September 11th, 2004

Our international flight from Athens to JFK on September 11th...

We were down to the lobby by about 9:15, and checked out. Shortly after that, the cab driver appeared, and he was the same driver who had taken us to the hotel from the port yesterday, which was great. I confirmed with him that he was the one sent for us, and that we were only to pay E25.

During the ride, out of nowhere, the driver said something, in Greek, of course. It was just a short blurb. He didn't look at us before, while, or after talking. I found myself hoping that he wasn't speaking to us, and thinking about the phenomenon of wireless communications devices, and how at times people just start talking out of nowhere, until you realize they have something in their ear or whatever. I looked to see if he had a wire coming from his ear or any evidence of a cell phone. I didn't see anything.

While driving still in the city of Athens, I started snapping up a few pictures in hopes of using up the last roll of film. I wanted to get some shots of the Olympic signs, and found most of them, in this area anyway, ruined with graffiti across them with black spray paint.

A little while after that, we pulled over and picked up another passenger, a guy, who got in the front passenger seat. "This is my partner," the driver said. Hellos all around.

I found myself wondering if that's who he'd had that very short blurb with earlier, wirelessly, somehow. They talked a lot in Greek to each other during the ride. At one point the partner asked us if we'd had a good trip.

During the last half of this trip, we were on the highway. I felt like the driver was driving very fast. The speedometer said 140KPH, which I later translated at home as about 86MPH.

At the airport, the partner actually got out with us, and had his briefcase with him. I said, "Oh? Are you traveling today too?" He explained that he worked at the airport, and had to take care of some things there.

Waiting in line to check in for a flight, we were eventually greeted by an airline employee with a handheld, who was asking all the security questions of us. “Who packed your bags? Have they been with you the whole time? Has anyone asked you take anything on board for them?”

This woman had the most atrocious looking lipstick on – the way it was applied. To me, it looked like while doing her upper lip, she had colored way outside the lines. Robert said that she’d evidently had some kind of Botox or other lip injection procedure, and that area up there was actually part of her lip. It looked horrendous, whatever it was.

At one point, after finding out we were traveling together she asked, “And your friends?” We both said, “Yes,” and then Robert added, “And lovers.” She smiled and said, “oh-kay…”

We checked in without incident, and made our way to gate A01. We stopped in the duty-free shop area to use up our E7,50. After looking in most of the shops once, and then cycling back through, ended up buying one jar of Kalamata olive paste, and a box of chocolates with a caramel filling.

While waiting for the plane at the gate, who should come walking along but Miss Moo-Moo dress herself from our one day on that cruise ship from Athens to Mykonos. The one who had asked us if we were hairdressers. She sat right next to us, but, thank goodness, did not seem to at all recognize us. She was breathing heavily, and fanning herself.

The flight pretty much boarded on time, and though looked like there’d be several empty seats at first, by the time we left was pretty full. We were delayed leaving, though, for about 40 minutes, due to “congestion later into our flight path.” They assured us they’d make up as much time in the air, and work to hold any connections possible at JFK for those with close ones. We weren’t too worried as we had about a 2-hour layover.

The movie being offered on the way back was Shrek 2. I remembered a few discussions about it on the EAGLE database, how some character was supposedly transgender, etc., but watched a few minutes of it and was not at all engaged.

Robert watched some of it, and I’d told him about the possible transgender character, and he watched long enough to say, “I think it might be this bartender,” which sort of rang a bell. “She has a deep voice,” he said.

I worked for a couple of hours on my homework assignment from ENG 518, which was actually do this past week, but Dr. Dicks’ had said I could turn in Tuesday when I got back. I wrote a mission statement, three goals, and five or 6 objectives under each goal for a Technical Communications department of a fictitious company we’re using in the class. As always with mission statements, I had several, several re-writes and re-arranging of the sentences, etc. I was pretty pleased with the results though, and it did make the time fly.

I did manage to sleep for two or three hours without any drugs, which I was pleased about. We were moving up seven time zones as we flew, and though it would be 8:00PM when we got back to Raleigh, it would be 3:00AM to us.

Just before landing, I noticed to the left of us in the middle aisle of seats, there was what seemed to be an older man traveling with his grown son. They seemed to speak no English, I know the father didn’t, and the older man kept getting up in his seat trying to see out the window. It looked like he wanted to see New York City as we were landing.

