Belize Navidad

Thursday December 23rd, 2010 – Chicago, IL/Houston, TX/Belize City, Belize

Pulling an all nighter isn’t nearly as easy as it used to be. I used to be able to do a show, drive like a maniac all night to do radio the next morning in a town far away, then stay up all day and do the show the following night. And I managed to do it without any cocaine.

Those days are long gone, but I did one today for old times sake because I had to. I had a lot of things to make sure were caught up before I left since I’ll be gone two whole weeks without a trip home this time. I wanted to grab a nap but the phone kept ringing and I kept discovering other things I had to get done so I ended up putting in a full day’s hard work.

Marc Schultz and his wife Audrey drove me to the airport, but I’d never ask them to get up at 3am. Jim McHugh does it, but he’s more used to doing stuff like that because he’s a fellow comic. Sometimes we have to get up at all kinds of odd hours to make travel work, and that’s the kind of stuff they pay us for. The actual gigs are only a small part of it all.

Marc and Audrey dropped me off at about 1:15am, but I wasn’t able to check in until 3 at the very earliest. There’s a Starbucks on the lower level by the baggage claim, and even though I’m not a coffee person I went down there because there are tables and chairs there to set up my computer and get some work done.  I bought a juice and went right to work.

About 2am one of the scariest looking humans I’ve ever seen wandered up to where the clerk was standing and just stared at her for a few seconds. Then he walked away and she glanced at me with a look of ‘Please help me.’ I was the only one who saw it all transpire but if he would have done anything crazy I don’t know how much help I could have been.

I debated whether to see if I could find any security people when he wandered back over again, this time talking to himself in a heated conversation peppered with filthy language and sound effects of what sounded like a kid playing with imaginary guns. I didn’t know what I should do, but I knew it wasn’t right to leave that clerk stranded there by herself.

I wasn’t sure if she had a phone or emergency button to push or any means of protection at all. My guess was she didn’t, and after about three or four passes by the guy I really felt uncomfortable. I’ve learned not to look people like that in the eye whenever possible, as it can set off any number of mental minefields. I pretended to stay working, but I couldn’t.

The guy was obviously mentally ill, but he was also dressed in the odd combination of a mercenary and a bum. His boots weren’t tied and it looked like he had a military jacket of some sort on. I tried not to gawk too long or hard, but at 2am in the airport where most of the others were sound asleep, I realized immediately that nobody is really safe anywhere.

The guy could have pulled out a gun or a bomb or a knife or any one of a million things. That Starbucks clerk would have had no defense, and I really didn’t either. I only had my computer and carry on bag with me. At best, I could have squirted shaving cream right in his eye. I’m sure that would have saved the day. This was an extremely scary situation.

The cops showed up maybe ten minutes later, and hauled him off with a struggle. When they started asking him questions he became irate, and looked over at me with two of the most evil looking eyes I’ve seen in quite a while. There was a whole lot of ugliness going on inside that head, and I have to believe a few more minutes would have triggered it all.

Where was TSA when we needed them? THIS is the kind of maniac we need to protect people from, but he walked right into O’Hare at 2am without a second look. He could’ve had a bazooka and blown that Starbucks clerk and me away in less than five seconds. But I have to get my lower colon probed with a cattle prod because I just might be a terrorist.

By the time it all quieted down, I sure wasn’t able to get any sleep. I stayed up until my check-in time and had an even bigger disdain for airport security as they once again were talking down to everyone as they rudely barked out instructions to take belts and shoes off before going through the scanner. I clenched my teeth and got it over with one more time.

The flight to Houston was a lot better this time because I didn’t have to squeeze next to any freakishly large mammals, and when I got there the connecting gate was the next one over. That never happens. Usually I’m running through the airport like O.J. Simpson used to, barely getting to my plane as it’s about to leave. Today I walked from gate K1 to K2.

The flight to Belize was packed, but I nodded out before we took off and woke up right as the plane landed. Now THAT’S a good flight. Perfect timing. I could have easily been talking in my sleep, snoring, farting or any combination of the three but that wasn’t any of my concern. I was able to get some much needed sleep and I got off the plane refreshed.

What felt even better was the blast of pure tropical sunshine on my pale Caucasian puss as I walked down the stairs to the gate. The Belize airport doesn’t have gates like the ones in the States and we have to walk to the terminal from the plane. Today it felt like heaven, as it was about 10 degrees in Chicago when I left. THIS is the way to spend a Christmas.

Customs went pretty smoothly today, even though there was a long line. Some days are a nightmre all the way through, but today turned out to be a good one for a change. There were no major hassles or glitches, and if I knew how to keep this kind of a vibe I’d do it.

I’m back on the Carnival Legend this week, the last ship I was on two weeks ago. I got the same cabin I was in then, and when I walked in the door I was thrilled to see my keys sitting on the shelf I’d left them. I couldn’t believe it, and threw them in the air in ecstasy.

It doesn’t mean I won’t lose them, my phone or wallet again, but at least this time I did catch a break and I’m grateful. I’m going to leave them where they are, because that’s the place I left them last time. I just forgot to pick them up when I left. I’ll do better this time.

All of this puts me in a really good mood, and I haven’t even stepped on stage yet. I’ve heard Christmas week shows can be rough on ships. We’ll see. I’m going to do my best at all times, and whoever shows up will get my best effort. What more can anyone ask for?

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