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23 December 2005

many many happy returns of the day

happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear za-a-a-a-a-ac, happy birthday to me

that being said, i'm working. i know regular folk have to work on their birthdays, but i rarely have had to. one of the VERY FEW benefits of a birthday around christmas is not having to go to work or school because you take vacation around that time. this is the first time i've had to work on my birthday/christmas/new year's in the 4 years i've been with TheGeneral. can't complain too much. i'll be making some mad cash on those days. still, the cons usually outweigh the pro's, like getting one present for your birthday AND christmas, tough to have a birthday party (when i was a youngin') due to snow, cold, kids being out for winter vacations, etc., etc. but i'm grown now, i'm cool with it.

this time last year, i was probably in the air. last year i had the longest birthday of my life, and it was pretty neat. i was working in aksai, kazakhstan. i was in to verify the alignment on the unit. the customer didn't want to pay for a TheGeneral TA to be onsite the whole time, but for TheGeneral warranty to be valid, there is a skeletal list of things that need to be witnessed by TheGeneral. i was there for the alignment only, took a day, it was fine, i'm done... but i was stuck there one week on a camp that looked like a dorm. doesn't it? coming in, i had to fly into uralsk, and take a 6-hour bus trip to the site. the flight i came in on, refuels, de-ices (massive amounts of snow on the runway), picks up the passengers and doesn't come back for a week. so even though my job was done within 24 hours of being onsite, i was stuck there for 6 more days until the plane returned. the food was OK, there were some cute kazakh waitresses, a small bar on the camp frequented by the usual ex-pats, mostly from the U.K. i accidentally pissed of a drunk scot because i couldn't understand a work he said and he thought i was making fun of him. and i was lectured about my weight from a drunk cockney (londoner) with "a dickey ticker (bad heart)", telling me to lose weight... what an ass? i know i'm fat, OK, don't need you and your bum heart to remind me, shoulda heart punched him. anyways, i dicked around for 6 days, signing some quality papers, wandering the wonderfully boring camp, eating at the designated times (like prison), read a lot, watched some movies dubbed in russian or kazakh, stared out my window at the snow-covered tennis court (where do you think those anna kournikovas and maria sharapovas practice?)

so at midnight on 23 december, the morning of my birthday, i get on the bus to uralsk airport... start the clock. from there, 6 hours to the airport, my flight, the ONLY flight, is around 8 or 9AM, maybe. i fly from there to amsterdam, netherlands... this is a nice airport and has a real art museum in it. either way, i had a layover there (an hour or two), not long enough to partake of the REAL joys of the city, then off on a long flight over the atlantic (10:10AM), i tried to drink my way through that one. i'm going to land in atlanta hartfield airport in the afternoon (2:00PM - travel time | 24 hours and counting) during the holiday season after having been in a former communist country for a week and try to make it through passport control and customs, and i need to do this all within maybe 30-45 minutes. no problem (i'll never make it).

i didn't make it.

i got stuck in customs, flagged for being in kazakhstan and PASSING THROUGH amsterdam. what was i thinking when i booked that ticket. FUKK! so i'm in line, watching my watch, and i get motioned over to the customs counter just as my connection is to be taking off. he asks me where i'm heading, i respond "not sure anymore, i just missed my connection, thanks". i mean, i was in line for maybe 45 minutes, come on, this is the holidays, staff up kids. so he found my porn DVD case, asked if there was any underage or animal stuff in there (that's all he can arrest me for), i told him no, i'm only in to high-class perversion, and i went on my way, ran to the connection desk and they got me on a flight leaving in like 10-15 minutes. i don't know how my bags made it, but the baggage elves were on my side that day. i arrived about an hour late into pittsburgh (~6:15PM - travel time | ~28 hours and counting). my mom picks me up, and about 1.5 hours later, i'm dropping my bags at home, taking a shower, and on my way to flanagan's (hometown bar) by about 8PM, 23 december 2004. 10 hours of jet lag on top of drinking with my buddies for the last 4 hours of my birthday. all told... a 34 hour birthday. the longest birthday ever. it was excellent.

and for that awesomeness, i'm paying by spending the holidays here in rajahmundry, india, waiting for parts to fix my turbine. but still, not so bad, i have a tree, i've received some packages (the hotel's lost some others and they'd like me to "donate" $250 to their new year's celebration since i've been her so long). and yeah, there was a knock on my door at 7:30 this morning. i didn't answer it. turns out it was someone from the customer with a birthday cake for me, a card, and some flowers (they left it with emma because apparently she's crazy enough to answer the door at 7:30AM). i'm passing the front desk, and i'm stopped. someone dropped off a card for me this morning at 6:00AM. the person tried calling me (is everyone crazy today?) but 1) i don't answer the phone and 2) i don't answer the phone that damn early. since i didn't answer, said person wasn't allowed to come to my room (the first time i've heard of ANY SORT of security at the hotel). how ya like this card? go big or go home, i guess. it was from the office boy who WON'T take a tip. we tip the crappy office boys. this kid is good, but will NOT take a tip. he does our dishes, dusts, takes out trash. i like this kid, i can't say his name (Janakiramana), but he let's me call him John, thank googly. good kid. i get to the office, can't get my sudoku done (harbinger of a bad day) and i get THIS cake (it was whole when we got it, forgot to take a pic first). just about everyone from the customer comes to the office, shakes my hand, offers me their "many many happy returns of the day" birthday greeting, i blow out the candle (it's our backup lighting in the hotel since we lose power so much, our polish excitation TA, janusz (pronounced YAH-nosh), brought it in), and we went on with our day...

TONIGHT, party at cheers, then back to work on xmas eve morning. woo-hoo.


Blogger The B-Town Boyz said...

Happy Birthday Big Z. And as promised...ahem...Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Z, Happy Birthday to youuuuuuuuuuu. Drink'em up! We got church in the morning!

8:41 AM, December 23, 2005  
Anonymous mom 2 said...

happy birthday dear zac...happy birthday to la la la ...i'm singing...hoping you had a good birthday...wish you were here..we sure would have been at the roadhouse..that will be another celebration when you get home...will be thinking of you tomorrow...miss you...merry christmas to you and emma...glad you guys have each you zac...mom2

11:32 PM, December 23, 2005  
Anonymous mom said...

i'm so happy that the "company" and hotel people celebrated your birthday so well! and terrific cakes for you, the non-sweet eater. thought about you all day (as in every day) and missing the celebration.. we will all go to the roadhouse and DONALD'S for your belated birthday and christmas celebrations when you come home, love ya

6:24 AM, December 24, 2005  
Anonymous allison said...

Happy belated birthday, Zac!

10:57 AM, December 24, 2005  

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