Thursday, September 01, 2005

This is a life saver! Writing this journal. Something to think about during these long travelling hours. Ohhhhh God! Travelling is such a bore. The people who dream up the signs in stations and airports should be shot. Clearly they never have to follow them. They lead you round in endless circles, and finally up your own arse.

Gare du Nord! Mon dieu! Quelle disastre!!! I can never work out where I'm going there. The worst thing is getting your ticket. Every time it's the same thing - queue up in a line a mile long, or try to figure out how to work the machines.

Yesterday was a case in point. Pure chaos when I got off the metro. People were going the wrong way through no-entry gates, bumping and shoving. I wanted to say, CAN'T YOU READ! Then two minutes later I'm doing the same thing. It's the only way to get from A to B.

Okay, so I've found the platform I'm supposed to be on, but where do I buy the frigging ticket? Back through no-entries, bumping and shoving, and there they are - lines of the dreaded ticket machines that I can never figure out how to work.

But if there is a God, then he was with me yesterday afternoon. For when I trundled hopelessly up to the nearest machine, someone had been there ahead of me. And guess what? They'd programmed the damned thing to buy a ticket to Charles de Gaule aiport - and then buggered off and left it. All I had to do was hit the "Pay" button, stick in my credit card, and BINGO, I had a ticket. Ghghghghg.... (I'm trying to make that Homer noise of pure pleasure.)

So today what happens? I turn up with my e-ticket at the Air France desk at the airport and cause a minor sensation. The girl panics. She summons help, and other girls arrive from the surrounding desks. They pore over my ticket. I'm wondering, What the hell's wrong? They look at me and shake their heads. I begin to get a sick feeling in my stomach. I'm not going to get to Chicago after all.

"Mrs. May", I hear them say. No, they can't mean my ex-wife, who has just battered hell out of Louisiana (her name's Katrina). They must mean Janice (Hally), who is, of course, married to me - La Patronne. "She's coming back with me on the return leg," I say, and they look at me as if I had two heads.

Then I look at the e-ticket. It says, "Mrs. Peter May". But I'm a guy. Which is when I notice that they're all looking at my kilt. Okay, so I'm wearing a skirt. So maybe I am Mrs. May. Any objection?

Solemn shaking of heads. I am issued with a boarding pass in the name of Mrs. May. So who's going to argue when I come waltzing down to the departure gate swinging my twenty-four feet (eight metres) of tartan wool? Ignore at your peril. I AM Mrs. Peter May.

So now I'm on the plane - who's going to argue with a transvestite Scotsman? The first class cabin (for I am travelling First Class, naturally - thanks for the miles, Susie), is half empty, but I'm stuck with this middle-aged French lady sitting next to me. I really don't want her there. She has every opportunity to move elsewhere, but doesn't. Is she looking at my knees? I coyly pull my kilt a little lower.

Now she's playing "Qui veut gagner des millions" on the TV. God... I'm watching out of the corner of my eye and trying to answer the questions - to tell her, DON'T DO IT! when she's picked the wrong answer. What is wrong with me?

Not to worry, the air hostess is giving me the eye. Big smiles. I've let my hair down and am giving her big smiles back. But then I begin to wonder. Her ginger hair is about half a centimetre long, all over. The haircut of women who like women. I see her eyeing up my kilt. It's the skirt that's done it - the only reason she's smiling at me. Ohhhhh shit. Time to sleep.

So the plane landed on time. You have no real idea, looking at a map, how big the Great Lakes are, until you fly over them. It's like passing over the sea. They're HUGE. And there's Chicago, a cluster of multi-storeys clustered on the distant shoreline, and surrounded by untold miles of flat. Roads, like arrows, that just keep going. Everything geometric, neat little squares.

And then, at the airport, what do you know? The signposting is brilliant!. I find the inter-terminal transit train without a problem. Follow the signs to the train into the city and actually find it. Nice people tell me how to use the ticket machine. I forgot. People in America are so much friendlier than in Europe. They talk to you, they offer to help, they're very open.

Welcome to America. I made it!

The view from the hotel window....


Janice said...

Oh Yes?

Smiling at the air hostess - or "steward" as I believe they're more correctly called - were you?

And she was smiling back....?

Hmmmm yes.... well, she saw your boarding pass, didn't she?

She was no doubt smiling pityingly at your valiant effort to pass for "MRS" May. She probably wanted to explain that the pony tail and skirt were a good attempt, but next time, you might think of removing the big bushy beard...

Ariane said...

Belle vue!!
Je commence aujourd'hui à traduire Chinese Whispers. Danielle m'a appelée aujourd'hui : je dois rendre les deux traductions (Chinese W et The 4th S) fin décembre! Au boulot...