The Reminder I Don’t Need

In light of the recent events that have rocked my place of birth and propelled us into a territory of racial tension which has not (at least in my opinion) been seen in years, I’ve been reflecting on my experiences in the past ten years of domestic and international travel.  I continue to regard myself as blessed to have the opportunity and means to have traveled extensively around the world.  However, deep in the depths of my mind the thought of being looked at in complete disgust for simply being me still festers like a disease.  Traveling while black is not an imaginary tale, it is quite real.  The overwhelming majority of travel stories I hold close to me are positive.  Unfortunately, I have encountered a few incidents that no matter how hard I try to forget, I can’t.

On my Facebook page, my caption reads “They took this without me knowing, lol.”  I never revealed on my page the reason why I had such an expression.

The Look

Place: Sicily, Italy

As a flight crew, we were  enjoying a stroll down the streets of Sicily when two elderly women gave me what could possibly be the nastiest look I’ve ever seen.  

“Why are they looking at me like that?”

“Oh, they probably think you’re African.”

“Um, well I am African.”

“Oh.  Well they are mad because African immigrants are taking jobs.”

That makes it better.

When my co-worker replied that the reasoning behind this (as though there could even be a legit reason) was due to my perceived ethnic background, I remember a feeling of anger, bewilderment, and slight sadness.  I thought to myself what I may have done to get such a reaction.  Just then, I remembered.  I was black.

My sole crime was looking like what I was.  My crime was being a natural haired, black woman with a dark complexion.

While Sicily is beautiful in its architecture and history, it was that experience in which I cite when I explain why I do not wish to go back.  I never want to be looked at in that way again.

 

Doors Wide Shut

Place: Leipzig, Germany

During my many work trips to Leipzig in my tenure as a flight attendant, I often ventured out by myself into the city.  Going to the mall, restaurants, or wherever else my heart desired. I never experienced a moment where there was an attempt to make me feel lower as a black woman.  As a human being…until this particular day.

I just walked back to my hotel after taking a walk around the city.  I was in high spirits, especially after encountering some co-workers who just arrived (there would often be nearly two dozen employees in this particular hotel at any given time).  After waiting patiently, I get in the elevator.  Before the door can shut, a group of Lufthansa Flight Crew members walk in.  Although I tried my best ignore, I could not help but feel on their eyes on me.  There was no insecurity over my attire to be felt, as I was well dressed. Even so, it was hard to tune out my feelings of discomfort.

The elevator stops.  My floor is up.  I smile at one of the flight crew, and walk out. 

Just then, like a bully who found the perfect moment, lone male crew member says something in German.

The entire crew laughs.

Not giggle, laughs.

Hysterically.

Before I can get to the door to reopen it, the doors shut.  All I could do is walk to my room, and fight the tear that tried so desperately to leave my eye.

 

Bad for Business

Place: Pattaya, Thailand (Walking Street Bar)

In Pattaya, there are an array of bars, strip clubs, and other places where many acts of debauchery take place.  Many of the bars moonlight (or out in the light depending on you ask) as makeshift brothels where men interested in “indulging” meet up with women (or ladyboys) of the night.  Our crew stops at one inviting bar for a few drinks.

I’m in a very relaxed mood.  We are talking, laughing, and just having a great time.

That is until, we are asked to leave.

Of course, we wonder why.  The reasoning was ludicrous. 

She is hurting the business.”

She, as in me.

Apparently, an attractive black female can’t stay in a bar because she’ll attract the other patrons who are in a desperate search for hooker vagina.

I suppose some women would be flattered that there were considered to be so “exotic” looking (at that time, black female tourists were not a common sight) that they would attract the attention of men….but not me.  There I was.  A young woman with common West African features, being mistook for a prostitute.  It wasn’t the first time, and it wasn’t the last (it wasn’t even the last time on that trip).  Don’t believe me?  Take a look.

