dispatch from down south
I’m starting to realize that Florida is the kind of place where a lot of strange things happen and that in order to be prepared with the kind of slow wise response favored by southerners you either have to drink a lot or take a lot of naps, and preferrably both, but not at once, although I can tell you that one invariably leads to the other.
By the time I was half-way to airport on Saturday I had already realized I was in for a kind of southern gothic holiday, where everything appears to be a metaphor for something, but is in actuality just a glass of Fresca sweating in the sun. In other words the airport shuttle picked me up at 3:30 am. Well, it was supposed to pick me up between 3:30 and 3:50, but didn’t really arrive until 4:25 at which time I had been sitting on my stoop in the wee hours of Saturday morning in San Francisco for nearly an hour and had already been the sad witness to one of my neighbors twirling through the door in a tutu and headband. When the shuttle finally found me after first passing and then executing a dangerous u-turn on Page Street, I found myself the passenger of a tiny polish man who appeared to be having his first day on the job. Although he didn’t appear to speak much english his comprehension skills must have been okay since he kept talking to the automated navigation system like it was the voice of his wife, and she was sitting right next to him, Please take next right. “Yes, yes I see it thank you.” Please take second left. “Where? Oh yes there. I find it.” Freeway on ramp in 300 feet. “I know!”
Our last pickup was of two grannies in Daly City, and by the time we got there the other passenger and I were actually pressing our faces against the windows and reading out the house numbers, urging him on to one more block. The grannies took over navigation once they got inside taking us on a nice tour of the industrial part of the city and giving me thoughts of a story in which a car full of pre-dawn travelers is kidnapped by their shuttle driver. Upon arrival at the airport I leapt out of the van glad to be free of his erratic driving and headed for my gate in the Delta terminal, which Chloe had of course found cause to make fun of, “Does Delta even still exist?” She thought it very quaint indeed as she only flies Virgin, because she loves house music so much. When I told her I had a layover in Atlanta she could hardly contain her glee, like a kid banging away on a typewriter. And it has been years since I’ve been on a flight with a connection, but layovers are the only reason I’ve been to Memphis at least 25 times.
So, I’m sitting there waiting to bored when this man walks up to me and says in a voice exactly like a flight attendant’s, “How are we this morning? Looks like we’re going to have a very empty flight today.” Which was when I realize he couldn’t be a flight attendant, because they never say things like that. Even when the plane isn’t full they will insist that it is, “Those people are just part of our Invisible Flyer Program, which is why those seats look empty.” Then they laugh like a chorus of tiny bells and go chug Ouzo in the bathroom. But seriously, only $43 dollars and you too can fly invisibly.