Sunday, June 20, 2010

The End (Was) Nigh

It seems I need to start this blog with another apology as it has been a number of weeks since my last input. I guess the main reason is that as most of you now know, I have returned from New York. Whilst I am undoubtedly glad to be back with my friends and family, New York was an amazing experience and writing this blog kind of adds a sense of finality to the trip that I guess I was trying to avoid.

So, being that I’m back and blogging it would be fair to assume my return came without the melodrama of my flight out? Guess again. While I thankfully avoided a repeat performance of Glaswegians do Celebrity Daathmatch, there was still a healthy dose of National Lampoons style mayhem involved.

To set the scene we need to begin the evening before my return when my American colleagues graciously threw me a leaving party and the place where all the important things happen: the Irish bar over the road. Several pints of (really really good) Guiness and a few shots of “real” tequila later and it’s safe to say I wasn’t gonna be doing any packing that night. On the bright side I can tick off “throwing up” on my checklist of things to do in the Big Apple.

Flash forward a few hours, let’s say just enough to wake up slap bang in the middle of your hangover, and it’s time to pack and get ready for work. Word to the wise people: two pints of water before bed is NOT sufficient to fend off a hangover in New York and they are certainly a lot worse on that side of the pond.

So my final morning at work went well and after an all too brief final few hours in the office it was time to leave and the office had book a car to take me to the airport. Unfortunately, due to a few crossed wires the driver had to collect me from a different area than he had been told. Not a huge deal to an average driver, all he had to do was turn a corner, but I had to get the world’s most disgruntled taxi driver.

Apparently, because he’d had to collect me from a side road we were facing the wrong way and had to navigate downtown Manhattan traffic during the rush of Memorial Weekend and this was, entirely, my fault. Now I’m sorry but for starters, I’m the customer, I’m automatically right. Secondly, Manhattan is made up of the infamous block system. If you ever look at a map it is literally a cross section of horizontal and vertical roads, all at perfect right angles. This means that for anyone with a whole brain cell, just take the next 3 right hand turns and you’re back where you wanted to be! Not for my retarded driver, now we had to drive through Chinatown.

So, having extended my journey unnecessarily, I thought I would kick back and enjoy an air conditioned, unofficial tour of the city as we fought to leave along with all the other deserting rats. Except that’s too easy isn’t it? So instead I had to listen to the driver ramble on about how he should never have taken this job, and how he hates driving in the city. In the end I couldn’t help it; I had to subtly point out that if that’s his attitude he’s in the wrong bloody job!
Two mind numbing hours later my chauffeur dropped me at the airport and good thing for him the journey had been prepaid, including tip. If it had been left to me he would have gotten sweet FA.

Interestingly, JFK was much less hassle than Heathrow and given the paranoia these days regarding security on air flights I was somewhat surprised at how easy it was to enter the departure lounge. No 3 mile long queues to pass security, just a quick scan and off we go. Honestly, I went through more to get on the boat to Liberty Island.

After a reasonable wait in a very comfortable waiting lounge it came time for my flight. We were due to take off at 7:30 so as you can imagine, when the clock hit 7:45 and the plane wasn’t even at the gate, people were getting frustrated. As it happens, a delightful voice over the intercom informed us that the plane was at the airport and had been all day, getting cleaned and prepped just for us. Unfortunately, the parking area is on the other side of the airport and it takes time to get it over.

Now I realise that I’m just a puny passenger and not a high flying pilot or anything but might it not have made sense to start taxiing the plane an hour earlier if it takes that long? And if the plane had been being prepped all day why did it need a security check and 20 min prep time when it eventually did turn up??

To be fair, the wait wasn’t too horrific but it certainly did not put me in the best frame of mind for what greeted us on the plane; an ignorant, irritating and downright ungrateful little wretch of a child who declared at the top of his lungs that he wanted his toy truck. They say the speed of light is the fastest thing in the universe. The Pratchet fans may think gossip is the fastest. My vote goes to parents with an irritating child in a public place; those people produced toys seemingly from thin air. Of course, speed and accuracy are two very different things and sadly none of the conjured toys were the favoured truck.

Still, it wasn’t all bad as I certainly had the last laugh during landing. To set the scene a little, I was sat on the right hand side in the aisle seat in the second row of Cattle Class. The Son From Hell was sat in the centre in the first row, so all that was in front of him was the wall to the galley area. As the plane started coming down, the Mother suddenly noticed a peculiarly queasy look coming over her son’s petulant little face...

As suspicion began to dawn that her son was about to re-enact that scene from The Exorcist, the Mother lurched forward to find her sick bag, all the while saying “Honey, do you think you are going to b-“. That is literally as far as she got because an instant later the galley wall, the carpet and (thanks to considerable splash back) the people either side of him were redecorated a charming shade of puke green. Anyone who resembles Slimer from Ghostbusters has a pretty good idea of the end result.

So that marked the end of my hop stateside, it was an awesome trip and while my blogs may have been a little derogatory that was mostly for comic effect. New York is a fantastic place that I fully intend to revisit and I strongly urge everyone else to visit.

One final note, I had originally intended my blog to end upon my return as the whole purpose was to relate my experiences to my friends. That said, my blog seems to have gathered a few fans and a couple of people have expressed disappointment that this will end. Long story short, Alex has cajoled me into continuing the blog but with a twist; I’m also doing a book challenge.

For those who missed my earlier plugs to Alex’s blog & challenge, either cease to exist now or go and read it – there is no other option. Anyhow, Big Z is trying to read 100 books in a year and blogging reviews as he goes. I have agreed to read as many book as I can between 25 June and Christmas day, after which I can set a target for next year. My loose aim is 30 books by Christmas Day.

As for the blog, I will continue to blog whenever the desire arises. It may be a book review, it may be me sounding off on topics that appeal to me but hopefully it will remain as entertaining. If there are any topic requests, feel free to message me, all reasonable requests will be considered!

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