Here is a fitting topic for one of my first entries. Jet lag.
The United Kingdom is usually eight hours ahead of Pacific Time. The switch to and from daylight savings time does not always happen on the same day in each time zone, so that makes it especially fun to figure out whether now is a good time to call your girlfriend. Enough of that. I don’t have to worry about that because I got on a plane and flew nine hours and gained eight. I left at 7pm on a Tuesday and arrived at Heathrow at noon on Wednesday. I was lucky enough to get bumped up to Business Class, but that’s the subject of another post, I suppose. Although it must be said I am now entirely spoiled. I want my own personal pod whenever I fly. Nine million dollars later…
Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. Jet lag is not fun. In the forty-eight hours following my flight to London from Seattle, I found out that I actually am a wimp. I felt as if I had just been informed, after accidentally consuming about five sleepy anti-histamines, that I would have to fill in for the guest speaker at a conference on trigonometry. Oh. My. God. I would watch people’s mouths move, and then the sound would come a few moments later. What? The soundtrack was, shall we say, not in sync with the visual display. And then there was the urge to look for any flat surface upon which to lie down. Was I really fantasizing about having a nap on or around that municipal rubbish bin (not trash bin, mind you, rubbish bin)? Yes. Yes I was. I am sure it would have been the most comfortable place ever to catch a few zeds.
Which brings me to a few minor points. Zed is BritSpeak for the letter Z. Those of you in proximity to the Canadian border in the States will be able to verify that it is also CanadianSpeak for Z. And speaking of things that start with the letter zed, the kind of crosswalk you see with big bold stripes painted on the road are called zebra crossings…for sort of obvious reasons. But it’s not pronounced ZEE-bruh, as we would say. It’s ZEB-ruh.
And here’s another minor point. They drive on the WRONG side of the road here. Well, you all know that, but it needs to be said. Desperately. As a form of therapy, really. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong! And, sweet Jesus, they drive fast. Very fast. It is probably an understatement to say that I’m not the world’s best passenger. Zipping down a narrow lane at 40mph – a lane with high hedges on either side, and blind driveways here and there - is par for the course. And when I say narrow, I do mean narrow. It makes residential streets in Seattle look like runways suitable for jumbo jets. Narrow as in it isn’t wide enough for two vehicles (actually, I’m not sure it’s wide enough for one vehicle – auto painting businesses must be in huge demand). Narrow as in my God in Heaven we are going to collide in a very bad way with that oncoming car! As I am lucky enough to have a good driver for a girlfriend, we don’t collide. But it sure seems like a miracle each time.
There is a driver’s courtesy observed on the narrow lanes, which does not seem to be readily observed elsewhere on British roads. And that is the acknowledgement hand gesture (no, not that gesture). When someone pulls to the side to let you pass, you give them a little wave by lifting your four fingers off the steering wheel briefly. The epitome of calm, cool, and collected driving. I say, darling, very British indeed. Never mind that your American passenger is on the floor chewing the floor mat and saying the Lord’s Prayer. Does she even know the Lord’s Prayer? Not likely, but you get the idea.