Do you know what buzzes me out? The fact that every single person is just a regular being.
I mean, obviously there are the extraordinary and the high achievers and what not, but carrying on what I said in the previous post to extend further: people are people.
It struck me as I was waiting for my backpack to hustle round the carousel upon disembarking my plane at Pana Cotta (Pudong. I’m sorry but forevermore, every time I reference that airport it shall be with a different dessert). A gang of Air NZ pilots paraded past with their captain hats on and briefcases swinging alongside them, and it got me thinking; cripes, these men had just manned a massive piece of machinery through the sky for the past 12 hours, yet they are just normal, regular beings like the rest of us. The main dude was impatiently waiting for his bag. The one to his left was yawning and looking at his watch. And the third was scratching an itchy spot on his arm and chuckling jollily at something one of the air hostess’ had just said.
This used to completely trip me out when I was living with my second family, the Moloneys; papa Rick is actually Captain Moloney, who steers – steers? Drives? Mans? Let’s just go with “pilots” – planes to a number of countries. Yet I’d see him on the home front, eating dinner, walking the dog, engaging in a few beers (when not on call or due to fly, of course; then it was nothing more pick-me-up than a cup of EBT, one sugar). Beforehand pilots had been these elusive, almost fearsomely powerful creatures who did a superhuman job with the lives of many at their touch of a gear stick. But Rick normalised it for me, bringing them down to a human level (although I do think he’s pretty fab in his own right).
Ditto police officers: whenever I saw a cop I was instantly infused with a sense of guilt and being on edge, even though I was being a perfectly law abiding citizen. Mate, cops were scary. They had the power to issue me a ticket, barricade me up in handcuffs, put me in jail. It was only going to stay with my Uncle Cock in Australia a few summers ago and witnessing his penchant for Coro St, Eastenders and a good old gingernut biscuit that I began to see that policemen (and women – not genderising here) were actually completely normal.
But for those in roles I don’t know anyone in overly personally, it’s still that way inclined.
Like doctors. They have the “power” to diagnose and deem what’s wrong with you, prescribe medications and even operate, yet they go home at the end of each day to fulfill their other role as mother/father/sister/uncle/whatever. In my mind, doctors are just that – doctors. I always find it weird upon meeting them in a different context, where you realise they are actually just like you. Take my GP; she comes into Onyx now and again for dinner or drinks, and it always weirds me out to realise that she is actually a mother to a young boy, who would be going home to read him bedtime stories and tuck him in like any one else (Especially when pondering the fact that only a day previously she had been up close and personal with my fanoo for the three yearly smear. I hope she didn’t have the same thought as I went over to check on how her chicken breast was going down).
And surgeons. Like, they’re at the end of a scalpel removing tumours and amputating limbs and all sorts of operative well, operations, but they still have to have a shower and go wees and brush their teeth. It’s fucking bizarre; I can’t quite wrap my head around it.
It’s kind of (but not really at all) like that whole imagine-the-crowd-naked thing. Because everyone has a naked body under their clothes, regardless of the uniform, expensive bespoke attire or name badge.
Maybe it’s because I’m really tired. Or because I’m super pumped I’m FINALLY about to board my final flight. Or perhaps because I just muse over the mundane far too much. Whatever reason, I’m currently observing (“watching” sounds far too creepy) the immigration desk manners’ movements and buzzing out that they will probably go and have a sandwich (well, rice ball with beef cutlets or something) soon. To me they are purely the power behind you being granted access with a yay, nay, and decision to stamp or not, but their identity stretches far further than just that.
Trippy stuff. Oh mate, I’m bloody buggered. Roll on reclining (well, folding forward over my tray table) in 37C and sleeping for the next 11 hours.
If I can get over the awe that my neighbouring passenger is a high court lawyer or some tosh.
(Actually her name is Jacqueline, she’s a Chinese lass that has lived in Paris her entire 26-year-old life, she’s just completed her master’s degree and we are swapping details after we disembark because if it works out, we are going to hang out in Paris. Also love it because on hearing her name I kept thinking about Jacqueline Wilson and the storylines of all her books – the author, not my passenger peer. My, how I love meeting people on planes! One day I’d love to write a book on the eclectic collection of characters I’ve come across).
Quick addition: you may be aware from me mentioning in past posts that I get attached sometimes to somewhat ridiculous things. Well first item of idiotcy on this trip was my trolley at brûlée aviation hub (you’ll have clicked onto what I mean by that by now). I claimed that bad boy by the carousel at 7.20am and it remained my companion until we had a tearful goodbye at the immigration gates at 9.22pm. Honestly though, that thing was so fably constructed; the ones in NZ keep rolling should you let go off them, but these Chinese ones only move if you press down on the bar and then push. So upon letting go of the bar, they automatically break! (Halt, not combust, ill clarify). I’ll admit I did get myself in the gut a couple of times but I was never chasing after a rogue runaway carrier. And it doubled as a lounger! When I was in my last two hours waiting for check in to open, upon seeing no seating areas free, instead I parked up my trolley, reclined along its length and read my book. Ideal!
Second aside: I did decide to treat myself with a massage before I got into my second long haul leg. When paying for the kneading beforehand, I informed the gatherings of girls that I liked my massages on the hard side.
They all giggled, then then obviously main matriarch – dumpy thing with a pudding bowl (fitting what with where she worked) haircut – called out in a loud shrieking summon; out appeared this burly Asian lad and I must say, I had a moment of panic at my firm request for a firm hold. Especially – as you may remember from India – I’ve not had the most, shall we say, above board massage experiences in the past.
But my word, this Chinese champ went to town on my aching bod. Back, gluts, legs, neck, face, arms and hands; he pummelled and he pounded and he punched and he pinched, and although I times I did almost beg for mercy, I held my ground, gritted my teeth and came out grinning.
Now, to Paris!