Stripping

The odyssey begins.

The last 36 hours have shown me what it would be like to be a jet setter and homeless at the same time. I have seen only airplanes and airports since 9 AM on Thursday.

My flight from Portland to Frankfurt was canceled, but at least the sign announcing this spelled canceled correctly. English majors know how to find comfort in small things. Luftansa workers in Germany are on strike, but the Portland flight was affected nevertheless. They rerouted me through Las Vegas, which didn’t sound like a bad idea. I could get used to being not-in-Oregon before being in someplace completely different.

It would have been OK, except that Las Vegas has a new terminal for international flights, and it’s not yet connected to the old terminal. To make my connection, I had to hike to the new building. Las Vegas can be downright Soviet in their urban design, always in such a hurry.

The real-time consequence of this design was that I was out of real time once my turn came to board the flight. The ticket agent suggested I carry my own bag: “We’re cutting it close.”

Very. The family of three behind me was turned away. “No more seats.” I thought about giving my seat up, but all three of them wouldn’t have fit in my seat, and I had people waiting for me in Germany.

Security was slow, as so often happens. I dashed to the plane without my belt or my shoes. I finished dressing on the plane.

Not many Nevadans are traveling to Europe this summer. The plane was all Germans heading home. The pilot spoke in German, then kindly repeated the key points in English, but he obviously left out all the jokes and extra material.

The plane stopped in Newfoundland to refuel, but the refueling contract had expired on July 31 — in this case, 95 minutes before we arrived. We waited on the tarmac nearly five hours until it was all straightened out. It was a lousy time to have a middle seat.

An English major struggles when English is the second language being spoken. But that was just the beginning.

From Germany, we traveled to Amman, Jordan. I arrived at the Queen Alia Airport at almost 4 in the morning. Now I had to deal with not only a foreign language, but even an alphabet I don’t recognize.

From here we’ll head to Suleimaniya, Iraq tomorrow. I expect the stripping away of comforts to continue. So be it.