Tuesday, 29 September

Run For Your Life!

Honestly, I had an intention to work. Or to work among the other things, because, you see, the plane to New York flies enough time to sip a little bit of free whiskey, have some meal, take a short nap and then open your laptop and work for a while. But this time I did not manage to do it for two reasons.

Here is the first one. The plane belonged to French airlines which offer a glass of champagne as apéritif right after the plane takes off the ground. So when the flight attendant came up to me with a bottle, I could not refuse her due the innate tact and latent Francophilia which I discovered at that very moment she approached me. Fifteen minutes later she walked around the plane cabin again, offering to refill the glasses. Since my Francophilia has become much stronger after the first glass, I could not but agree to her kind offer.

After two glasses of champagne a man suddenly feels a desire to recall folk wisdom, and the first thing that comes to mind is “don’t work yourself into a lather”. And after all, why do I have to work today if it can be put off for tomorrow? So, I turned on a classical music concert on the onboard computer and was looking forward to lunch. White and red wines, cognac, juices and water (in which, however, I am not too interested even on the ground) were offered before meal. Having plunged into this gourmet fury, I clean forgot about the work.

Until people who took the seats next to me reminded me about it. Having enjoyed eats and drinks, they suddenly felt an irresistible need for communication. There was only one potential victim in their reach zone, and, unfortunately, it turned out to be me. But since they looked like they were in their 80’s I could not refuse them: what if it were their last conversation? This nice couple came from Lebanon and resembled some eastern kings, who forgot to give their gifts to Messiah. They wore so much gold that it seemed that those people transported all gold-and-currency reserves of their Middle Eastern country on their shoulders and wrists.

So we were sipping our cognac and enjoyed the conversation. Having found out where I came from, the woman asked what religion there was in Ukraine. In order not to go into details about the patriarchate and the diversity of churches, cutting the long story short, I replied we were simply Christians. Then she asked if I knew what was God’s name. And she looked so closely into my eyes that I understood everything at once. Bracing for the worst, I devised ways to retreat until the cozy plane cabin began to remind me of a cage I was hopelessly stuck in.

“Jehovah, his name is Jehovah”, she said with a victorious look.

I agreed, because what else could I do? The next question was, undoubtedly, about the strength of my faith.

“As they say, there are no atheists in the falling plane”, I babbled uncertainly, “But since our plane is not falling, my faith is not too strong yet.”

The couple exchanged worried glances as though telling each other “there is so much work to do with this guy”. As you must have already realized, their work became an obstacle for my work, and this is the second and the last reason why I failed the deadline.

“Would you like to receive a salvation?” the man asked me in a businesslike manner, slurping the next portion of cognac.

“How can one love drinking and be Jehovah’s Witness at the same time?”, a thought stuck in my head. But since my neighbors were not too diplomatic, I decided to make straight questions as well.

“Why do you think Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot drink? Jehovah created everything: the whole world, us and a cognac. If you chose the path of salvation, you would have eternal life ahead of you and it would be full of pleasures that the Creator gives us. Drink as much as you want, rejoice and glorify Jehovah, that’s all”, the old man continued to agitate me.

I noted to myself that this religion, at least its Lebanese interpretation, has some sense. But what I said aloud was:

“I’m not sure that this is how paradise looks like: after the second day of “drink as much as you want”, not only that I won’t be able to praise the Creator, I won’t be even able to live.”

“It’s the matter of training and skill”, said the lady and burst out laughing.

I even started to like them. Until the moment the English version of the magazine “Awake!” emerged from their bag. Instead of awakening, its look immediately made me sleepy.

So, I chose the best tactics: I began to yawn instead of answering, only nodding my head in response, and at some moment I apologized, lowering my seat a little and closed my eyes. I fell asleep almost immediately and I dreamed that all the people got into the bar after the died. God is a smiling bartender who says that all the treats are on the bar today. And Jehovah’s Witnesses lie in wait outside the bar with the magazines, so no one wants to leave the place.

After we landed in New York airport, the lady handed me a handful of magazines and asked to spread good news among my friends. “Everyone can receive a salvation, pass it to them”, she said, spatting me cheerfully on the shoulder.

Now I am passing it to you.

Andriy Lyubka


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