 

While looking for my co-workers by myself a few days later I was bombarded with stares, grunts, sly smiles, and even a greeting of “Umm Africa!”  I laughed it off for years, often repeating the story to friends and acquaintances.  In hindsight, the joke was on me.

In no way am I seeking any sort of sympathy.  My brief stories of prejudice pale in comparison to some of the disgusting things my brothers and sisters who look like me have endured.  I guess the reason why I am sharing this is because every once in awhile I get the sobering reminder that it doesn’t matter that I hold a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science degree.  It doesn’t matter that I am long time educator who has helped countless children find the joy in learning about history.  History says to me that despite all of my accomplishments and triumphs, due to the color of my skin there are people out there who will always reduce me to a punchline.

As someone who sells her body.

As a nuisance.

Trouble.

Angry and full of attitude.

My passport can’t save me from hate and bigotry.

At the end of the day, not only am I a traveler, I am a traveler with black skin.  Even though I hardly need a reminder, every once in awhile I get exactly that.

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Hot sex on a Passport? (Part II: Hot and not so Bothered in Negril)

“Tucker, we’re going to the store.  Wanna come?”

“Is he going?”

“Yeah.”

“Then I’m going.  Come on.”

*Stunned stares*

It was Memorial Day Weekend 2007.  After the debauchery of Memorial Day Weekend in Miami the previous year (perhaps I’ll make a post about it…besides, it was my first trip after all) I decided I wanted a more low-key destination.  A few friends decided on Jamaica, and I agreed.  We spent a few days in Montego Bay before voting to head down to Negril for the day.  I suppose it was fate, but we literally chose the first hotel that looked pretty nice.

Good choice indeed.

The owner was an older, Jamaican gentlemen, who then introduced us his sons.  All accomplished.  All handsome.

Especially the youngest.

I won’t reveal his name out of respect (I’ll just call him “Crush”), but I must say that I found myself instantly attracted to him.  Tall, nice smile, caramel complexion, a very good combination.  As a bonus, I found him to be very friendly and welcoming.   It was official.  I had a vacation crush (which I suppose now in 2016 this would be known as a potential mini-Baecation).  As he spoke about his life and goals all I could do is sit and stare, trying desperately not to look so obvious.  If the smirks from my friends were any indication, I was failing miserably.  Back then I was hardly what anyone would refer to as a “bold” woman, but when I was asked about going to the store I had to make my dorky flirtatious move.  He seemed taken aback by the statement, but at least he didn’t show visible disgust (I mean, das good rite?)

Later on that night, we all packed into a van to attend a weekly outdoor event known as “Happy Mondays.”  For those who are not at least somewhat familiar with Jamaican dancehall culture, Happy Mondays is modeled after “Passa Passa,” an outdoor party that lasts throughout the night and can get quite wild.  None of us were in the mood to stay too long, but wanted to at least enjoy a little music.

There was no way that I was going to ask to dance with Crush, so I elected to merely stand beside him and enjoy the music.  Imagine my surprise and excitement when he grabs me, pulls me in, and asks, “where are you going” while I attempted to walk away for something to drink.

Shortly after, we make our way back to the hotel.  Crush tells us that he is just going to stay downstairs and we head to our room.

(Pardon the language)

 

 

 

 

(PLEASE pardon the language)

 

 

“BITCH!  GO BACK DOWNSTAIRS!”

“Why?”

“He is down there!  This is your chance to go make it happen!”

“Make what happen?”

“You know what you DUMMY!  Get outta here!”

Honestly speaking, I didn’t even think about making anything “happen” with Crush before, but I would be lying if at that very moment, for the very first time in my life, I didn’t give “making it happen” some serious thought.  I mean, why should I have been worried about what he would think of me?  Besides, I’d never see him again right?  Then doubt creeps in.  What if he turned me down flat?  I’ve never been able to handle rejection well.

I was tempted to at least see if I could get a kiss out of him, but alas fear prevailed in the end.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of Herpes.

