By lex, on May 4th, 2007
I had a strange dream last night, something perhaps I ate: I was in some class of catacomb, in Italy, like and I found a tunnel branching off into the darkness whose contours I felt strangely compelled to explore. At the very end of the tunnel the walls about me closed in on every side until finally there was only room to crawl on my hands and knees. I felt something beneath my hands, dry and brittle. Aiming my flashlight down I was suddenly startled to see a human skeleton, face forward in the darkness of tunnel, reaching out with a grasping hand. In front of that grasping hand was yet another skeleton, shrinking up against the back wall, away from the larger man’s grasp.
What had brought these two men to this end, I wondered. The one withdrawing as far as he could, the other refusing to turn and let him escape. Didn’t they sense the fatal futility of whatever it was that had brought them there? Could they make no accomodation to the other’s existence? Oh, the humanity!
And then, as though a curtain had been pulled aside at last, it became apparent to me at last the meaning of this strangely compelling tableau: It was b2 and Skippy **, vying to the end on the topic of whether Iraq is, or is not, a part of the War on Islamist Terror.
b2 was the big guy.
So. 21st Century traveling pretty much sucks. 0500 wake-up in order to clear US customs – which in Vancouver is actually in Canada, vice the first POE in the States. There’s a sign in the airport that says – indifferent to the apparent reality of the situation – “Welcome to the United States.”
All of the customary TSA indignities, then hours and hours packed like cattle because every passenger mile counts! Service with a smile though, so long as your definition of “smile” is expansive enough to cover sullen, stone-faced impassivity. I meekly asked my flight attendant for a second cup of that lovely Starbucks she was pouring and she gave me a momentary look of loathing that practically cried out, “Hold out your hands,” before she apparently thought better of it and walked away, pretending not to have heard. I had half an idea to stand up and make an issue of it, but the image of being taken for a madman and sat upon by half a dozen hysterical and overfed passengers made me pause to reconsider.
Such is the whimsy of the Canadian monetary system – and so long did it take me to figure it out – that embarked upon my flight seriously overloaded. Before checking out, I had swept a spine-curving quantity of coinage off my hotel nightstand and into my jacket pocket, realizing of a sudden that all of them curious shaped pieces of eight added up into actual money, take them together. Oh, not the quarters certainly – that’d be too familiar for their southern neighbors – but the rest of it does add up. I had far too many of the two and one-dollar bits laying about, wondering what to do with themselves. Which, when one considers how quickly the paper stuff evaporates after an evening on the town, is rather remarkable.
Useless now. Or almost.
For I very nearly dumped it into a sock with which to brain my taxi cab driver after leaving the airport and – judiciously, for me – taking the Metro to a location closer to my sister’s lodgings in Alexandria. The bassid let me in his cab and then proceeded to add $3.00 worth of “extras” on to the meter before attempting to drive off.
“Yo. What’s up with the extras,” asked your correspondent.
“Two dollars for the bag I put in the trunk, and one for the gas,” said he.
“Bullsh!t. Stop the cab, I’m getting out. You can drive around and get back at the end of the line.”
Sputter-sputter, but that’s the way it went.
Oh, I know it’s not a lot of money, and I suppose I could have taken it out of his tip, but I’m tired of these people trying to prey upon the innocents in such a transparent and patently absurd fashion. Many of them left third world rot-holes where it was impossible to make a living because of all the entrenched corruption, and they finally get someplace where an honest man can make a living if he tries hard enough, and what do they do? They fiddle.
Yeah, well. They’re not fiddling me.
So, here we are and I’m on my way to meet the rest of the gang * at the hotel for the reception, like. Only, you know: In person.
Wish me luck!
* 07-31-2018 Link Gone; no replacements found – Ed.
** b2 and Skippy were two well-known commentators on Neptunus Lex – Ed 🙂