Two Bits

The best opportunities at Tech are those that involve getting at least a thousand miles away from campus dining halls. There are numerous possibilities to go work or study abroad for a semester. For instance, a friend of mine recently got an internship in Kazakhstan. I didn’t even know Kazakhstan was a real country; I thought it was just made up for the Borat movie. After working for one week, he is now the Vice President of Kazakhstan. He will be staying there for the next six months (or until the government disbands, whichever comes first). In addition to better food and exposure to a different culture, going abroad allows you to meet more women; and foreign chicks will believe anything you tell them. If anyone from France asks, I am the archduke of Wyoming.

The only downside to going abroad is the overseas flight needed to get there. On a recent trip to Europe, I found out that travel conditions haven’t improved since my great-great-grandfather first crossed the Atlantic in steerage. To start off, on a plane filled with Nordic goddesses for stewardesses, my section was served by the only male attendant on the flight. My flight attendant gave me my first exposure to a foreign language when he addressed me in German instead of English. After that, I was too afraid to ask him for anything the entire flight because even the most effeminate gay male sounds threatening when speaking in German. At least he gave me three hot towels—that’s two more than normal, which shows you that it always pays to flirt with the flight attendant, no matter the gender. Though I never understood why airlines give out hot towels in the first place, or why they serve them with tongs. Are we supposed to eat the towels?

On long flights you’re not supposed to sit still the entire time. Doctors advise you to get up and walk down the aisles to prevent deep vein thrombosis, which leads to all sorts of nasty complications like heart attacks, strokes and the desire to jabber nonstop about your wedding plans to your friend despite the fact that I’m trying to get some sleep. I use the doctors’ orders as an excuse to walk up to the first class section and release any gases I’m holding in my intestines.

During previous flights, I have never gotten stuck next to obnoxious small children, nor placed by an attractive female trying to get her mile high club membership, so I considered this a draw in terms of seating arrangements. My flight to Europe wasn’t so lucky. I now know for a fact that there is a devil because his three children sat in the row behind me. They amused themselves by playing games like “who can kick the seat ahead of him the hardest” and “how long can I scream before the passenger in front of me turns around and shoves a hot towel in my mouth.” It’s moments like this that you realize how regrettable it is that human beings are not a species that eat their young.

When they started screaming, no parents on the flight claimed them. The little monsters were probably dropped off at the airport and put on a one-way flight to Lithuania. Europeans don’t hate American because of our foreign policy; it’s because they have to put up with our children on international fights home. I saw a woman crate a puppy for the flight; why can’t we do the same to human toddlers? Okay, maybe my frustration has broken my sense of rationality, and I’m starting to take things too far; we can just chuck ’em out once we hit cruising altitude.

A century ago, people would have been ecstatic to be able to soar above the clouds, but I’m so used to airplane travel that I don’t care about the miracle of flight anymore. I just want to spend my time watching year-old movies and sleeping, which is why I always ask the guy in the window seat to pull down the blind. I don’t care if volcanoes are erupting through a rainbow illuminated by the northern lights. Close the window shade. You’re letting light in, and I’m trying to watch Shrek 3.

On my flight back from Europe I was trapped next to a foreigner who refused to put the window blind down so I turned to him and said, “It doesn’t matter if you’re a refugee fleeing to the United States and trying to get the last glimpse of your homeland you’ll ever see, if you don’t pull down the shade right now I’ll have you locked up in Abu Ghraib. Yes, I do have that authority; I’m the archduke of Wyoming.”