Thursday, November 12, 2009

Flying on Friday the 13th


Some call it madness, others say it's so outrageous as to wrap around into being a good choice. Whatever it is, my luck today has been pretty mixed, but at least the bad stuff has been funnier than maddening. I'm not particularly triskedekiphobic so I generally don't care, particularly if it means going home.

I left work a bit early yesterday to commence the Ritual Charging of the iPods. I travel with three Nanos, a Touch and an iPhone so I have to set aside a few hours just to fill everything up with electricity. I spent the afternoon doing that and watching the weather - a steady downpour that promised to add some color to my trip to the airport. I left instructions Jiang to come early if the roads were bad, but they weren't and he didn't and by dawn they were pretty much dry. After picking up a friend we made good time to the airport, delayed only by the time it took to get a boarding pass.

Ironically, the plane was leaving from Gate 13.

I've been sort of a Chinese drug mule on my last two trips, bringing home some of the art I've acquired during my stay. I like calligraphy scrolls and so I stopped by my favorite artist, once voted China's best painter of Tigers, and picked up a nice collection for home. The come in these flimsy 2-part green cardboard boxes, good for about one trip home and relatively unwieldy.

We boarded this morning not through a jetway but via the bus, and when we pulled up at the plane, I got caught in the human stampede. At which moment, one of the scrolls decided to fall out of its box. I grabbed it and shove it back in only to see it pop out the other end, straight through the flap. Now I'm embraced by humans, shuffling forward and trying to get the scroll back in the box and in doing so, I shoved it through the other end. A Chinese woman tapped me on the shoulder and warned me it was falling out, which was fine except it was falling out both ends. I delicately perfected a balance, handed the agent my ticket with my teeth and crawled up the stairs only to be stopped at the top by a howling Siberian wind. I told the flight attendants who were there to greet me that it was cold enough for me. She said it was worse in Beijing.

The flight was non-eventful, at least until I convinced myself that I had forgotten to pick up my computer in security. I worried about that until we landed and I was able to check and see that it was there in its little leather home.

From there all was fine and dandy until the rope handle came untied while I was on the moving walkway, spilling all of the scroll boxes on the rubber treads. Off to the side for a quick re-tie and then on to check in where I begged for some baggage tape in hopes that it would get me through to the next stop. At this point, the only thing left to worry about was the fraying rope, caused by the handle I improvised out of some parts left over from my gutter repair project.

I'm sure it will all work out.





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