Travelling on the Brink – The Story of Winning Part 2
Do you know what happens on an aeroplane for 23 hours? I can tell you. Absolutely nothing. Well not absolutely nothing. You get a sore back, sore legs, sore neck. You get to experience the wonderful lack of sleep that comes with international air travel and you get to go slightly mad due to a combination of boredom and repeats of "Two and a Half Men". Shudder. After seeing six episodes of "that show", back to back, I am of the honest opinion that anyone can write in Hollywood. Here's my pitch.
Charlie's Brother Whatshisname: Charlie, you really shouldn't sleep with so many women
Charlie: Why not?
Whatshisname: It sets a bad example for my fat son.
Fat Son: Don't worry Dad, Charlie already set me straight. Men are supposed to sleep with as many women as they can. It helps reinforce the misogynistic stereotype that's prevalent in television.
Fat Maid: Disparaging comment about Charlie's penis.
Laugh Track with whistling
Ugh. It's just awful. So that tripe got me from Melbourne to Broome but what was I to do for the next 10 hours in my small economy seat, trapped between a hulking, sweating blancmange of a man and an old lady with a bladder the size of a pea. No pun intended. Sleep was out of the question and I'd already grown sick of the tiny screen in the back of the chair in front of me, so instead I merely sat and waited. Sat and waited for 10 hours, the ten most boring, tiring and excruciatingly mind numbing hours of my life. Every now and then one of the cabin crew would offer me a drink or something to eat and I would graciously accept the meagre rations. When they moseyed off I would devour their offering with the veracity of a sewer rat. When I wasn't waiting for more food and water like some P.O.W., I was wiggling my toes, staring blankly at the ceiling or fighting a strong urge to pick my nose, which had become the driest place on earth. Surely someone, somewhere must have developed a way for aeroplane air conditioning to not desiccate you from the inside out. I swear that pieces of my brain had cracked off and fallen into my nasal cavity. At least I had a reason to get up and go to the toilet often, even if it was one as disgusting as picking 40kg rocks out of my nose.
Every few minutes I checked the flight guide channel on the miniscule screen in front of me.
Surely it's been an hour or so since last time, I thought. Wrong!
01.01 am – 8538km and 11 hours remaining.
01.13 am – 8503km and 11 hours remaining.
And it went on like this for most of the flight. No wonder I drove myself mad.
Finally and eventually we neared Dubai and I felt a huge sense of relief surge through me. Well it was either that or the blood circulating again after I'd been sat in the one spot for nigh on 6 hours.
The descent seemed to take twice as long as the flight and then we landed. And then it dawned on me. I was halfway across the planet from home. I was in the Middle East. I was, I was…DYING FOR A CIGARETTE! It had been 18 hours since my last one and I was half tempted to eat one from my pack. It didn't help matters that the airport was huge and we still hadn't reached the terminal after 15 minutes on a shuttle bus. Then came customs, then came the crowds at duty free and then came the dawning realisation that there wasn't anywhere to smoke. I walked back and forward up the terminal and saw countless prayer rooms, showers, toilets and shops, but not one place to have a quick ciggy! I found the nearest info desk and asked where I could smoke. The lady behind the counter smiled and pointed past me and said "Just near gate 121".
Can't be too far
I was at gate 237. It was pretty much a full kilometre from where I was, but I wasn't going to let a little thing like agonizing fatigue stop me from having that smoke. So I set off. Almost immediately I noticed something was not quite right.
Ow. Ouch. Ow. What the…?
14 hours squirming in my seat while wearing jeans had left me with the worse chafe of my life. Every step was like someone was running a belt sander on my inner thighs. But still I was undeterred. I set off down the terminal like some deranged cowboy, wincing and cursing the whole time. After about 20 minutes I reached the tiny, cramped and smoke filled room where smoking was allowed. The door was propped open, entirely defeating the point and people were huddled round like hobos over a drum fire.
This is so sad I thought as I gleefully took my first drag in almost 20 hours.
Look at these poor fools, trying to get in a quick smoke before their flights,
Deep drag in
You really must be desperate
Big breath out.
My smoke was finished in record time and I thought about having another but decided against it as I only had an hour or so before my flight and I wanted to have a quick shower. All of my clothes and toiletries were in my checked luggage but I had my wallet and was in the hugest duty free shopping centre I'd ever seen.
I spotted a chemist first and went in to buy soap and deodorant.
What the hell? How much is 30 in Australian money?
Dejected I walked out of the chemist and prepared to stink my way from Dubai to London. But wait! I had my phone in my pocket. I dialled my best mate… come on… pick up…
Hey man, can you tell me what 30 Dubai moneys is in Australian? He just laughed.
What's their currency?
How the hell should I know? I'm at the airport and need to buy some crap can you tell me or not?
Aw nah man, I'm at uni, I'm not even near a computer, so how was your…click!
I tried my next trustiest number
Hey Dad, can you tell me what the conversion between Australian and Dubai money is?
Hold on a sec…okay basically it's a third. So whatever it costs, divide it by three and that's the Australian equivalent.
Thanks Dad. Bye. Click.
So armed with this new knowledge I set out to by the essentials for my shower. At the chemist I bought, deodorant and soap. At a clothing store I bought socks, underpants and a t-shirt. I headed back towards the gate our flight was from and found the nearest shower block.
Great! I have an hour still before my flight. This is going to be awesome
Or so I thought. Once again, fate had conspired against me. In the shower block there were 5 cubicles, yet only 2 were operating. I was 4th in line to use one of them. For twenty minutes or so, nobody went in and nobody came out. Then finally, at almost the same time two guys came out and two more went in. Leaving me clear to go next. Another twenty five minutes passed and on the inside I was raging.
Who the F### takes this long when they know there is a line out here. Motherf@#kin , inconsiderate pieces of sh!#.
I was very, very cranky.
I was doing my very best to keep calm, relax and wait my turn and was just about to lose the battle when the cubicles became free again.
I practically ran into my cubicle and was almost naked before I opened the door. I didn't care; I wanted this shower more than I wanted the smoke. And there was no way I was missing my flight. So I stripped down and soaped up and I have to say that there has never been a more luxurious shower than that scummy, lime scaled and low water pressure cubicle in Dubai airport, terminal 232.
I showered as quickly as I could, because I am considerate and then turned the water off.
Now where's that towel? Wait a minute. What towel?! I don't have a towel and I didn't buy a towel! FUUUUUUUUU…..
I was running out of time and I couldn't miss my flight, but if I didn't dry myself I was going to spend the next 7 hours, wet, uncomfortable and chafed. I grabbed my dirty t-shirt and removed as much water from my body as I could before the shirt was sopping and useless. My sweaty and frankly gnarly under pants came next. I used the outside of them as best I could. They took up approximately 30ml of water before they became useless. Then came my socks. They fared better than the undies, but not by much.
Great! I had a shower and now I smell of feet, sweaty balls and BO.
It wasn't quite that bad, but I did feel as though the point of the shower had been defeated. My hair was dripping, my skin was only half dry and the clean clothes I bought were clinging to me. I was uncomfortable and unhappy. And it was time to board the flight to London.
This was going to suck.