Grumpy and Pumpy fly to America – by Helen May



Hi. My name is “Grumpy”. I have to go to America for work. I’ve done it quite a few times in the past, so it doesn’t bother me too much. However, this time is a little different: this time I have to take this little guy I call “Pumpy”. I think of him like a two-year old nephew. He has his own personality. Sometimes this is sweet and caring. Something it is annoying. He is not very independent. I think of him as very “clingy”. Anyway, Pumpy and I will be going away for a week and this is the story of our trip.

On Friday morning, I pack the car. I have my suitcase which is going to get checked into the hold of the plane and my hand luggage which I will keep with me all the time. My hand luggage includes the usual stuff: money, passport, kindle to read, computer to work on, a pen to complete my customs form and hat and scarf to keep me warm when I arrive.

In my hand luggage, I also have Pumpy’s “toys”. I cannot put these in my suitcase because I never know when Pumpy wants them and I can’t risk losing them. If my suitcase fails to arrive, I can buy some new clothes and toiletries and my colleagues won’t know that they have missed out on a home-made cake (long story which is not really relevant). However, Pumpy would get very, very sad if I lose his toys and it wouldn’t be easy to buy replacements in America. And, if that is not enough, sometimes, he decides he doesn’t like his usual toys and so I also have to bring some pens with me just in case.

So, when I pack my car, it has all of my stuff and all of Pumpy’s stuff.

The car journey is ok. I listen to Dessert Island Disks on the way and hear about Bill Gates single-mindedness in being successful and think it reminds me of Pumpy sometimes.

At the airport, I drop off my suitcase. Then, Pumpy and I head off to the security. Pumpy starts getting nervous. He does not like the machines: the x-ray machine, the big archway and the funny body scanner. So when we get to the front of the queue, I have to explain to the security man that Pumpy will hold my hand, rather than going through the x-ray machine. Hand-in-hand, Pumpy and I make our way under the big arch and relax when there are no beeps. Unfortunately, our security trip is not over: we are also asked to go through the body scanner. Pumpy refuses. I have to explain to the security man that he is very sensitive. The security man calls his manager over and explains the problem. Thankfully, the manager understands. He talks to Pumpy and Pumpy agrees to go with the nice man as I go into the body scanner as long as Pumpy and can see each other all the time.

With the latest hurdle over, Pumpy and I sit down and check our emails before joining a work conference call. Call over, I have time to grab something to eat and then find the boarding gate. Knowing that we will be sitting down for a long time on the plane, Pumpy and I take the long route around the departure lounge looking for sandwiches and wandering to the gate in time to hear the first pre-boarding announcement. I decide Pumpy is behaving himself so we don’t need to board with “families with young children”, but we wait with everyone else to get a little bit more time on our feet before sitting on the plane for seven hours.

Neither Pumpy nor I mind the actual flying. We don’t even mind taking off and landing. We just think it is rather boring. Not only are we sitting there doing nothing, the food is also boring. We don’t eat meat so we ALWAYS get pasta. Pasta is not terrible but it is dull and it is very stodgy. We would like some fresh fruit and vegetables, but we have to be satisfied with stodge.

One of the down-sides of travel is the jet lag. To try to minimise this, I always try to join local time as soon as possible. Pumpy is the same, so when we have been flying for a few hours, I change the time on Pumpy’s watch. He then knows when he should get up, when he should rest and when he should be more energetic. And, if Pumpy knows this, he should behave and I should be less “Grumpy”.

After what always feels like a long journey, Pumpy and I arrive in New York. We’re tired and it’s been snowing. But Pumpy and I have survived our first flight together without any major incidents. We have a week of meetings, training and unhealthy food ahead of us, but at least we are not nervous about our flight home as long as we stick together, avoid scary machines, remember to change our watches back to UK time and keep all of Pumpy’s toys with us in case he gets restless.

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