I knew I was in America the second I stepped off of the plane at JFK. I was quickly ushered into a line for passport security. There was no question as to where I was supposed to go – “All citizens to the left! All citizens to the left! Thank you”. From there the line moved swiftly, with another worker reminding us not to leave any gaps in the line, and intermittently saying “welcome home”. This was a stark contrast to the Czech way of milling around like a herd of cattle and just waiting. Waiting for a number. Waiting for the Albert worker to come back from wherever she went while defending yourself against the incoming tide of old Czech women. Lining up at 4a.m. at the foreign police – which doesn’t open til 7a.m. – only in hopes of getting a number and then waiting some more. The idea of “making an appointment” has not quite caught on the the Czech Republic. Yes. I was back in America.
Once upstairs and in yet another security line, I was reminded again of where I was. A woman walked up to the lady checking the boarding passes and handed over her pass. She was met with a “welcome to New York” attitude. (Please read the following conversation with the voice of Mo’Nique in mind)
– “Excuse me! Please go to the back of the line!”
-“The lady told me..”
-“The lady told you to get in front of all of these people? I don’t think so. Get to the back of the line.”
-“But what? You ain’t special. Now git! Damn…”
Ahh yes. I was definitely back in the land of the free and the home of the brave. (Not applicable to airports.) Now all I had to do was wait another nine hours before boarding yet another plane to get me to California. What does one do in an airport for nine hours? Well, I read magazines, books and looked in stores. I watched six consecutive people try to use a “print your own itinerary” machine that was out of paper. All six of these people thought that repeating the process would make it work. Nope. I ate Burger King and counted fat people. And, on my last hour I ran into an old friend from Prague! My friend Roni was visiting New York and our paths just happened to cross. Divine intervention.
My flight from NY to L.A. was uncomfortable. We sat on the tarmac for an hour and all I wanted to do was sleep – in a bed. And I was seated next to a young uber gay. He “twittered” and “facebooked” the entire flight. His status updates included but were not limited to “Get me off of this plane or I’m going to freak!” and “OMG! I hate flying!”. He ended up being a nice young man – or he will be once he gets over himself. But, I guess that’s true for most of us.
I landed in L.A. at 1a.m. and for the first time had no traffic going back to Pasadena. I slept in my little twin bed with my all American mattress. God bless America.