Afternoon Lunches at O’Hare

Part VI – Afternoon Lunches at O’Hare

From the Business Travel Log

The cavernous passageway between concourses L and H is vibrant with the movement of people. Business travelers, tourists, airport workers, TSAs, security officers and more flow in both directions. A few talk excitedly as they walk, others walk with earbuds plugged into their ears and some are like zombies, blanked faced, slowly trudging along, staring straight ahead.

I look out the tall, wide windows. Baggage trucks dart around airplanes and food trucks are raised up to aircraft loading doors by heavy duty cranes. Far away at the edge of the horizon, the silhouette of Chicago’s skyline stands tall.

I enjoy afternoon lunches at O’Hare. I remember the time I had meatloaf here in the same spot facing the same passageway and the same tall windows. That restaurant is gone. Another has taken its place and they do not serve meatloaf.

I was quite tired then and I’m quite tired now. Back then I wrote a poem titled “Meatloaf at the Airport.” Right now I’m writing this blog post. History does repeat itself, I think.

“May I have my check please?”

“Thanks for stopping by”, says my server 3 minutes later.

He leaves the check on my table. One sausage dog and a sparkling water for a total of $15.32 reads the long slip of paper.

“I’ll be right back”, he says taking my credIt card as he dashed to the register.

I leave the signed slip along with a tip on the table, grab my bags and I head towards my gate. The dog was good but I miss my meatloaf. I reminisce about the last time I ate here:

MEATLOAF AT THE AIRPORT

I’m eating a late lunch at an airport,

at a restaurant named after a notable, 

noted, well known chef

who deserves redundant adjectives

for the food is just that good.

Maybe it’s not the healthiest choice,

turkey meatloaf wrapped

in a thin slice of bacon,

mashed potatoes smothered

in a layer of light brown, turkey flavored gravy.

 

The meat loaf looked like it was gently placed

by gentle hands on top of the potatoes 

while thin cut, brown coat onion rings

were sprinkled over the layered stack, 

topped with one last spoon of gravy,

just a dripping from top to bottom.

I have prime seating, facing main concourses,

two in the afternoon, prime space,

prime time, prime people watching,

truly, it does take all kinds to make a world.

I peer at the large windows, 

gazing outside, I see several planes

parked at several gates and I think:

it’s gonna be a long ride.

#travellogforatravelblog

#jerryjohnsonblog jtjohnpoet.com

Part V – Riding the Double Decker

From the Business Travel Log

Part V – Riding the Double Decker

My plane makes a long downwind track past the Whitestone bridge before making a longer arc to face the runway. I think about a long journey I took in 1995 from Krasnoyarsk to Moscow.

The plane from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, to Moscow was not a puddle jumper. It was a huge double decker Russian airliner. It was not the most modern of airliners but it was modern enough. My translator, Sergey, and I rode in first class.

“Jerry, how are you feeling”, asked Sergey.

“This toothache is killing me”, I replied.

“When we get to Moscow we can get some good medicine for you”, said Sergey.

“Zdravstvujtye, chto-nibud’ vypit “, said the handsome lady elegantly dressed in the blue, and white uniform with the long purple velvety scarf draped around her neck.

“I know what she said Sergey. What’s on that cart she’s pushing? I see vodka. Wait, what’s in that tall brown bottle?”

Sergey looks at the cart. “That’s Cognac.”

“French?”, I respond.

“Okay, Jerry, it’s Brandy.

The young lady pops the top of the Brandy after Sergey asks for it. My toothache is pounding.

“Nyet”, I tell her, “just give me the bottle”, I say.

She understood. Her eyes met my grimace. She winced.

Her language quickly switched to English, “Sir, I hope you feel better soon.”

“Spasiba Bolshoi”, I responded.

“Pozhaluysta”, she replied, smiling.

Hearing the wheels of my aircraft lock down awakens me from my daydream of memories.

“We are on our final approach to LaGuardia, please put your seats in the upright position with seatbelts buckled and your tray tables stowed” boomed the flight attendant over the intercom.

I comply. I look out my aircraft window at beauty, I marvel at nature, my heart is thankful, my mind is at peace, my hands are steady, my feet are grounded , my emotions contemplate joy. We touch down. Spasiba Bolshoi, we arrive.

#travellogforatravelblog

#jerryjohnsonblog jtjohnpoet.com

Part IV – Another Puddle Jumper

From the Business Travel Log

Part IV – Another Puddle Jumper

I slept right through takeoff. I raise my window flap and peep out at the clouds. This little regional jet is flying at a rather high altitude. I squirm and I grunt. Single seats are mounted along the left side of the craft. I have the benefit of both an aisle and a window at the same time but this seat is tight. I squeezed myself into it when I sat down.

I’m reminded of a flight I took from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York to the Bangor Airport in Bangor, Maine.

I was beat that evening in early December, 1993. I’d been traveling all over the northeast corridor between Boston and New York. After check-in I was looking forward to taking a nap on the plane. It was another puddle jumper. Worse, it was a prop job. Far worse, my seat was right over the tire well. Not only did it seem like my knees were up to my chin but there was a constant rumble. The tires rumbled and shook while it taxied to the runway and the tires rumbled and shook while we were in the air.

I turned to my left, laid my head against the window, closed my eyes and after snoozing for 2 or 3 minutes my eyes popped wide open. I turned to my right, tried to sleep again but the same thing happened again.

I sat up, pulled a folder, a writing tablet and a pen out of my backpack. I started working. There was a lot of work to do. An hour and a half later I was still working. We landed.

My hotel was on the airport grounds and it was connected to the terminal. I just grabbed my bags from baggage claim, took an escalator upstairs and walked across the sky bridge to my hotel.

“Welcome back Mr. Johnson”, said the hotel manager as he greeted, “would you like your usual pot of coffee?”

“Tonight will be a long night”, I said, “may I have two pots?”

“Certainly”, said the manager smiling.

My mind returns to the current moment. That was some memory, I say to myself. I look out my window . The clouds look so still from the window of just another puddle jumper.

#travellogforatravelblog

jerryjohnsonblog jtjohnpoet.com