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Wednesday, 1 October 2014


I'm in the car with Oona, just having come out of Dollar General, when on my phone I see an an email from United Airlines asking me if my date to fly out of Louisiana, which is today, is flexible and If I'd be willing to take a later flight.
'Hello,' I say, when my call to United is answered, 'I'm phoning because I got an email from you asking if my dates are flexible,'
'Well,' says the woman from United after I tell her my flight details and she tells me how much she loves my accent, 'we can offer you a $250 voucher for you to take a later flight?'
'Really?' I say, 'you're not shitting me?'
'Yes, we'll offer you $250 to take a later flight,' says the woman, who sounds impaired by either a stroke or a potent anxiety medication, 'and you can use the 250 dollar voucher on any flight and it's redeemable,'
'Can I use it internationally, 'I say?
'You sure can,' says the woman, 'as long as it's used within one year.
I call out 'BITCHIN', you've made my day,' into the phone and the woman from United and I both start to laugh.
Then, when the woman tells me I will be delayed out of Houston, not Alexandria, Oona, who is driving, gets faux-upset and throws her bottle of water onto the floor.
'Well,' says the woman on the phone when I tell her about Oona's tantrum, 'I can fly you out tomorrow instead,'
'Really, you can do that?' I say.
'Sure can,' she says, laughing, 'I'm in charge, I can do ANYTHING I want,'
When I tell Oona I have the possibility of staying another day she says 'Do it, c'mon!'
Then, because the woman has started reading out flight possibilities for the following day, I put her on speaker phone.
'Take the 5pm flight,' says Oona, 'you're in no hurry,'
'Yeh,' says the woman on the phone, 'your friend wants to you stay, c'mon, have you got anything to rush back for?'
'No,' not really,' I say to the woman, 'I have a shop to empty and I'm getting divorced, but apart from that, nothing really,'
'Woah, tell me about it,' says the woman.
'Are you getting divorced, too?' I ask her.
'No,' she says, 'but my husband went into rehab this morning,'
'Shit,' I say, 'I'm sorry to hear that,'
'Yeh,' says the woman, her previously upbeat tone now sounding low, 'he's a good man, but I'm so tired of it. 8 years of not sleeping nights makes me too tired to chase my dreams in the day,'
I tell the woman again, that I am sorry to hear about her addict husband, and that what a nice woman she is for changing my flight, and for having put up with her addict husband for 8 years.
'You know what,' she says, 'I should just come on up there for a titty party. You two sound like fun,'
And then me and Oona and the woman from United all start laughing into and out of the speaker.
'We're in Louisiana,' I say to the woman from United, 'where are you?'
'I'm in Florida, but originally I'm from Little Rock,' the woman says, 'Arkansas,'
'Oh, where Bill Clinton is from,' I say.
'Yes,' says the woman, telling us about knowing Bill Clinton, about sitting around his table and being there when Chelsea was born.
'I know Hillary Rodham's brother real well,' she says, 'You think Hilary is going to run?'
'Well,' I say, 'she's everyone's golden child,'
'Nope,' says the woman, 'she ain't my golden child. In fact, you know what they call Hilary and Bill back in Little Rock, dontcha?'
'No,' I tell the woman from United, 'I don't,
'We call 'em Hillbilly,' she says.
And we all start laughing again.
'You should be on TV,' I say to the woman who then tells me she has a degree in Media and Broadcasting and that she has done some radio and that people tell her that even though she is currently a trainer for United, she could be a Joel Osteen or a Joyce Meyers.
Then, getting back to the point of the call, the woman asks me if I have decided what flight to take tomorrow.
'I can't decide,' I tell the woman, 'I find making decisions difficult. I go to the supermarket for groceries and come home confused, with just a bunch of bananas,'
'Take the time with your friend, stay there, take it easy, make the most of it. All you've got is today,' says the woman from United.
I tell her she is probably right, what have I got to lose and that I should spend the whole of tomorrow in Natchitoches with my friend Oona.
'You know,' says the woman, who is now on a roll, 'You got to learn to get what you want, know what you want. I know what I want and when I want it. I am the only person I know that can go to Ross on Christmas eve and find the perfect gift for everyone,'
Then she tells us how she loves shopping, and how her and her girlfriends go to California for shopping and that while her girlfriends spend hour after hour in the changing room, she's at the register ringing things up without even trying them on.
Then, just as the woman says -'You know what, I'm a Christian woman, and here's what I think about life', the call breaks up.
And Oona starts driving fast down dusty road, taking corners spinning dirt, trying to find us a spot where we can tune into the call.
However, by the time we find reception in front of the Baptist church and pull over, it's too late.
And me and Oona are left sitting disappointed in her car, wondering what wisdom was lost to us in that broken and garbled sermon on life from the woman from United.

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