Two weeks ago I accepted a job to sell jewelry to cruise ship passengers in Juneau. The shop owner's mother booked a early morning flight with a 10 hour lay-over in Seattle. I arrived at JFK near dawn. No one was in the terminal, but by boarding time the gate was crowded with Americans heading west.
The 737 was packed to the gills with overweight passengers and their compact carry-on bags.
Thankfully I sat in Economy Plus with extra legroom and the jet engines were powerful enough to achieve take-off despite the girth of my fellow travelers.
They really were big.
I spoke to no one on the flight.
Most of them were white.
My men had backed Trump.
Their wives too.
My vow of silence continued in Alaska Airlines' Seattle departure lounge, although there wasn't any respite from the milling consumers munching 2 pounds bags of potato chips washed down with giant vats of Coke accompnie by senseless pop music..
Crunch-Slurp like cattle eating crappy corn.
I called my wife in Thailand. Mam was still trying to figure where was Alaska.
"Where Santa Klaus lives."
"Fenway loves Santa Klaus."
And I loved my son and other babies.
I felt so superior with my sushi, but they departed, while I remained in lay-over limbo.
Time passed slower than paint drying in the damp climes of San Francisco
Even a Mark Rothko.
Ten Rings phoned from New york and asked my whereabouts.
"I hadn't told anyone about this trip, because spending four months in Juneau working 13-14 days sounded like a sentence to Stalin's gulag, then again Siberia and Alaska shared the same latitude.
And the former governor Sarah Palin's house had a view of Russia."
"Do you know the people there?"
"I have no idea who they are, but Mazzel worked here and I should be able to clear my debts in four months."
Almost $6000, plus money for my family in Thailand.
"Good luck." Ten Rings meant it.
We were good friends.
Finally I left the Sea-Tac purgatory and the Alaskan Air 737 headed north.
My seat partner was a Tlingit Indian.
His legs trembled the entire flight.
over a thick overcast.
The next stage was Ketchikan.
The pilot landed in a sashing rain. Most of the passengers exited from the plane.
The rest were Juneau-bound.
The Tlingit Indian moved to another seat and I spoke to a halibut fisherman.
"Four months of solid work under the midnight sun."
"The same for me."
He laughed when he heard my profession, but laughed even harder when I likened the cruise ship passengers to human fish.
"Not easy to catch either."
"He doffed his cap and said, "To September."
"It can't come too soon. To the end of debt and seeing my kids."
Two hours later the 737 touched ground in Juneau.
It was neither day nor night.
The fisherman was met by a young blonde woman.
The Tglinit was greeted by ten relatives.
"I barely recognized my boss, who immediately launched into lessons of salesmanship in the cruise ship world.
It was going to be a long summer under the Aurora Borealis.
But I knew that before I left New York.
I only knew it better now.
A Lot better.