18 December 2007

An Open Letter to selected islands...

Dear Grenada:

You earned a quick laugh for yourself. An EC$50.00 charge to leave your country is a clever way to earn a buck. You know that everyone wants to leave at all times, so the best way to make money is to charge people for their most coveted option. Brilliant - I shall endeavor to charge my patients in the same way: cheap visits and consultations; cheap lab tests and x-rays; but when it comes to the cure, milk it for all it's worth!

But that's not all. You worked your magic on the airlines, too. As I waited in the airport for my final flight from the island, it became to clear to me that I would not be free of your grasp anytime soon. Oh no, you cleverly arranged for a late arrival and departure from your humble airport.

I tried to leave my worries behind, but when my Air Jamaica flight arrived to collect me, it was an hour late! Normally, on my way home, these are not problems which concern me. However, when my connection from Jamaica to Chicago is scheduled to leave only 45 minutes after my arrival, I start to have doubts. Your promise of "The Spice of the Caribbean" rings hollow to many a young student's ear.

Dear St. Lucia:

How I would like to love you. Your beaches appear lovely from the air. You have mountains and valleys and lush vegetation. You have golden sand, gorgeous sailboats and friendly people. You apparently also have an airport. Unfortunately, I am only familiar with the runway and taxiway of your airport. I imagine that many would ask why. Many would wonder how this applies after my first letter to Grenada.

As it happens, Air Jamaica has jet-planes. So, I was flying with real power - none of those wimpy prop-planes that plague the American Airlines fleet. No, I was in a real position to have a safe and quick flight - with meal service, free champagne and the knowledge that I was flying toward Chicago at over 500 miles per hour with over 100 of my classmates. What I did not know is that you, St. Lucia, had the power to draw my beautiful jet-plane toward your island to board two extra passengers.

So, you successfully managed to take a flight that was already an hour late and lose more time to my rapidly decaying good mood.

And Dear Jamaica:

So many before me have been lured by your beaches, by your carefree attitude and by your bobsled team. But, in the end, you are no better than your comrades before you. As we taxied toward to the jet way and toward freedom, it was announced:

"All flights have been held and are awaiting boarding except those to Chicago, Atlanta and LA."

And so, it was unceremoniously that I learned there would be no America that day. There would be no snow. There would be no family. There would be no friendly faces. There would only be more sand, more saltwater, more "Ya, mon", more customs scrutiny (all my medical supplies were scrutinized and they needed to x-ray my chocolate bars twice to ensure . . . well, I have no idea what they were ensuring - it was chocolate) and 24 long hours of waiting for the next flight to depart for Chicago.

And even when I arrived at the airport the next day, you did your best to keep me there. Keeping my plane on the ground, while we sat in our seats, for an extra hour, we waited for some ubiquitous "customs paperwork" that was apparently missing. Of course it was missing - everything is always missing; everything is always delayed (except, clearly, on the previous day, when the flight obviously had to leave on time); everything runs on "Caribbean time" - to the very end.

But, when I stepped off that plane and froze my fingers and toes off, I had the last laugh. I was in America - the land of milk on the grocery stores; the land of choices in cereal; the land of clocks and schedules; the land of driving on the right-side of the road; the land of dollar bills; the land of couches and real ESPN.

So, you see Jamaica and St. Lucia and Grenada, you had your laughs for a day, but I will have mine for a lifetime. And, as I wash my laundry, lie on the couch and enjoy the food in the pantry, I know who's laughing now!

Sincerely yours,
Patrick Meloy, Unlicensed Medical Professional.


Blogger Doug said...

Goodbye L's!

9:06 AM  

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