Sunday, June 20, 2010
It's not just jetlag
But we arrived not having to find out how cold North Atlantic waters are and I was thankful to put our 6 feet on the ground as we tried to navigate as fast as we could through Charles de Gaulle Airport to get to Dad. SJ left a few weeks ago and before that he was not home for about 2 weeks with a combination of business and vacation trips. The kids haven't spent any time with him in something like 4-5 weeks. The non-EU passport control line was, well, out of control. I'd never seen such a long line. I was so tempted to break out the kids' UK passports and follow them through the EU line and try to talk my way through with my Blue passport. But I wasn't that brave.
By the time we got to baggage, I felt broken. Preparing for this trip while single parenting for weeks on end and also trying to get through the end-of-school-year-gauntlet was mind and body bending. Ben was complaining of a blister and I was now carrying all of his bags in addition to my own. The long passport control line meant that by the time we got to baggage claim all the bags had been unloaded.
While I had originally packed 3 bags to check per the limits of Air France, we ended up checking 4 because I do not have the airport karma that my husband seems to have. When we dropped him off at the airport he had one bag that we knew was probably going to be over the limit (so I brought an overflow bag to take stuff home) and a second bag for which he'd have to pay $55 which contained things like razor scooters and household items I was sending over with him. We walked up to the desk and the AF person notified him that with two bags he would have to pay the extra baggage fee and then asked if she could weigh the bags. 1st bag was over the limit. She tagged it and sent it. The second bag over the limit she tagged it and sent it. Then told us she saw he hadn't done seating and would try to get him a good seat. She handed him his tickets and said have a nice flight. If you are thinking I forgot to mention the part when she asked him for his credit card, I didn't. She never asked for payment on the second bag and gave him that coveted window seat in an emergency row that has NO other seat in front of it at all. Leg room galore!
Let's just say that with my 3 bags becoming 4 bags upon check in, that I do not have the same kind of airport karma he has. And this was confirmed when 3 bags arrived and not 4. I grabbed my phone and texted SJ that we were missing a bag and didn't really feel I had the capacity to handle all this. It was the bag with all the good stuff in it. Expensive knives, all my kitchen equipment, father's day presents. Yeah. All the good stuff. So I make my way to the baggage claim desk to report the missing bag and find myself in yet another long line. When I get to the top of the line in true Parisian form I was promptly cut in line. Not by a Frenchman but by a German. Line cutting is part of the norm here and you really have to watch your back if you care. By the end of our stay here last year not only did I learn not to care but I also learned to cut. So alas it is my turn and I sit down and in my very rusty French I explain the missing bag. She is very sympathetic and kind. We are about to start collecting my information when my phone abruptly rings with SJ asking me where I am. He had talked his way back through customs into the baggage claim area to try to rescue me. Of course when he walked into the office the kids leapt into his arms and I started crying. I explained to the woman that the kids hadn't seen him in 5 weeks and she did the big eye-puffed up cheek blow that I love about the French. In any case, we completed the paperwork, Simon explained where we lived in Paris, and I continued to cry. She explained how they will look for the bag and then looks me dead in the eye and tells me that no matter when they find the bag that I get a 100 euro inconvenience allowance which I can have reimbursed when I get back to the States so I should go buy myself a pretty dress. And then she smiles.
So as we are leaving I say to the one with the good karma, can YOU just go take one last look. And not surprisingly, he comes waltzing back with the bag which he found in some remote corner of baggage claim.
I will still be buying that pretty dress which will be made of copper and will be purchased at E. Dehillerin.