I’m writing this at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam because I missed my flight.
Who does that? For many years, up until a couple of hours ago, I was all, Who are those people they are calling over the intercom and what the heck would they be doing to miss their flight? It turns out it can be as easy as: sitting at the wrong gate like a nitwit for an hour and a half; freaking out like a ninny when you hear your name called on the PA system; and running like a nincompoop for 25 minutes to get to the other end of this massive terminal… only be told that they’re offloading your luggage and you’re SOL in Schiphol.
At first I was relieved to see that I wasn’t the only one. Another girl and I arrived breathless at the boarding gate. They even gave us hope as they re-opened security. Then I was not so relieved when this girl started giving security a hard time, blaming them for getting it wrong, which made them to decide to shut both of us down. The girl started crying, “But it’s an EMERGENCY!”
The KLM officer yelled back, “IF IT WAS AN EMERGENCY YOU WOULD HAVE BEEN HERE! GET OUT! BOTH OF YOU!!!
A very dramatic scene. Quite disappointing.
I thought this gal and I could then at least join forces to figure out what our next step would be, but my delinquent companion was clearly traumatized and couldn’t get over the fact that this was actually happening to her. She ran ahead of me into the crowd yelling to no one in particular, “How could they do that? How could they do that?!” I’m curious to see if she’ll rejoin me on the next flight Toronto and, if so, what state of mind she’ll be in.
Rebooking a missed flight is a lesson in humility. I now know not to expect sympathy from anyone along the road to finding a way home. Each KLM agent made sure to tell me that I had committed an almost unpardonable sin. Did I know that I had kept other passengers waiting? Did I know I had created endless work for them? Did I know how much of an inconvenience this was? Did I know that I had personally offended them, their children and their children’s children? Like beating myself up and waiting for another 8 hours wasn’t penance enough. I nodded meekly not wanting to provoke further wrath and paid $600 to get myself a seat on the next flight out of here (for which I will be 4 hours early at the boarding gate so as not to miss it) in Economy PLUS. Oh, the perks!
The idea of Economy PLUS makes me laugh. Mostly because there was a very intoxicated Texan at the Ghana airport last night, trying to impress the ladies by telling us he had a seat in Economy PLUS. Don’t worry, we didn’t fall for it.
This missing a flight thing is that last in a series of unfortunate events that started happening yesterday, at the end of a brilliant trip to Ghana with the new owners of Big Village. At around lunch time, Leisha, Karen and I were smiling and sighing, thinking about getting ready to leave. We wanted to go and we wanted to stay. It had been a great time meeting the Big Village partners, seeing new and exciting things and laughing a heckuvalot together. But we all missed our friends, family and life in Canada too. Plus, we were tired out from pushing it hard the whole 10 days. We decided to cheers the trip with my Coke and their malt drinks and do some last minute souvenir shopping.
But yesterday afternoon didn’t co-operate. The city seemed to be on edge and we saw and experienced all kinds of difficult scenes. Without going into detail, the world around us wasn’t on its best behaviour, with crazy traffic, pushy vendors, and aggressive behaviour at every turn. Or was it because we were so tired that we were no longer interested, patient, or accepting? We might have taken one picture yesterday, as opposed to the kajillion we took earlier in the week, simply because we lacked the energy. One of us would ask the other to take a picture of a scene out the window we were noticing through half-opened eyes. The other would say it’s too far away – referring to the camera. In her lap.
But then Leisha had a bad physical run-in with an aggressive person on the street. No one was hurt, thankfully, but we all shut down after that (other than being totally impressed with Leisha’s Kung Fu skills and Karen’s vocal chords). Felt a little like that boarding gate security guard, “GET OUT! ALL OF YOU!”
Now the extra hilarious thing – and by extra hilarious I mean totally upsetting – is that Leisha and Karen are right now exploring the city of Amsterdam. They had actually planned a longer layover in order to enjoy a sweet little tour of the city and shop at the market. Here I sit bleary-eyed and plane-faced pulling a Facebook faux pas and using my status to beg people for their sympathy. Some of my friends fall for it. Others tell me there are worse places to be stuck. Well, I am in a European cafe, preceded by the words “Schiphol” and “Internet.” I’m going to take advantage of my wifi day pass and upload some of those pictures we took of our trip when we were energetic, positive and curious. Good memories, from just or a day or two ago, will see me through.
Before I do that, Constance Amartey, you need to know that, “You are delaying your flight. Please proceed immediately to Gate B14 or they will proceed to offload your baggage.” That threat is very real. Run like the wind!!!
But if you miss it, you know where to find me.