Quotidia Beget Adventure

4

March 7, 2019, Los Angeles-

Among the phenomena which might be overlooked, when one is en route to a special destination, is the landscape below an airplane circling for a safe landing.  Such was the case this evening, as our Sky West flight from Phoenix got cleared for landing at LAX.

This was the first time in memory that I had a window seat, and thus could look at the vast expanse of  territory that is the Los Angeles Basin.  With all that has been written, bantered and felt about LA and its smog, congestion and excess, the place as a whole is a marvel, when seen from 8,000 feet-especially at night.  Some SoCal-phobes will reply that a mess can’t be a marvel, but we know better.  One does not have to approve of  what is the current situation, to be amazed at how much humanity is packed into even such a vast area.

Prior to this, I put in a full day at work and was glad to leave my charges with a sense of accomplishment, leading up to the ten-week homestretch that follows Spring Break,  The shuttle van down to Phoenix was an equally smooth and quotidian process, with us arriving at Sky Harbor with time to spare.  Barrio Avion provided tender and spicy beef for my farewell burrito.

Two three-year-old boys, meeting by chance and becoming fast friends, provided the after-dinner entertainment.  G., a new older brother, very much appreciated the presence of J., his new friend.  Watching them play with miniature cars and trucks, hide and seek and get lectured by their respective fathers, for shaking the line stantions, that are used to separate groups of boarding passengers.  There was no lack of spirit with these two.  Indeed, my first encounter with G was his running up the aisle, momentarily unbeknownst to his parents.  I kept my distance, but also kept an eye on him, in case he made it clear to the TSA  area.  Mom was on scene, 30 seconds later, and brought him safely back to the gate lobby.  Then J and father showed up and more localized activity took over.

We landed at LAX, about fifteen minutes late.  I then embarked on a 1 1/4-mile walk, from the United terminal to the Asiana booths, at Tom Bradley International (AKA Terminal B).  I am in the shape to undertake such a luggage lug, but I wonder how disabled people are accommodated, with the City of Cars expecting everyone to walk, with no electric sidewalks and only the occasional elevator, along the labyrinth.

I made it, with the loudspeaker calling my name, four times, as the Koreans wanted to verify my new passport.  I heard them and felt their pain, eventually getting to show the document to the chief of security at Asiana and receiving his swift assistance, in getting through the line, to the check-in booth and onto the shuttle bus that brought us to the plane.  It was an East Asian style shuttle, meaning that a packer was on hand, to shout at and cajole us into cramming as tightly as possible.  I actually kind of miss those days, in Seoul and Jeju, though I must say young men are less prone to grab all the seats and make women and older men stand for the ride.  That is the one thing about the old days that never failed to get me rankled, especially when Penny was pregnant with Aram.

I’m on the plane now, seated with an elegant woman from Colombia and a Korean student, on Spring Break from her school in Arizona.  It’ll be a long, and I sense, restful, journey to Seoul.

Dear Thug

13

June 10, 2018, Montreal-

You thought you got the drop on me, yesterday, waiting until I was far enough away from my car that I didn’t hear the smashing of window glass, did not witness you taking my seven-year-old laptop and my passport. To the extent you thought of me at all, you probably imagined a terified, whimpering American tourist, who was wondering “Oh, whatever shall I DO?”.

So, let’s get real about what this means, for each of us. I spent The rest if my Saturday being assisted by your better neighbours: A confident and dedicated young police officer, who knows her role in society, far better than you know yours; a strong, but gentle, young man who is a Muslim, by the way, and who carefully and diligently removed the bulk of the glass you left in my car, following your act of rage; two hostel workers who called around, for a space for me, to no avail. It is one of Montreal’s signature weekends, after all: Formula One Grand Prix.

Today, I am back at my favourite place to stay in Montreal. I made my car fitted with protection from the elements. I gave back to the young people who have so gracefully welcomed me into their community. I got a fine haircut from Irina. I am singing along to Eddie Vedder’s “I’m Still Alive”. Tomorrow, I will move forward, with new glass on my car windows and clearance from my government, to cross back into the land of my birth. In two years’ time, I will be back in Montreal.

