Last week, we left off in the story when yours truly, Tourmama, was finally released from the ridiculous accusations made by the frustrated officers in the Stuttgart Polizei Department after absolutely ZERO help from the US consulate in Frankfurt. Luckily, the Dusseldorf consulate were much more accommodating and willing to do their job, which is help an American citizen stuck abroad. Unfortunately, despite their good intentions, things did not go as smoothly as planned.
And now, Part III of our story. As usual, except for some name changes, this is exactly how it was written back in 2006, retelling the story from 2002.
May 11, 2006
So it’s 8:30 am.. my flight is at 11am. I get into the consulate…they’re expecting me. I start filling out the proper paperwork, and already have my photos ready to go. Remember kids, the computers run on a central system throughout Germany, and probably the rest of Europe, so they cannot be switched on a single moment before 9am. Anyone else feel there’s a flaw in this system? It’s 9am. I see some commotion behind the bulletproof glass that’s keeping me from my new, clean passport. I hear my name called over the intercom to report to the one and only window at this small consulate. I mean, I’m also the only one there. They could have just as easily made eye contact and motioned me over. It was clear how anxious I was as I sat in the chair, eyes wide open like a deer caught in the headlights over their every move. But I’m not here to bad mouth the DUSSELDORF consulate..they were stars and helped me through everything.
So I go over to the window. It seems, I’m told, the computers are down, but I’m not to worry, as they’ve got someone working on it now. How typical in this whole scenario is this? I’m exhausted.. I’m delerious! I’m going into hysterics. What else can I do but laugh? I know the peanut gallery will be in with a stretcher to come take me away momentarily. Just as the laughter is about to turn to tears, the computers are up and running and the final steps are taken in presenting me with my new, non-terrorist proof, single laminated passport.
So I book outta there as fast as my little legs will take me, run to the train station, get my bag out of the locker, hop the train to the airport and I’m on my way. OF COURSE my train is delayed 7 minutes.
At the point that I arrive at the airport, it’s approximately 9:30am. Now since 9-11, we all know that you should give an allotted 3 hours of check-in time when traveling abroad. I wasn’t allowed this luxury, but I was hoping that the lines wouldn’t be too bad. What am I.. new? Did I really expect, that ANYTHING would go my way… stupid, stupid, naive girl…
The lines are, of course, ridiculous. I try pushing my way forward, with the psychotic look of desperation explaining in my broken German and, at this point, unintelligable English that I need to check in immediately. I get quite a few people ahead. My bag, is of course, overweight and they want to try to charge me for it. I tell them I dont have time to pay for overweight, as that will be another 20 minute line and process… minimum. When I offer to start giving her my dirty laundry (remember.. I didn’t have time to unpack, re-pack..anything) to avoid paying the overwight, she laughs and says, she’s going to let it go this time. Finally. Something went my way.
Boarding time:10:20am… current time, 10:30am. I’m running through the halls now. First security checkpoint. I have my laptop bag with me. Throw that in, take off my jacket and rush through the metal detector to try to avoid the oh so clever comments of “hey.. we need to run this metal detector over her face..huh huh huh…” which NEVER gets old.. EVER (how’s that for a nice healthy dose of sarcasm). I see them discussing one of the bags under the x-ray. Please, please, please, please don’t let it be my bag, I thought to myself. Meanwhile over the intercom… “Attention, please. This is the final boarding call for Tourmama. Tourmama, please report to gate bladdy blah immediately.”
Then this happened:
“Is this your bag?” asked security chick number one.
“Yes, it is,” I reply, as I immediately get that sinking feeling in my chest.
“Can you open it please?”
“Which part would you like me to open.. it’s easier if you tell me what you’re looking for”. They point to the compartment they want me to open. They find a boxcutter inside. Now normally, I’m very careful about what I have in my carry on luggage to avoid these kinds of situations, but remember.. not time to repack!!
“What’s this doing in here? You know it’s against the blah blah federation law, yadda yadd to travel with something like this”
“Yes I do know and I didn’t know I had it in there.. please just take it and let me go catch my flight”
“Oh.. we can’t do that. We’re not allowed to take it.” Wait. What?
“Then I’ll take it!”
“No, you can’t take it either…” All patience has been shattered at this point.. All control.. all hope in life, humanity, catching my flight… it’s gone.. all gone. I lose it… tears streaming uncontrollably down my face at this point, as I feel it’s my only defense and chance to make this flight (I have a knack of whipping up tears quite fast when necessary). I bust out my best, cartoon style giant watery eyes, puppy dog look and say, convienently at the same time that I’m being paged AGAIN over the intercom for last call boarding of the flight,
“Do you hear that?” I’m very calm and melancholic, with just the right amount of pathetic, “That’s me. I’m going to miss my flight. I’ve had the worst 36 hours of my life and all i want to do is go home. Please, I am begging you. Take the box cutter.”
She looks at me and puts the box cutter in her pocket and says, “Go.. run! Catch your flight!”
Thank you! Thank you ladies and gentlemen.. oh.. what an honor! I’d like to thank the Academy.. my parents.. oh! my publicist….
And.. I’m off…
I make it through customs, last one boarding onto my plane. But this is just the first leg of the trip. Off to Heathrow, where I will then have a 4 hour layover until I can catch the connecting flight back to Philly.
4 hours is a lot of time for something to go wrong…..
Well.. are you? If so, toss me a like or a comment and I’ll post the exciting conclusion of the story.
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