Flights of not so fancy

On Saturday I got up again at 3AM and retraced my steps to DC for the second time this week, this time to connect to an 11AM light from Dulles to Addis, the hub from which I would transit to my final destination. The Dulles-Addis flight took 13 hours, on Ethiopian Airlines, member of the Star Alliance for which I don’t have special status – the kind of status (gold or higher) that gets you in the short line or possibly into a lounge.

I sat in the back of the plane, surrounded by some people who were going home, others on their return trip probably people from the diaspora, on the outbound, to visit the relatives or try their luck. Diaspora Ethiopians were lured back some years ago with very appealing resettling arrangements. There were many Americans on the plane.. I assume some of them live and work in Ethiopia and some who go farther afield for their work, like me. Addis is a major African hub.

There are always (always) missionaries on the planes to Africa. They go there on short stints to fulfil their Christian duties – ministering to those less well off. On my plane there were quite a few. They were a peppy talkative bunch, waking me up and keeping me awake with their incessant chatter. The talk, the heat, the noise, the uncomfortably worn and sagging old seats, spaced so close together that my knees touched the seat in front, made this one of my more memorable unpleasant trips.

Among the travelers to Addis was a gaggle of young women wearing black T-shirts that gave them away: Christian nurses on a mission. Their T-shirts said ‘You see a leader.’ I could have gone up to them to ask what makes them leaders but I didn’t have the nerve. I suppose if you think you are a leader, then maybe you are. I only hope that they are leaders of the listener kind, not the telling kind.

I tried to watch some movies to kill time. I watched Blade Runner for a few minutes until the first violent act occurred. The audio was so bad I couldn’t understand the dialogue which might have compensated for the violence; then I tried the superhero movie, without sounds, which was amusing for a while before putting me to sleep. And finally I watched the story of Deep Throat, the ultimate whistleblower who brought Nixon down. It did make me think of Comey and the White house interfering with the FBI– there are more than a few parallels. Someone on my row was reading Comey’s book. It was displayed for impulse buys at the Dulles airport, for people looking for some light reading en route. Everything (nurses, movies, books) seems to be about leadership.

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