Thursday, October 20, 2005

Laura in Chicago

In my fourth hour at Chicago O’Hare, the first Air Canada flight has arrived, and alarmed passengers burst forth in full scurry. I have just had a lovely meal of fried carbs with cheese goo and cheap booze with my friends from the Carolinas. They are passionate about football, Barbeque, and the Carolinas. This week, they were much more fun than my fellow Canadian traveler, who spent his time in futile anti-Bush and pro-gay marriage debates with Southern (pronounced Suthern) and Mid-Western Republicans.

I have once again concluded that the wireless network at O’Hare, though prevalent, is impossible to log onto. You should not end a sentence with a preposition (onto). I have concluded that, though it is prevalent, it is impossible to log onto the wireless network at O’Hare. I have concluded that the wireless network, onto which is impossible to log, is prevalent? Today I was told by a Texan that my accent was hard to understand. And writing also challenges me. My language skills are clearly in jeopardy.

The man who sits beside me has three wrinkles behind his ear. I wonder if these collect lint. Over dinner, I debated with an overweight Carolinian whether he should get a tattoo of a rose on his back or of a bull (with nose ring at navel) on his belly. There is a lot to consider, including lint, wrinkling and hair. Luckily it takes more than that to put me off my cheese goo.

A man crawls behind the phone booth to plug in his cell-phone. This is because I’ve taken the only prime plug location, with much deftness and skill. Next time, I’ll be in the gold lounge and he can have this spot.

I have just laughed out loud, making me the craziest person in this waiting area, i.e., the subjects about whom I normally write. Please note narrow escape from preposition sentence termination.

A loud fan blows the juice out of my eyes and the hair out of my head. When I lose my hearing, I wonder how much of it will be because of machinery. The rest, of course, will be from my 10” car subwoofer. Pimpin’ ain’t easy.

The man has plugged in a 7 year old cell phone, and must keep his head out and low due to the cord’s short length.

The generic business man, Bob, with graying hair, bulging stomach under wrinkled blue shirt, laptop over shoulder, continues to walk by. Over an over, 5 and 10 of him at once. Where’s Waldo? Bob’s everywhere.

I pilot rushes out from the gate. Sudden onset of fear of flying? Realization that this was not a simulation?

Air Canada is paging an Ottawa passenger, which seems impossible, due to the large and ever-increasing time before our departure. This passenger is probably still in Concourse G with her Carolinian friends, who all stand up when she leaves the table.

I am now cold to the point of slowed movement and stiff joints. I have tried to read my book. Purchased in the Ottawa airport, it’s about a women’s literature group in Iran and the struggles they face. Since I’m a woman, read books, and face struggles, I thought I would be entranced. So far this has not proven out. When I first started to read it, I saw Dean in the airport and talked (ed note: drank) with him instead. But I can’t find Dean now.

The Tulsa flight, whose aircraft is having serious maintenance issues, has boarded. Yet Air Canada remains inactive.

Evidently this waiting area is the love shack, as there are many people cuddling.

A man wearing a huge fanny pack with his tight jogging pants has a blackberry holder on his belt, but the blackberry in his hand. Furthermore, he holds his other hand up to his head, making the phone signal. Why not put the blackberry in the fanny pack, the fanny pack in the bag, and the bag in the hand. Ultimately, I recommend putting the joggers in the garbage and wearing the khakis which are undoubtedly in the bag. He has now left, obviously to do this.

Fanny pack man has come to talk to the woman across from me about blackberries. Then his life story begins. She does not care, as she just wants to cuddle with her husband. It is a travesty that fanny cannot berry.

The agent at the gate is on the phone. “Hello, just calling you to let you know that the planes are not leaving. Well, the main reason is that we want Laura to be tired and grumpy for girls’ poker night. Really, there was a runaway pilot? He was probably frightened of the business men.”

The cuddling couple across from me speaks lovely Franglais. The man has a good sense of style, and is not afraid of jewelry. I am jealous of them, but luckily his jeans are wrong and his hair is scruffy.

I continue to think I recognize the business man. But that’s because I’m crazy.

Behind the face-smears on the window behind me is a pickup truck. In the back are 5 purple rubber gloves and a spray-bottle. Theorizing on the cause of this occupies a good 15 minutes for me. All that’s left of Michael Jackson impersonators after being sprayed with “quick-dissolve spray”? After a dish-washing party with an amputee? Making balloon animals?

Montreal flight is 2 hours late and fanny pack man still doesn’t make it on before the final boarding call. I think it takes a long time to drive from Chicago to Ottawa but it’s looking like this is something I should have considered.

I have bit into the apple I took from the hotel’s breakfast buffet. I hope that its juices evaporate to moisten my eyes and that its healthy goodness balances the cheese goo.

