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A Young Lad in America #1 November 19, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in A Young Lad in America.
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A Young Lad in America #1 – Departure

In the early summer of 1998 and at the tender age of 21, I set out for a summer of fun in America, hoping to tread the many paths that generations of students before me had done. If I could pave the way with my happy tales and stories of (mis)adventure, maybe I could encourage the kids from the future to do the same.

I was recently bereaved having lost my father and felt as though I was standing on the precipice of adulthood without him, really wanting to jump. I wince now, looking back on the way my mind worked at that age and the way I reacted to being put in some strange and wondrous situations …

Suffices to say that I think everyone should try and spend some time abroad when they are young and impressionable and where better than the self styled “Capital of the World” – New York City. Its popularity has somewhat since been overtaken by the beaches and bars of Australia … but not for me … plonk me in the middle of Manhattan or on New Jersey’s south shore and I’d live there forever !

PART 1 – Departure

America is such a great and diverse country. Whilst waiting in the lounge in Shannon airport, homemade tinfoil covered sandwiches in hand, myself and my travelling companions were already immersed in its modern culture, way of life and even the way we talked. Except to us it was “our” culture too … we grew up on Huckleberry Finn, KnightRider and eating candy covered popcorn in badly lit Saturday night movie theatres.

The first unfamiliar hurdle we had to jump was the immigration at Shannon airport. We couldn’t believe that yes, the Americans came over here and set up an immigration bureau in our airport, just to save you the plane fare home if you were found to be in breach of some law or other …

I was ushered up, now stone faced for fear that laughing would immediately disbar me from entering the US, to the next available booth, where I presented the immaculately uniformed gentleman with my passport and visa documentation. I noted he had a cool looking handgun in his holster and I wondered did he ever have to use it in Shannon ? and jump out and shout “Freeze” at some poor unsuspecting (and very dangerous) Irish octogenarian … I actually believed such things happened and that they would throw you in the cells for looking crossways at them !

So my turn came and I chatted away to the immigration guy – all my paperwork was in order of course and I had a job prearranged to go to as well as a return ticket and so he was happy that I didn’t present a threat to national security.

I remember him asking me “Where ya headin’ fawa son ?” in something approximating a New York accent …

– “Long Island, sir” I replied, having been reared to call respectable members of the community sir or madam …
– “Where bouts ?”
– “Garden City, Long Island … I’ve a job in a country club”
– “Gaaden Ciddy huh ? Gonna scoa yesself a nice Jewish chick !”
– “Erm…”
And so that broke the ice and we chatted some more … we were buddies now !
And then he asked :
– “Whatcha got in de bag ?”
– “Oh just some travel stuff … walkman, book, sandwiches ..”
– “Any beeea in there ?” says he with a more serious tone
(Why would I bring beer on to the plane ? Those were the days you could get free beer on the plane itself)
Cue laughter from me at the question …
– “No sir, no beer !”
– “Why yoo laughin then ? Gimme that baeg !”

And so I hand him the bag when he bursts out laughing and hands the bag back to me with a nod to me to get out of his way and through the gate onto pseudo American soil.

– “Look out faa dem Jooish broads now kid, hear ?”

You couldn’t make stuff up like that but to me it was like water off a duck’s back … I couldn’t wait ! On to the plane we went for the longest journey of any of our lives so far – a whole 6 hours. Destination Newark and then to a youth hostel on the lower east side of Manhattan. The orientation company had agreed with that hostel that we could stay our first 2 and last 2 nights with them as part of the whole J1 visa package … and so we did.



1. theswissjob - November 19, 2007

Memories, 1999 was my year and I headed to Boston but with no job and no where to live. Also, out of the 8 guys who were going at the start of the year, myself and another bloke who I didn’t know at the time were the only two who actually went.

They were the best four months of my life (so far!) and I now count Cathal, the stranger I went with as one of my closest friends. What goes on tour stays on tour!

2. Rambling Man - November 19, 2007

ah yes – i went alone to the job in garden city, long island but travelled with a bunch of friends who went all over …

3. laurie - November 19, 2007

ah, i never know if i shoudl be chatty with immigration, or deeply respectful.

how’d you line up the job?

can you line one up for me? though i want one in ireland, not long island!

4. Coastal Aussie - November 20, 2007

Great story R-Man ! I’m really looking for to the next installment. …. and thank you for mentioning me blogging… I am thinking of it still, and I really appreciate your encouragement.

5. Rambling Man - November 20, 2007

thanks CA – well done on the old netball btw !

6. A Young Lad in America #5 « The Rambling Man - May 11, 2009

[…] a bit of writer’s block and whilst perusing older entries in my blog, came across the “Young Lad in America” series which, as it happens, only got as far as about Day 6 […]

7. Francis Mahon - May 12, 2009

Your encounter with the immigration official sounds familiar. I get exactly the same thing every time I cross the Atlantic on my own – those guys must be obsessed with the though of visitors ‘scoa’ing their womenfolk!

8. 2014 world cup qualifying results - March 29, 2014

I was gutted Iran were not drawn together with the United states
of america. I usually like a great political element to a
football match that Clive Tyldsley can remind us about every
single two to three minutes. Iran pipped South Korea
to leading location in qualifying with some amazing final
results (four- in opposition to Lebanon anybody?).
Its difficult to huge these groups up as their qualifying sector looks amazingly weak.
Iran’s group consisted of Lebanon, Qatar, South Korea and Uzbekistan.
It’s a farce actually, but they’re here, they get a months split in Brazil, will have a bit of
a kick around and jet again residence, respectable summer season in my eyes

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