Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Travelog III - Touchdown

"Welcome to New York, folks!"

Sweet words to hear at any time, but more so after that hellish flight from Paris.
The security checks were a breeze, or perhaps only seemed so because the stories I had heard made me expect a polygraph test and rabid pitbulls at my heels.

The only question they kept asking was what kind of doctor I am, which seemed completely irrelevant and somewhat disarming. "Wanna be a pediatrician" cleared me through customs without a single suitcase ransacked, so you may wanna try that if you're ever at JFK.

People I had last seen in Paris where nowhere to be found as most book on Air France, not American Airlines (smart move). I was told to move on to the next terminal for my connecting flight, but at the time I felt like a cigarette. I walked over to a newsstand and bought a pack. I asked for a lighter. It went something like this:
Me: "I'd like a lighter too please..."
Man: "Sorry sir, we don't sell lighters. They're banned on planes now."
Me: "So... how do I smoke this?"
Man: "We sell matchsticks."
Me (failing to see the friggin difference): "Ok, so I'll buy a box of those please?"
Man: "Sorry sir, we're sold out."
Me: (staring) "OKaaaaaay...."

I walk out the door and I notice a congregation of horn-blaring cabs and fare-hustling cab drivers. Avoiding eye contact I make my way to the side of the curb and proceed to search for any smoker in sight. They must have found a solution to this. I find a man dressed in denim pants and jacket blissfully puffing away and holding a garment bag over his shoulder. Not my first choice but I was desperate.

Me: "Can I get a light?"
Denim Man: "Sure" (holds out the lighter flaming)
Me: (looking away) "Thanks..."
Denim Man: "Inta Libneneh?" (Translation: Are you Lebanese?)
Me: "......." (speechless)

I had just traveled 9,000 KM. I had just endured shoe-less body searches, drunk rappers, and security checks. I had just come out to vent some god-knows-what with a cigarette puff on the curb of JFK. And the first New Yorker I talk to? Lebanese!

Turns out Denim Man was Lebanese and had lived in NY for the past 15 years and was at the airport to pick up his brother who had just returned from a trip to Beirut. The jacket in the garment bag was a gift. Lebanese are very talkative when they meet in situations like this. After all the customary well-wishing and hand-shaking, I made my way back to the terminal.

Many boring hours would pass before I finally arrive in Cleveland.

To be continued...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are the God damn chances!? Jeez.

11:19 AM, November 29, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon is me, Pamela :)

11:19 AM, November 29, 2005  

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