Friday, July 06, 2007

My Love / Hate Of Travel

I love being in interesting places.
I hate getting there.

So, I wake up at 8am in Los Angeles, packed and ready to go. I have a cab ordered for 9am. This will get me to LAX by 10am, and my flight leaves at 2pm. Due to the terrorist activities in London (my destination) they have ramped up security at LAX and are suggesting arriving 4 hours before international flights. I would rather sit in LAX and work on my laptop than miss my plane because they were exraing my shoes or something.

At about 8:40 I get a call - my cab is early. Okay, I'll just get to LAX earlier... and without coffee.

At LAX, there is increased security, but it runs smoothly (except they still have no place for you to *put on* your shoes after you've removed them) and I spend some time in LAX drinking coffee and doing some work. I post the message below.... then they call my flight.

I get on a packed plane to Chicago. They *cancel* flights that are not packed these days.

In Chicago, I race to my next plane. Think I have enough time to post an entry, but end up spending $6.95 in internet fees to post the quip about pushing the plane.

Flight from Chicago to London is full... no empty seats at all... and lots of children. Sweet! Hey, and they are tired and screaming. Sweeter still!

I don't sleep on planes and I'm tall. I fly economy to these things because I don't want to be the guy charging off a luxury vacation to people who want to take my class. Other people who teach classes for Raindance *do* fly first class and *do* spend a ton of Raindance's money to do these things, not me. Since I can't sleep on a plane anyway, what's the difference? I keep my costs low, so that they keep bringing me over... and I love London, so I want to keep coming here. I am also inexpensive in other ways - I know that others they bring over *don't* go to neighborhood restaurants. I would rather have fish & chips in newspaper than eat at someplace where they have more forks than courses. Part of the fun of travel for me is to live like a "native" rather than live like a tourist. That also ends up being less expensive. I also enjoy walking in London - I walk everywhere. I don't take taxis - taxis all look the same inside. I'd rather see the city.

So after a long long long flight, we land at Hearthrow at 11am Thursday.... and there is no gate available. We wait for a while, then the pilot (or someone) makes an executive decision and they bring rolling stairways and buses. Each bus is filled, pulls away, and we have to wait on the plane for the next bus, then it fills, pulls away, and we wait for the next bus. Time passes as I stand in the aisle on the plane - my *heavy* computer bag on my shoulder - as bus after bus is filled until I get to the stairs, stumble down them onto the bus to terminal. Now I go through a series of lines - passport control, luggage pick up, etc.

Raindance emailed me a month ago asking for my flight into so that they could send someone to pick me up at the airport. I usually just take the subway to Picadilly, then drag my luggage to the Raindance office. So I do a "parade" walking through the gauntlet of people with cardboard signs looking for my name or a familiar face. Nothing. I do this for maybe half an hour, thinking that maybe they were late. No one.

So I take the subway, as usual. Because I was in Term 3, this means I had to drag all of my luggae to Term 1 (subway station) - and the moving sidewalks are almost all out of order. I just want to sleep. I get to the subway, and realize I do not have change. The station is *crowded* - lines very long. I stand in a ticket window line *forever* until I realize the change window line is moving faster. I switch lines. Get change. Stand in the ticket machine line. Get a ticket... then drag my luggage down to the trains.

At Picadilly, there are stairs. I drag my luggage up stairs. Then up more stairs. Then almost tumble down the long escalator when my luggage isn't entirely on a step. Then - more stairs to the street. As usual, the wrong side of the street. I rest for a moment, then drag my luggage down to the Raindance office, passing through the tunnel of strip clubs, where barkers ask me if I would like to see a naked woman. I like women. I like naked woman. But right now all I want to see is a bed.

Raindance office - more stairs. And a wait until they take me to my hotel. I am sweaty and smelly and exhausted... and I have to make conversation as I wait. This happens every time. From the Raindance POV it's not a problem - they are doing things while I wait that have to do with my stay (getting my per diem, etc) - from MY POV, I just want to sleep right now.

The hotel is cross town, we'll have to take a taxi. Fine with me - I'm too tired to drag my suitcases any farther. We can't find a taxi. We have to walk several streets over until we get to a larger street and even then all of the taxis are full. After what seems to me to be forever (probably 20 minutes) we get a cab. Go to the hotel. It's like an Ikea Hotel - very spartan. But it has a bed. I have to teach a class at 6:30pm... they want me there at 6pm. I shower off the plane grime - it is 3pm. I probably need to wake up at 5pm and shave and shower and dress and grab a cab to get to the college at 6pm. That's when I realize my travel alarm is in Los Angeles. The automated wake up call isn't working. I've been awake since Wednesday 8am - if I sleep now, I will sleep for *hours*. Can't chance it. I rest until 5 - careful not to fall asleep - then do everything and take a taxi to the college (I had no idea where it was, and when I asked Raindace for directions they told me it was easier for me to get a cab - I would have rather walked to get the blood flowing).