Of the 6 other women in this waiting area, only 1 does anything to her hair in the morning. My hair takes me 20 minutes every morning. Over the next 50 years, this will take 6083 hours, or 253 days. Is credibility in business worth it? And yet the business man who continues to walk by is often unkempt. The male life expectancy is shorter for other reasons, or this would not be fair. I wonder how much of my life will be spent in airports.

Speaking of unkempt, an unshaven greasy man in a purple shirt runs over the cell phone man’s feet and suitcases fall everywhere. Instead of “I’m sorry”, purple man chooses a “Oh dear, oh dear” as his response. This was likely a suave pick-pocketing maneuver of a spy.

In a sudden spurt of intelligence, I’ve moved one seat over to mitigate the effects of the fan. For warmth, I am cuddling with both laptop and power supply (recalled due to potential over-heating).

A man rushes by and walks into a chair. He turns and apologizes to it. He’s a Canadian.

My brain has started to ooze out of my left ear. This likely started earlier, when I was confused as to which rental car agent walk talking to me. Passers by remark on this being the second strange event of the day after the fleeing captain.

A man swears at the garbage-collector lady when she tells him in Spanish that she knows nada about where to catch the shuttle. There are three Air Canada agents waiting 2 feet away behind the desk.

It is 9:30 (flight now 2 hours late), and the construction crew have started to do work in the area outside of the gate. Why now? Concerns that an earlier start might, say, cause delays? I consider leaning over the barrier and watching for entertainment. Update: two other waitees chose this option, so I will not be a follower.

A hybrid business man/leisure traveler has sat next to me to eat his meat bits. These are made with the fingers of chickens and dipped into white goo, which matches his shoes. He is not wearing his wedding ring cause he’s trying to pick up on his business trip. Luckily, the chicken finger move doesn’t work on me. Though I am considering when a fourth meal for today would make sense. The food stalls are too far now, though, and my feet too large.

The Montreal flight, which boarded 30 minutes ago, continues to sit at the gate. Waiting for the runaway pilot? Missing 5 purple gloves?

Sucking noises are made as part of the meat bit eating. This cancels my hunger. Man stares at me to induce conversation, a second failed maneuver on his part.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Laura in Dallas

Due to a mechanical problem in the new Embraer 175’s lavatory, Air Canada has given me a free drink. This is likely not worth the 1.5 hours of sleep I’ve lost, though the fact that the flight attendant recognized me and thought it was “good to see me again” didn’t hurt.

Things I learned this weekend playing Trivial pursuit.
1) A baby beaver is called neither a beavlet nor a wee-beav, but a kit. I think.
2) A “button hook” is a football play.
3) An allen-key hole is a hexagon, not an octagon.
4) Barb will always beat me at Trivial pursuit until they invent a geography category.

This plane is filled with business men named Bob, but Bob is now dressed in a loose ugly T-shirt (sports slogan) to cover the protruding belly, jeans, and running shoes. This is because it’s an evening flight, and Bob’s suit is in his luggage, stowed in overhead bins, heavier items under the seats in front of Bob.

The package of cashews I just ate has 300 calories, and 40% of my daily fat requirements, so I’m relieved to learn that I won’t starve.

The seat in front of me says: “Coming soon to this space in front of you: a digital audio/video system YOU can control.” That’s right, ME. I do not know why I don’t always spell that with capitals, like I. ME. Please give ME another drink. This delay is too long for ME, please give ME lots of airmiles. Please buy lots of optical equipment from ME.

The man across from ME is playing Free-cell. I may do the same. I just finished playing a free-download game involving popping groups of colourful bubbles to makem’ disappear. Very complex and strategic.

In the extended portion of Toronto’s Terminal 2 there is a restaurant called Quayside. This fact introduces two topics for debate. 1) Should a restaurant called Quayside exist if it serves no seafood products whatsoever? 2) How many dishes need a restaurant serve before it is actually a restaurant. And if the number is insufficient, is it a bar? A restlet? A wee-rest? Or a kit?

The man across from me got a free rum & coke from Air Canada, but only drank the coke. (Ed. note: I would only drink the rum). He is taking the rum home for his wife as a gift. In return, she’ll buy him more sports T-shirts and help him match his belt to his shoes.

In Toronto, there are more good-looking people (per-capita, based on scientific studies) than in Ottawa. Why is this? First, there are more hard-core career-oriented people, who groom and dress up for work every day. Secondly, there is more fashion going on. This leads to metrosexuality, which is a movement to promote grooming among men. In fact, I know several who can match their own belts to shoes. Finally (third, if you lost track), there are more single people, partially because of their career-orientation, partially because of their urban, non-traditional values. Thus, they are more prone to maintaining their looks to attract members of the opposite sex. Don’t blame me for prejudice here, I’m quoting studies[i].

