Rhapsody in Blue Juice

It’s 38 degrees and 3:45 in the morning. I am feeding suitcases and bags into a Boeing 737 via a belt loader — a conveyor belt on wheels. They are slowly carried up to my colleague who sits just inside the forward cargo hold.  
I toss an odd-sized piece of luggage onto the belt and my 50-something year-old  back tightens, shock-signaling  me a warning. It’s my first week on the job and I worry that my body won’t last. Up above me passengers settle themselves inside the warm well-lit cabin, oblivious to my pain.
“Let’s go!” The supervisor, a kid one third my age, shouts, trying to be heard above the spooling engines and through the ear protection of those of us who still need it. With that, the choreography begins. The tow bar guy connects the tow bar to  the aircraft’s front landing gear and the sup gets into the tug. We fan out to wing walk. The tug begins to push the plane back and away from the boarding area and then rotates it around until the aircraft’s nose is pointing down the taxiway.
The tow bar guy releases the tow bar and then signals the sup who gets the final OK from the captain. The sup moves the tug back and away from the aircraft while the wing walker signals to the captain that he is good to go. As we begin our short walk back, I turn my head to watch. The engines scream louder and louder until their thrust begins to roll our 5:45 to Denver towards an empty runway. I think about those cozy and asleep in the cheaper neighborhoods surrounding the airport and how they’d soon be getting an early wake-up call.

The loss of a good friend

Today I woke from hours of unconsciousness. A fatigue from hours worked before the dawn. Body confused, I found my way home across dusty Southern California. Drought has atomized the earth, and it swirls and breaks against our cars as they move westward across warm, pale asphalt.

A slight detour to pick up my son from college. He gets into our car, that much closer to home, and speaks briefly of his week. We move ever westward, like pioneers, towards the cooler climes near the Pacific.

We stop at a Subways near our house. a small Hispanic woman is there to serve me. I hate Subways, too much interaction. I want the default sandwich. There is none. I have to go through the Subway way. Do I want cheese? What kind of vegetables? Do I want the set, which include potato chips and a large fountain drink that I fill myself. The grandma, in all grandmotherly earnestness follows me as the assembly line sandwich grows and grows. To our left, a tall, younger Hispanic woman with two small steel pins in her full lower lip, helps my son.

Our sandwiches done, my son and I return to the black, dirty car and make our way the short distance home. I grab a can of coke and drink it with half of the turkey sandwich. My son disappears.

I fall asleep from the days work without even knowing I was gone. It is dreamless and black . I wake later and make my way way to the kitchen so I can put the second half of my sandwich in the chaotic refrigerator.

Where I left the sandwich there is only bits of lettuce and onions on half a Subway wrapper. I walk into my son’s room and tell him about my missing friend — a six-inch carved turkey sandwich. He knows nothing about it.

I remember in my younger days eating my father’s unguarded food found in the family refrigerator. I remember how he eventually resigned himself to these events. Maybe he knew then that the best revenge was generational.

 

 

 

Brain drain

You might think Brain drain is a medical term. And there may be such a thing as brain drainage (of course, the medical community probably uses a more technical term), but when Americans say “brain drain”, they are usually referring to a country’s best and brightest leaving home for a country where they can have a better life. Of course, Americans think that place for a better life is always America.

India is a prime example of brain drain. Almost all of my doctors have been Indian. Also, visit Silicon Valley or any other center of high-tech and you might find yourself a minority — that is if you are not Indian. Gifted Indians seem to be endless boarding aircraft for the West. Makes me wonder whose left to turn out the light.

Brain drain into America is one of the things that makes our country great.  Despite the angry words of chuckle-headed politicians, the influx of the world’s best brightest should always be welcome here, and mosttumblr_static_raven_tattoo_by_bekkatora-d4g14o2 hope they always will.

But brains aren’t the only thing that drain. Other examples include “down the drain,” which means lost forever.