Thursday, June 07, 2007

Crossing the Ocean

Our plane leaves Detroit for Tokyo just a few minutes before the scheduled 5:30 p.m. I've never been on a 747 before, even though I've crossed the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans several times. This sucker is huge. There's even an upstairs for first class passengers. It holds 403 passengers. The main cabin has 3-4-3 seating, which isn't too bad. The last time we went to Korea, the middle section had five seats, which means the poor person in the middle of the middle section was pretty much stuck for 13 hours unless he wanted to crawl over his neighbors.
TW, NOS and I are in a side section, near the front of the steerage. BM and EIEIO are four rows ahead of us and HPC and BS are across the aisle from us. NOS isn't much of a reader and immediately starts getting bored with his old parents who enjoy the time plane travel gives them for reading. He wants to play scrabble with BS, but she's not in the mood.
"Does anyone want to talk?" NOS asks, but after getting nothing but uncommunicative grunts, he wanders off to find some more congenial company. When he doesn't return for a long time, we start looking around for him and spot him in an animated conversation with a young man several rows back. This goes on for several hours, before he finally comes back to check on us. This is truly amazing to TW and I. NOS used to be painfully shy. Neither of us are extroverts. When did NOS have a gene transplant?
At 5:30, the stewardii are wheeling out supper. Like typical airline food these days, it's not very good and there is so little of it. I opt for the beef stew and biscuit. It is actually not that bad, considering my expectations. The meal includes a little container of iceburg lettuce with two somewhat tomato-y looking slices on top. I'm not sure the salad counts as a vegetable in the reality-based world, but I'm recording it as a vegetable. There are also a few newly-thawed shrimp, which if you can get the sauce packet open, can be turned into shrimp cocktail. Besides the biscuit with the stew, there is a carbohydrate-looking something or other, which I finally figure out must be a roll, although when I finally get it out of its plastic wrapping and bite into it has all the taste of a baked hockey puck. There are actually two desserts; a package of dime-sized chocolate chip cookies, which make a nice chaser for the hockey puck, and finally, the piece de resistance, a little piece of chocolate. I could go for about 15 more of the chocolates and consider it a pretty good meal.
After supper, everyone heads for the lavoratories. By the time I get inside there is paper on the floor and overflowing from the waste receptacle. I don't know how many nationalities we have on board but not all of them are skilled in the use of sit-down plumbing. I doubt that you really want to hear any more about the lavatories.
About 7:00 p.m. (EDT) the stewardii decide it is time to settle the kids down, so they make us pull the shades even though it is still light outside and it's interesting to look at the patches of snow on the ground. We're over northwestern Canada, coming up on Alaska. It turns out we don't have to go to bed yet, they're just dimming the lights so they can show movies. The first one is the recent one with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore about the aging rock star and the young song writer. I saw it in the theater and, although I have plenty of time to waste, don't bother to turn my headphones to the movie channel. I read until I fall asleep, then sleep for a few minutes, then wake up and listen to some music, then walk the aisles, then read a little more. The next movie is The Freedom Writers with Hilary Swank, which I haven't seen and try to watch. I give up after half an hour. How many movies have already been made about innocent young teachers thrown into wild classrooms who, then, somehow, manage to come up with a way to reach the critters? Too many. Too bad for Hilary who has made some great movies.
The movies are over and everyone settles down to try to get some serious sleeping. With NOS still having abandoned his seat for chatting, we have three seats for two people so there is a little more room to try to get creative about the placement of limbs. It would be a lot easier if they were detachable.
It is now 2:00 a.m. EDT. I have done a lot of tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable. I have discovered why old women wear shawls. They help keep you warm. The cabin is way too cold for my liking and even with wearing a sports jacket, I was shivering until I put the flimsy cloth they call a blanket on my head and now I am sitting here typing, wearing what probably looks like a burkha to the sleepy-eyed inmates shuffling past. We've been in the air now for 10-1/2 hours so the worst is over. Another couple of hours and we'll be landing in Japan. I can do this.


Gnightgirl said...

I'm reading this "series" all at once, and have lost count of how many times I laughed out loud. Stewardii did me in every time, along with the food, and your burkha. Dare you to meet me at Sam's Cafe for lebanese food, in that gear.

Amishlaw said...

After what you are doing to your poor brother-in-law, I would get close to you and your camera wearing a burkha?