Thursday, May 11, 2006

Never Dull in Dulles

Our pilot announced we were starting our descent into Dulles International Airport. "Please fasten your seat belts" has become an all too familiar mantra these days. We started down through the clouds and inclement weather surrounding the capital city - 25 minutes to landing.

It is strange flying through stormy weather. Aside from the turbulence, looking out the window surrounded by thick clouds with zero visibility can be a bit disorienting. To be totally reliant on someone counting on instrumentation to guide them (and their passengers) safely to a ground they cannot see, is humbling.

Our 25 minute descent turned into a 45 minute diversion as air traffic controllers tried to direct the pilot around the worst part of the storm. Of course sitting in the back we didn't know exactly what was happening. Long gazes out the window weren't helpful either - no glimpse of sun, sea, land or city in sight.

I had to wonder in the passenger seat of my life - the "delays" unexplained, the inconveniences and heartaches endured and thoughtfully persevered, are not the "Grand Pilots" way of keeping us out of far more dangerous storms?

Arriving in the terminal with hours to kill between flights, a headache, sore feet and a 10 hour journey ahead I made an executive decision. Passing by a "bar" kiosk (massage not alcohol) I decided to treat myself to a 15 minute bit of indulgence.

Ah... there's the rub

The Massuere was enthusiastic to have a compliant client and I settled into the comfortable chair and prepared to relax. I knew when she greeted me she was not from around "these parts." In fact, she was French as her accent would soon indicate. My relaxation lasted approximately 45 seconds. I had 14 minutes and 15 seconds left to be punished at the hands of an aggressive, grunting French woman. Perhaps it is because she is at the heart of the political system in America, her merciless pounding, rubbing, pressing techniques have developed. But I am sure between her quick-paced hand motion and the friction of my thin t-shirt the top layer of my skin was burned off. I was being "French-fried" while innocently occupying the chair set to deceive the next victim.

It took great self-control to keep from bursting into laughter at the predicament I found myself in. Gutless against the onslaught of gutteral enthusiastic groans, my eyes would periodically pop out of my head, peek at my watch and pray for a quick end to my punishment.

Oh Dulles - you were far from DULL!