It was an uncomplicated layover in Buenos Aires, because travelers didn’t have to change gates or manage their luggage. They didn’t even have to change planes. The long time between landing and takeoff had little to do with loading and unloading passengers, and much to do with refueling and preparing the plane. Since they had more than an hour, and it was for them, breakfast time, eating seemed a good idea.
“There’s a McDonald’s right there,” said Ryan, pointing to a spot between the gates.
“I don’t want to eat fast food,” said Mike. “We’re in Argentina. We should get a taste of what the locals eat. I went to Europe years ago and had traditional English, French, German, and Spanish breakfasts. I can’t wait to see what they have here in Argentina. After all, they’re famous for their grilled meats and their unusually thick pizza and that caramel that they put on everything.”
“I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed,” said Patience.
“Why? What’s a traditional Argentinean breakfast?”
“Coffee with milk, a shot of seltzer water, and a croissant.”
“A steak croissant? With steak in it? And cheese?”
“No, just plain.”
“It’s Italy all over again,” said Mike, shaking his head sadly. “Let’s go to McDonald’s.”
After a couple of McOmelets and yogurt sticks, the two men and their two mechanical women reboarded the plane. Their same seats were reserved, so they sat for a few quiet moments before the rest of the passengers entered.
As the aircraft taxied toward the runway, the Daffodil stewardess gave the exact same safety speech that she had when they left Los Angeles. She varied not one single inflection or gesture. Patience frowned for a fraction of a second. Mike just happened to be looking at her at the time.
“What’s the matter?”
“She did that presentation perfectly.”
“Isn’t that, ‘to be expected’?” He made air quotes.
“I think it would be better if she varied it slightly, or even made one small error.”
“What a very unrobotlike thing to say,” laughed Mike. “Maybe I’m rubbing off on you.”
“You rub off on me every single day, both literally and figuratively.”
“Human skin being what it is,” said Patience.
The plane took off and finally reached cruising altitude. Mike took his face away from the window and turned back to his texTee.
“How long now?” he asked Patience.
“About eleven hours until we land in Adelaide.”
“Isn’t there an Adelaide in Australia too?” asked Ryan from across the aisle.
“It seems like people would get confused. They should have chosen a unique name.”
“There is also one in Canada, one in South Africa, and one in North Dakota,” said Patience. “Human beings can be repetitious.”
“What about Paris?” wondered Wanda. “Besides the Paris in France, there are cities by that name in Canada, Denmark, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Ohio, South Dakota, and three of them in Wisconsin.”
“But we’re not going to Paris,” said Mike. “Get your robot under control, Ryan.”
“Don’t mind him,” said Patience. “He’s just upset about breakfast.”
“Seltzer water,” said Mike through gritted teeth. “What the hell is that about? Why would you need to burp when all you’ve eaten is a piece of croissant?”
Mike read a while and played a few games on his texTee. He even watched an animated movie about a floating castle. But Patience could see that he was growing more and more restless being cooped up in the aircraft’s cabin. When he made his third trip to the restroom, she checked the time and found that they still had almost an hour until lunch.
Just as Mike reached the restroom door, Patience pressed her hand into the small of his back. He paused, but she reached around and opened the door, guiding him inside and then squeezing into the tiny room beyond with him.
“What’s this?” he asked with a knowing smile.