Don’t Drink and Fly

By John C. Gyorki

May 9th, 2017

From time to time, we all have “One of those kinda Days.” I had such a day July of 1981.


I had fourteen months remaining of my four years active duty in the Marine Corp. I had received orders to spend my last year overseas in a country called Iwakuni Japan. Upon receipt of the news, I was a little discouraged because I enjoyed my time in North Carolina. However, I embraced the journey of my last year of duty. I started doing a little bit of research about the culture of the Japanese people. I learned basic phrases from fellow Marines that had already gone abroad. I practiced basic words like hello, thank you, good afternoon, good morning, and good evening. I was still one month away from leaving for Japan.

Before I departed North Carolina, I wrote a couple of letters to let friends know, who were already overseas, that I would be joining them shortly. I then went home on military leave to visit family and friends, before my tour, since I would be away from home for a whole year.


The day finally arrived to be dropped off at Detroit Metro Airport to make my long drawn out trip. It was imperative that I make all of my connecting flights. I needed to pay close attention to my itinerary so I would not make the mistake of missing any flights. If I did miss any connecting flights and did not arrive on time, I would be deemed AWOL (absent without leave).  Nothing like a little bit of stress, right?

Let me tell you this, it was a very long drawn out lengthy trip I had ever traveled. To pass time, I practiced and recited my basic words as I sat in the seat of the plane. I calculated I would arrive early morning in Iwakuni Japan. Tired and exhausted, I decided to use only one phrase, “Good Morning,” which in Japanese is  pronounced “Ohayo gozaimaus.”

My plane landed in Okinawa Japan, where I had to make one last connecting flight. I was terribly exhausted because I’ve been up for more than 30 hours straight. My mental clarity was dwindling with each passing second. I boarded a smaller airplane to take me to my final destination.

I sat patiently in the aircraft anticipating the end of my trip, but my patience started leaning towards irritable because I was overtired. One other reason, I drank too much water in Okinawa because I was parched! The plane ride was a little longer than I anticipated. My irritability combined with worry, and stress because I realized there was not a restroom in our commuter plane. My discomfort was so intense, I almost stood up and performed my rendition of The Irish Riverdance in front of the other passengers. I quickly changed my mind and sat still, moving was not in my best interest.



Finally, the wheels of the airplane hit the runway — hard — landing in Iwakuni! That didn’t help my predicament. I glanced at my watch, 7 a.m. We taxied off the runway to our gate. The moment we were allowed to leave, I bolted off the plane and entered a miniature terminal to find a restroom. I was so overjoyed when I spotted one in the distance, but my happiness subsided when I saw the “Out of Order” sign dangling on the door! I stood there in disbelief asking my Heavenly Father if I had failed him in some way? I looked over at the women’s restroom in desperation only to view female passengers entering.


I made the decision to leave the terminal and hope for the best. I won’t lie, when I walked outside, I looked for tall shrubs and trees. Guess what? I’m on a military base. Nothing but an ocean of concrete everywhere. “Now WHAT?” I thought to myself. I looked up and saw a little old Japanese man crossing the street. In my moment of desperation, I raised my hand to attract attention as I approached the old fella to ask him if he would kindly direct me to a restroom. I completely ignored all the basic Japanese words I had learned because of my delicate situation.

The kind old man raises his right hand and says, “Ohayo!”

I interpreted the man saying, “Ohio.”

I, with a puzzled look, said, “No, I’m from Michigan! What makes you think I’m from Ohio? I don’t care where you think I’m from; I need a restroom! Can you help me?”

What he was saying to me was morning. Not good morning or Ohayo gozaimasu in its entirety. He used the shortened version like we would greet one another, Japanese-Ohayo or English-morning.

The poor Japanese guy who could not speak English returned a puzzled look towards me and left my presence cautiously mumbling words under his breath, which, to me, sounded like a suzuki engine, unnnnnn da da da da unnnnnn da da da da. Looking back, he must have thought, what is the matter with that jackwagon?

There I was, standing in a foreign land, about to have an accident I’ve not had since wearing a diaper. When surprisingly, I looked up and saw a familiar face across the road from where I was standing. I quickly marched towards my friend like I was a deranged pit bull ready for battle. My friend looked up at me smiling as he was about to speak. I shut him down and said, “RESTROOM, NOW! WHERE!”

It ended well, I made it, but barely. I explained to my friends the whole ordeal, which was not an intelligent move on my part. I spent the better part of the year greeted on a daily basis by my Marine brothers raising their hand and vocalizing their home state, accompanied by a little unique jiggy dance.

Friends can be so caring and compassionate towards one another.

