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Recent events have prompted me to muse with delicate frown and pursed lips on my history with transportation. The origins of this tempestuous, codependent relationship can be traced back to:-

  • 1984: Twelve years old, and for reasons that will remain forever obscured by the mists of time, I was required to catch a bus from Dublin to be reunited with the bosom of my family in Limerick. After a long journey, the bus shuddered to a stop. I sat there long after the remaining passengers disembarked, kicking my legs and reading a ‘Bunty’ magazine by streetlight.Half an hour later I was getting cold, so alighted and, keeping an eye on the coach in case it took off unexpectedly, I backed up to the only human life-form present and enquired when the bus would be leaving for Limerick. Which is when I found out the bus was not going to Limerick.

    Also, I was technically in Cork.

    I must be able to blame this on some family friend or relative – I mean WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR A TWELVE YEAR OLD CATCHING A BUS?

    I was gasping for a wee, so I decided my first priority was locating the bathroom. Then disaster struck: I had no money, and access to the toilet cubicles required a 2p piece. (If you think I sound pathetic, really it was WAY worse.)

    Luckily, there was a 20cm gap between the foot of the door and the floor. I stuffed my bag in, thereby committing myself, then wriggled under the door after the bag. It was a tense widdle; I was terrified someone with 2p might creep in and burst into my cubicle and accuse me of weeing for free.

    Afterwards I went outside, sat on my bag in the deserted carpark, and considered my predicament. Luckily, my parents had equipped me to deal with adversity. Back then, what that meant was that I knew how to make reverse charge phone calls, rather than identify perverts. Indeed I wouldn’t have recognized a pervert had he asked me to sit on his knee and waved a flesh-coloured stick at me, but man could I place a reverse charges phone call.

    I rang my mum, who was good enough to accept the call.

    “I’m in CORK!” I sobbed, suddenly struck by the tragedy of being abandoned in a strange land.

    The next bus to Limerick was the following morning, so my parents arranged for me to stay with some people they chose at random from the telephone directory.

  • Circa 1993: On my first business trip, I missed not one but two flights AND lost my passport and ticket along the way. I finally arrived in Switzerland 24 hours late. Thought I’d blogged about the incident, but it seems not, so can’t provide a link. If anyone wants the grisly details I’ll see what I can do.
  • 2000: Job interview in Bahrain. The Interviewer arranged a ticket for collection at Dubai Airport. Even though I arrived a full half hour before the flight, the Emirates representative claimed the check-in was closed and refused to hand over my ticket.“All right,” said Husband during an emergency debrief. “Call The Interviewer, and tell him there was a problem with your passport. No- your residency visa. An issue with your residency visa, and you’re sorting it out, and will get the next flight in two hours.”

    “Ok. Problem with residency visa. Next flight. Check.”

    I dialed The Interviewer: “I MISSED THE FLIGHT!”

    He hired me.

    Can’t explain it.

  • 2000: Fast-forward three weeks to a business trip to Bahrain to meet The Company’s biggest client. My phone rang at 06:00. It was The Floridian, formerly The Interviewer.“I’m at the check-in counter. Where are you?”

    “I’M IN BED.”

    However, not only did I catch the 07:00 flight – triumphantly arriving at the airport 10 minutes later – I even had time to demolish the buffet breakfast in the Emirates lounge.

  • Probably 2005: Róisín underestimated timing from Paddington to Heathrow (so entirely her fault; I have a signed confession). Emirates Airlines – at this stage totally accustomed to me – rescheduled me on a later flight. At the baggage check, I realized I had left my mobile phone in Róisín’s handbag (don’t ask. Just . . . don’t). Located a pay phone and called Róis, who returned to Heathrow to give up the phone.
  • Possibly 2008: Husband and I arrive at Dubai Airport, totally overexcited about our first ever skiing holiday: two weeks in Austria. We had booked a hire car, arranged accommodation; we were sharing the chalet with friends who were en-route.Passports: CHECK! Tickets: CHECK! Luggage: TRIPLE CHECK!

    Bags sorted, we proceeded to passport control. I went to the e-gate, already planning where I should wait for Andrew, who was at the manual passport control. When I scanned my fingerprint, a buzzer sounded and a big, red X blinked on the gate.

    The man on the passport desk beckoned me over.

    “My finger’s not working,” I giggled, wiggling the digit at him.

    I forgot how ineffective charm is on airport security.

    “Your rrresidency visa,” said the administrator. “It is expire.”

    “Oh. Well. No problem. I’ll renew it when I get back. I’m going skiing!”

    Never have I been more mistaken.

    Never has Husband come closer to divorcing me.

