Disorientation – Feelings of Inadequacy – First World Guilt
On my flight from Raleigh to New York, I looked out the window and the land was at the top and the blue was on the bottom. It took me several seconds to realize that I wasn’t upside down. The blue was water and the land was the Jersey shore.
Feelings of Inadequacy
Before I could even get on that flight, before I could even get through security to go to the gate, I COULDN’T CHECK IN.*
Public Service Announcement: Americans who are traveling abroad for long periods of time without visas or work permits MUST HAVE A RETURN FLIGHT. You will never be able to fulfill your beatnik fantasy of buying a one-way ticket somewhere in search of ‘truth.’
They will deport you because YOU are an illegal alien. You do not contribute to their society and they don’t want you. THAT will never happen because you will not be allowed to leave the US in the first place! HAHAHA!
I stood in the check-in line and used my little smart phone to buy a one-way ticket BACK to the US, so that the nice lady would let me check in to my flight (that was leaving in 30 min).
Should I have known about this?! Or am I just a cocky wee American shite who thinks she can go wherever she wants and do whatever she pleases? Am I inadequate?
First World Guilt
The in-flight “entertainment” was a cycle of videos made by the Wall Street Journal about current events and stories around the world. One was about how cell phones have revolutionized life in Bangladesh. (And at the JetBlue check-in line.) The reporter was interviewing a young woman who had grown up in a rural area of Bangledesh, but had moved to a nearby city to work for the garment industry. She was making more money than anyone else in her family, so she was using her cell phone to send money back home. The transaction was instantaneous. She would wire the money with the phone, then call her dad. He would go pick up the cash at a little bank station nearby, and then walk directly to the market to shop for the family. This twenty-something young woman was the primary breadwinner for her entire family.
Towards the end of the video she said, “I’m doing this for my daughter. I hope that when she grows up, she will be able to live like an actual human being.” Those words, “live like an actual human being” stabbed me in the heart. I have done lots of jobs that I hated, but I’ve always had a way out, a new opportunity coming down the pipe. I AM a wee shite.
Traveling always makes me realize how much of a wee shite (translation: small and insignificant) I am. And this time, I realized it just 5 minutes after walking into the airport! But it’s ok. You just gotta suck it up and have some gratitude!
*I got the feeling that the Jet Blue employee at the counter got a little bit of satisfaction out of denying my the thing I wanted. A little power trip. And then I realized that I have experienced that too. As a barista, I used to get a sick kick out of denying and disappointing customers. For example, some newbie would come in and order something that wasn’t on the menu, like a damn Starbucks frappaccino. (I did not work at Starbucks) I secretly liked to look at them like they were stupid and say, “I’m sorry, ma’am, what? We don’t have that.” And they’d pout and be all sad and confused looking at the menu. And then I’d feel bad and tell them that the Java Shake was essentially the same thing as the frappaccino. Or maybe someone wanted decaf or nonfat and I’d tell them it was unavailable. Or someone was mean so I put decaf or half n half in their 3x shot skinny drink…Those last two are lies. And then the opposite would happen sometimes. I would go out of my way to be really nice to regulars, because they had grown on me, and I loved them. I would remember their drink and if they were in the back of the line, I’d have their drink ready by the time they got to the front.
I wonder if the coffee shop is a microcosm of how prejudice and nationalistic sentiment work in the wide world?