Friday, August 14, 2009

Getting there is half the fun: Part ni

"Were you nervous?" I was asked that a lot; I'd never really flown before, and there I was, alone and flying from New York to Tokyo nonstop on a 14 1/2 hour flight. Truth, I wasn't nervous. I don't know why I wasn't. My biggest fears were not making my connecting flight to Osaka in time, and throwing up. As I mentioned in the previous entry, my only other plane trip was at 4 years of age. And I threw up.

However, as an airplane rookie, I wanted to be the best damn passenger American Airlines had ever seen. I followed every rule, obeyed every instruction. I buckled the hell out of that safety belt. However, certain situations will drive a man to deviate from proper behavior. And an impending situation was creeping closer. One that would "out" me as a flying newbie.

I had to pee.

We had been flying for a few hours now; the pamphlet clearly states that after reaching our cruising altitude, the seatbelt sign would turn off, and we'd be free to move about the cabin. Blast that infernal glowing sign! It became a staring contest. I lost. Perhaps if I looked away for a minute, when I looked back it wou...damn! Tensions were rising. Bladders were filling. Paul Blart was stumbling. I had to admit defeat. With wounded pride, I asked the stewardess (oh, I'm sorry, 'flight attendant') when they would turn off the seatbelt sign, so that I could use the restroom.

Her reply? "Hey, if you gotta go, you gotta go."

Made sense. If the plane were to crash at 30, 40, 50,000 feet, I doubt that seatbelt would be the difference-maker.

"Were sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Tiembi. The engines lost power at 50,000 feet, and the plane crashed somewhere in the mountains of Alaska, followed by a large explosion. Your son was the only casualty. If only he held it in for another 10 minutes, he would have survived. Autopsy showed he was in mid-stream. You have our condolences."

Upon returning to my seat, the stewardess asked, "Excuse me, but...are you in the military?" Perhaps it was my shaved head. Perhaps it was my amazing physique attained by years of video games and Lean Pockets. No, I have never served in the military. I kick ass with a sniper rifle in Call of Duty 4, though.

"Oh...because you've been so polite during this flight."

I guess if you're American, and were raised on a steady diet of P's and Q's (what does the "Q" stand for??), you're the exception, not the rule.

14 1/2 hours later, after several episodes of The Office and 30 Rock, after Paul Blart saves the day, the Nintendo DS was put away, and my tray table was in its upright and locked position, we landed. I stared out my window the entire time, as a foreign land grew bigger and bigger underneath me. I tried to make out giant words on buildings and billboards, to see if I recognized any from my Japanese tutorial DS game (Midori!! That means 'green!'). My biggest concern, though, was making my connecting flight. I was landing in Tokyo, but had to catch a flight to Osaka in less than two hours. Plenty of time, right?

Not if swine flu had anything to say about it.

Will Jeff make his connecting flight? Will he succumb to swine flu and die before touching Japanese soil? All this and more in the thrilling conclusion of "Getting there is half the fun."