Flight AA173 To Transcentral

It is, perhaps, somewhat disconcerting to get on a plane being greeted by the uplifted sound of Radiohead’s No Surprises. Not exactly the tunbe to get you in the holiday spirit. But then. Flight AA173 is less a holiday flight and more of an extended bus journey, not just for myself, but for the seemingly endless parade of people working in the Raleigh Technology Park who use this flight. At check-in, security and boarding, it’s always the same; chance meetings, bumping into an old friend at IBM, and so on. Me? It’s just occurred to me that this is the fourth consecutive year I’ve been on this flight. Which scares me a little.

But I think I’m all ready. I’m slightly odd in that I appear to undergo a slight change whenever I fly back to Chapel Hill. I dress slightly differently, I wear a set of glasses that I don’t wear back home, and I guess I feel a little different. Which is not to say that I jump into a telephone kiosk and suddenly develop a weakness for kryptonite (and really, that should be in my computer dictionary with the amount of times that I use it). I just feel slightly different when I’m in America than I do when I’m in Britain (and it’s not just being off work, either, as when I was working at UNC, I felt the same way).

Nothing too interesting this flight in way of the SkyMall catalogue. Aside from the usual hot dog/bun heaters that I normally come across, the only other thing of note was a Möbius strip with the Lord’s Prayer etched into its silver frame. It’s a merger of science and religion! Or something. The in-flight magazine lets you know just how little it thinks of coach passengers by including a six-page feature on why company directors are having a hard time in the US at the moment, because they might be legally liable if their company breaks the law. Awww. I’m sure we all feel sorry for them.

Another thought: after four years on this flight - the menu hasn’t changed once. You will always be given the option of “beef with brown gravy” (we’re entering American country now, of course, which means that ‘gravy’ will get you a slimy white substance almost definitely of a dubious origin) or ‘chicken with pasta’ (actually, not too bad). Then about an hour from landing, the menu says that we will get a snack. This invariably turns out to be a single-person pizza, which is surprisingly nice. I have to say I look forward to that part of the flight.

I have played every single circuit of Mario Kart. I’m afraid to go into Animal Crossing, because I haven’t been into my village for ages. The animals may have burnt it down by now (they can’t be trusted with anything). But I still have four and a half hours to go, so I’ve got to do something…