Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A little story within a story

When I first started going into the Road Trip Tales I thought I had a million of them.

After just the few, I began to wonder how many I really did have and how many of those would be interesting.

I've already been mentally composing my all time favorite... "There Were, 18000 feet over the plains of Africa..."

It seems to be way too early for that.

Tonight at yet another restaurant chosen by committee, a sub-story.

Three of us set out for dinner tonight. We hit the main drag in this part of Indy and the,
"Where are we going?"
"I don't care. Wherever you guys want to eat is fine."
"What's around?"
"Well, there's this and that and the other. What sounds good..."

I wanted a beer and food, soon,

"This is starting to sound like a date. Who wants what and nobody cares. WHAT'S THE FIRST PLACE WE WILL GET TO?"

I didn't shout. We wound up at that Aussie Themed place that I wont name here.

The waiter brought the bread and salad at the same time, the second round of bread and all three entrees all in the span of three minutes.

Then disappeared.

He reappeared and asked if we'd like a second beer. We were ready to go by then.

POOF! Gone again. As we waited for the checks we realized that we needed that second beer.

He brought the checks and fled the scene. In the time it took to come get the checks we could have had a third.

Yes, we could have had yet another in the time it took to get change.

In the meantime the tip meter was sliding down the scale.

One of my com padres pulled a foreign bill out of his wallet, "If he doesn't hurry this will be his tip."

Where the bill was from or what it was worth I don't know. I am sure it wasn't worth much.

AND That reminded me...

After a few weeks of hijinks's and adventure in Kenya it was time to be headed to another joint.

I caught a 737 out of Mombasa bound for Nairobi. Typical of my I hate to be late nature it was the first flight outta Dodge that morning.

Little did I know I would arrive in Nairobi before my airline out of country would open.

OH and of course it was in a different terminal. Exactly where the next gate was is a little fuzzy but I remember having to get a cart and lug gear.

That's when I encountered a 'helper'. He insisted on helping. Wary, I told him something like, 'I don't have any money.'

He pushed my stuff up and down curbs, in and around traffic and to the right place.

I tipped him. He wasn't real happy with what I gave him but gave up pretty quickly.

I discovered I had a three hour wait to check in.

Sitting on a bench with one pocket full of souvenir Kenyan Shillings and another with Opals and Tanzanites I noticed signs around the terminal,

"You are not to remove any Kenyan currency from Kenya. If you posses Kenyan Shillings you are to surrender them to the nearest Official immediately. Oh, by the way, you must pay an exit tax of $20.00 USD, no Shillings will be accepted for exit tax."

Paranoia began to set in.

I looked around the nearly deserted terminal and saw my 'helper' in a heated discussion with a much larger man in a much nicer suit. The larger man dispatched my 'helper' and turned to make eye contact with me.

"Threat Level on the rise. Paranoia Elevated"

The larger man strode across the room in my direction. His assessment of his next encounter was brief. I saw the scan he took, subtle as it was. I saw the process behind the eyes. Actually, it was a little reassuring. He was a Pro. I stood and smiled a meek respectful tourist grin and maintained eye contact. I figured that if I was wrong in MY assessment I should at least go out like a man.

He introduced himself. Chief of Airport Security. He quizzed me about my 'helper'. Had he asked for money, had I given him money etc. It seems that Jomo Kenyatta Int'l takes a dim view of "unregistered" panhandlers. He informed me that these guys often demand huge sums for their 'help' and have been known to steal your luggage.

Even though I was reassured enough not to panic at the .45 in his shoulder holster. I figured he wasn't going to shake me down (for too much). I could feel the contraband currency and the gemstones trying to melt into my thighs and out of strip search range.

(Anyone remember "Midnight Express"?!)

After he quizzed me he strode away again.

But he seemed to be nearby the entire time. I could almost feel him watching as the jet rolled out of the gate.

I never thought I'd be happy to be back in Bahrain.

I've asked this question here before, "Have you ever flown a S.A.R.?" Search and Rescue Missions consist of hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror. That kind of describes my life and road trip experiences. That's the best explaination for the anti-climatic endings.

Most of what we are sharing here is anecdotal and in the end humourous. The, ya had to be there, kinda stuff.

Will we ever get to the .38 in the face or the narrow dead end one against a bario with a wife and child in tow, kidnapping?

A night in a foriegn jail, an engine exploding at altitude, anchor over board while underway at night, a sinking sailboat... all fun and games.

Yeah, we'll get around to all of them. Probably not a million of 'em... yet

Lord knows I've paid some dues.
... an' the Devil he knows that I aint through

1 comment:

Bob Barbanes said...

Isn't it funny how stories lead into other stories? ...At least, for those of us with interesting lives, that is.

And haven't we all been there in situations like that - group of guys going, "What do you want to do?" "I don't know, what do YOU want to do?" Sometimes I feel like the movie "Marty" was made about my very life, 30 or 40 years ahead of time. (Actually, spookily, "Marty" was released the year I was born. Oh coincidence!)

Hey, you wanna leave a tip that will get a bad waiter's heart a-fluttering? I'll send you a Honduran 100 lempira note - worth about $5.00 American. It would cost more to exchange that it's worth!

Sounds like you've got plenty more interesting stories to tell, David. Me, I've spent my life waiting for Godot. And I'm sure he'll be along any minute!