First World Problems: Leaving Otherworldly Countries

English: Qantas 747 landing at Sydney Airport ...

Qantas 747 landing at Sydney Airport over Port of Sydney containers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First world problems, leaving otherworldly countries.

Normally when I blog on this site, I am writing about my experiences in Papua New Guinea. This time, I am writing about my experiences leaving Papua New Guinea, because I experienced an amusing encounter.

It takes me four flights to get home to Chile from PNG. This time, I am going home for 12 hours, only to embark on two more flights to enable me to go travelling with friends, several who are bloggers here. We’re off to the Galapagos, and boy, am I looking forward to it.

The story begins when I arrive at Sydney airport. I am lucky to be flying in the front of the plane SYD-SCL and as such, I plan my timing accordingly. I arrive early to the airport to maximize lounge-time. It is difficult to derive full value from a $6000 plane ticket, but I feel that it is my responsibility to do so, by spending as much time as possible

English: Bloody Mary: "This is a Bloody M...

Bloody Mary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

in the Business class lounge. It was 10 a.m. at the time of these events, and even though I am quite libertarian vis a vis my personal consumption of alcohol, at 10 a.m., I do tend to be relatively restrained. In any event, I had settled into the QANTAS lounge, setup my computer, and went to the bar for a little early morning pre-flight refreshment. Some QANTAS lounges are annoying in that they employ bar staff to pour you drinks. The lounge in SYD is much like going to your home bar. It has an array of bottles, mixes, glassware, and you are invited to make your own drink, by virtue of having no one around.

I decided my breakfast poison would be a Bloody Mary. So I took an old-fashioned glass, gave it a swipe of lemon around the rim & a twist in the glass, and proceeded to pour myself a bit of Absolut. It wasn’t an ostentatious pour; indeed, it wasn’t even two fingers. It was a relatively wimpy ounce, maybe an ounce and a half. I was in the act of putting down the vodka and reaching for the Worcestershire, when this officious little lounge attendant scuttled over and exclaimed in a voice loud enough for all the travellers to hear ‘Sir, you cannot free pour your drink like that, you have to use a measure!’

Some people, it’s cocktails. Others, it’s shoes.

Now look, I am a bit of a cocktail enthusiast, and I’m the first to admit it, but the last thing Imelda Marcos likes to hear is that one perhaps is buying one too many pairs of shoes. I am also unaccustomed to being verbally accosted in a fairly public manner about the method to my mixology. Indeed I am known to channel a crowd-pleasing alter-ego known as ‘Timmy the Cabana Boy’ and exhorted to making strange blender drinks at parties. Needless to say I was not amused.

I believe I showed admirable restraint. I have always been told that when you have nothing nice to say, one should say nothing, which is precisely what I did. I set down the vodka, and proceeded to complete my drink, reaching for the tomato juice. It is possible, that my brow furrowed and my lips pursed in a physical display of my displeasure, but I spared this annoying woman my acerbic wit. The attendant, prescient to my non-verbal body language followed with ‘Do I need to call my manager?’ To this, I couldn’t help but reply. If I am going to be ejected from the QANTAS lounge, I intend to be inebriated to the point where Paris Hilton would be proud. I didn’t turn to face her, I said ‘I have put down the bottle, and I haven’t said anything to you. Is there a problem? I think you are over-interpreting my expression.’ She muttered something under her presumably garlic-infused breath and went away.

Not THIS much.

Going back to my seat, avoiding the gaze of all those other loungers who have been witness to my flagrant free-pouring of liquor in an alcoholic orgy of over-consumption (this being my first drink of the day…) I fumed. Cranial smoke rose from my skull as if a Hopi were trying to signal his buddy on the other side of the Grand Canyon. My lounge experience had been sullied.

I finished my cocktail and decided to switch to a coffee. A coffee with Bailey’s, I am not scared to admit. A Bailey’s free poured with abandon (when I verified no one was looking). I busied myself with my computer, and enjoyed my soothing morning beverage, bracing myself physically and emotionally for my 12-hour flight. When finished, Ms. Officious was on dish clearing duty, and was fussing with the dishes of the other travellers in my area. I didn’t want to get into it with her again, so as she approached my table, without looking up, I gently nudged my empty coffee cup towards her, indicating that I was done. Again, in a loud, snotty voice she said ‘Are you finished with that, sir?’ To which I replied ‘Yes, thank you.’ ‘Shall I take that for you, SIR?’ (Inflection intentional) My reaction was just to nod.

I have NO idea what I had done this morning to obviously piss off a lounge attendant. I am showered, dressed innocuously and without pretension. I believe I conducted myself politely and professionally, even when I had broken some unadvertised and unposted rule about the appropriate way to pour drinks in Australia. I am led to believe that this woman simply doesn’t like large white males in short-sleeved shirts and jeans with Canadian accents. Or perhaps she is just a bitch.



Categories: Friends, Travel

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