Everyone who knows me knows I can be very spontaneous and impulsive. One Monday morning I woke up and told my mum I wanted to travel to America. She then told my dad and he arranged a ticket for me. On Thursday, I was on the plane! I had a friend, Andy, living there, and I wrote to him asking if I could stay with him. I’d met him three months previously. After ten hours on the plane and a further hour and a half waiting to get through customs, I was finally there, sitting on my suitcase outside the airport, waiting for Andy to come and get me.
We both had a great time. We’d go to the cinema at midnight, then spend the early hours of the morning shopping, something which you couldn’t really do in England then. We went into the desert and shot rifles. We didn’t think anything out of the ordinary or dangerous would happen, but we were shot at by one of Andy’s roommate’s friends! It turned out this guy was wanted for arson and possession of fire arms in several different states. We ended up getting stopped by the police for possession of alcohol. The girl driving the car also had an expired driving license, which didn’t help matters. My accent made me stand out from the others. The police interrogated me, shining a bright torch in my face. They asked me when I’d arrived, how long I was staying in the country for and when I was going to leave. The torch was very off-putting and I couldn’t concentrate on the policeman’s question; I felt the torch was an unnecessary distraction. I didn’t let the policeman know my feelings – I just answered his questions because all I wanted was to get home safe and sound.
The last time I’d been to America, I visited a café at a tourist complex quite often. Andy told me his boss, who worked at the café, wanted someone to design a new sign for the café and had put me forward as a volunteer. We worked together to create a template for the words using a cardboard box. I also started working on the sign’s imagery. Then halfway through, Andy suddenly mentioned that it had to be finished by the next day! I was definitely up for the challenge and spent most of that night painting the sign – luckily I got it finished in plenty of time. Andy’s boss loved it – his wife didn’t want to pay me for it, but in the end I didn’t charge much for it. I felt like I’d achieved something: I’d produced something good while working to a very tight deadline and knowing how to get a job done.
On my final day Andy drove me to LAX airport, which at that time was being expanded into what it is today. Unfortunately, the traffic was horrendous and I ended up missing check-in and it turned out the flight was already closed. I hurried over to the desk and told the man there I had to get on that flight and, surprisingly, the flight was reopened for me. I couldn’t believe my luck…this sort of thing never happens. I could have kissed the man behind the desk! I ran down the corridor, which seemed to go on forever. As I approached the plane, I could see loads of people staring out of their windows at me. The steps were being brought back, just for me. I ran out on to the tarmac and was greeted by the stewardess. Ever the professional, she was smiling as if we were best friends and showed me to my seat. I’d been upgraded to first class – an added bonus – because someone hadn’t turned up.
For some reason, everything seemed to go right for me that day, even though the odds were stacked against me. I had no money left and hadn’t had anything to eat since dinner the previous day, so when the meals came, I was relieved. I enjoyed my meals while watching a good film and was back home before I knew it.