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.

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