Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Fly me to the….(insert alternative destination here)

Chilled out in the Cajun Cafe,off Broadway, Nashville - reflecting on our epic journey.....

Part two of our odyssey across the unfriendly skies!

You join our two heroes as they high-tail it towards the first security barrier, clutching ‘Flight manifest interruption’ documents that tell us we are flying to JFK with Iberia as opposed to American Airlines  and also onwards to Nashville with Delta- though exactly when our flight lands in New York and when our connecting flight leaves for Nashville is still a mystery to us.  Details such as these, though, are of no importance as we prepare to remove shoes, belts, activate laptops  and insinuate ourselves once more into the Orwellian nightmare that these religious nutjobs have caused to be created as a result of their desire to be re-united in paradise with 27 virgins and take a fair number of us with them.  Winning the war on terror?  Losing the war on queuing morelike.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for vigilance and heightened security, but when is somebody going to grasp the PC nettle? Quite simply , middle-aged anglo-saxon white folks by and large are not going to be wrapping themselves in semtex and hurling themselves at cabin crew in the name of Allah. Followers of Islam are, for better or worse, a damn sight more likely to do so. Therefore, it is they that need to be screened/body searched/interrogated, which will significantly reduce the problems for the rest of us. Not happy? Then do your bit to put your religious movements in order and condemn the extremists, that’s what I say.

Anyway, rant over. (For now)   Escaping the clutches of the X-Ray Gestapo,  we discovered we had to negotiate 3 levels of the terminal and await the arrival of a monorail that would take us beneath the runways across to the other part of Terminal 4.  It was now around 13.30, and the flight had been shown as boarding at 13.00……

Having caught our breath on the train, we set off at a run again.  Judging by the signs, our gate was at the furthest reaches of the terminal, wouldn’t you know it. We raced past great swathes of queueing passengers in our quest to make the flight, daring to hope we had an outside chance. All of a sudden we came to an abrupt halt inches from the upraised palm of an imperious Spanish female security guard. ” Need…….(gasp)……get ……..(another gasp)……gate U70…”  I managed to say. She shook her head and pointed behind us.   The great, snaking line of humanity past which we had just sprinted was in fact the queue for the second line of security beyond which the Holy Grail of boarding  awaited…not for just our flight but at least 2 others heading Stateside.  As we trudged back to the end of the line, a number of thoughts coursed across my travel-addled brain…..does this chaos mean our original Dallas flight could have easily been caught?  Is the JFK flight really still here , or have we missed that as well?

Somewhere , in the darkest reaches of my brain, a cog slowly dropped into place and I achieved a calm, of sorts, and delivered myself mentally, at least, into the hands of whatever Gods ruled these matters. We would either board the flight to New York, or we wouldn’t -and there wasn’t a damn thing either of us could do that would affect the outcome.

It became apparent after around 20 minutes that the giant queue which we were a part of had begun morphing into gender specific lines, the better to position people in front of male and female security staff that were giving pat-downs prior to directing us to individual tables where one-on-one “let’s embarrass you by removing all your belongings from your carry-on” sessions were taking place.

Thus Miki and I were  separated and I escaped quite lightly, awaiting the arrival of  Miki and her re-arranged baggage by the departure gate, where an anxious looking Airline official confirmed that, miracle of miracles, our JFK flight was steadfastly refusing to leave the tarmac.  Eventually, with ticket, hand luggage, and flustered French partner in tow, we boarded the plane to take our seats, which were numbered plainly in black and white on our tickets – 30G and 30H………

Our seats were taken.  I pointed this out to an Iberia stewardess, who promptly disappeared.  The ladies occupying our seats seemed to take it in good spirit, though weren’t showing any signs of moving, and to further complicate matters, had boarding passes with the same seat numbers as us.  Eventually, a posse of Stewardesses (what is the collective noun? – a flight of Stewardesses?  …mmm…no – a trolley of stewardesses! That’s better!) arrived, headed up by a lady in an inordinately loud fuscia blouse, which led me to believe she was Iberia’s head honcho in the air. As soon as she started in on the ladies, asking them to move, some pipsqueak of a Spanish husband to one of them waded in with (I thought) the somewhat childish defence of “we were here first”. According to Miki, translating, he was quite belligerent.  I found it quite amusing, being as simply standing inside any plane heading for the States I considered a result in our favour. After what seemed like half an hour, and indeed probably was, we were reseated further up the plane. The little man no doubt mentally punching the air and celebrating his small victory. I considered briefly the idea of walking past him at regular intervals during the flight whispering “Remember the Spasnish armada” , but thought it might fall under the remit of psychological terrorism, and the last thing we needed was another diversion.

