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Small token of amends 0

I moved to Italy in June 2003 with everything I owned inside a single suitcase and backpack. I returned to California in August 2016 with two suitcases, a carryon, a backpack, a wife, a cat, and forty boxes of books, DVDs, CDs, clothes, pillows, and other stuff that will arrive next month. (Most of those boxes are full of Francesca’s shoes.)

Despite transporting the excess of material objects I’ve acquired over the years, our cat Jimi made the biggest difference in changing continents. With Jimi crammed into a pet carrier the size of a shoebox, we worried that passengers seated in our vicinity would hang the American, his Italian wife, and their screaming black cat during the fourteen-hour journey. So at the suggestion of a friend, we prepared goodie bags with earplugs, candy, a refrigerator magnet with a photograph of Jimi, and this letter of apology:

Dear Fellow Passenger With the Misfortune To Be Seated Near Us and Our Cat, Jimi,

Please accept our humble gift of apology for the possible discomfort of traveling with us. As we are currently moving from Italy to California in order to start a new life, Jimi must accompany us on her first and last intercontinental flight, as we could not live without her. We hope this small token of amends helps you endure the potentially annoying experience.

We have done our best to train Jimi on shorter flights and she has proven to settle in after a short time. Should she do otherwise, at least you can take solace knowing you have put the worst flight of your life behind you.

Again, we are deeply sorry if Jimi’s discomfort should prove to be a disturbance to the serenity of your flight.

Kindest regards,

Scott, Francesca, and Jimi

The letter helped. Passengers chuckled as they read it, and happily poured the goodies into their hands. But the out-of-control kid sitting a few rows in front of us helped even more. Jimi cried occasionally, but quietly enough that only Francesca and I heard her. But the kid bawled from the beginning to the end of the flight, making any of Jimi’s protests sound like hiccups in comparison.

Yes, we could have drugged Jimi, but sleeping medicine would have lasted only several hours. Besides, we’d experimented with sleeping drops on a couple of 90-minute car trips, and though Jimi was cross-eyed and tripping over her tail within minutes, she never fell asleep. Instead, confused and afraid, she cried non-stop for the entire drive. So Jimi made the flight on her own steam, and so did we. Everyone exited the plane with relief that the worst flight of their lives (because of the screaming kid) was over. His mom should have handed out goodie bags.

Anyway, we’re here . . . California! We had little doubt about our arrival. We just worried that Jimi would have made enemies of us all. She didn’t. And now our new life is about to begin.

God be with us.

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