Yes, the same hangups I have about sexually transmitted infections now  (which I briefly discussed in part I) I held back then.  I just couldn’t imagine myself going through with it.  I was, and still am very scared of catching something I cannot throw back.  What did transpire that night was four girls and one guy in one hotel room having the most absurdly hilarious conversation deep into the night.  I never talked so much trash about what I was going to do if I had the chance (except I actually had the chance and didn’t capitalize).

Whenever I have to defend myself against accusations of being prudish or having draconian ideas regarding sexuality, deep in the back of mind I think of this experience.  Although I do have normal sexual thoughts as  a woman who is 30+, it has always been difficult for me to imagine having sexual intercourse with someone I just met.  There are plenty of people who would not have thought twice about “making it happen” (more on that in part III).   The weather was beautiful, the vibe was cool, and the attraction was there.

I was hot, but not so bothered.

Enough at least.

 

Have you ever had a sexual encounter while on vacation?  Please take the ANONYMOUS survey here Sexy Time on Vacation and rest assured that I will not know who responded…

 

 

 

 

 

 

You free spirited whores ( just kidding 😀 ).

 

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Hot sex on a…Passport? Part I

Let me preface this entry by stating that it will be rather short and serve as a background to Part II, which will delve deeper into the dynamics of sexual activity with people you are unfamiliar with while away on vacation…. by way of survey and Q&A (since I can assure you I know nothing about it personally).

Picture it.

Miami Beach, 2014.

Like every other time I’m in South Beach, I rented a bike to go for a ride.  On 17th and Collins, I took a brief break (after nearly falling on my ass) when two women approach me.  As I pivot to get back to my ride, one of them turn ever so slightly to say…

“Can you ride me?”

Nonetheless, I smile, laugh, and continue on my bike ride.  Unbeknownst to me, I happen to be in the area during Pride weekend (not that it matters, but still).

And no, I did not take her up on her offer.  Can’t blame homegirl for trying though…I was looking cute.

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I experienced another example of sexual innuendo and folly in Nairobi at a club.  I was with two friends I made (see “No Sleep in Nairobi Part I“) just listening to music and talking when a rather, “strong” looking woman approached us.  I don’t recall her name, but she was plump and intimidating.  She looked as though she could be a Bertha, so I’m gonna call her Bertha.  Yep.  Her name was Bertha.

Standing nearly between my male friend’s legs, she asks whether we are enjoying ourselves.  We respond that we were, then in turn ask her the same.  She turns to me, rubs my back a little, and says 

“Waiting for the kids to leave.”  

Looking around nervously, we reply “well what happens then?”

“The adults will play.”

 

 

 

I was afraid to ask what she meant by such a statement, and I’m afraid to even think of what it means now.  In case you have your doubts as to the validity of this story, I present exhibit A…or should I say, S.E.X.  I am in constant contact with my friends while on vacation and I informed them of this little conversation.

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There was no need to pray for forgiveness as we hightailed it outta there before “playtime” commenced.  

So why bring up these encounters?  The answer is simple.

People like getting it in.  Apparently, a good portion of those people like to either get in while on vacation, or get it in with people they know are on vacation.  

I want to discuss it.

As a former flight attendant, I have been propositioned by men, women, straight women with a little alcohol in their system, co-workers, you name it. I’ve been invited to watch um, activities, and I’ve even been mistaken for a prostitute in Thailand.

Don’t ask.  Some other time.

I’ve been asked more than once whether or not I have ever taken anyone up on their offer.  To answer it frankly, HELL NO.  I mean, I have encountered plenty of people that I found very attractive (and while I’m not a lesbian, I can appreciate a nice booty and/or pretty face). However, I just never had it in me to be so intimate with someone I didn’t know in any capacity, or just met days ago.  Perhaps I’m missing out, I’m not sure.  I’ll tell you what though.  I’d like to pick the brains of some people who have “participated.”  Please stay tuned for Part II

 

 

Sorry if you thought this post would be about me and my “sexcapades” btw.  No such thing for me, being that I assume that everyone has Herpes…and not the kind of almost everyone does have either.