I have been spoiled over the years, particularly when performing in the Caribbean, with my transatlantic flights, particularly with regard to in-flight entertainment, so you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered the only thing I could look at on the seat in front of me was the bottom of my dinner tray, and the nearest TV monitor was so far away, they were giving out complimentary Hubble telescopes instead of headphones.  In fact, the remoteness of the telly and the quality of the headphones meant that I still have no idea what the film was, who was in it, or if it was in Spanish or English. I think it was live action, but I can’t be sure.

Somehow, many hours later, a chilly Eastern seaboard appeared magically beneath us, as we inscribed a graceful arc south into JFK. In short order, we were on the ground, and went from travelling at 400 miles per hour, to what seemed like 400 hours per mile, as we became just another couple of statistics in the tide of humanity trying to gain entry into the land of the ‘free’.

All around us were signs warning against some kind of viral flu, and urging people to use tissues and instantly deposit them in the trash. Our sense of alarm increased as the man behind us began sneezing violently without a tissue in sight. Having been entertained by threats of death by bacteria for two hours, it was finally our turn to be scrutinized and fingerprinted before being cast through the magic doorway. In fairness, the guy on the desk was polite, interested in what we did, a great advert for his country,and Miki and I left our publicity with him after he told us he was learning bass guitar!

By the time we had retrieved our luggage, which continued to surprise me by actually arriving at the same airport as ourselves, we had discovered which terminal our Delta flight to Nashville was leaving from, but crucially, not when. By sheer fluke, we spied a sign saying “baggage re-check” and after almost mugging an airport official before he could begin addressing the problems of a lengthy queue, we were told to throw the bags on this conveyor that disappeared into a hole in the wall and that “everything would be fine”. I thought we’d pushed our luck with the bags too far, and that we’d never see them again. The guy also had a rough idea when the Nashville  flight might be leaving, so, upon seeing my first Starbucks of the day, I set out to explore it. After Miki had beaten me up, I decided perhaps Starbucks could wait, and we set off to find yet another monorail to whisk us around JFK airport. The automatic announcement guy on the train sounded so happy to tell us “this train stops at Terminal 3!!!”, that it sounded like it was his birthday, first time with a girl and lottery win all rolled into one. The Americans have varying degrees of enthusiastic. This guy was off the scale. All the same, it works. Jet-lagged as we were, it had us laughing.

The Delta check-in area is interesting. It is a place to people watch. There are large people, and this being America, there are even larger people. All of them united in a common goal – the solving of their particular problem. One woman was just a degree or two off the level reached by Michael Douglas in the film Falling Down, right before he says “haven’t you heard the phrase, the customer is always right?”

We still had no actual tickets for a final flight, just a voucher detailing the re-routing. I noticed some computer terminals over to the right offering quick, automatic check in. Just punch in your ticket number! – the screen beamed at me, breezily. I looked at my voucher, and indeed, I had ticket numbers for our flight.  I entered the appropriate numbers. Three times. Three times the screen told me to join the manual queue, which was now twice as long as it was before I was seduced by it’s offer of Speedy boarding.Fighting the compulsion to punch in more than just my ticket number, we joined another queue of lost souls. Ahead of us, a guy who had travelled all the way from Dublin. He overheard Miki and I discussing the day, and said “If it makes you feel any better, this is my third time in this queue today.”   It didn’t.

Part Three tomorrow!!

Kev Moore

 

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January 13, 2010 - Posted by | Art, Entertainment, life, New York City, travel, writing | , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. With all the energy burned in living this story how did you find more to write such a wonderful piece keeping me in laughter despite my feelings of empathy for you guys?

    Kev you are I think at your best when under duress. {smile}

    Comment by Michael Pokocky | January 14, 2010

  2. Cheers Michael! It certainly brings out a certain wry humour in me, that’s for sure!

    Comment by kevmoore | January 14, 2010

  3. Byer the way, do you know the etimology of«cajun»?

    It comes from the word acadien, pronounced acadjien – cadjun – cajun since the French from Louisiana were deplased people from Acadie (I think it`s in New Brunswick somewhere)…

    Comment by iondanu | January 16, 2010

  4. Danu: yep, I’m looking forward to exploring the cajun influences down here (primarily their chicken wings!!)

    Comment by kevmoore | January 17, 2010


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