I nudged Robert, and said, “How about we ask those guys if they want to have these window seats for the landing?” Robert got up and let me out of my window seat, and I motioned to them, asking, “Would you like to sit here?” The older man immediately got up and took my seat; however, the son didn’t seem to want to take Robert’s. So I sat in the aisle of the middle section next to the son, who happened to be sexy, and Robert sat back in his own seat on the aisle next to the old man who was by the window.

When the New York City skyline came into view Robert pointed it out to him, and he seemed excited about it. We kept those seats for the landing and the taxiing in, of course.

We had a smooth landing at JFK, and were relieved to complete an international flight into JFK on September 11th. Some people were in a hurry to make connections, and at one point, while walking to immigration, Miss Moo-Moo came just a huffing and a puffing by us, and with gasps of breath said to an attendant, “I can’t make it, can I get help, a ride?” Bless her mess.

There was a little bit of drama at immigration. First of all, it was pretty crowded in there, and right after you got off the escalator leading down to that area, you had to decide whether to go left or right – U.S. citizens to the left, non-U.S. citizens to the right. Well what do you think happens when English is not your first language if at all at this point. A lot of people are looking up trying to figure out which way to go, and stopped, while doing so.

All of a sudden people coming down the escalator are yelling, “Keep moving, keep moving!” as they are being dumped from the escalator into a still, growing clog of people. As a result, a most people ended up just going to the left, and once they got further found out that since they weren’t US citizens they had to go to the other side. This group included that man we’d given the window seat to and his father.

We got through immigration without incident and then went to retrieve our bags, even though they were checked all the way through to Raleigh, because we had to clear customs. That part wasn’t bad, as we just retrieved our bags from the carousel, got in another line, and handed them back to someone who sent them back through a huge x-ray machine back to the planes.

The next part was not pretty though. We had to go back through the personal x-ray machines now, the one where you have to take your laptop out, take of your shoes, blah, blah, blah... They have only one (of two) x-ray machines working, so everyone in this area now has to be funneled through one machine.

Of course, since we were delayed, it’s around 5:00, and a bunch of people were trying to connect to a 5:15 flight for Dallas, there are a lot of cranky, edgy people in this line. One or two of the more aggressive ones, just walked up the side of the line passing a lot of us. “Excuse me, excuse me. I have a 5:15.” Then of course some in the line they’re passing start, “So do we!” Then, someone from the airport starts ushering people up to the front of the line. Very disorganized, and ridiculous to have only one machine going at this point. Lots of stressed out people.

We finally got through that drama and made our way to the gate, A11, I think, for our JFK to Raleigh flight. We boarded a bus to take us to that plane at about 5:40. It was hot – no AC and no windows open. We sat there until 6:00, and then finally got driven to the plane, which was scheduled to leave at 6:15.

That flight left pretty close to on-time. We had a female pilot on this flight, which I loved. The flight attendent, also a woman, during her safety spiel said, "Put your own mask on first, then that of anyone sitting acrost from you," at which Robert and I both gasped. Later on I said something to him like, "Look acrost the aisle over there."

She got on the phone a couple of times with the pilot, to do allegedly business-related stuff, but she smiled the whole time she was on it and often hung up with a little giggle. "They're having an affair," I said. "She's in love with the pilot."

After a few minutes, the attendent went over to the window of the first passenger seat and was looking out. "Look," I said to Robert, "She's going to blow a kiss to the pilot up in her sideview mirror."

We landed a tad early actually, and I called Joe to let him know we'd arrived. He was just leaving Cary. We got our bags, and waited out front for him.

He brought us home, caught us up a little on his weekend in Wilmington with Steve, Loren, and Randy. We told him we’d see him out later, just from about 11-12 or 12:30 at Flex, and probably wouldn’t be going to CCs, as to us it was already 3:00 in the morning.

I caught up on my work e-mail, and looked at the EAGLE database to see the postcard that Philip had created for me, which was, as expected, the deal. Robert got right to the business of a nap.

I joined him after about an hour, and we woke up at about 10:30, and both agreed that no, no, no, we wouldn’t be going out. We were dead.

I phoned Joe and Steve to tell them that we’d changed our minds.