an early start to my day as the cell/mobile vibrates on schedule at 4:45am GMT. a cup of tea is required following the obligatory brushing of teeth, during which I catch a rare moment with my partner as the kids are not yet awake. milly, the dog, settles down on my partner’s lap (auto spelling suggests ‘partner’s slap’ here for some reason) and stares at me the whole time – presumably reinforcing her own feelings of superiority towards me (small dog syndrome – jack russell 13 yrs of age). having packed thoroughly the night before, and having dressed prior to descending for tea in the living room, we enjoy uninterrupted chat until the taxi arrives precisely at 5:40am. i ascend the stairs to give the kids a kiss goodbye – eldest boy having told me how much he will miss me the night before, and youngest boy too young to understand, although i’ve been priming him to avoid unnecessary upset. the family wave me off as my taxi driver reverses back down the street.
said taxi driver is enjoying a kind of rap song that has lyrics more suited to the late 80s (although from the beat and style of music it appears to be recent), when it was perhaps de rigueur to demean women by talking about their ‘asses’ and what things they’d like to do to said ‘asses.’ he sticks with it for about half a mile and presumably gets a bit self-conscious because he flicks it over to some generic radio station before asking me about my journey. i sense an awkwardness between us when i tell him that my hired taxi is taking me to catch a train to the airport, an awkwardness that soon abates when we discuss the economic upside to such a choice (£18 taxi and train versus £40-50 taxi). taxi driver leaves me outside the station, closed yet for the next 20 minutes or so, and i stretch out my calves and hamstrings in anticipation of a long, uncomfortable flight.
the first train of the day eventually deposits me at manchester airport and i see how fast i can get to T2 (signs tell me it’s a 10 minute walk, but we’ll see). walking at a fast pace along the moving floor segments, there is no danger of anyone overtaking me as i am ultra-competitive over such things and there are no serious contenders (although the well-dressed business woman behind me is remarkably swift considering her bulky luggage and heels). of course i am victorious and enter the departure hall at T2 in smug mode, before walking the length of the hall to the delta desks. standard questions answered about my luggage’s whereabouts the past 24 hours, i shuffle along to the security area minus my recently checked suitcase. scanned and observed i face little interruption and soon browse round the shops with no intention of buying before sitting with coffee and pastries, overlooking the tarmac. i speak with my partner, who has just called having reached work in record time and who now has 45 minutes to kill before she starts.
my seat is in coach and the guy in the seat next to me (he window – me aisle) reminds me of jason bourne, although of course i don’t tell him this and hardly speak to him or anyone else the whole flight. the delta cabin crew are wonderful, remarkably so given that they number five today when they should have at least three extra members with them to make a full team. they provide me with the best ever service received on any flight, and as an added bonus the vegetarian (non-dairy) meal of paneer curry, rice and spinach is delicious! last time i flew with American Airlines and they were awful – rude, aggressive, surly (although it was just prior to their liquidation so i guess the crew were pissed about work conditions). the ten hours or so to atlanta are made somewhat longer with the discovery that the seat-back entertainment system on our side of the craft does not work. i watch the screens across the aisle from me, and at one particular moment am enjoying (without sound) iron man 3, the blind side, we’re the millers (at least that’s what i think it’s called) on three separate screens simultaneously (that’s iron man 3, the blind side, and three screens worth of we’re the millers – three young guys on the central row of 3 all started their film at the same time). i wonder whether i am in the matrix.
it strikes me how few men actually wash their hands after visiting the restroom at atlanta airport, for after a restroom visit, having perched my backpack on the sink next to me, i stand and wash my hands for a good minute or so to rid myself of the germs that i imagine have set up camp on my skin, and lo and behold most of the men just walk out without acknowledging the wash facilities. and that goes for those exiting the stalls too. gross.
next leg is only a couple of hours and then it’s touchdown in austin. i have a fully functioning seat-back entertainment system this time, but cannot for the life of me figure out where to plug in my earphones. the guy sitting next to me is sleeping, so he’s not likely to want to be woken just to be asked a dumb question. the woman sitting next to him in the window seat is relentlessly stuffing her face with food, so it seems rude to interrupt her. i’m too self-conscious to stop the cabin crew as they wander past, and the old guy sitting across but just ahead of me, who actually has his headphones on and appears to be watching something on the entertainment system, is at the wrong angle for me and so it’s impossible to figure out where his earphones are plugged in.
land in austin, retrieve my checked luggage from the carousel, and head to wash my hands at the nearest restroom. flit between terminal and collection area whilst awaiting my sister’s arrival. short ride to her house with general chit-chat and catch up stuff, then it’s shower, change into scruffs and unpacking. i travel very light so that doesn’t take long, however, i do like my clothes to be hung, folded, arranged, and stored in precise locations and in very exact ways, so that takes a little longer than you’d imagine. all i can think about is sending an email home, so i pester my sister for the wifi access code, send the email, eat some food (not sure if i’m hungry or not), then go to bed and sleep. apparently i snore. who knew?