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Want to annoy your flight attendant? Do this please.

As I’m observing the stoic, and “pleasantly annoyed” expression on our flight attendant’s face, I think about the (many) times I found myself irritated by passengers during my time as a air hostess/stewardess/air maid (you read that right, I was called an air maid once). So since I have time to kill on this flight, I decided a compile a list of things to say and things to do (and not do) that I simply call
Want to annoy your flight attendant? Do this please.
1. Put your small ass bag in the overhead compartment.
Listen, there is a reason why it is called an overhead LUGGAGE compartment. It is for your luggage. Allow me to explain some things that do not constitute as luggage.
a. Your purse
b. Your jacket
c. Your laptop case
d. Shoes
e. Anything that can fit underneath the damn seat in front of you.

Why does this annoy your flight attendant? Well, the answer is simple. For starters, when other passengers come in and have to look around for a place to put their luggage, 9 times out of 10 they will seek assistance from the flight attendant. Unfortunately, this is not always done with manners. Now time has to be spent rearranging bags, finding out who things belong to, etc. All of this wastes time…yours and theirs.
2. Ask for beverages before take off.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you absolutely must have a drink of water while taking medication, by all means come to the back and ask. Flight attendants aren’t galley monsters, ready to pounce at the smallest request. However, if it is not a dire situation and you are able bodied, believe me it can wait.
Why does this annoy your flight attendant? I call this the domino effect. I recall a flight to Lagos where a passenger literally pleaded to get him water. Against my better judgement, I went to get it. I soon found myself having to tell three other passengers no because sure enough, they now desperately needed water too. They weren’t too pleased about it either. Again, the time factor comes into play here. There are a million things that flight attendants have to get prepared before take off. The “airmaid” duties can wait.  Speaking of “airmaids…”
3. Call a flight attendant something other than a flight attendant.
Miss, Ma’am, Sir, or Mr. are just fine. However, unless this is your first flight since the Berlin Wall fell, the proper job title is Flight Attendant. “Stewardess” is a long outdated term that we don’t like to hear. I remember once being called an “airmaid” and doing everything in my power to keep somewhat of a smile on my face.
Why does this annoy your flight attendant? Um, first of all we are NOBODY’S maid. People really need to get that straight. FAs are not on the flight to be a server, a maid, or anything of the sort. Don’t tell a FA that they are “there to serve” you. No they are not. They are there to save your ass if there is a safety emergency. FAs go through weeks of training (in most cases, unpaid or VERY low pay) to memorize safety procedures. Don’t insult their job.
4. Ask for every drink under the sun (in one sitting).
I mean really, are you going to actually drink all of that? Unless your bladder is the size of Alaska, chances are you’re probably not. FAs have dozens (and in some cases, hundreds) of passengers to tend to when it is meal service. During a flight to Kingston a few years ago, I came across a woman who decided to act as though she has never had anything to drink before in her life.
“Hello, what would you like to drink?”
“I want water, coffee, tea, and a juice”
*Puts down water*
“Where is my juice?!?”

Really?

At this point, I had to remember that we were in the air, not the Bronx. I felt a little better when the man next to her gave her the most disapproving look I’ve ever seen (this seemed to shame her a bit too).
Why does this annoy your flight attendant? For starters, it is excessive. You are not drinking all that so cut the crap. Don’t order something just for the sake of ordering (the “because I can” syndrome). I know you paid for your ticket and all, but coffee, tea, AND juice? Do you like the idea of your stomach doing backflips on a flight? Furthermore, when we are collecting trash and all of your cups are half full, we now have to pour a whole bunch of crap down the drain.
5. This.

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Look at this person’s tray. Now look at my tray. Look at their tray again. Now look at mine again.
Please stop stacking the contents of the tray. STOP. It doesn’t take much effort to be neat. I’ve seen much worse too. I’m talking used up tissues just falling all over the tray, other garbage, etc. You notice how easy it is to take the tray out of the cart to give to you? It should be just as easy to place it back. It shouldn’t have to be a struggle and FAs shouldn’t have to take the time to move your nasty tissues out of the way to do so either.
6. Stand behind the FA while they are trying to complete a service.