    In a vain attempt to conquer the moral high ground I told Andrew to go without me, but he opted to stay. For a while it looked like he wouldn’t be allowed to leave the airport, since he was fully checked onto the flight. He sulked for roughly a year. He still wins arguments on the strength of that ONE LITTLE INCIDENT.

  • Near miss: Once, I got to the boarding gate for an Emirates flight before realizing I had left my passport and ticket in a tray at the baggage check.

Comments on: "Technically in Cork" (9)

  1. MarkJ said:

    set 3 alarm clocks – taken 17 no-doze tablets.

    You are NOT missing your flight tomorrow!

  2. I too have missed trains and ….. well not planes, but I would have without Peregrinations: The Kindness of Strangers

  3. have you considered just staying put?

  4. I reached 2007 and said aloud, to myself, but to you, ‘I’m never flying with you’.

    Okay, Not that you invited me but corrrrr, you’re frightening, my love.

    I won’t tell you what I did to your ‘twin’ in Cairo … the city from where I wanted to be sure of LEAVING, making null and void her ‘last minute check-in and avoid the queues’ technique to any place …

  5. deadlyjelly said:

    MarkJ – you will be glad to hear I have missed no planes in the last 24 hours.

    Lesley – that story restores my faith in Greengrocers.

    Forest Green – well, in fact I have, but I’m concerned about my bad karma with transport spilling over into another area of my life. I have resolved not to budge from this country for the next 24 months, which still gives me scope for screwing up, just not as much.

    Di – hahaha! After my passport had been restored to me, I called Róisín to relate the happy ending. She said, “Oh, thank GOD you weren’t staying with me.”

    My mother called me “an awful feckin’ eejit”



  6. Those “near misses” can also be called “successes”. Just sayin’.

  7. Cian said:

    I am very proud of the fact that I have never missed a flight. I did come close a couple of years ago in Southampton. I was away for the weekend in the Isle of Wight on a course. I knew that I would get to the airport rather late, but I emailed the airline a couple of days before and they assured me that the flight would only close 30 minutes before departure.

    This weekend was also the introduction of a new ferry to the island, which of course did not want to abide by the schedule. So after a mad rush to the airport I got there with 34 minutes to space. Self check-in would not work for me, so I had to queue. There was only 1 check-in attendant, and thankfully nobody ahead of me in the queue. I swear I have no idea what the person at check-in was checking in, but it seemed to take a life-time.

    When I finally got to the attendant (30 minutes left) I was told that check-in closed 10 minutes ago. But thankfully she rang the gate to find out if they had started boarding which they hadn’t and she got permission to reopen the flight and check me in. I was so relived.

    But on the other hand transport and I do not really mix either. There are also the occasions which come to mind:
    – Aborted Landing at Heathrow at the last second as there was an aircraft crossing the runway in front of us which we narrowly avoided. I had a major swift drink after that one.
    – A four hour flight from Milan to ahem Milan. That was such a nice long taxi around the runway (or as the pilot called it – a snow field) followed by queuing for 2 hours for a train ticket to Zurich, followed by utter chaos at the train station and no trains. Getting the last Hotel Room nearby was a welcome relief that night at midnight. Fair enough there was a lot of snow, but come on it is Milan! The full story is rather long – I will not set foot in Italy again based on that day from hell.
    – Three hours from Dublin to well yes Dublin via the runway and 5 or 6 flecks of snow.
    – Missed connection in London and of course Swiss Air abandoning the airport for fear they had to deal with their Customer’s requests for accommodation that night.
    – Missed connection in London and needless to say Air Canada staff finished for the evening.
    – Multiple cancelled flights due to Volcanic Ash. But I did get home via a sardine tin (well a train) and a ferry.
    – 11 Hours and 54 minutes delay in Gatwick.
    – Multiple cancelled ferries (never due to bad weather).
    – Security Queues in Cork airport. Cork only has about 6 flights a day and in their wisdom they have 5 of them leaving within 30 seconds of each other. The amount of times I have been taken out of that queue 10 minutes before the flight leaves is getting beyond a joke.

    So I am wondering what would every happen if the pair of us were ever to travel together?

    p.s. Regarding “Circa 1993”, you should know that we (well I, but I do not want to sound too greedy) would love to know the details on that one. It sounds like it may be a classic!

  8. deadlyjelly said:

    Vet – you’re right. I’ll up my success rate a few percentage points.

    Cian – ok, the pair of us are disasters. Obviously we need to travel with organised, conscientious travellers like Di. We should make a pact right here, right now, never to travel together. Even walking might be perilous.

    Since you asked so nicely, I’ll see about chronicling Circa 1993 😀


  9. […] further than me. I invite those not familiar with my travel (or equally often static) patterns to read this for a general overview of my tempestuous relationship with […]

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