Soggy Bottom Departure
by Capt. Ken Kahn
Once upon a time, when I was assigned to temporary duty in Frankfurt, I was assigned to a trip that operations said would operate to Dubai, take crew rest, and then return. As I was comfortably ensconced in the Intercontinental, I foolishly decided to ignore Murphy's law. I was too lazy to pack my belongings and take my heavy aluminum three-suiter. I left most of my belongings in the hotel, taking only a couple of changes of clothing and my bathing suit. When we got to operations, the gentleman behind the counter told us, "Comrades, there has been a change of plan, you are continuing on to Hong Kong."
When we got to the hotel in Dubai, I checked in and took the room key. The room turned out to be a tiny converted broom closet with a sloping roof so low that I couldn't stand upright. I went down to demand another room but they didn't have one, at least not for me. I asked the clerk to call one of the better hotels in the area. He dialed the number and handed me the phone. I asked the reservations clerk if they had a room. He asked my name and I said "Kahn." He replied, "Of course we have a room for you, Mr. Khan." I got a taxi and when I got to the other hotel and gave my name to the clerk, he look startled and asked "You're Mr. Khan?" No doubt, he expected a Pakistani bigshot rather than a scruffy Jewish guy wearing an airline uniform. I wasn't even a captain then. Here too, there was a sudden shortage of real hotel rooms. The bellboy led me to my room which was a cabana next to the swimming pool. This was a big improvement. It had a full-size bed, a bathroom with shower, and an air-conditioner. No windows, though. There was a delay and I ended up wearing my last set of clean underwear and socks. I decided to change into my bathing suit and wash all my underwear, socks, and uniform shirt in the sink. I hung it up as best I could over lamps, chairs, etc. As it was very hot, I thought it would all dry quickly. Somehow, I failed to notice that it was also very humid.
Shortly after going to sleep, I was awakened by sudden silence - the a/c had gone off. It was pitch black in the windowless cabana it took me a few minutes to find my bearings. When I finally found a light switch, I discovered that there was no electricity. I went outside and chatted with the British pilot in the next cabana. I knew that it wouldn't be too long before it was time to go to work. After perhaps a couple of hours, the electricity was restored and I went back to bed. All too soon, the phone rang with the local version of the familiar greeting, "Pickup in a hour."
I got up and was disappointed to discover that everything I had washed was not just damp; it was still dripping onto the floor. I wrung it out as best I could and got dressed. I walked over to the hotel building and as I walked into the lobby, water squished up from my socks over the sides of my shoes with every step. After takeoff, I stripped down to my skivvies, bottom only, and hung the rest to dry. Of course, the seat was wet by then and it took the longest to dry. I don't recommend wearing a shoulder harness over bare skin - it's rather scratchy.
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