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You see this?  (Faces are covered to protect the innocent…as well as the guilty)

Don’t do this.
This FA is trying to complete a pickup/cleanup service and this person is all up on her to go use the restroom. It can probably wait. Let the FAs complete their service so the aisle can be oh I dunno…CLEAR? There is no way you can pass the cart so standing there like the FAs is being a complete nuisance is a surefire way to a sideeye.
Why does this annoy your flight attendant? Your FA wants to complete their service efficiently and in a timely manner. He or she does not need you to be up under them like this extremely heavy cart is just going to magically dissolve into thin air so your path to freedom will be illuminated.
Go sit down.
7. Get up during dangerous turbulence.
Picture it. Flight from Lagos. One hour left. We run into bad turbulence. I hope you never hear this, but if the captain instructs the FAs to sit, then you are in for some real shaking. So I’m sitting down reading a book when I look up and see this woman holding on to the seats to come closer to me. Her walking is labored and it looks like she is climbing a mountain. I begin to worry thinking something is wrong with her health. She stops in front of me, struggles to maintain her balance, and says…
“You were supposed to get me water!”
Mind you, at this time the plane is jerking around. I look up at her and simply reply
“Ma’am, you need to go sit down.”
Before our brave soul could utter another word, a co-worker grabs a water bottle next to her, runs to give it to the woman, and gets back to her jumpseat- nearly falling in the process. I sit there, looking…book still in hand.
Why did this annoy me? Believe it or not, FAs get scared in bad turbulence too, so when the Captain tells us to have a seat, that is exactly what we do. I’m not risking my health to get you water in turbulence. I’m sitting down and so should you. If you were to get hurt trying to walk around the plane during turbulence, you’d be screaming about suing. Avoid all of that. GO. SIT. DOWN.

As a matter of fact, make this your mantra on a flight to avoid being annoying.
When in doubt, GO SIT DOWN.

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Going belly up overseas (and on a plane).

I read a story about a passenger that pooped so badly on a flight that it had to be turned around. While I definitely hollered at the story, I can’t imagine the horror the culprit must have felt knowing that their boo boo was the reason an entire plane made a U-turn. Do you know how serious a situation has to be to make the plane TURN around? Flights have been known to keep deceased people on a flight while it makes its way to the final destination.
Must have been one hell of a dump.
I will say that it has me thinking. Could I ever end up guilty of such a crime against toilets and the noses of my fellow passengers? Truth is, it may not be as far fetched as I’ve hoped.
You see, I have a true confession.  When I’m overseas, it is really tough for me to poop.
Really tough.
I’m not sure what it is, but having a good, satisfying poop when I’m on vacation is like finding a unicorn who can moonwalk.   On the flip side, sometimes you find yourself with a belly ache at the most inopportune times.  Accordingly, there are a few essential things that I try to do or bring when I go away.

 
1. Make sure I clear myself out
Two years ago, I had a huge problem with going to the bathroom in Sierra Leone. Don’t get me wrong, I ate. I actually ate a lot. People cooked for my sister and I every single day for nearly two weeks. I just couldn’t do well, number two. In hindsight, this was partially my fault. Before leaving, I didn’t make much of an effort to clean my system out. Eight days passed without a single bowel movement. Not surprisingly, by the 9th day I was feeling AWFUL, sluggish, and not to mention I looked like I was about to enter my 2nd trimester.  Mom gave me Citroma (which I’ve hated since childhood)…nothing.
Prune Juice…nothing.
“Special tea”…nothing.
Then she gave me these two white pills. I have no idea what they were called. Hell it could have been Viagra for all I know. The first few hours I felt absolutely nothing. The morning after?
OH. MY. LORD.
I’ll spare you the grim details, but let us just say I’ve never felt so relieved in my life.
After that vacation, I make it a point to drink something that will make me “go” before I head out.  Therefore, I won’t have to deal with being nearly as “backed up.”

