Just another workday

Settled in my room provided by Unnamed Airline, I could watch left-wing, anti-Israel, all-night news.

By CARMELITA LEE
March 20, 2008 13:11

I got to the boarding gate just as they announced that the plane was delayed. In fact, the entire board began to blink, with flight after flight announcing the same message I travel to my work, flying from Tel Aviv to many points east and west on a weekly basis. I recognize the regulars in the weekly queue, the doctors, dentists and other professionals who, like me, work elsewhere to keep the family safe in Israel. Ah well, it's a living. But Unnamed Airline never fails to disappoint. Take last week. I had been working in Dublin but had a job in Tel Aviv that I had to do - a double blessing, time with Ari and the girls. This is the prize, to have a job in my own field, court reporting, in my own home town. My client booked me home on Unnamed Airline, frequently the lowest priced, and 70 percent of the time I get home fine. But there's that troubling 30%. Charles de Gaulle has a brand-new terminal, beautiful, state of the art, where Unnamed has a hub. Even so, Unnamed still has a practice of disembarking its passengers down a moveable staircase rather than a telescoping tunnel. Not a problem, except for that 30%. I got to Dublin Airport in time to have a Starbucks before boarding. I got to the boarding gate just as they announced that the plane was delayed. In fact, the entire board began to blink, with flight after flight announcing the same message. Even though their voices were kept very low, I heard, "There's a strike at Charles de Gaulle." Great. Those French and their strikes. I headed to the bookseller's for entertainment, and back to the Starbucks. Might as well settle in. I checked the notice board frequently. When a departure time was announced I realized that if we left at that time, I would still have 40 minutes to get from Terminal F to Terminal E. I've gotten healthy, I've shed 48 pounds. I can run it. But for all the good intentions, we were later still. The flight attendant assured me it would be okay. Assured, mind you, that I would make my plane. This is, of course, short of a guarantee. Unnamed would provide a car to meet me at the tarmac and deliver me to the next leg of the flight. They had done it once before. We boarded, but we didn't push off for another 30 minutes. They continued to assure me. After all, there were others on this flight who were going to Tel Aviv, we'll make up the time in the air. We did. When we rolled to our final stop, I saw cars and people holding signs. I relaxed. Ah, mais non! We didn't get off the plane. The ground crew stood on the tarmac laughing and joking as people on the plane got angry and made one-fingered salutes in the windows. It was a mini-strike that wouldn't be over until it was over. When I disembarked, I looked for my Tel Aviv sign. There was none. I wasn't surprised, either. I boarded the bus, and noted that I had 10 minutes. The last time they held my plane it was an hour, so there was still that chance. Nothing is easy at Charles de Gaulle despite the new terminal. We were bused to Terminal F, five minutes. Up escalators, and a dash to E, but the terminals are a mile long. I start sprinting, bypassing the people mover. Some Tel Aviv passengers were passing me, leaving me in the dust. I picked up my pace, but didn't want to push my luck, since I was carrying 10 pounds of equipment between my backpack and my shoulder bag. I am still, well, older. Passport control. I was still running, saw the line. Waving my passport and ticket wildly, I said to a young man in my best high school French that I had missed my plane. He ushered me to the front of the line, but the gendarme had to page, slowly, through every page of my double-sized, well-used passport. Why not? I probably looked like a fugitive. I started running again, alongside the people mover. I saw a plane at the end of Terminal E, knew it was my airplane because I know the terminal, so began to run harder. A Tel Aviv passenger sailed by me at a dead run. He was in a business suit, his heavy coat flying, his briefcase swinging at his side. I couldn't keep up, but ran on. I saw him when I rounded the corner, sliding into the boarding area. I knew if he made it, I was going to. Even though I was out of breath, I ran on. Then I saw him stroll out to an information area staffed with Unnamed Airline's people. I quit running. A minute later I stood at the window and watched my plane being pushed backward out of the slot while the telescoping arm retracted. I don't cry about things like this. I rang Ari. The girl at the desk was matter-of-fact. She issued me a ticket for a flight the next day, a hotel voucher and two meal tickets, but didn't tell me how to get out of the terminal. It was a janitor who showed me the blue footprints on the floor, which I had never noticed before, which led me out. A friendly taxi driver not only explained the way to the shuttle bus, but walked me there himself. Settled in my room provided by Unnamed Airline, I could watch left-wing, anti-Israel, all-night news, or I could watch Friends in badly dubbed French. I opted for Friends. The meal was worse than airline food, and I wondered if I was really in France at all. I had to notify my client in New York that I would be an hour and a half late to the deposition, apologized for the inconvenience and began to explain to him what happened. I only uttered one word, and he said, "Let me guess. You were booked on Unnamed Airline."


Related Content