Let me be clear: The title of this post does NOT describe my flight to the boarding school. NOT AT ALL. Except for the last part. Yes, you could say the plane flight was scary. You see, I was twelve years old and flying alone on a big airplane all by myself for the very first time.
As I mentioned in the previous chapter, I was stuck on the back of the plane, in economy class (the cheapest seats possible), stuffed between two people who hogged ALL the armrests. What I didn’t tell you was that in the seat in front of me, there was a crying baby, louder than a fire alarm: She seemed to be convinced a ghost was on the loose on the plane and out to get her. She kept screaming exactly that while the parents continued to force-feed her. A little too much Ghostbusters, I suppose?
To make matters worse, next to our row of seats was a guy who clearly got airsick, barfing at the slightest hint of turbulence. He had his face buried in a paper bag with a flight attendant standing next to him, armed with more white paper barf bags.
So you can see, the plane flight to Lamone was not the least bit fancy. It was, however, extremely scary. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m just an average kid whose parents seem barely able to make ends meet. Or at least that’s what they’ve always led me to believe. They are always telling me I can’t buy this or do that, because money doesn’t grow on trees. And yet here they are dumping a whole LOT of money into my education (or prison sentence, I was still ambivalent, although somewhat starting to leaned toward the education side). I had never flown first-class before, and now was not the time my parents thought I should start. So until I get super wealthy, I will fly cattle class and remain rich in one thing: pimples.
It felt like years before I got off that claustrophobic, aeronausiphobic, phonophobic plane. The flight was not even that long, but I probably would have rather traveled by horse and buggy to Lamone.
They would end up both feeling like year-long trips anyway, as one method would actually take a year long, and the other would seem like it took a year long.
But as soon as I exited the airplane, the fanciness began. I was not entirely sure what to do as I stood hesitantly outside the gate. I did not know what to do once I got off the plane. I don’t fly much in general; it is usually limited to family vacations once a year. But then I would have Mom and Dad taking care of everything. I realized I had no luggage with me; I was not sure where it was. My parents had told me something about claiming my baggage somewhere after getting off the plane, but I could not remember straight. Compressed airplane cabin air had compressed my brain too. Luckily, help came in a very unexpected but fancy form.
A man in a suit and tie rolled up to my gate, driven in an airport cart by one of the airport staff. Surrounding him were my army of suitcases. The man hopped off the cart and approached me with a large smile on his face. He said in a smooth British accent, “Hello Mr. Pondexter, welcome to The Lamone School! My name is Mr. Bradley, and I am a teacher here. Your luggage is with me here and I will be driving you to your new school.”
I don’t know how he knew my name. I had no clue why I trusted him. I just did. His smile was warm and friendly and made me feel instantly comfortable. The school must have arranged transportation for me, I thought in bewilderment. Yet the fanciness was only beginning.
I followed him onto the airport cart with my luggage and the airport employee drove us to the entrance of the outdoor parking lot. The man with the British accent tipped our driver before carrying my three suitcases to the car, with me following, astounded. This was even better than an acne cream that actually worked.
I followed the British-accented man into the most beautiful car I had ever sat in: a limousine. Long and sleek and black on the outside, it was something I had only seen in movies about celebrities and reality TV. A limousine was what the President of the United States traveled in. And a limousine is what I was traveling in. It made about as much sense as why I have Jupiter-sized pimples (Hint: it makes no sense). Inside was just as stunning as the outside, laden with couches and a refrigerator and a hot water boiler. I opened the refrigerator to see it full with drinks of all kinds, many I had never heard of. Mr. Bradley said I could help myself to anything except the wine in the back. I really started to like the guy.
The car ride took about an hour and a half, in which I examined my pimples while drinking a Japanese soda that, after the nasty plane ride, tasted like heaven on Earth. Mr. Bradley explained to me that he worked at Lamone as an English teacher and tennis coach. He said the school had arranged for me to be picked up by him, and I was the only kid who needed to be picked up that time, which was good for him because it was less work. He then told me a little about Lamone’s history and what kind of stuff there was to do there, but suddenly my lack of sleep hit me so I zoned out while being mesmerized by the comfort and fanciness of the limousine.
Then we arrived at school.
And I wanted to faint at what I saw.
Life Lesson #3: A nice smile and friendly personality go a long way. (Otherwise, I would have thought Mr. Bradley was trying to kidnap me or something.)