 

2. Bring something that makes you go
Put some prune juice (or any other drink that makes you go) in a TSA approved bottle just in case you need it.

 
3. Bring something that makes you DON’T (or at least eases your stomach)
As a traveler (besides your life of the lives of anyone you care about being in danger), there a few worse things than an aching, bubbling, and twisting belly on a flight. Pepto Bismol isn’t the best tasting product (in fact, I hate the taste) but it is a good thing to have with you to uh, “postpone things.” I recall one particularly terrible time that I was working a flight when my stomach began wrestling with itself. It took absolutely everything in my mind, body, and soul to not run to the nearest lavatory and show it no mercy.
We land, and most of the crew decides to walk around the airport grounds for some fresh air.
This was my chance.
The problem was, I knew it would be ARMAGEDDON for that lavatory once I was finished. I found myself frantically searching for something, ANYTHING that would aid me in this quest for comfort.  Thankfully, found some stuff I could work with.
I’ll spare you the grim details, but let us just say I was REALLY creative to try and mask the smell.

Still didn’t stop one of the cleaners from screaming “GODDAMN!  RASSSSSSSSS!!!! Who blew up the bathroom?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wasn’t me.

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From the Airport to the Whiteboard and back again

Let me tell you. It isn’t easy being a teacher. For the record, it isn’t easy being a traveler either.
I suppose you can say being a traveling teacher was my “destiny” but that word seems to bring the philosopher out in everyone. Some people say destiny is a matter of chance, while others swear by the mantra that it is a matter of choice. When it comes to my life, like most situations, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
So how did I get to this point? How did I become Tucker, the teacher who loves to travel?
The answer isn’t nearly as glamorous as one would think. To save myself the keystrokes (and your time), I’ll give the truncated version.  In 2004, I decided I wanted to become a teacher my Junior year at Stony Brook University and was told to prepare to stay at least an extra two years. At least two extra years.

 

Of course I didn’t really go backing into the bushes, but after thanking the advisor for their time, I told myself two extra years was definitely NOT going to happen (except that it happened anyway buuuuuuutttttttttttt that’s neither here nor there).
In the fall of 2006, a friend from school told me about North American Airlines. She told me about how she gets to see the world, meet new people, etc. In hindsight, it was just like those pyramid scheme pitches, (you know the “business opportunity.”) I was intrigued, so I applied and was hired the day of my second interview, all while wearing the absolute worst wig a black woman could possibly wear.  From 2007 to 2008, I traveled to many countries and yes, met many interesting people (Trust me, I have the stories and you’ll hear them soon enough).

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        (In route to Lagos, Nigeria w/Shaggy)

 

As time went on however, the desire to enter the education field grew stronger. At the urging of some co-workers, I reapplied for the New York City Teaching Fellows and to my delight, was accepted into the June 2008 program. My traveling days were over.
Or so I thought.
You see, I went from someone who had taken her first flight a mere six months before becoming a flight attendant, to a world traveler. Once that travel bug gets you, it is like a weird serum that goes into your bloodstream and you are NEVER the same. I simply could not quit cold turkey.

pookie

                                                                                                                                                                                        

“It just be callin’ me, man”

Indeed it does. As a result, I decided I didn’t have to quit at all.

PhotoGrid_1451852075214         Just a few of my travels to the UAE, Haiti, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Sierra Leone, and Cuba (strictly educational)

 

So here we are in 2016. I’ve been blessed to continue my travels, AND teach the children. After much thought, I decided to finally share my journeys in the air as well as the ground. From putting my idea into fruition, tuckerloves2travel.com was born.
Please be patient with me, I liken this blog thing to a taxi(ing) on the tarmac. Might seem kinda slow at first, but awesome when you take off.
Because as the people who know me best say, Tucker always has a story to tell.

 

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