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.

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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.

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Puddle Jumping Again

Part III – puddle jumping again

From The Business Travel Log

From my vantage point, the top of the airplane looked fine. Can you just picture me standing at the doorway of the small regional jet, taller than the door, my head jutting above the door and the top of the airplane. Stop laughing. I’m puddle jumping again. Haha, if you are laughing that’s great and I’m happy that I made you laugh.

The flight attendant greets me as I bend way down to walk through the door. I am six feet, four inches tall. Small aircraft, AKA puddle jumpers, weren’t built for me. Nonetheless, I have been riding them most of my adult life. Passengers stare as I walk bent down from the entrance to my seat. It’s a long walk to row twenty on a twenty-five row airplane. Smiles glow from row to row.

I put my coat away, I’d left my roller bag at gate check baggage, then I squeeze into my narrow seat. Hmm, i need to get back to the gym, I think.

As I fasten my seatbelt, I think about a few of the puddle jumpers from past years. My first looked like a gooney bird: Columbia, South Carolina to Charlotte, North Carolina — a ninety mile ride. The big propellers are what scared me the most.

My girlfriend, who dropped me off at the airport, asked “Is your insurance all paid up?”

“Health or life”, I asked her.

“Both”, she replied.

Back to my current moment, I smile as I think about the gooney bird. I raise my window flap. I stare at the terminal. My mind moves towards another memory.

“Good Morning passengers welcome to USAmer flight 49 to Pittsburgh. The aircraft door is closed. Please put away all laptops and transmitting devices and put your smartphones in airplane mode.”

The flight attendant’s announcement pulls me back to my current moment. I’ll think about the other memory later, I say to myself. I leave the window flap open and wait for lift off.

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Part II – Don’t Eavesdrop

From the Business Travel Log

Part II – Don’t Eavesdrop

I dropped off my rental, boarded a bus and rode to the terminal. I printed my boarding pass and started my prep for security.

First, I removed suspenders, watch, wallet, keys, change, bills, glasses, phone and threw all in my backpack. Next, I breezed right through security check. After restoring suspenders, wallet, watch, etc., to their proper place it was time to find a coffee shop.

Now I sit at my gate, sipping my coffee and i read. Two young adults dressed in business attire sit in the two seats to my left.

“What time do we meet with the senator?”, the young lady asks her colleague.

I tell myself, Don’t eavesdrop.

“Eleven-Thirty”, her colleague responds.

I tell myself, It doesn’t matter how loud they talk. Don’t eavesdrop.

“We really need support”, the young lady continued.

I tell myself, Okay, eavesdrop.

“We need the funding”, the young man remarks.

My ears swell.

“What are you guys taking about”, says a gentleman, closer to my age, who just walked up to where we were seated. “I could hear you halfway down the concourse.”

Now I wanted to turn my head and see how blush both of their faces were. Nonetheless, I kept looking at my phone. The chatter ended.

“Good morning passengers, Flight Ninety-Four to Reagan-National D.C. is ready to start boarding…” boomed over the intercom. Disappointed, I put away my phone, grabbed my roller bag and fell in line, right behind the two chatter boxes and their older colleague. The whispering begins.

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My Writing Projects

My Writing Projects

Part I – My First Poetry Submission

I started writing for public consumption in the summer of 1992. I submitted my first set of poems to Catalyst Magazine at the end of August and at the end of September I received an acceptance letter for one of the poems (title: “I Be A Bad Dude”).

Receiving an acceptance letter on my very first poetry submission was a fabulous experience for me. I was high on cloud nine and was ready to write some more. I received a small grant for writing from my home state of South Carolina and I was sure that I was on my way to a big writing career.

However…

Things changed at the day job. I worked in computer operations at a regional head office of a Fortune 500 company. I ran batch jobs, backups, restores, downloaded and uploaded data to hundreds of machines, ran tons of reports and troubleshot problems.

Writing was just one of my part time jobs. “Wait, you had a full time job, wrote part time and had another part time gig also?”, you say. Yes. In addition to the day job and writing I also worked in a microfiche production shop on weekends. My calendar was full.

As I said before, things changed at the day job. A Corporate I/T Manager from corporate headquarters visited my site one week. He checked out how efficient I was in meeting my production quotas but he also checked out my writing.

“What’s that laying on the table over there?”, he asked.

End of Part I – stay tuned for Part II – What Was That Laying On the Table?

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