Well, the big move was never going to quite go to plan, was it? Although perhaps how wrong it did go couldn’t have even crossed my mind. In spite of a stressful trip in the rain to Heathrow, I managed to slip through to the departure lounge with two pieces of hand luggage, several coats (in which my knickers were stuffed in the pockets – more on that later) and had successfully checked in my ten ton baggage without accruing any extra costs, so I was feeling pretty good about the journey ahead. Sweaty, but good. More good fortune struck when I got to my seat, and found that I didn’t have to sit next to anyone for over eight hours. I genuinely caught myself thinking – ‘wow, what have I done to deserve this stroke of luck?’ – which I see now was a MASSIVE FUCKING ERROR and that I should have just accepted the thrill of three seat sprawly time without question.
And then we landed. And things started to go very wrong. We waited on the runway for an hour and a half before finally being allowed to disembark and head through immigration. When we finally made the mammoth trek, the room was honestly full of several thousand people all trying to get through, and the queue cutting (by one particularly obnoxious Italian man with a ponytail in a SCRUNCHIE) had already begun. I did the typical English thing of tutting, looking disapprovingly at the guy but not actually saying anything, and figured the whole shebang would take an hour, tops. I WAS VERY WRONG. It took three and a half hours. Three. And a half. Hours. You can’t even make that shit up. I know people laugh about Brits’ love for queuing but that vile experience made the hour and a half waiting to get off the bloody plane seem like a holiday in itself.
By the time it got to 1am US time (this is 6 fucking am English time, people) there was one solitary man checking visitors’ passports. One man in a room filled with thousands of people. At one point, ponytail wandered off in search of some extra staff, and I instantly felt bad about judging him and his earlier queue dodging, thinking that if he’s going to be the voice of our generation, then sure, he can wear a scrunchie now and then if he feels like it.
But then what did he do? Jumped the queue again, the smug scrunchie wearing bastard. Mild carnage ensued when a number of people decided to flagrantly disregard the disgruntled queuers and head straight to the front, and ponytail’s girlfriend fended off the death stares saying, “It’s a jungle.” I mean, is it? This was hardly some William Golding type shit going down. No one was eating anyone, and if anything, I thought the general despair had created a sense of unity (although I didn’t feel so great when I dropped my frilly knickers on the floor and got alerted to them in front of the crowd by the guy standing behind me). Again, I was wrong. The whole situation turned into a divide between the moral (99.9% of the people standing in line) and the totally cuntish, who didn’t mind screwing everyone over to get closer to that coveted spot.
So, five hours after landing, I got through customs, and after spending a while trying to find my bag (no one knew where the luggage was, natch), I tried to head to my destination. Approached by an old Jamaican cabbie in the airport, he told me it would cost $40 to go to the place I was staying at, and I naively said yes. I was going to stay with a friend of a cousin of my dead grandma’s dead family friend (tenuous much?!), but hadn’t been able to get through to them in spite of my frantic calling. By the time he actually figured out where the place was (sans sat nav) he told me it was really far away, so I decided to try and look for a local motel. Again, ERROR. He spent most of the journey driving at 15mph on his phone swerving in and out of lanes, whilst I sat in the back seat eyeing his Christian newspaper and trying not to die. I figured arriving at 2am at the house of a couple who have no fucking clue who you are was a bit antisocial, although the steaming shit pile that ensued was undoubtedly worse.
We drove from motel to motel in rough parts of Brooklyn, and I kept getting told it would cost $130 for the night. And by the night, I mean eight hours. In between kissing his teeth and murmuring ‘bumbaclart’ a lot (true story), the cabbie kept telling me he knew cheaper places we could go. Except he was old and senile and a total fucking idiot, so that obviously didn’t happen. At one place, I actually started to cry a little bit, and some guy who looked like a knife crime dabbler took pity on me and tried to offer advice. When a boy reeking of drugs who rents a motel between the hours of 2-6am feels sorry for you, you know your life is pretty fucking shit.
By motel 3, I was losing the will to live, and finally decided that I would just pay the extortionate price and be done with it. But then the cabbie told me I owed him $95. NINETY FIVE DOLLARS. I asked if he was on crack, and he told me I was ungrateful for the help he’d given me. Um, help? If you were going to charge me a total bloody fortune, I could have just gone to the first motel and saved myself the money. I gave him $80 against my better judgement and went to my weed reeking room (ideally placed opposite the elevator for maximum noise) in the hopes that tomorrow would be a better day. As it was now 7:30am English time (meaning I’d been awake for 25 hours), I texted my mum asking that she email the couple I was meant to stay with explaining the story. (Oh, I’d also apparently spent £16 on 3G for trying to look at a map when the imbecile driver had no clue where we were. Excellent). Anyway, I tried to sleep but being over a main road and opposite a lift weren’t exactly ideal conditions, so I lay in bed hugging my laptop and hoping the various drug users and prostitutes – or neighbours, I suppose I should call them – wouldn’t try to break into my room.
A few hours later, the room phone rang, and as if by genuine magic, it was the lady I was going to stay with. She offered to come and pick me up, and then she bought me coffee, so she is basically a complete and utter legend. Her and her husband stayed semi awake all night waiting for me (bit awks) and they think I’m a total fucking knob, but in truth, they are correct, so I only really have myself (and the shithole that is JFK) to blame.
I smell quite a lot of poo but it’s time to go apartment hunting, and no doubt more tales of extreme idiocy will ensue. Until next time…