October 16, 2013

Decontaminate the Airport!

Finally, I've arrived in Maryland. Hurrah! And it has been one of the the most eventful trips I have ever had.

It all started well enough. I left home with my mother and sister, checked in quickly, said my goodbyes and waited in the terminal for my flight to start boarding. All normal.
And then the lights went out.
A minutes later, everything was back up and running, and nobody seemed very concerned about what had just happened. Now,  however, my gate had changed (so I almost got on a plane to Munich instead of Amsterdam) so I made my way over there and stood in line. About an hour later, I was about five feet from the desk when an aggravated woman in a S.H.I.E.L.D. sweater rushed up to the man taking care of boarding. The conversation went a little like this (translation done by yours truly):
"You can't board these people!"
"We're already halfway though."
"Well, you're an idiot, you're not supposed to be boarding them."
"And why not?"
"The electricity!"
"What about it?"
"It went out."
"I know, I saw."
The woman lets out an aggravated sigh and runs her hands through her hair, walking in brisk circles next to the line of confused passengers. At this point, none of us knew she worked for the airport security: she wasn't in any sort of uniform, no ID or anything.
"We don't know why," she said pointedly. "Security breach or something. We need to evacuate everyone, and decontaminate the area."
"Seriously?" The man replied, obviously flustered. "Since when?"
The woman started shouted at all of us to exit the terminal immediately in a calm and orderly fashion. In french, of course. A few American/British tourists we evidently left in the dark and were asking around what was happening, to which a man at the security scans replied "protocol".
We waited outside for about half an hour as the security officers sat on the plastic tubs and chatted about the poor weather. Any question was answered with "will be resolved soon" and no announcement was made.
A woman behind me pointed out that the Air France team had been striking a lot recently, against the mass layoffs that were meant to take place that next week. At this point she asserted that the security breach was an inside job.
Finally, went through security all over again, leaving me to explain the soaps in my carry on once more. We got right back in line for our flight as a first announcement was made, to reassure us that our flight to Amsterdam would be leaving, and I quote, "more or less on time"... It was now forty five minutes since we should ave taken off.
We boarded and left Marseille about and hour and a half late... my layover time at the next airport.

"Our team members are here to help you. Don't worry, you will all make your connecting flight."
Yeah... not when it takes the two minutes before you land, you won't.
I rush off the plane and make a mad dash to the screen, searching for my flight. Boarding: closed. And then, it was gone. I had missed it.
I found my way to a transfer desk and told them about my situation. No direct flights until the next day, unfortunately. However, if I rushed, I could catch a plane to Paris and then go to DC, making me only 3 hours late, instead of a full day. I agreed and they handed me my new boarding passes.
What with no available wifi, I rushed to the neared payphone, throwing open my wallet and finding a one euro coin. I dialed the number, regretting agreeing to record that very long, two language answering message eight years previously. I watched as the timer on the screen counted down one minute.
"Mom," I said hastily, "Missed connecting flight because France. Re-routed through Paris. I-"
"Sarah, is everything alright?" She asked, finally picking up.
"Mom, I don't have time," I said. 35 seconds. "Call this number: --- --- ----. Tell them I won't be there until 6:45."
"Ok. Sarah, are you ok?"
"I'm fine, I-"
And the line died.
I grabbed my carryon and dashed to the terminal, just in time to hop on my flight.

It's strange to think that if you hopped on a bus, you could see some of your best friends in less than half an hour. But that was also the amount of time I had until my next flight.
I rushed through the airport, getting all confused with the LKJEF terminals in that place, finally finding the right direction and running down the hallway. Cleared customs in minutes. Everything was looking up.  Found my gate, a little confused by the fact that I didn't have to go through security again. Had I missed it? I didn't care. I got into the plane, found my spot, and sat, exhausted. I then realized it was about 4pm, and I still didn't have any lunch.

On my left, a very large French man. On my right, an incredibly skinny American woman.
I hate sitting in the middle.
We took off smoothly, despite the weather. Soon the man fell asleep, his head rolling over and landing on mine. I pushing him away, waking him up, at which point he muttered apologies in broken english.
This happened about four times.
Soon food came - and it was airplane food, so not much to say about that. I tried to sleep a little, but that didn't work very well. I ended up watching episodes of odd cop shows I never heard of. And then that episode of friends that was a clip show. FUN.

You know, being small has its drawbacks, but at least you are a little comfortable when you're sitting on a plane. Except if you haven't moved in 8 hours, at which point your knees decide to find a better placement and quit on you when you need them most. Being short also means having to ask for help getting your suitcase out of the overhead, because there is no way you can reach that.
So I get off the plane. Get onto the shuttle. A french woman gets angry at an american because of one of them holding up the bus. I wasn't listening, but I couldn't help but hear. I reach customs quickly, go through, grab my bags, and walk out in the warmest reception I every had. There were even flowers.

I asked if my mother had managed to get through: she had, but the phone had been picked up by the 8 year old at home, so it never made it to her. Luckily, there's facebook. And internet in schools. ;)

So that was my adventure. I'm now exhausted and jet lagged... but I'm here.
And I'm so blessed by the people here, it makes up for everything wrong today.

A bientot,

No comments:

Post a Comment