Today is the first day of a brand new feature: Ask Carpetblogger. Feel free to post or email your most pressing questions about life in Crapistan and read the answers right here!
So many people have asked lately, "Carpetblogger, how can I tell if I am on a flight to, from or within the Former Soviet Union? How can I be culturally sensitive while on board?" Clearly, this is the obvious inaugural question.
Unless you've got a one-way ticket on an unmarked jet to the Donald Rumsfeld Memorial Detention Center in Upper Assistan, this information should be readily available on your itinerary. But you might be drunk so I will give you some clues to look for. I will also provide some handy hints so you don't unintentionally offend your fellow passengers.
- Your flight from Crapistan will probably arrive in the most ghetto terminal of a real country's* airport, or so far out on the tarmac that the transit bus has to dodge fully loaded 747's lumbering down the runway. Surprisingly, AirSvit and Azal do not occupy prime real estate at Charles DeGaulle. Instead, planes are parked several kilometers away from that old terminal that has no waiting area and looks and operates like a Turkish prison. Bring your own chair and be glad they don't hose you down at customs.
- You don't want those theiving German baggage handlers to rifle through your belongings, making off with the last jar of baba's jam you're bringing to your sister-in-law, do you? As a safety precaution, get your luggage securely wrapped up by the vultures waiting with their metal carousel and rolls of sticky plastic before check-in. Just to be safe, get your carry-on luggage wrapped up too. You can't be too careful with all your valuables.
- Pilots have many important responsibilities on planes. One of the lesser known ones is informing you that you've had too much to drink and describing the unpleasantness that will ensue if you don't stop harassing the air devushkas. In case you and the pilot don't share a language, there's usually a handy booklet on board that spells out the consequences of your continued belligerence in one you theoretically understand. Don't worry. Pilots don't have anything better to do than come back to your seat to tell you stop throwing up in the aisle.
- That little room with the hole and blue chemicals in the back of the plane? That's the smoking lounge.
- Pilots need a lot of positive reinforcement. Express your appreciation that he didn't fly into a thunderstorm with a hearty round of applause upon touchdown.
- In real countries, planes crash if you use your cell phone after the doors close. This is not true in Crapistan. It's totally OK to leave your cell phone on during the flight. Coverage usually picks back up at about 10,000 feet, so you'll be able to schedule that important backgammon game at the chaikhana without delay.
- Remember, wearing seatbelts means you're gay and waiting until the plane touches down to leap to your feet, grab your plastic "rave girl" shopping bags from the overhead compartment and run toward the door means you'll be late for the abovementioned backgammon game. Be careful, though. Air devushkas on flights to real countries sometimes body check passengers who jump up from their seats before the plane has come to a complete halt at the gate. That's ok. Just pinch her ass.
*real country=country with laws