I believe it’s time to finish up my trip that I began in “I’m an International Arms Dealer”. Now, most stories start slowly, have a bang in the middle, and end in a nice decline. This isn’t the case. This story started with me almost getting arrested in London, and now ends with me almost getting left in South Africa.
“The French Hate Me”
When we last left off, my mother, her boyfriend, and yours truly just barely escaped from getting arrested in London for transporting ammunition over international borders. After a brief stint of running around the city we decided to head off to Africa.
Once we landed we spent ten days hunting African wildlife in the plains of the Limpopo region. It sounds a lot more exotic then what it really was. I’m sure in everyone’s mind, at least everyone who has and will hear this story from my mother and her boyfriend, this sounds extremely dangerous and foreign. In reality, we landed at midnight, were whisked away in a private van, drove an hour and a half to a private reserve (with a gate), and stayed in a protected campground with space heaters, indoor plumbing, electricity, and a working kitchen. During mealtime we would go to a catered kitchen with housekeepers that waited on us hand and foot.
We were really roughing it.
Oddly enough though, nothing out of the ordinary happened on the trip. The only time I ever thought I was going die or be sold into sex/drug/militant soldier slavery was at the airport in South Africa on the day we were departing back for the States.
The South African airport in Johannesburg is like sitting on the border between Mexico and the United States (which I currently do when not in school). When you first enter the Johannesburg International Airport you are bombarded by people who want to saran wrap your luggage tighter than a dad wants to wrap up his daughter on prom night. Apparently the pick pocketing in the area is so bad that people offer to seal your bags to the point where even you can’t get into it.
We wrapped our bags.
After we checked in and sent our bags away we stepped over from the poor flooring, thieves, and alcoholics, to what can only be described as a mini-Mall of America. The other side of security is gorgeous! There are stores for nearly anything you could ever want: Suits, Food, Toys, Books, Liquor, Coffee, Candy, Liquor…the list goes on and on. Since we had a few hours before our flight back to Paris, or wherever the hell we were flying to in Europe to transfer back to the States, we decided to play tourist one more time and shop around. Our first stop was to grab some food, then some books, and then we stopped at this gorgeous cufflink store.
For those who don’t know, I love to dress up. I have a few suits and a small collection of ties and cufflinks that I inherited. I find dressing up fun and sexy. It’s not uncommon to see me roaming about campus in a three piece suit or a dress shirt and vest/tie.
I swear the above blurb is important to the story, albeit on a minor level. That, and, I love telling people that I like to dress up.
We spent a good amount of time in this little cufflink store looking at diamond, ruby, emerald, opal, pearl, stainless steel, and an assortment of other such links for your cuffs. I believe there were also some tie clasps and shoes there as well. However, that’s not important or worth mentioning aside from the fact that they were also quite nice and matched many a pair of cufflinks. I digress though…
As the time for our flight out of Africa neared we decided it was time to walk the length of the airport, a good long distance that felt like a mile, and head to our gate. It was late. We were tired. This is relevant to the events that take place in the next forty-five minutes or so.
After a few moments of waiting we board the Air France flight. Once myself, Tex, and my mother got situated into our seats and the stewardess announced we were about to taxi I hear this from the seat behind me, “Tex, do you have my jacket? No? Mikey, is my jacket up there with you?”
Me: “No, I don’t have it. It’s probably in one of the bags overhead.”
Mom: “I would have known if I had put it in one of the bags. I had it in my hand in the mall.”
Me: “Then it’s probably still out-“
Mom: “Do you know where I left it? It’s on the counter in that suit store.”
Mom: “I need that jacket. I’ve had it since medical school. Can you go get it?”
For those of you who have short attention spans and poor memory let me remind you that:
THE PLANE IS TAXIING. WE ARE LEAVING THE COUNTRY. IN A MATTER OF MOMENTS THE PLANE WILL BE AIRBORNE.
Apparently that doesn’t register with my mother.
Me: “I…..I don’t think I can get off the plane and back in time. I’d much rather you have a cold body then me being left in Africa and being sold into slavery or the drug trade.”
Mom: “Mikey…..I need that jacket.”
I weigh the options I mentioned in my head:
1) Let her suffer. She doesn’t care much for flying anyways so what does it matter?
2) Be a decent child and try and help her out since she pays for my school.
Three minutes later I’m at the front of the plane pleading with tired, French, flight attendant who obviously just wants to get back home and chain-smoke. After my arguments based on morality and kindness fail I say the first thing that comes into my head:
Me: “That jacket is the only thing my mother left to me before she died. On her deathbed she told me she wanted me to wear it on my first day of medical just like she had.”
I’m a terrible human being.
The flight attendant, who we’ll call Marlboro, raised an eyebrow and asked:
Marlboro: “Your dead mother left you her jacket?”
Me: “To wear on my first day of medical school.”
Marlboro: “….That’s not her who got on the plane with you?”
Me: “That’s my sister.”
Marlboro: “You have five minutes.”
Now, I’m well aware that I’m good at bullshitting. However, this moment in my life was a turning point: I now realized that I had the power to stop an airplane from leaving the ground. I should start a cult, you know, like L. Ron Hubbard.
Back to the tale:
The plane halts and the flight attendant leads me back to the front of the gate. As soon as we get to the check-in counter he looks at his watch and says, “Go.”
I have never hauled ass faster in my life. Now, in high school I did cross country running. My mother was running around a track since she did, and sometimes still does, marathons when she was pregnant with me. Running is in my genes.
After running the apparently mile back to the cuff link store I locate the jacket stuffed behind the counter. Why there wasn’t someone in the store at the time is beyond me. However, it didn’t matter. All I wanted to take was the jacket….and maybe a pair of ruby cufflinks. The jacket was easier to ruin out with though.
I return to the check-in counter covered in sweat, some tears (I really didn’t want to be left in Africa and turned into a drug mule. I’m far too pretty for that), possibly blood, and more than likely snot. Marlboro is staring at me and smells suspiciously like cigarette smoke.
Marlboro: “Did you find your mother’s jacket?”
All I do is wave it at him since I’m completely out of breath and covered in more stitches than a failed cutting attempt.
Marlboro: “Well good, do you need anything else or can we leave now? I’m tired and really didn’t have to let you off the plane to begin with.”
The only thing I could do was raise my eyebrow and then quietly walk back to the plane. I was about amused as he was at this point.
When I got back to my seat my mom just looks at me.
Mom: “So did you find my jacket?”
I hand/throw the jacket at her and look her in the eyes and say:
Me: “If anyone asks, we’re siblings and that’s the only thing my real mother left me in the will.”
I didn’t hear another word out of her until we hit the States.
That was also our last vacation….