Made It!

January 20, 2009 -

John Heald

I have begun to realize that I have become a grumpy old man and usually this grumpiness is at its height when I fly. I won’t bore you with the same old stories about the long lines at security and how I witnessed an eight-year-old boy being patted down in case his tiny Reeboks were ticking. Anyway, I left Harry Potter crying and went to wait for the gate to be called……….poor sod.

However, as I sit here and type away on my Raspberry I am going to talk about my fellow travelers. They can be very annoying. Hand baggage is the one thing I don’t understand – to me it’s something you can get into a small bag or it should be checked in.

There is a chap sitting behind me who got on with a rucksack so big he could have traveled twice round the world with it. He couldn’t get it in the overhead compartment and there were things spilling out of it……including a book that made War & Peace look like a quick read that landed on my head. I wanted to ask the flight attendant how they could possibly allow him on with that………but as normal, I just sat there, nursing the bump that his book had bestowed me with.

Eventually, the staff made him check the bag in and he responded by shoving a platinum frequent flying card thingy in the poor woman’s face telling her “Do you not recognize this?” I do salute her because my answer would have been “Do you recognize this?” pointing to the foot that was about to enter his pompous British arse. Instead, he politely told him that the plane was full and regardless of the shiny thing in his hand they would have to check the rucksack ……….and with the words “This is fu$”%$” ridiculous” ………he took his seat.

Unfortunately the patient flight attendant who had told Mr. Rucksack to bugger off was not serving my part of the plane …….. nope ……Murphy and his law had dictated that I would get a 40-something reasonably pretty blonde who purred like a cat as she fussed over the tanned good looking git in 11A while completely ignoring the fat bastard in 9C……..that would be me.

Honestly, at one point after she had served dinner…….more on that later…….she stood and talked to him for 15 minutes about how badly she wanted to move to a place called Scottsdale. Meanwhile, I wanted to move as well…….to the toilet…….but I couldn’t because the lazy attendant had not taken my tray away and at one point I seriously considered peeing in the remains of my chicken Kiev. I truly think she thought she had found the man of her dreams……..although her chances of finding an eligible bachelor in 11A while wearing blue polyester and brandishing a black garbage bag were I think ……….. limited.

Anyway, eventually I turned behind me and said “Excuse me, would you mind taking the tray as I need to go to the bathroom?”……… the end of this sentence I gave one of my nervous laughs which Heidi says I inherited of my Mum. Well, she did, but for the rest of the flight she was impossibly rude to me and during the later part of the flight gave me a brutal (and surely, not accidental) passing knock with her polyester-swaddled elbow.

And why can’t you use mobiles on flights? You can use the airline’s mobile and pay a fortune, but they won’t let you use your own. I am sure people with beards will tell me that it affects the plane’s flight systems but I believe that just as much as I believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and that people like to climb a wall on vacation.

At this point I would like to say hello to a lovely lady called Patricia Lewis who has promised to stop by the blog. Patricia was my flying companion and seated next to me for the nine hours of misery. She was a charming lady who new when to talk and when not to making her the perfect person to have next to me. Patricia is British and was flying via Miami to Barbados to stay with her son and daughter in law and their two children. Her son is the manager of an exclusive five-star resort there and we spoke about how proud she was of him and how much she missed her family and especially her grandchildren.

The conversation turned to her hatred of having to go through Immigration in Miami. Last year she was returning from Barbados to London via Miami. She had gone through immigration, but suddenly an announcement came over the PA with her name. When she contacted an official she was marched away and shoved into a room with two others – no explanation, nothing. “It was absolutely awful and very frightening,” she told me. She asked why she was there, but they wouldn’t say and she told me she was having visions of Guantanamo Bay.

After an hour and a half she was told she could go. She was furious and demanded an explanation and was told: “Next time I advise you use to hand cream, as your fingerprints have come up as those of a known terrorist.” ………she still has no idea what that meant but she wasn’t looking forward to her passage through Immigration this trip. OK, at this point I am going to switch off my raspberry because my fingers are tired and I am going to try and close my eyes for a bit………..see you in Miami.

Well, here I am and coming from the UK this morning where the temperatures struggled to reach one degree, the 63 degrees-plus temperature here in Florida has me sweating like a moose who just found out it lives in Sarah Palin’s territory. Yet, the locals are bonkers and are all wearing gloves and huge thick coats…..very funny. I am not going to go on any more about the nightmare that is Miami Immigration.

As I mentioned before, I understand that the world is different…….I understand that they must check who is entering……but maybe like their colleagues who I have encountered recently in Boston and Los Angeles, the immigration officers in Miami might consider reading the huge signs that are plastered all over the airport that say “We pledge to do all in our power to get you through immigration as quickly as possible in a friendly and professional manner.”

It seems that like their British counterparts that I recently had to meet after my return from seeing the Carnival Dream in Italy, the officers I met today were chosen for having no grace, no manners, no humor, no humanity and a personality normally found in a constipated gorilla.

I don’t care……..I am used to the treatment cruise ship staff get in “the special room” but for the poor young ladies and gents who were here for the first time it is horrifying and upsetting………..and the crying shame is that these young crew members would sit happily and patiently if someone just explained what was happening and told them that there was nothing to worry about………those few words would make all the difference..

And so, here I sit, in a taxi driven by someone who seems to think I own a NASCAR team and is currently auditioning as a driver. Even though I have been sitting in them and crop dusting them with occasional airplane farts I still had hope for my underwear but my this taxi ride has finished them off……..shame, I have had them for 15 years.

As I mentioned yesterday, saying goodbye to Heidi once was hard enough ….twice was ……well…..let’s just say I needed wind shield washers for my eyes.

But, I am excited to be back. Tomorrow we will finalize the Bloggers Cruise and then I have some stuff with some of our top travel agents. Tomorrow I will be answering all your questions and through the rest of the week we will also be highlighting some of the people who work behind the scenes at Carnival…… look out for more videos. Mostly though I am looking forward to getting back on board a ship. …….I have missed life on the ocean wave.

So, unless Jean Pierre Earnhardt kills us on the way to the hotel I will see you all in the morning.

Your friends
John, Heidi and the Thingy…….both of which I miss very much.

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.