Friday's flight is always full.
And he's always there. The business man. It's late in the day, late in the week, they're all resting but he's still working. They're decompressing while he's compressing, his head and shoulders hunched down to his laptop tap tap tapping away while his fold-down table bounces up and down in time as his legs lift up to keep a thick report wedged open under the table.
As we begin our descent he packs it all away in a flash, pulling out his Blackberry and cell phone, waiting, and waiting, then turning each on just as the wheels hit the ground.
His is the first voice we hear: "We're 45 minutes late. I'll have to call in now."
He's checking his email with one hand while the other presses the phone into his ear. As we taxi the other voices drown his out. The seatbelt light turns off and the crowd rises and moves to the exit and he's still got the phone pressed to his ear and somehow he's managed to move the Blackberry to his belt while pulling a wheelie bag down and attaching his other bag to it while putting on his coat and walking down the aisle and continuing to press the cell phone into his ear.
He never breaks stride as deplanes and heads up the tube and out into the terminal and straight for ground transportation barking all the way. He pauses only at the cab stand, telling the man "The Fairmont" as he's pointed towards the only waiting car.
The Fairmont. That's where I'm staying, so I follow the man's finger and get in the car.
He's barking the whole way. He keeps hitting a key on the phone without taking it from his ear. Must be a mute button, for it's loud in here. It's an angry call, from the sound of it, lots of I-never-said-thats and we-never-agreed-to-thats and that's-a-major-problems. He's pulled a notebook out of somewhere and manages to scribble notes on it while cradling his cell phone and toggling the mute on and off.
It's clear this evening. I can see for miles from this bridge. There's the city. It's been too long, I think.
Even at the check-in desk he never stops talking. He hands a credit card over, his only acknowledgement of the desk clerk who, experienced in these matters, manages to wordlessly check him in. His harsh voice strikes a strangely dissonant tone in this hushed temple of old world grandeur, filled with easy chairs and people at ease watching the world go by.
I'm so drained, I think, as I trudge to the elevator past the lounging bodies. For once I'd like to check out, to sit and watch the world go by me, but if I plop myself down right here right now I'll sink so deeply I'll never get up again so I continue on to the elevator.
His cell phone holds the connection in the elevator, but his call deteriorates. Someone must be interrupting him, for he's now speaking in fragments, stopping mid-sentence. His bark is higher-pitched and louder, as if by frequency and volume he can break through whoever's jamming him on that call.
I open the door to my room and am hit by this amazing vista of the bay and the islands and the old familiar landmarks all arranged just where they should be with stunning clarity on this incredibly beautiful day. An easy chair beckons me closer to the window where I sit and gape and drink it all in.
He's saying "I have another point" and they're saying "we don't want to discuss any new points" and he's saying "it's only a new point because of the changes you just made this morning" and they're arguing and he's really frustrated and now he's looking out the window and he sees it and he pauses and removes the phone from his ear, the first time he's done that since the plane landed, and in a quieter slower tone he speaks from a distance: "Then it's over. I'm done." He cuts the connection and lets the phone drop onto the easy chair where it falls into a crack as he fades away and leaves me staring out the window at the world passing me by.