After clock-watching with increasing anxiety, I gave up on washing the sheets and threw them in the laundry basket, placing different (and clean) sheets on the bed instead. If Craig stays in my JC place when he gets back from Cairo in a few weeks, he can take the sheets to the laundromat the first time he does his own laundry. And I'm sure he won't care that the pillowcases don't match.
Budget Taxi sent a $25 airport Town Car to fetch me. I dragged my wheeled duffel down the stairs, then went back up to fetch the brick-filled black bag, which is actually full of Muneer's Maya textbooks. (He can't get these in Cairo.)
They are going to charge me for overweight luggage for sure, I thought.
The Town Car driver—an Arabic-looking fellow whose car was decked out in Christian symbols—asked where I was going.
His mouth dropped.
"Where are you from?"
"No, I mean for real."
"Here. I'm not Egyptian. Well, maybe a little. I go to Egypt for my job."
"I am from Egypt!" He spent the rest of the ride to Newark going on about Helwan, the Cairo suburb where he grew up.
At the airport, I got as far as the check-in counter when the clerk raised an eyebrow at me.
"You need to go to the ticketing counter. I'm not sure why, but there is a code here... I'll hold onto your bags."
He took my extremely heavy bags and placed them by his feet. He didn't put them on the scale. Score.
At the ticketing counter, the Arabic-looking man behind the counter spelled my name wrong.
"I can't find you in the system. How do you spell your name again?"
"Oh J. I thought it was G."
I almost asked if he was Egyptian right then, because Egyptians say "guh" instead of "juh." But I kept my mouth shut until he started beaming.
"You are going to Egypt! I am from Egypt!"
"I work there. Are you from Jersey City?"
"No, Bayonne. You ask because all the Egyptians live in Jersey City, I know. But I am in Bayonne."
Suddenly, the middle seat I'd been trying to get turned into an aisle or window became a non-issue. He radioed someone.
"Please unlock 30C."
Done. I was out of the middle seat and onto an aisle.
Sometimes it helps to be a little bit Egyptian.