One day I will make a list of all the things I hate. It will be broken down by subcategories, things that I loved and now hate, things I never really liked in the first place, and things that I despise. Flying falls into the first category. I loved to fly, but after that fateful date in September, well not so much. It doesn’t help that I am an aviation aficionado and know enough about aircraft to know everything that can go wrong with them. For example, the majority of accidents occur during takeoffs and landings. That is when Bernoulli’s principle gets a real work out. You know the one about wing shape and air flow above and below the wing. I find takeoffs and landing nerve racking. Sweaty palms, dry throat, the works. I calm down once the plane reaches cruising altitude, only to go through it all over again on landing.
But that’s not all, there is security at airports, long waits, expensive junk food, boredom and the impossible task of sleeping on an airplane seat, period. The seats are too cramped by far. Midgets would have a hard time sleeping on those so called seats/torture devices. So you can imagine how it felt when I landed at Heathrow after a combined 15 hours of flight (4 hours from San Juan to New York and then another 10 or so hours across the Atlantic). Thank God for modern technology. Your chances of survival increase with the help of iPods, laptops and those new screens on the back of seats Not much of a chance, but the percentiles add up. Arrived on Sunday afternoon, local time, jet lagged and too tired to do anything but try to get some sleep. Try and fail.
At least I packed light, avoided most of the luggage hazards. I only needed a week’s worth of clothes and a jacket or two since it was late spring. Every time I tried to catch some Zs the beds seemed to rocked and swayed, my body feeling stuck somewhere above 20,000 feet. Great, just great.
Monday morning came with a call from the concierge.
“Good Morning Mr. Mendoza, this is your wake up call. A person is here inquiring about you.”
“Who? From where?” I said, my head five hours behind the local time.
“Quick Derby Delivery Service”.
My “driver” had just arrived. It was time to go. Down stairs, I settled my account and proceeded outside. The fellow from my father’s company meet me with a hearty hello. Pleasantries were exchanged and off we went.
Something happens when you first arrive at a foreign country. Your mind fixates on every detail. My eyes tried to do just that, from the gray skies above to the twist and turns of city traffic. My tired mind searched for familiar scenes; the Tower, Big Ben, the Wheel. The sort of stuff you see in the movies. Anything that would tell me that this place was not foreign at all, but familiar and reassuring.
James, the fellow from the company tried some polite conversation “First time visiting the country?”
What is it about people and cars? You put two or more people inside a car and all of the sudden it becomes a conference call. I tried to be polite, but his accent, my ignorance and the jet lag allowed me only to grunt a few “yes” or “no” answers.
Good thing I came in early. The morning rush hour on the M40 went on the opposite direction, toward London. Once outside the greater London area I saw the country side beyond. Mostly fields and small towns along the way. Like driving from Lansing to Chicago the long way around and on the wrong side of the road.
It took about an hour and a half to reach Oxford and from there about 10 minutes to the solicitor’s office.
James parked and said “Mr. Mendoza I’ll wait here until you’re done”.
“Thank you James” I said. I closed the door of the van and crossed the street.
It was not until I stood there, at the door to McMillan and Co. that I remembered who brought me here and why. I was tired and hungry, but above all else angry.
Damn him to hell, that son of a bitch. Ok, lets get this over with. The sooner the better.