Monthly Contributor


John is currently an Electrical Skilled Tradesman for the University of Michigan. He has over 32 years experience in his field. He resides in Southern Michigan with his wife, Maryann. He spent four years in the Marine Corp as a 7011 (Aircraft Launch & Recovery Tech). After his tour, he completed a four-year Inside Wireman Electrical Apprenticeship with I.B.E.W. (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers).

At a very young age, John developed a love for reading and hoarding books and has continued to do so. It wasn’t uncommon to see him writing notes about something. John believes inspiration comes from an intentional reading of the word and following the Lord. He feels it encourages better living and thinking.

When John is not working, writing, and reading, he is trying his best at being a husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, friend, and uncle. On occasion, you’ll see him making sausage and jerky or fermenting cabbage and pickles. He is always put in charge of making Hungarian Goulash over an open pit fire. No one else is allowed!

“My goal is to foster traditional family community and common sense thinking.”

“I enjoy reading books about personal life experiences. When people are at their lowest, broken point, and then making a victorious comeback.”

John C. Gyorki

John is new to the writing and blogging world

You can join him at or email at

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S.W. Biddulph

Scott Biddulph is a published writer, author, and poet from North Georgia. He began writing as a youngster and followed his lifelong dream of reaching people through the written word when he returned to The University of North Georgia in 2013 to finish earning his BA/English with a concentration on publication and creative writing. His publications include the following: an eBook, Apples of Gold: A collection of inspirational short stories and poems (Smashwords, 2010) and a paperback, Voices from the Heart, (Createspace, 2012). His poetry is published in Papers and Publications Undergraduate Research Journal. Vol 3 (2014) and the award-winning Chestatee Review (Spring, 2015), among other places (Check his LinkedIn profile for a full list of his publications). He is currently working on publishing poetry, creative non-fiction, academic essays, and his memoir. ******** Scott has also worked as an intern editor for the University of North Georgia Press. As a freelance editor, he has done the layout and design of several books and magazines. He is currently working with several authors on various publication projects in which he is either ghostwriting, editing manuscripts, or doing the layout and design of their books. ******** Finally, and most importantly, he is a father, grandfather, husband, and dedicated Harley Davidson rider. He and his family enjoy the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains where they live—especially their screened in back porch where they love to bird watch. ******** ~ "I love realism. I love writing about the raw, down-to-Earth, heartfelt realities of life. I love to write in a way that reaches into the human soul—to take the greatest pains and struggles in life, and make them a blessing to others. Fantasy is a wonderful, interesting thing—but real-life situations, feelings, fears, and dreams are an unexplored ocean of stories that need to be told." ~ ~Scott Biddulph~


  1. Hello John,
    Thanks for sharing this lovely story. I liked the idea of you performing a Riverdance routine. Just hilarious! Love the Homer Simpson graphic too!


  2. […] I had fourteen months remaining of my four years active duty in the Marine Corp. I had received orders to spend my last year overseas in a country called Iwakuni Japan. Upon receipt of the news, I was a little discouraged because I enjoyed my time in North Carolina. However, I embraced the journey of my last year of duty. I started doing a little bit of research about the culture of the Japanese people. I learned basic phrases from fellow Marines that had already gone abroad. I practiced basic words like hello, thank you, good afternoon, good morning, and good evening. I was still one month away from leaving for Japan…Continued […]


  3. Hi, John,

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post! It is a situation which a majority of men deal with at some time in their lives, but few would admit it, none would write about it.

    I had not a problem relating…formerly a USN sailor, light plane/ultralight pilot, railroad locomotive engineer, all presented like situations – mind over matter trials.

    This was an easy, humorous, read due to your proficiency with words and event progression. It was delightful…keep ’em coming!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, John…

    Great piece of humor that you’ve penned here! It’s a situation many fella’s can relate to – of course, they’ll never write about it, or even admit it!

    Being a former USN sailor, light plane/ultralight pilot and locomotive engineer, I’ll admit to simlar circumstances.

    I was chuckling through the entire piece! Thanks for this submission.


  5. John, First of all, I loved the name you chose for this post! Secondly, I loved this memoir piece! I could feel your pain in your descriptive narrative! Although I know it wasn’t funny to you at the time – I couldn’t help but smile when you described your first encounter with the Japanese gentlemen. As the Japanese are very warm, yet have certain protocols they go by, it’s no wonder the older gentlemen was probably wondering just what in the world is wrong with this (crazy) fellow!??
    I also absolutely loved your expression “leaning toward irritable” which I plan to use in conversation with my husband when the opportunity presents itself!
    On a serious note, this piece also gave me a tiny glimpse into the life and sacrifices both small and large those who serve(d) in the military make/made. I had no idea just arriving at your next destination was so involved! I want to say THANK YOU for your service to our country and acknowledge that it is because of the brave men and women like you that I enjoy the freedom and comfort I have today.
    On a lighter note, I see you have been practicing your dance moves – both then and now 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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