LOL! Welcome home, Jim.

    Comment by imp — September 15, 2006 @ 8:04 am

  13. Welcome back! Sounds like one *fun* trip…

    I know it’s just as much fun, but being from Union County, you could have went another way to JFK (not that it’s any better a trip, but you avoid Manhattan which can be good). Goethals/SI Expressway/Verrazanno/Belt Parkway – leaves you right at the doorstep. Then again, you might want to try the train next time. I took the train/subway(A) when I had to get to JFK this past Christmas night. I loved it. Cost just as much as driving there one way, but you get a round trip. I just wouldn’t suggest it if you’ve got a ton of baggage!

    Comment by Maggie — September 15, 2006 @ 9:43 am

  14. how is it you get all the good flights hail 1HAIL!

    Comment by seamus — September 15, 2006 @ 1:54 pm

  15. Dr. Lecter: You still wake up sometimes, don’t you, Jim? Wake up in the dark and hear the awful Blowing of the Snots?

    Jim: Yes.

    Comment by dogette — September 15, 2006 @ 6:00 pm

  16. I’m with Mo. I’m horrified by the snotting in the sink. Good God. And he probably didn’t even wash his hands! Gah!

    Comment by Bou — September 15, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

  17. Welcome home even though I don’t read ya enough I did miss you in Helen but it is my understanding that you plan to crawl (oops) I mean go to Eric’s and I think that if I plan to see you I’ll have to go. I was trying to back out but I got a lot of evil stares.SEE YA There LOL GA

    Comment by ga — September 15, 2006 @ 9:05 pm

  18. But what about the overhead bins? Are you not aggravated by the carry-on crowd who hog the bin space with more than one personal item or an overstuffed bag that will not squeeze into the space no matter how much you push on it? I time the self-administration of my anti-hypertensive medication to coincide with my boarding times so that the top of my head doesn’t blow off from the aggravation of it all.

    Comment by Suzette — September 16, 2006 @ 1:02 pm

  19. LOL. You make it sound like so much fun I can’t wait to fly again. You’re lucky. I always end sitting next to Mr. BIG or some other equally charming companion. And I never get invited to the lounge with the free drinks…

    Welcome back.

    Comment by Libby — September 16, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

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