Welcome Aboard

The rain is back again, beating down on a the long windows of the terminal. I stand at the Gate, watching the faces pass around me. Conversation is everywhere, between couples, coworkers, family, and over the electronic air as people walk and talk into tiny microphones around their neck. It’s a symphony of noise with no discernible rhythm, but it beats on and on and on.

My boarding pass says First Class, Premier Club. I’ll board early. I’ll be offered a drink and a snack, and I’ll accept them because that is the socially expected thing to do as part of this class society of airline travel. But I am not thirsty nor hungry.

My bag is hanging heavy on my shoulder. We will be boarding soon, and I could sit and relieve the pressure, but I will be sitting for so long that standing feels better and more deserving. The file folder is tucked into the bag, right next to the laptop computer. A leather bound writing journal with all its blank pages; pages waiting to be filled with notes and clues, rounds out the contents of the bag. Truly, it’s not that heavy, yet I cannot help but feel the strap cutting into my shoulder as a reminder.

They are calling for my class to board, and I shuffle to the Gate and hand over my ticket to a lovely blonde with a false smile. She mispronounces my last name, but I don’t correct her. I just smile and nod, take my ticket back and head down the jet bridge towards the large Airbus. As I reach the airplane, another group of Flight Attendants are there to greet me, checking my ticket once again and ushering me forward to the first class cabin. There are stairs ahead, but those are for the Business Class passengers. First Class is down below and forward. There are only six rows, staggered seating in First Class. The seats are more like small suites, chairs that fully lie flat for sleeping and angle during flight. But I just take my seat, stowing my bag beside me.

A Flight Attendant comes by. She’s a brunette with green eyes. Her accent sounds more Queensland than Victorian. She has a high forehead, accentuated by having her hair pulled taunt into a long pony tail. Her face is pleasantly round and her smile warming.

“Can I offer you a drink, sir?”

“Bourbon. Neat. Please, and thank you,” I respond.

“Certainly, sir. Just be a moment.”

As she leaves, her perfume lingers, and it makes me think of spring and warmth, a far cry from the weather that is pounding the airplane now. There’s a thunder clap, it sounds muted and far away over the mechanical noises of the airplane, but its enough of a reminder that the weather is quite angry today.

A few others join me in First Class, but for the most part, the seats remain quite vacant during the early stages of boarding. People do begin shuffling onto the plane, some moving forward and up the stairs to business class, others to the rear for economy. The Business Traveler’s don’t look like important tycoons, however, as most are dressed in casual jeans, t-shirts, sweats, and one lady appeared to be wearing pajamas which were a stark contrast to her designer five inch high heels. Then again, I suppose I do not fit the stereotype of First Class traveler myself, wearing worn Levi’s, T-shirt and a light weight leather jacket.

The brunettes Flight Attendant returned with my drink and a small pewter bowl of almonds. She sat the drink and bowl on fold out tray.

“There you are sir. If there should be anything else I can fetch for you, please don’t hesitate to ring. Enjoy your flight, sir.”

“Thank you,” I say. She doesn’t linger in case I happen to want to ask for anything else. Before I can blink she has vanished down the aisle and on to the next customer.

I sip my drink. The liquor burns as it goes down my throat and I instantly feel warmer. The rain is easing now. A crewman is walking around the plane holding an umbrella and looking up at the plane. I suppose I should feel safe that he is there, checking and rechecking. I don’t.

A fat man comes to the suite next to mine, in the middle. He won’t have a window to gaze out. His bulk makes our roomy accommodations feel more like economy. I’m grateful we’re not any closer to each other. He sits and the lovely brunette comes back to offer him a drink.

“Gin and Tonic,” he says.

Off she goes, casting a rainbow of perfume in her wake. I sit back, smiling, looking forward to her return.


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