Tuesday, May 1, 2012

ALL ABOARD THE PANDA EXPRESS!

I remember once at a party we were playing the game "Have you ever?", when someone asked me, Have you ever become a member of the mile high club.  My response was "does it have to have been with another person?"   The looks of confusion and disgust that followed can pretty much sum up my experiences with travel. They have been a source of confusion, disgust as well as a myriad of other emotions that would have made the Titanic Voyage seem like an uneventful pleasure cruise.

Most of my earlier travel was with my friend David.  Travelling with David was what I am assuming travelling with Osama Bin Laden would have been like.  You never knew what catastrophes were around the next corner and you never knew if you would make it home alive.

On a flight to Hawaii, David believed the passengers directly in the seats in front of us were only there to talk about him in secret, take up precious leg room and tilt back their seats as far back as they could possibly go.  As an outlet for his rage  David insisted on grinding his knees into the back of their chairs to make their flight as uncomfortable as possible.   "David, I don't think they are talking about you" I offered.  "I don't think they can even speak English"  "Oh they are talking about me, I can tell" he responded"   "And I don't like it one bit" his answer was obviously meant for our fellow passengers to hear as he raised his voice. 

Safely on the ground, having avoided any nasty Air Marshall incidents, we arranged for a taxi to take us to our hotel.  As luck would have it, our taxi driver was not able to speak English either and seemed a bit angry from the moment we got into the cab.  At one point our driver made a stop for gasoline at a convenience store, yet never pumped any gas, he did however return to the car with a tall canned beverage wrapped in a brown paper bag.  Best not to ask questions I thought and ignored the whole Mothers Against Drunk Driving public service announcement going on before my eyes.

When we arrived at our hotel, David exited the car and went to our drivers window to pay the fare. As I watched from a bench it appeared the driver was arguing with David about something and David seemed very confused as to what the problem was. "I'm sorry I don't know what you want:"  David repeated as the driver made a series of pointing motions and shook his head.  

The verbal abuse from our driver continued until David was on the verge of tears and just handed over his entire wallet for the man to fish out as much money as he deemed acceptable for the fare.  Enough was enough at this point and I walked over to the situation at hand, took the wallet from our driver, handed it back to David and screamed RUN!.
I urge anyone who may be reading this to take this advise and apply it to your own lives. When life hands you a situation that is uncomfortable, just run away from it and everything will work out for the better. I repeat, running away from your problems is ALWAYS the best option.

While in Hawaii, I thought it best to discontinue the use of taxis and bought both of us a day pass on the local city trolley system.
Now, Hawaii attracts a lot of Asian tourist and this was the case as we boarded our first trolley.
We were in the middle of a very long line and as we boarded it was becoming apparent that there was no room for many more people.
I quickly found my seat at the back of the bus as David stayed at the front, thinking it best to attempt to strike up a friendship with our driver this time around. to ward off any negativity remaining from his first go round with are taxi driver.  "Sure is crowded" said David to our Trolley Captain.   "You are Goddamned right it is crowded !  It's all these little Japanese fuckers coming over here and crowding us out is what it is!"  responded our Trolley Captain.
I heard this from the back of the bus because it was coming in loud and clear over the intercom speakers.
David continued this conversation by saying "It has been my experience that they are all rude and pushy and I will have you know that they were saying horrible things about me on the plane ride over here."
"Well they sure as hell don't respect authority" our driver stated  "Those little fuckers can just go back to where they came from if I had any say about it" he continued.  
Not only did he have any say in it, I thought, but he was saying it in stereo for the entire bus to hear.

I wanted to warn David that his remarks were being picked up by the Trolley Captains microphone but decided it was out of my hands at this point. 
I shared my bench seat with an older tourist and reached over to whisper  "I don't think you are rude or pushy and I regularly enjoy a hearty meal at my local Panda Express" I whispered in her ear, trying to ease the racial tensions that had evolved in the last five minutes.

People were still crowding into the Trolley, and there was just no more room for more passengers.
As if he was the newly appointed President of the Honolulu Transportation Commission, David took matters into his own hands. Throwing his hands in the air and with a horrible cartoonish Asian accent he began yelling out "THERE NO MORE ROOM", "WE NOT WANT ANY MORE OF YOU", " YOU LEAVE NOW."

Just so you can get an idea of how uncomfortable all this was to me, let me just say I was one of three white people on this trolley and the other two were doing a racist comedy skit directly from the 1940's for the entire crowd of Asian tourists to enjoy.

To reinforce his displeasure David then began moving his hands in a back and forth pushing motion and screaming "SHOO!"   "SHOO, YOU NOT GET ON BUS"

Oh my God, their grandfathers invaded this island and he was singlehandedly setting back race relations 75 Years I thought to myself.  The looks that I was getting said to me that the crew of the ENOLA GAY themselves would have been more welcome than we were right now. David, unaware that he had been heard by the remaining 100 bitter and angry passengers made his way to the back of the bus to take his seat by me. 

As he sat down a huge grin formed and he reached over to me to say "this is so exciting, I can't wait to get to Pearl Harbor."