Think damn it, what would Tom Hanks do (Part 2)

Previously on Think damn it, what would Tom Hanks do…

The Delta desk was very helpful, but I’d moved firmly into “I’m going to be as unpleasant as possible to the desk agent to make myself feel better” mode. In summary: I’d become everything I despise. But I was alright with it – I was tired and reasonably gutted that my dream of an airline’s mistake sending me home surrounded by empty bottles of champagne and laughing stewardesses in First Class had been ruthlessly popped.

Also playing into my consciousness was the last time I travelled out of JFK – after Super Bowl XLVIII – I was stranded there overnight, causing me to not just be late for my first day at Time Out London, but to skip my first day entirely and move straight into my second day. Inconvenient and a mite unprofessional, but great for avoiding those first-day nerves, by jingo.

And I remembered how the airport in the city that never sleeps shut down at about 10pm. At least on that occasion, I had Ben Holland for company, this time I was solo and I still had 14 hours to kill before my flight.

Should I leave the airport and hang out in Manhattan for a few hours, maybe look up Kev Newman for lunch? Perhaps take in a show. Yeah, but then I’d have to drag my wheely with a bum wheel around the streets of New York. And I’d have to get back to the airport. Occupation felt very much nine tenths of the law at this point.

Plus I hadn’t slept for 22 hours and the prospect of a chair even as uncomfortable as an airport chair was too strong to resist. First obstacle then, Security. Even at 5.30am the lines were ridiculous, so I joined the back and was herded, and I mean herded – we were berated if we hesitated in the maze of those strappy things (that my kids always lean on not realising they give way instantly until they’re in a pile on the floor – what do you call those?).

But the maze kept changing. The guards opened, closed and twirled straps like they were Will Ferrell in the rhythmic gymnastics section end game of Old School. I swear I passed the same people going in the opposite direction 50 or 60 times and then ended up directly behind them twice. If the worn-square wheel on my case wasn’t pissing me off already, by the time I got to the machine, I was ready to ditch it and all my worldly goods within.

And then I was in. With a whole airport at my disposal. Blinking at the lights like a man, well, like a man who hadn’t slept for 22 hours. So I slumped into the first seat I found and shut my eyes. Fearful of being arrested for vagrancy and further extending my stay in the state, I jolted awake every couple of minutes, mopping up puddles of dribble.

Luggage still with me, yes. NYPD officers surrounding me, no. Righto… zzzzzzz.

And so it went for an hour or so. Mildly refreshed, it was time to eat. Went for the Full American at the Palm Bar & Grille. English muffin, obv, I’m not a savage.

From there, I transferred to a coffee house that wasn’t there 18 months ago – Flatiron Coffee – that looked like it knew how to make a brew and more importantly had comfy chairs and sofas that had ‘early morning nap’ written all over them. Fucking vandals.

I ordered a flat white and was handed a gigantulo-cup which told me straight away, my brew hopes would be dashed. Americans don’t really get the flat white concept.

An Australian invention (what would we do without those Australians and their inventions?), designed for an intense, silky coffee experience, the recipe is (now would be the time to get your pencil and paper, if this was Blue Peter. And the ’70s) 4oz of steamed milk over 2oz of espresso (a double espresso, if you will).

By contrast, a latte is a double espresso topped up with 10oz of steamed milk and a touch of milk foam, while a cappuccino features 2oz of milk foam and 2oz of steamed milk.

Regular users of the flat white will note that it comes in one size. That’s essentially the point. A short, sharp, velvety shock.

Twice on my trip, to my confusion – once at Detroit Airport and then in a St Joseph, Missouri Starbucks – I was asked what size I wanted.

“There’s only one size isn’t there?” I prompted.

“True, but we’ve had people ask us to do bigger ones because it wasn’t big enough,” I was informed. Which would explain the weak, watery, milky mess I was handed in JFK.

By this point, I was sufficiently nourished and fuelled by guilt at missing a day (again) to do a bit of work, which killed a couple of hours.

There followed some urgent milling around, a light bit of sitting and some gentle fannying, which took me up to a late lunchtime.

Buffalo Wild Wings had some NFL Network on one of its many screens, so I plonked into a stool at the bar, slap bang in front of it. I figured the towels were off so I could enjoy a Negra Modelo with my chicken burger (no bun) with blue cheese sauce and sweet potato fries.

With nowhere to go, I ordered a pint of Modelo Especial – who doesn’t deserve to feel Especial once in a while? – to nurse while I watched the Liverpool v Bournemouth match with my left eye and the NFL preseason game with my right eye.

My drinking partners changed as I sat – one woman two seats to my left ordered a pint and a shot (it’s only two o’clock, love) which she got through in about 15mins, another lass to my right was on the neat vodka with her lunch and a dude at the end of the bar was on the expensive rum. I might start doing similar at train stations when I’m commuting. Look out Waterloo. Hardcore.

I may or may not have fallen asleep on my stool (sounds bad) at one point (I did), then I FaceTimed my boys (my sons, not my testicles) and treated myself to some new headphones. If you can’t t yourself when you’re in JFK, when can you? SEINNHEISERRRR! LIAR!

I then reversed my mill/sit/fanny combo from earlier and then sat again. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t actually live here unlike Tom Hanks’ in The Terminal (THERE it is! Always wait a blog and a half until you explain the headline – golden rule, people) and that I had a flight home to catch.

Checked my gate and sat. Watched one after another excitable American teenager arrive at the same gate, hug excitedly, shout loudly in an excited fashion and… did I mention they were excited? All I could see was my planned seven-hour sleep dissipating before my eyes.

The flight before mine boarded (Swissair somewhere) but no sign of my flight details were appearing behind the gate. So I had a look at the screens to see they’d changed my gate. To the gate at which myself and Ben Holland waited and waited and waited for our Super Bowl flight that never came. Ulp.

I wheeled Old Johnny Square Wheel over to B32. Sure enough, no sign of a London flight. Accra it said on the board. Is that even a place? Is that not a car? Am I that tired?

Accra as it turns out is in Ghana. And there’d been an hour or so of problems with the flight going to it. But that’s alright, those problems were over now and they were boarding.

“This is the final call for passengers Campbell, Fucknuts and Arsecandles (I can’t remember the other two names) for Flight 8008 (can’t remember the flight number) travelling to Accra. The gate is closing.”

“This is the final call for passengers Campbell, Fucknuts and Arsecandles (I can’t remember the other two names) for Flight 8008 (can’t remember the flight number) travelling to Accra. The gate is closing.”

“This is the immediate and final call for passengers Campbell, Fucknuts and Arsecandles (I can’t remember the other two names) for Flight 8008 (can’t remember the flight number) travelling to Accra. The gate is closing.”

“This is the immediate and final call for passengers Campbell, Fucknuts and Arsecandles (I can’t remember the other two names) for Flight 8008 (can’t remember the flight number) travelling to Accra. The gate is closing.”

Repeats for another half-hour. Question: US Federal Aviation Administration – when does “immediate and final” turn to “tough shit, we’ve waited long enough, we’re off”, especially when people have been vagranting up your airport for almost 24 hours and want to go home? Seemingly never.

Finally, the three stooges ambled up, showing no intention of rushing, or any thought for the 45-minute delay they’d added to the London flight. Perhaps they work at the FAA and knew they technically had all evening.

Anyhoo, I eventually boarded my plane and headed back to that England without any further drama. I’ll miss what now feels like my second home, JFK, but I can certainly understand why Hanks started talking to a volleyball.

What’s that, different film? Well that’s the entire set-up for both blogs – you’ve ruined it. And today. For everyone.


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