Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2002-07-29 Entry: "Leaving, On A Jet Plane"

I'm being hopeless - I'm now over a week behind, this being the Friday 19th entry...

So Friday dawns bright and early. I'm all packed, so now all we need to do is wait for parent before heading out for the airport. Parking at the airport proves entertaining, as step-parent manages to lose the car keys between removing them from the ignition and closing the car door. After ten minutes of searching they finally turn up, but somehow they'd managed to get into the back seat...

LGW manages to be fairly quiet at Friday lunchtime, although when I initially join the queue to check in it persists in moving precisely nowhere. When they clear the backlog of St.Louis passengers or give up looking for them, we start to move, and I get to be grilled by a check-in girl before I even get to check in - they had a second row of desks to get all the security questions out of the way first. I had to present every document under the sun to prove that the US would actually allow me in and not just stick me on a plane back. Fortunately I passed the American Airlines scrutineering and was allowed to handover my bomb-laden suitcases to the airline.

Free of luggage (except for the monstrously large hand luggage that seems to be acceptable these days), we had a final cup of coffee / hot chocolate, before I escaped through passport control. Amazingly they didn't even bother to check my passport and the drugs in my bag didn't flag anything up on the screen, so I was through to duty free. Strange really, as when I arrived I found I had my nail scissors in the hand luggage with me - somehow though their storage wallet thing must be x-ray proof (or the person on the machine was asleep).

So, dashing round bookshops in a vain attempt to get something to read, I settled on a James Herbert book that looked vaguely acceptable (Once) and dashed to the gate before boarding took place.

As parent predicted, I was sitting behind the tail (or at least it felt like it - these 777s are long...). I managed to get comfortable in my aisle seat before the group next to me demanded I move, but as I appeared to be the only one with carry on luggage, I had most of a storage bin to myself. Hey, I could have taken the kitchen sink after all!

Earlier that morning (or possibly the night before, my memory is starting to haze over) brother and I discussed which films would be shown. I didn't have a clue, and the only one he could think of that was about the right age and he knew I'd dislike (due to my irrational hatred of Jodie Foster) was Panic Room. And lo and behold, there it was. In full midget technicolour display. The alternatives, unfortunately, weren't any better - Ice Age (which I'd seen), Amelie (which is in French for heaven's sake - and the last thing I need to be trying to do on a plane is think!), and Enigma (which is based on a book and therefore guaranteed to be awful). Having enough flight time for three, I settled for Panic Room.

It was pretty much as terrible as I expected. Jodie Foster had managed to tone down the irritating accent, but she's still not in my good graces. And can someone tell me who played the father in it... I'm convinced I recognized him from somewhere, but am unsure where...

I followed it up with Enigma, which wasn't terrible, but wasn't exactly riveting watching either. I then abandoned the films entirely and read my book, which easily lasted out the rest of the flight, what with interruptions for dining and drinks.

They'd managed not to give me an immigration form though - I'd got the customs form, but I needed an "I already have a visa - see my passport" form - the bottom of which gets pasted in next to the visa, presumably to show that I actually arrived and that someone, somewhere is eating a toffee crisp (or has a record of my entry even). Fortunately, the stewardess managed to work out which one I needed, so I had all the necessary bits of paper ready when we landed.

Sail through to immigration - three desks for US citizens, three desks for foreign nationals, which makes a huge change from the mess at Boston last time (where there were twelve desks for the six US citizens in the queue, and three desks for the four hundred odd other people). And the US desks here have huge long queues, while the foreign desks have about ten people apiece. So, after a short wait, I wave my visa at the man, answer a couple of questions, and it's on to pick up my luggage.

Waiting for my luggage, I'm glad I made the sensible decision and got brightly coloured stuff no-one else would buy, especially as the woman next to me had to check three identical black suitcases before she found hers! My bright turquoise ones were easy to prepare for as they made their merry way around the carousel. Once I'd heaved them onto a trolley, I was briefly stopped by an armed guard who checked my passport and waved me on my way, and then equally briefly stopped at customs to prove I hadn't hidden a pig in my coat. And then I was through - easier than getting into my own country!

Getting outside saw me completely confused as to where to go to get the hire car - I did eventually end up in the right place, but it was more due to blind luck than good signposting.

And they gave me a car - automatic, which was going to be entertaining, but at least it was one thing I wouldn't have to worry about while trying to stay on the right side of the road. The directions I was given were terrible, and I spent forever on the airport service road trying to avoid the tolls - which was what my directions said I should do. But once passed the toll, there wasn't actually another exit off the service road for about six hundred miles, so I did start to panic. Eventually though, I made the road I was supposed to be aiming for and managed to get to my accommodation first time.

The code I'd been given for the door didn't work. Aaaah!!! It's after hours, now what am I going to do? Wander back to the car, dig out all my paperwork, check the code... nope, I punched in the one that I was told to... hmmm... try it again? Fortunately I worked that time and I could actually get in, but I've no idea what I did wrong first time! It did allow me to get in and get the car thing though, so I could make my first feeble attempt at parking the car in the garage. It was at a bit of a horrendous angle, but didn't appear to be blocking anyone so I gave it up as a lost cause and sought some sleep.

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