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The Public Ineffectual

For entertainment purposes only.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Oblivia En Route

In the "most wired country in the world" I am connected through some random wireless connection albeit with a very weak signal ("coa812" has 2 bars strength, at best) from our hotel room. A better, more consistent signal (3-4 bars) from network "510" is available from the end of the hall. Whoever you are - thanks!

More to come soon...I have changed my date and time to reflect where I am so it may appear that I am posting from the future.

Bad surprise #1: Checked-in at Montreal's Trudeau Int'l airport only to find out that I have to change planes at Narita for the same flight number. Goddamit! This would have completely changed my itinerary had I known i.e. I would have flown through Vancouver and spent time with M-D, instead! Aaaaaaargh. I'm going to have to write a nasty letter to Vogages Campus.

Having to cool my heels at both Narita AND O'Hare (Chicago) in the same day is just stupid. These two airports have shown me more ennui than anyone should rightly claim in their lives. Nothing to do and all the time in the world to do it in. A cool thing happened once at Narita though when I was going through with my sister and my mom. We were bored and hungry and instead of heading to the usual fast food places, my mom insisted on finding the staff cafeteria. I was thinking, "What the hell for??? Lets just go to McDonalds!" But no, my mom was on a mission. We walked around and around the terminal random doors until finally, without ceremony, we slipped into the staff cafeteria of the airport which is something like slipping backstage at a theatre. It was incredibly, and reassuringly ordinary. It was like a small food court selling real food at real prices. Mommy was once a stewardess, you see, way back when they were not called "security agents" and wore hats and miniskirts. I think my sister and I were merely inconveniences to a quiet nostalgia trip of her own.

17 Oct, 9:05am - Chicago O'Hare Intl. Aiport. No wireless as yet. I couldn't drink my coffee on my flight over because it was disgusting watery horrid pap. I don't like small planes when smelly people infect half the cabin. It was bad. I could have sworn the guy next to me still had mothballs in his pockets or something. Ugh. And I know it wasn't me. I wore Coco because its parfum as opposed to eau de whatever, so it will last this interminable day.

My Life as a Vagrant: O'Hare is a sort of Crystal Palace of the Jet Age. Vaulted ceilings seemingly made completely of (plexi?)glass allow in lots natural light so its like being in a hothouse. There are also these strange terminal-to-terminal concourses filled with New Age Music and a rainbow of neon lights overhead of the moving walkway that I don't "get". As soon as I landed, my mission was to get some carbs in me and take a nap. Seats without the arm rests are key - I found a bench of 4 in a row in the Arrivals area (n.b. good place to snooze) but it was a bit cold. Then there was a bench in the concourse between terminals but it was all glass and too hot. Then I found it - Gate C11 was juuuuuust right. I napped in 3 x 45 minute intervals with unexpected success until 11:15am. I even dreamed.

I saw Santa today too. He was sitting in one of the cafe concessions as I was disembarking (hate this word) my flight in Chicago. He looked well, quite a bit trimmer than last I saw him. (Perhaps he's been working out during the low season?) His beard was white, of course, but trimmed to a becoming length reaching his mid breast bone - white, swirling and full. It was strange to see him in his "civvies" and he looked exceptionally smart, I have to say. Red beret, red shirt, green suspenders and red and green striped socks. Perhaps he's on a business trip or something.

Bad surprise #2: I usually request a window seat for various reasons. Firstly, I'm smaller than your average passenger so having to climb out to the bathroom is easier for me to do than vice versa. Secondly, good airplane time is nap time. The window seat gives me a place to lean. Thirdly, I like to watch take off and landing. My seat on the Tokyo leg is 34E on a Boeing 777. This means, I have the middle seat in a blcok of five. Not what I asked for. This will also be mentioned in letter.

Bad suprise #3: I enquired at a store at O'Hare if they had earplugs and the guy says, "$8.95" to mean "yes". Pfffft, forget it. I came across a business at the airport called LaptopLand or something close. Their by-line was "Peace, Quiet and a T-1 line" which I thought was kind of cute. They had 4 little booths, a bit like changing rooms, with PCs built-in. Guess how much? 5 USD for the first five minutes and then 65c for every minute thereafter. Fuck you and all your usurious overlords, I thought to myself.

My computer is picking up an AT &T wireless connecton on the flight over to Tokyo though I have no idea how to get on it or even why its there. Maybe God has gone wireless too? Good news: Narita airport is wireless and costs in the order of 500 yen (4.60 USD) per day. This place has changed completely from what I remember it. Airports are looking even more the samey than ever. I'm still annnoyed I have to be here at all though I managed to see a beautiful sunset through the haze of the smoking room in the departures area.

Our hotel room comes with ethernet access but at a cost of ₩15,500 (C$17) per day. Ha! Why buy when I can mooch off strangers is my motto!


At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Airports really *do* look alike all over the world now, and that's on purpose - there's only a couple of architectural-engineering firms that do them. I've been through O'Hare dozens of times and it is identical to the new Oklahoma City airport as they are both identical to the new Northwest terminal in Detroit and all look just like the new terminal at Dorval. And i think at least two of those have monorails or people movers...

You may well have had wireless internet on the plane: I heard some airlines are now getting satellite internet onboard. Me, I stick to the Via 1 car on the express trains :)

You like window seats too? I love em. I need some sort of vista - failing that, at least seat-back video! Bee is afraid of heights and will only sit on the aisle seat: she booked me an aisle seat on our trip to Lake Tahoe and I went absolutely nuts with claustrophobia. That and the fact that the inflight entertainment was a Greyhound-bus-like TV suspended from the ceiling with special CBS Programming For Airlines (Everybody Loves Raymond, not)


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