So here I am. Columbus, Ohio, USA.
OK so I arrived on Sunday night and it is Wednesday already and hardly a word written yet. Gimme a chance wontcha?….lol.
So here goes. Sunday was an early start especially as my daughter texted me at 04:30 wishing me a safe trip from Haverhill Suffolk. I nudged Kit’s cute warm butt as my alarm sounded at 05:00 and we were on our way. Showers, cups of tea, last minute packing, bound to have forgotten something.
Daryl turned up early, about 06:10 on that cold Sunday early morning and we were off. Good old Daryl was our taxi service for the morning. My normal guy had pranged his cab and thankfully my ex boss from Falconer Plastics stepped in to speed us on our way. The road was clear, the weather cold but precipitation free and we were stepping out of his car to a bright, clear but freezing cold Terminal 4 at Heathrow by 8am.
Now the fun began. Checking in then a brief respite for coffee and security check time. Belt and shoes off. Now why didn’t I wear slip ons I thought as I unlaced my boots but hey ho. Laptop out, through the scanner and luckily I didn’t beep. And into embarkation lounge land. Statutory luxury car to be won with just the purchase of a ticket. Err. No ta. So we look round the shops and even get a free sample tasting of Baileys at one. Quite pleasant at about 9am on a Sunday morning and it helps to calm my frazzled nerves.
My nerves? Oh yes I am terrified and Kit, bless her, has put up with my fear of flying for the last day or so. Yep I am a very nervous flyer. The thought of hot needles in my eyeballs is a comforting one for me compared to my fear of flying. Well actually the flying doesn’t bother me. It’s the possible crashing that gives me the heeby jeebies and has me waking in a cold sweat most nights for weeks before a flight. But hey. I do it. Too stubborn to give in to mere mortal fear I suppose.
But I do need back up and beer is my medication of choice. OK just one valium as well but mostly beer as the minutes tick by. Then as the moment of truth arrives a couple of large G&T’s and I am ready. Another security check. Belt and shoes off. Laptop out. OK done and on to the plane. A nice big metal coffin called a Boeing 777. Big. Very big. Nine seats wide and as me and Kit are a row apart we have to haggle. Well Kit does. I can do little more than gibber by now but my baby sorts it out and we are seated together thankfully.
After the extra security check we are an hour late taking off and I try hard not to look out of the window as a cold sunny London disappears rapidly beneath us. I risk a brief peak after a while but we are above clouds by then an soon we are levelling off at 36,000 feet. Hmm there are video screens in all the seat backs and lots of films and programs to watch. Brilliant except my sound doesn’t work. No. It really doesn’t. I try swapping headphones, twiddling and fiddling but resolutely no sound. I ask the cabin staff but it never worked all flight. I played a couple of games of Solitaire but eventually settled for the map. You know the one? Shows your position, height and out side temp. I derive some comfort from the fact that if we have a mid air disaster I will probably have frozen to death before we hit the ground. Small mercies and all that.
But worse things are to come. Oh yes. I numb my fear of flying by frequent top ups of wine but about 2 hours into the flight the airline credit card machine dies. No more wine. They can’t accept cash. Has to be a card and so no more wine. Sob. Luckily I had just bought 2 measures just before the machine went ‘tits up’ but it won’t last I know. But at least the flight is smooth and the weather good. I even snooze briefly. Having Kit’s hand to hold also helps tremendously. She really is a star and tries not to take the piss out of me too badly. I count myself lucky to have met this wonderful woman. But as I said a while back, worse things are to come on the flight.
We approach the States over Canada and I breathe a sigh of relief as I know that we are over land again. I don’t know why. We will be just as dead if we crash here as out at sea I suppose but nevertheless I feel better. And so we fly down the Eastern Seaboard of Canada and then into the USA. The first time for me as it happens and I look out of the window with interest as we lose altitude ready to land at Newark, New Jersey. Soon we are in cloud and I can see nothing. I can feel my ears popping but of Uncle Sam I can see nothing. And then the fun begins. We hit turbulence. We go up. We go down. We go left. We go right. Rapidly, in quick succession and in no order. The large metal behemoth I have called home for the past 6 hours or so shudders and wobbles as it is caught in the side winds and updraughts. I am sure that my stomach and I part company a few times. I grip Kit’s hand tightly my palm soaked with slick sweat and I even consider converting to christianity briefly but naaa. No hypocrisy in this guy so I grin and bear it.
Soon we are below the cloud layer and New Jersey is below us white with snow. We are still doing the bucking bronco trip as we get lower and I wonder how the hell our jockey is going to land this thing in a straight line. I close my eyes as the ground gets closer but I can’t do it. I have to watch in grim terror as the tarmac approaches. A thud. A squeal of brakes and the roar of the engines in back thrust slowing our lurching landing…… We are down. A relieved cheer and applause from me and my fellow passengers. We made it. I am in America.
©2010 Stan Rogers