01 July 2012

A lost bag and cha dui

What a week it's been!  I'm glad to be back home after a week on the other side of the Atlantic.  I was in Paris and Manchester, England for work.  Europe, as usual, did not disappoint.  It was a wicked busy week and I won't bore you with all the details here, but a couple of things worth talking about.  They were the bookends to the trip, too.

Things first got interesting upon departure.  I was flying out of Boston, with a connection to Paris through JFK.  Why would I do that?  Because I'm cheap, well business class cheap.  I couldn't stomach the non-stop fares but connections were A-OK.  Well, that's what I hoped.  This, of course, went horribly wrong thanks to a weird patch of weather in an otherwise bright sunny day between Boston and JFK.  My inbound flight was late and I was going to misconnect so the good people at Delta - yes, Delta, not Mother United - rebooked me on another flight out of JFK and I was off.  Once I got to JFK, I was reminded just how awful an airport it is.  I've been through Third World airports that are more modern than the crapfest that is JFK.  But I digress.  While I was a few hours late, I was on an overnight flight to Paris and I'd still have time to make my Monday afternoon meetings in La Defense.

I could not have been more wrong. After enduring a brutally hot Customs hall with a veritable tsunami of my fellow sweaty passengers, I got to baggage claim to find that our bags were already on the belt and no more were coming.  I say our bags, but what I should have said was every other passenger's bags from our flight, except mine.  Mine was gone. Gone, baby, gone.  In the millions, and I do mean millions, of miles I've flown, this was a first.  I've never had a bag go missing.  There's a first for everything.  I filed a claim with a helpful (well, the French version of helpful) agent and now I was going to be late for my meetings.  So on the RER I went and I showed up at my company's offices, having not showered in 24 hours, stinking of a planeful of my fellow passengers, acting like I was delighted to be there.  It was an Academy Award winning performance.  By the end of the day, the airline still had no idea where my bag was, which was bad.  This meant clothes shopping for the next day.

I will say this - my body type is not European.  It is not meant for European-cut shirts but I had no choice.  I spent all of Tuesday sucking in my gut.  Who needs a friggin' Ab Belt when you can just throw on a European-cut shirt, supposedly in your size?  You'll be working your abs (or lack thereof) all day trying not to have one of the buttons burst off and hit the French lady sitting across the conference table from you in the eye.

Miraculously, the bag appeared like Manna from Heaven late Tuesday night. Praise Heaven for American-cut dress shirts that double as parachutes! Wednesday brought a trip to Manchester, in the UK, where I drove on left side for the first time.  The brand-new BMW M5 that I got upgraded to made for a much less terrifying driving experience.  The rest of the week went pretty well.

Until the other bookend of the trip and that was Saturday, the day I was coming home. Because I was on an early flight to Amsterdam (again cheaper connection to get me back to Boston), I stayed at a hotel near Charles de Gaulle on Friday night.  When I checked out, I joined a few people in a queue to get on the shuttle to the airport.  We were a mixed lot of nationalities and everyone seemed to be in a good mood.  Said mood was about to get spanked by cha dui, the fine art of line cutting perfected by the Chinese. (If you are not familiar with the line cutting, or butting, for which the Chinese are rightfully famous, click on that link above to learn more). Upon putting our bags in the back, me and two other people, a couple from Nebraska, discovered that our seats had been snatched by a couple from China. I tried , initially to be nice, asking the couple to leave, since they'd cut the line and had no bags and we'd been in line and had been loading our bags.  Both spoke English because they told me I was lying.  This was lovely.  Well, before you knew it, the lady from Nebraska, went ape on this couple, screaming about how rude they were (which was true) and demanding that they get out.  At this point, the couple dug in and the poor French speaking driver was pleading with them to leave. This rude couple was now being verbally assaulted in at least three languages because all the other passengers in the van were telling them to get out.  But dug in they did - they were sticking by their lie.  They were not moving. Our French driver gave in, much like his ancestors did to the Nazis, and threw out our bags and told us to wait for the next van.  I was surprised that the Nebraska lady didn't rip out a clump of hair from the Chinese battle-axe.  What a way to start the morning...good times.  

Like I said, what a week it's been.  It's good to be home.

1 comment:

Monty Newlin said...

What an awful week! Hopefully, flying business class helped ease the pain a bit. Makes me nervous about my long, long planned trip to my ancestral "land of hope and glory."