So what of you? Perhaps, you are bragging to your friends and associates, about how you took advantage of a stupid Yankee. You may find someone who can break my laptop’s encryption and enable you, or your “employer”, to read my posts, to harass me or, God forbid to use the device for more nefarious purposes. You may try to sell my passport to the wide world of imposters. You will, in the long of it, fail. You are probably well-known to the Montreal Police Department, and the young officer took evidence with her. You are certainly known, at least in terms of your actions, by the people who live around McGill University. Their patience is running thin.

So, we both move forward. I will continue to live a life that values people and a Higher Power. You have a choice to make. Give up what is not yours or face one element or another, of civil society.

No Habitant, He

8

May 14, 2018, Prescott-

(This is Segment 4 of the Antonio Ribeiro saga.)

Antonio found his way to one of the few remaining public phones in Valleyfield.  He had made it away from the Palmieris. for the time being, by jumping on the back of a flatbed truck and staying prone, so quiet that the distracted operator of the vehicle didn’t know of his extra passenger until he drove into the small city, south of Montreal.

“Sacre Bleu!”, the discomfited truck farmer sputtered, once he did find a wayward Acoreno on his premises.  “Voulez-vous un grand battement, EH?”  Tony kind of, sort of, put the message together in his head and bolted down the street-not looking back at the still raging driver, who was now on the phone to the Provincial Police.  It took a good ten minutes of bobbing and weaving around the alleys, before he figured he had a shot at getting to Montreal.

So he rested in the shadows of a dumpster, before noticing about three Canadian dollars worth of coins, lying near a phone booth.  “God rules all!”, the former florist told himself, deciding to call the number that his late cousin had given him.

“Allo?”, Astrid Conejos answered, whilst lounging outside on her patio.

“Hey, my name is Tony R., from Massachusetts. I need to speak with Toro.”

“Voulez parler avec Arturo?”

“Yeah, ……I mean oui”, Tony said, using one of the five French words he actually retained from his high school class.

“Un moment”, the teenager sniffed, before bounding up to find her brother.

Arturo Conejos had come to New Bedford from Vigo, a Spanish city with a fair amount of traffic with Portugal.  He therefore fit in with the Azoreans, quite nicely.  The family moved to Montreal, after Toro had been arrested for drug trafficking, a few too many times.  They had kept a low profile, until Arturo came of age.  His sister had been born two years after the move, and mainly spoke French.

Arturo was a baggage handler, at Pierre Trudeau International Airport.  He would be an integral part of Antonio Ribeiro’s next move.  Toro was, at the moment, a bit tired. He was awake enough, though, to switch to the King’s English, once he got on the phone.

“Ya sumbitch, why call me here?  You come alla da way to Montreal, for what, exactly?”

Tony was flustered, but held his composure.  “Listen, Toro, there was a shootout, near the border.  My cousin, you remember him-the blond, blue-eyed Guanche?  He got blown away.  The border patrol nailed the Palmieri goons, but I took off.  The Italians, they don’t know where I am.”

“So, this involves me, how, exactly?”, the still-irritated Galician snapped.

“I got a card, a Visa, from my uncle.  Cuz gave it to me.  I need to get a flight out.  Please just get me to the airport.”

“A shootout, chaos, and you still have a Visa card?  Whattabout da passport?”

“I have that, too.  I just don’t have much cash, maybe two bucks, American though.”

“I didn’t think you were carrying Cuban pesos, El Tonto!”

“So, can you do this?”

“Yeah, and you get to experience life in a duffel bag, for the next seven hours.  Don’t worry, it’s cotton, it breeeeathes!”

“Hey, you mean I’m gonna be luggage?  I told you I have a Visa card.”

“That’s right, and you pay ME, instead of the airline.  C$ 300.00, all the way to Barcelona.”

“Aaaargh!”

“Antonio, take it or leave it.”

” Okay, I’ll do it.  But if the Catalunes flush a stiff from underneath the plane, guess who gets a visit from New Bedford.”

“No worries, I got this worked out.  Here’s my address.  I’m calling you a cab, right now.”

Two hours later, Arturo Conejos was putting a heavy duffel bag on an Iberian Airlines flight to Barcelona.