Monday, May 15, 2006

My trip to London Part I

In the world of frequent fliers I am at that weird in between status. I travel more often than the average American, at least once a month domestic and on average three times a year to Europe. However, I don’t travel nearly as much as the management consultants of the world with their weekly transcontinental flights. When it comes to upgrades, I am at the end of a very long list of people who are far more deserving- even if I think that my cool demeanor should be rewarded with a seat in business class. Hence, when I went over to London on British Airways I was not surprised to find the smiles and the lies that my mother is a travel agent were in vain. I was seated in the middle of the cattle car, in that dreaded middle seat. And being how my life is all about irony, of course it was next to a girl who has been able to make her transatlantic relationship evolve into marriage.

Probably helped that her fiancé was heterosexual, unlike my tryst with the repressed London fag.

After consuming three vodka tonics, and listening with envy how this girl met her husband and the details of her English countryside wedding, an idea hit me.

What would happen if I would start to wear maternity clothes when I checked in for my flights? Tell the woman who is checking me in that my ankles are especially swollen that day and that I am meeting my boyfriend who is on a business trip over there. Un-wed mother with swollen ankles, how could anyone pass that up and not let me into business class? That would tug at the heart strings of any person, even those jaded counter chicks. And the sad truth is that my breasts are so big, that if I would wear an empire waisted shirt I would look like a woman expecting. Fourth month maximum, there is no way I could ever cop the eight month look without the aid of a pillow stuffed under my shirt, then my trick just becomes ridiculous instead of brilliant.

The only problem with that trick is that I would not be able to drink on the airplane. That would be fucked up, telling the counter girl how I am pregnant then getting loaded on the flight.

Anyway, back to the story.

I don’t know if I luck out and tend to sit next to nice people or if the average person is actually a lot kinder than what we give ourselves credit for, but when I started crying and praying very loudly because of very bad turbulence over the Atlantic, the girl seated next to me held my hand as we waited for the alcohol to take effect. But all in all, I was quite proud of myself, I only cried once and prayed to both Jesus and my Jewish God twice. My prayer time ending when vodka tonic number three hit my bloodstream and the turbulence became a fun roller coaster ride instead of the indication of impending death that I originally thought it was.

Oh and as an FYI, a travel trick that I picked up during my numerous international flights, try to fly the country’s carrier instead of an American one. Usually it’s filled with nationals going back to their home country, and you have a much shorter immigration line. Although, with a shorter immigration line, the customs officials can take a deeper interest in your trip.

Whenever I go through immigration, I always put on my smile, make sure I am wearing my Gucci loafers, and am wearing my college sweatshirt. I try to go for a look that exudes “mommy and daddy are my best friends but I have a lovely paying job back in the US so I will not be settling illegally in your country”. And traditionally it works. I always get asked the requisite two questions, “How long will you be here?” and “Why are you here?” and then the nice man smiles at my lovely middle class response, stamps my passport and then I am allowed to move onto more important matters such as flashing Gloucester rd. after twelve hours of drinking.

However, I don’t know if it was the extra short line that allowed this immigration asshole to practically Spanish Inquisition my ass or if he was alarmed at my bloodshot eyes, but he took an interest to my trip into the country.

“How long are you here for?” He asked.

“I leave Tues night.”

“Uh huh. Can I see your return flight please?”

I hand him the print out of my flight itinerary. He studies it. Despite my numerous entrances into the UK, this is the first time I am ever asked for proof when I am leaving.

“What is your business here?”

“I am visiting grad schools and my friends who are over here.” I respond with a smile.

“Four days is a very short trip.”

I look back at him, my smile quickly leaving my face and is replaced instead with the look of annoyance.

“Why are you only here for four days? Your ticket cost quite a bit,” he asks.

“As I previously said, I am visiting grad school and my friends.” Ignoring the fact that he is commenting how I spend my money.

First of all, the dude should not be counting my money. Secondly, I am not going to tell the guy how I decided to show up to Oxford to chat to a professor about his research in the hopes that it will help my application to their program. Being so superstitious, I thought that my admission would jinx the professor’s ability to keep the appointment. I told you, I am fucking neurotic.

“But your trip is very short.”

And you know, I understand that customs officials have to do their jobs. However, when it is obvious that I am an employed, that I am just in the country for a few days to visit grad school and friends, and that there are no indications that I could be a terrorist/drug dealer, I don’t understand the fucking point of this quasi-interrogation. Nor what he could hope to be getting from me. So, in a fit of frustration, I put on my smile and bitchy tone of voice.

“I know four days is a short time, however this is the only amount of time that I can take off from my job,” I say. “Do you know how much vacation time I get? Two weeks.”

He jumps in, “That is such a miserable life.”

“Well, you do what you have to do. It goes with living in NYC.”

There, I proved my point, I think to myself. I work damn hard for 49 weeks out of the year, and I do have a sense of entitlement. Don’t fuck with me when I am just trying to get out of the offices for one of those one week respites of freedom.

He looks stunned and stamps my passport, giving me a half-hearted welcome.

And I am off to collect my bag, and continue the tradition of boozey lunches and meeting over-indulgent half French show-offs in London. Invite to a members only club included.


At 11:17 AM, Blogger AWE said...

That would be funny as hell to watch you getting tanked when you were acting like you were pregnant. It would freak the airline personnel out.

At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Daniel said...

They did that to me too when I came back to Australia for only a week with very little baggage. They told me straight out that only drug-runners travel like that, but then let me go because "I can tell from your answers that you're far too naive to be a drug-runner." Nice.


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