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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In Transit Tuesday to Tuesday, July 7

(It's just after midnight in L.A., but well into Wednesday afternoon in China.)

Well, this sucked. I spent 12 hours on a flight of 6,916 miles--without a sound system. The four movies--Pink Panther 2, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Duplicity, and 17 Again--could be seen, but not heard.

Incredibly boring.

They offered us a compensation voucher to fill in, but were a little vague about what we'd get--maybe miles (not for me, though, as I'm not "in the club") or a discount on my next flight with United.

Then, in San Francisco, they kept delaying my flight to L.A. due to repairs. It only cost us about an hour, but we were notified about 10 or 15 minutes at a time, as the mechanics gave them new estimates.


There were bright spots, though.

When I first boarded the plane, I noticed that there were several Buddhist monks and nuns; I greeted one seated near me.

After our arrival in San Francisco Airport, she approached me with a printed piece of paper that said, "I cannot speak English. Please help me call my sister" and a phone number. I didn't have a phone, so I hailed a passing guard for help. As I began to explain the situation to him, he began speaking to her--in Vietnamese!

Welcome to California.

After clearing customs and rechecking my bag, I had my first burrito of the trip. Despite its being just an airport fast-food place, I had a choice of spinach, wheat, or flour tortilla (I took flour) and pinto or black beans (I chose black beans).

Then, as I headed toward my gate, I saw the nun again. She was standing at a place where the hallway forked into two. I walked up to her with a smile, and she handed me her boarding pass and asked a question in a strange tongue. I remembered that the boarding passes given us in Hong Kong had had no gate numbers, so I walked over and checked the departures board, wrote her gate number on it, and pointed to it as I handed it back.

She said something (presumably "thank you") and hustled away. Later I passed her gate and saw her boarding her plane.

Problem solved, karma gained.

I also called to an 85-year-old man who was at the end of the security check line and had him get in front of me (passing about 20 people). I didn't know he had steel in his hip and would be pulled out of line for "extra attention."

Now I'm safe and sound at my parents' house, staying up to try to beat what one of my students calls "the jet leg"; I want to be sure that I get up at a normal time tomorrow. Dinner was home made burritos with vegetarian chicken patties and cheese. Over 12 hours in California, and so far everything I've eaten has been wrapped in a tortilla (yay).

More exciting adventures tomorrow.

Here's today's new stuff:

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