Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10, 2010 The Flight to Germany!

I was all packed and ready last night. I literally set three alarms to wake me up at 3:00am this morning. I got ready in record time just as the taxi called to let me know he was out front. I drug my giant suitcases down the flight of stairs and met my driver. We shall call him Rajid. Rajid didn’t speak a word of English and if he did he was keeping it secret. I asked him if he took credit card and made a little square with my fingers then the swiping motion to indicate what I was asking. He shook his head no. Well, I sure as hell was not going to pay for this out of my pocket (this is a Boeing sponsored trip after all) and asked him to drive me to bank in downtown Lake Stevens so I could pull out cash. Rajid navigated his way to the bank and I inserted my card. No luck. No cash…no nothing. I immediately called the credit card company and was informed that Boeing did not authorize cash withdrawals for my trip. I then called the Boeing help desk and explained I needed access to cash and got that taken care of on the way to the airport. I then called the taxi cab office and asked how they could make this right since I specifically requested a cab that took credit cards. They charged my card over the phone, but not before we haggled about the charged price vs. the quoted price.

I arrived at SeaTac and moved swiftly through the line. I found my gate and all was easy. That should have been a warning for me since nothing should be that easy during international travel. I boarded my super amazing business class seat and pulled out my Ipod and book. That’s when it began. The Total Panic…and I was not alone.

The gentleman who took the seat next to me was from the Middle East somewhere by his attire. No problem. I will admit I was a tiny bit apprehensive but my rational brain took over and I decided I was being silly. This is a man who belongs to a very peaceful religion and I refused to give into the stereotypical reaction we American’s have to a Muslim on a plane.

I smiled at him and said good morning. He just looked at me as if I had insulted his mother. Ok…I thought…this is better I guess than sharing a 13 hour flight with a beef salesman from Iowa! I’d take the silence over cattle talk any day!

Let’s name this man Manmeat (a reference to the insanely funny NBC show Outsourced)

Manmeat took out a little velvet bag and I of course was watching with much interest. He pulled out a small book with golden Arabic looking letters, a veil, and what looked like a headlamp. He assembled his gear and began to bow and pray at his seat. He was reading out loud, bowing and praying. He had three feet of leather cord and was wrapping his forarms over and over again. OMG! I tried to remain calm. I didn’t want to think the worst. I know that Muslims pray a lot, just never had someone pray and bow out loud next to me on an intercontinental flight.

The other passengers began to turn and look. I made eye contact with several passengers and tried to express through facial expressions that I had no idea what was going to happen or what Manmeat was doing. They looked at me like I should have an answer because I was sitting next to him. I just got my big “I don’t know” eyes on and shook my head slightly indicating I was as lost as everyone else. I sure as hell wasn’t about to interrupt his prayers and ask him if he was making peace with his maker and if I should bow my head and do the same.

He put everything except the little book (Koran?) away after he was finished and pulled out his IPad. He was browsing through pictures of his family and still muttering to himself. That’s it I thought…we are all going to die today. I had no way of writing my husband and children as I was 30,000 feet in the air. He got up and went to the restroom and was gone for quite some time. I refused to make eye contact with the passengers around me as that was just adding to my irrational fear that was taking over. He came back to his seat, buckled in…which at that point I figured was just overkill given the fact that we were all going to die in a giant orange explosion in the sky.

Manmeat must have went to the restroom 12 different times and each time I imagined that was when he was pulling the pin or pushing the button or detonating what ever device he had in the green velvet bag.

I did not sleep. I have never been more awake in my life.

Now as you know…I am here writing about my imagined terrorist attack and not so near death experience and I feel rather stupid for even thinking the worst about this man. But COME ON!!! REALLY??? Was that really the best time to pull out the Koran and pray and bow?

I never thought of myself as intolerant of religions. I guess I am just a typical American who remembers the events of September 11 as vividly as if it happened yesterday.

By the way…this is actually how retarded I am. After describing the airplane ride from hell to a friend, my friend informed me that this is a Jewish prayer and the man was praying to God…the same God I was praying to the entire flight. The little gold book was a Bible. I really need a little more education on the various religions in the world.

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