Meanwhile, the rum man next to me, who has given up on Freecell, is cleaning his watch by licking it.

Last week, in Shaumberg, Illinois, Angela, a Latina colleague, attempted to teach me to dance to regeton music. My dreams of a Latin dance career were dashed. My spelling of regeton is also questionable.

The meaning of the “seatbelt sign” eludes many. They debate over whether it means a) everyone else should stay seated with their seatbelts fastened or b) I too must abide by said sign. They circle a) on their mind’s multiple choice card, and go the washroom, filled with pride.

In Toronto, I was not immediately able to seize the pole of power, into which you plug in your laptop. Luckily, I’m a vulture, so I got an extra (4 extra hours) battery from Anne-Marie in HR, who got it from a laid-off person. While at the pole of power, I shared the waiting area with a woman doing yoga while her kids ran around. Sometimes it’s tough to juggle priorities.

I have won freecell, yet sheer glee eludes me.

When I arrived in DFW terminal D, I thought it might become my new favourite place. Chairs in the waiting area are in pods, walls carpeted, muted colours, shiny floors, and Asian influence. (Ed note: I have not been to Asia).

When I returned for departure, the only line was for Texans going to Cancún (Funjet Vacations). They stood in the middle of the check-in area, 2x2 in a tight, self-defined space, as if encircled by an electric dog fence. Questions in Laura’s 5am mind: 1) For what do they wait? 2) Why do Texans go to Cancún in October?

Through security, my feelings for D were confirmed. While the old terminal has distant McDonalds and Burger King for breakfast, this one has an Einstein Bros. (EB). Brief interlude on EB: It is a good bagel place with yummy whipped cream cheese. Flavour of the month: buttery pumpkin. This stuff, especially compared to average Texan food, is poetry-worthy, melted creamy goodness with a light bubbly texture. (Ed note: as I write this, my arm rests on the roll of fat that hangs over my pants). So imagine my elation in terminal D. Then imagine my disappointment (ok, strong apathy) upon learning that neither flavoured cream cheeses nor cappuccino is available here.

A headline on the paper says: Sex offenders go missing after Hurricane Katrina. I guess it was previously supposed that said offenders were not prone to having their homes flood and drowning like others? Or perhaps we’ve learned that sex offenders dissolve? Have we searched playgrounds near the superdome? Essay question: Don’t we want them missing?

My thoughts on sex offenders are interrupted by a mental review of why cream cheese should always be whipped. It just shows you care.

Inventory of plane: 9 white business men, 2 WB women, 1 couple (they work in high tech) going on first trip together, home to meet his family, 1 Indian mother and daughter returning from trip to visit son/brother in Dallas, one spoiled blond who saunters onto plane 5 min after final boarding call wearing pink JC joggers, 2 male pilot types, 2 female flight attendants, black luggage, blue seats, 2 lavatories (currently functional), food trolleys. Embraer 175 still filling in for regional jet.

The sun rises over the Dallas horizon, reminding me of an oil slick. Art imitating life? It is announced that for $2 I can purchase a pretzel stick with honey/mustard dip. It is 6:50am. The man behind me makes slurping noises; though no food has yet been served he’s clearly excited about the honey/mustard combo.

I am performing a stress test on my luggage to determine it’s Asia-trip suitability. There is a board game called cocktailopoly (Ed note: I don’t have a problem) which is squished in there diagonally, causing much stretching. Will the suitcase last 2 flights burst-free? The suspense is bewildering.

One flight attendant says to the other that she forgot a trolley on the bridge. I guess this is like when I forgot my fake Chanels in my hotel room. So please decrement the trolley count in airplane inventory.

The man in front of me is buying salsa and chips. It is now 7:02 am. He must not like whipped cream cheese. Freak. He is now taking pictures of the sunrise, the clouds, the fog, and getting too excited and coughing. So we’re down to 8 white business men, 1 leisure traveler TBD.

In the lavatory I notice that my eyebrows are unruly. I hope this doesn’t impact my ability to traverse customs.

Upon opening hand-cream bottle, it explodes all over me (due to pressure change). Is my body affected in the same way? Eyebrows now tamed, skin moistened.

In my wallet there is a receipt for hot tea from a Marriott cafeteria. I do not drink hot tea, nor have I stayed in a Marriott recently.

In changing my watch, I erroneously moved the date ahead 5 days, speeding through time.

Update: I now believe that regetón has an accent on the ó.

[i] Footnote: Studies showing people from Toronto are good-looking. TBD.