Adventures in Los Angeles 3.1 – How Do You Say “Genocide” in Spanish?

June 19, 2008

My god… I hate airplanes.  I hate everything about airplanes.  The vinyl interiors, the recirculated air, the single-serving packages of pretzels, the bronzed stewards and stewardesses whose perfect teeth glow in the dim cabin like mouthfulls of tiny moons – like they cracked open highlighters and drank their blood when we were asleep.  I realize that Conestoga wagons aren't much of an improvement when it comes to pan-American travel… but christ… at least it gets you out in the open air.

I'm writing this from my hotel bed.  It's 1:20 here… which means that in my head it's 4:20.  No pot jokes please.  I remember back in college, before I had any idea of what 420 meant (I was a detached teenager – not sheltered, just weirdly lame and detached… kindof like a middle-aged man with greasy hair, a band shirt and flannel.  I didn't fit in with the 90s… the only Pearl Jam album I owned was Vitalogy, which I got as a gift, and that pretty much ended my relationship with grunge/alt music forever.  Fuck the 90s).  It was April 20th, and I was walking back to my dorm, and this imbecilic girl flew into me, draped her arms around my neck and kissed me on the mouth – not the lips… the mouth… it was an awful kiss. "Happy Happy Day!" she said hazily… and then she wisped away.  I hate people.

Speaking of that… the airplane:

I boarded the plane at 5:30.  I was in an aisle seat… sat next to a young, very pretty Indian girl (I love how Indian women have those PERFECT eyes… all of them… it's a triumph of genetics.  Well done) on my left, a decrepit looking asian man beyond her… and across the aisle, an older gentleman with a leathery face, a bushy mustache and freakishly dark arms.  He looked like Joe Frasier from the elbow down… the rest of him: Wilfred Brimley.  The Asian man spoke no English… either that or he was mute.  Any time he needed to use the bathroom he would do what my Chinese neighbors (who speak no english) do… seal his lips tight, widen his eyes and nod excitedly.  For my neighbors this is a form of all-purpose greeting, "Hello white neighbor," they're saying to me, "we enjoy the fact that you keep to yourself!  Please don't find us odd for hanging flayed fish from our clotheslines, or question why our two young children are never in school, but instead spend their days chasing one another around the busy parking lot outside your window!"  I love my neighbors.

The flight was supposed to take off at 6… we didn't make it into the air until 7:30.  This is something I don't understand about airlines – why, if they know there's a delay, do they board the plane?  They must know that it's going to piss people off.  You know what, I'll give them that… they can board the plane… but after doing so, they have to at least seem apologetic… they should work with their inmates, stop by and say, "hey, I know this blows… just work with us and we'll get there in no time.  Here, have a tiny bag of pretzels."  That would be enough for me.  I'm okay being inconvenienced when the person who's doing it is appropriately contrite… it puts shit back into perspective – it scoops out a bit of karmic justice – "hey," it says, "your situation blows… so here I'm gonna pretend to be sorry… and that way you can feel like you've gotten something out of me."  But does this happen?  No.  Invariably, someone gets pissy… probably because they're belted down to an uncomfortable seat with no legroom, next to a total stranger, in front of a child with restless leg syndrome, being lectured over the PA system by a drawling pilot about not using his cell phone… even though we all know it doesn't make a difference.  Wanna know how I know?  Because I never turn off my cell phone.  Fuck those people… let us all die.

So I'm in my seat… trying my best to fall asleep… when I feel a tug on my sleeve.  It's Wilfred Brimley.  "We're 14th in the taxi queue," he says, "the captain is in negotiations with the tower… but it isn't looking good."  I didn't ask for this information… but Wilfred is just trying to be polite, so I thank him.  "Howabout that," I say, "guess it'll be a while."  And then I close my eyes and try to fall asleep again.  Five minutes pass.  Tug-tug-tug.  "We're 12th… the tower is worried about the weather."  "Thanks."

