Tuesday, November 28, 2006


A person on a plane could get confused. Because he is sitting, because people are bringing him things, food and the like, he may think that he is in a restaurant. In fact, the plane itself, the crew on the plane, may want him to think that he is in a restaurant.

He is not.

In a restaurant, for example, there is no possibility that oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. There is no moment, in a restaurant, when you wonder whether to meal you’re eating is your last. In a restaurant, you do not very often consider which of the other patrons you would eat if it came down to it. A date at a restaurant is never going to end in the side of a mountain, that’s what I’m saying here.

I have been a waitress. I have been on the waitstaff at eleven eating establishments, and never once did I approach a table with a drink, only to find that the customer was sleeping or watching a movie or dreaming of the seventy-two virgins who will be waiting for him at that big arrival gate in the sky once he finishes up with his day’s work.

And they’re stealthy, those flight attendants, with their little outfits and chunky-heeled shoes. They sneak up, out of nowhere, popping their heads into view to ask you to buckle your seatbelt, or stow your tray table, or if you want peanuts.

I have never been asked at a restaurant to stow my table. It wouldn’t make sense! You understand.

And when I am on a plane, I grow to six times my size. I am no longer a middle-sized woman, but a giant, talking bison. I hit the tray with my knee and knock over my drink. I elbow my neighbor in the face. I am some kind of ailing spastic. I cannot do anything for myself—I can’t get anything for myself. I can only bang around clumsily, wait for time to pass and avoid thoughts of gravity.

Ahh…transcontinental flight is so very charming.

I almost did not make my flight. In a series of events that illustrates, in no uncertain terms, why I am shit at my job, I left my passport-baring handbag at the hotel. With forty-five minutes to go before the check-in cutoff, the concierge at the hotel threw the bag in a taxi barreling towards Heathrow with a command to hurry. My boss checked in. He lazed about in the upper class lounge while I awaited the arrival of the taxi outside the gate. Despairing and hopeful, I waited. Pacing, panicky, trying to remain calm, I waited. I was wearing my 20’s hat and my coat with the fur color. I watched the numbers on my phone’s digital clock go up.

If the passport had been Hugh Grant, this would have been a scene from a Romantic Comedy.

With a minute to spare the taxi rolled in. I threw him my remaining pounds, grabbed my bag and ran my huge cart of luggage back to the check-in desk. At this point I started shedding layers. Off went my coat, my scarf. The guy behind the desk took his time. Click. Click. Type. Type. Hat off. Sweatshirt off. The sweat pooled on my face. My face was a Brooklyn street after a rainstorm. Click. Type. Type. Finally the guy handed me my ticket and I huffed toward security, brandishing my ticket and passport triumphantly, with my scarf trailing like a wooly tail behind me.

I am now back in Brooklyn. I am rather unable to assess what London was like or what New York will be like now—whether or not it will be any different. Stay tuned.

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