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.
- 2007: Missed flight from Stansted to Ireland when I stood in the wrong check-in queue for an hour.
- 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.
- 2008: Near miss: flight from Auckland to Dunedin. Blame allocated to Andrew.
- 2009: Definite miss: missing dog travel-crate door.
- 2010: Near miss: Wellington/Picton Interislander ferry.
- 2010: Near miss: Just about caught flight from Stansted to Kerry, even though the boarding gate was shut.
- 2010: Near miss: Lost passport.