It went on like this.  For an hour.  What's wrong with this man?

It was a pretty dead flight – lots of open seats.  The Indian girl and I devised a plan to take over the two rows, one for her one for me… when a porky woman in a pink smock trunded past and landed her crannied ass down in one of them.  Not a moment after her rear stopped shuddering did one of the stewards descend on her and scold her.  "Ma'am… now you and I both know that you didn't pay for this seat."  "Yeah!" I thought… you tell that bitch… she stole the aisle I was going to steal!"

"No, I didn't pay for it… but I paid for my other seat… and this one's no different.  Nobody's sitting here… we're in the air… what's the big deal?" 

"Well… it's like you're stealing… it's our policy, I'm sorry I'm going to have to ask you to go back to your seat."

I started rooting for the lady at this one.  Who the fuck does it hurt?  Why the hell does this policy even exist on paper, let alone in the air… when there isn't anyone around?  What's to be gained?  Why the priggish lecture?

The lady argued back… and the guy threatened to have the "captain" land the plane.  She left.  The steward beamed with self-importance… and another shred of my sanity was lost.

I'm sorry… I'm sure it's a stressful job… no fun at all… but where do stewards/esses get off lecturing people?  Ladies and gentlemen… do not let their uniforms (costumes) and puffed-up titles fool you… they're air-waitresses.  Would you let an earth-bound waitress lecture you?  Fuck no.  So what does an extra few thousand feet do to change shit around?

Someone needs to do something here.  Well.. not really, I don't really care that much… I just want to complain about something, and I don't have the emotional wherewithal to talk about Bush's attempt to lift the federal ban on off-shore drilling.  God that man just hates the environment.

Today, on my flight… as we were on our third cocktease about taking off… the man behind me took down his tray-table and started to eat the sandwich he had brought on board.  The pilot (fuck him, he's not a captain) decided to turn the engines back on (he had already turned them off and on three times beforehand) and asked over the pa system for everyone to get ready to take off.  Had shit been running as it was supposed to… the guy would have already finished his sandwich thirty minutes ago… but as it is… he's sitting in that awful chair… stuffing his lunch down his throat as quickly as possible.  He's not being difficult… he's not being rude… he's just trying to eat his sandwich.

Cue Esmeralda – the queen bee stewardess.  Esmeralda is seven feet tall… she's got hair like a nest of copper wiring… except for on her arms… which are downed with a rug of thick black hairs.  She's blotchy-faced… hairy-knuckled… and she's got braces.   There's something so awful about adults in braces – it's unnatural… a marriage of an adul
t face with something which belongs so entirely in our childhood.  It's an evil, perverse thing to see.  If your teeth aren't straight by 18… you've got to just live with them.  I'm sorry… that's just a rule.

"Sir," she says in a really shitty tone, "I know you like your sandwich… but you're going to have to wait… we're about to take off."  She's got the balls (literally) to talk to this man like he's a child. 

The guy's not backing down… I like this guy already.  "Look lady, I haven't eaten all day… the pilot hasn't taken off yet… I'm almost done… let me just finish my damn sandwich and I'll put the table back up.  We're not even moving." 

"Sir, regulations state that the tray-table must be in the upright and locked position the moment we enter our departure corridor.  I can't let you have it up.  Please return it to it's upright and locked position."

She actually pushed the sandwich off the table… slid the white paper it came wrapped in onto his lap and put the table up.

"Jesus, lady," I said, "let the guy eat his damn sandwich."

"Sir," she said to me, spit pooling around her braces, "this doesn't concern you, please sit down and rebuckle your seatbelt.

I've got more… but I'm really tired.  And the story isn't really that interesting… I just needed to bitch about it… and I'm here alone.

Ugh!  I hate air travel.

Anyway…. I'm in LA… I'm safe… I'm pissy.

I need to eat something.

I'm watching a documentary about Abu Gharib.

Fuck everything.


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