I sleepwalk through the class. Oddly, everyone likes it. I get emails today from several people. I also meet a longtime ScriptSecrets website reader who lives here - this is great, I really like meeting folks whose email addresses I recognize.

Back to the hotel - after buying some basics the spartan hotel doesn't provide. I'm exhausted, but haven't eaten all day. I was afraid it would make me sleepy before my class. The hotel's rooms may be spartan, but the bar is luxurious and they have a 24 hour kitchen. I order a pizza and have a Guiness or two. The pizza is *huge* - I eat most of it but no way I can finish it. Listen to some teachers in the bar talk about movies - almost join in (they are women - but fully clothed) - realize I'm so tired I probably would just babble. Go up to my room and sleep... fitfully.

After around 7 hours, I get up, unpack and sort things out, shower and head out into the cold, windy, slighty rainy London day and walk down crowded sidewalks to the Subway Sandwich/Easy Internet on Tottencourt Road. The travelling part is over, the being here part has begun.

This is the part I love.

- Bill


_ram-jaane' said...

Aha, the American Writer has arrived. It never ceases to amuse me how strange we can be as people, how comfortable we can be with our cultured language & only notice it when others aren't quite of the exact same language.

In your entertaining passage I had to pause & translate the word Subway every time I read it, I always think of the sandwich shop, never the tube (that's what we call it).

There was a Tube derailment yesterday, I'm glad to hear you're okay. I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay anyway :) & look forward to your next post.

English Dave said...

It amuses you? Bill is a frequent visitor and is well aware of the nuances. I didn't notice the subway angle because he writes primarily for an American audience. Not for your edification and entertainment.

Lose the attitude.

_ram-jaane' said...

Hey come on, that's a little unfair, if anything I was saying I was amused with myself for noticing. If it comes of as attitude, I'm sorry, it certainly wasn't intended that way, besides I know Bill's frequently in London, tis where I met him last year, it's just my attempt at light hearted humour.

English Dave said...

Yes, in hinsight it was unfair. It was also about subtext and patronizing attitudes. As perhaps your original post was.

wcmartell said...

Hey you two - knock it off!

I try my best to "translate" for my audience. Last night when I did my thriller class, I said "flat" and "flatmate" instead of apartment and roommate when talking about APARTMENT ZERO. I figure here the majority of my readers are in the US, so I "translate" for them. Tube becomes subway, etc.

That doesn't mean I don't use American words and phrases - I always catch myself saying "game" instead of "match" for example. But I try to get my point across.

Oddly, I am using a French wireless service which has a deal with my US wireless service right now... so everything except the posts themselves is in French on this page.

- Bill

English Dave said...

Fuckin French hmmmmmph.

Good Dog said...

So how many times a day does the wireless service give up?

crossword said...

more forks than courses lol

Yes, that's the part I also love. Arrival.

Wow, it's never glamorous is it? I'm 6' 5" and can seldom sleep either. And I adore London, having lived there for over a decade. I would love driving across Westminster Bridge at night - everything quiet and Parliament lit-up like it was made of matches or something. :)

I love the books so no doubt I'd love a seminar. One day, Mr. M I promise to do so. But it'll be on the westcoast somewhere.

swoopy said...

I realize this is a very old conversation, I was just frustrated trying to finalize plans for a trip with my girlfriend and Googled "I hate travel". Your blog came up.

The comments that amuse me are the cross cultural ones where the folks in the UK are arguing about terminology.

Apparently this is a sticking point, as they have made commercials where American comedians have to change their routine to accommodate British audiences as they seem to think that the words we use for things are wrong.

The amusing part to me, is that nearly every part of the US has a different name for their transit system, only is the "subway" the "subway" in New York. In Washington DC it's the "metro" not to be confused with the one in Paris. In Boston it's the "T", in Chicago it's the "El", in San Francisco it's "BART" and in Atlanta where I currently live it's "Marta". So most places here if you used the word "subway" you'd still be confusing someone. My advice to you lucky Brits is to look at the exchange rate and smile.

I still hate travel.

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