Friday, January 9, 2009
Snakes on a Plane - I wish!
Life is pretty funny sometimes. Take my sister's flight back home, just as a really random example. I've got to tell this story from the very beginning or you won't appreciate the situation. It all started when we were on our way out and we decided to make some coffee before leaving. There was no coffee powder so we decided to go to this place and have some treats with our coffee. No good. Why, do you ask? Well, because one of my sisters, let's call her Lary, decided it would be easier to get it at the gas station, and why go through all the trouble of getting it at the other place if the gas station has such a nice selection of goodies. Not.
Ah, yeah. After a lame attempt at a coffee break we headed out to the airport. The trip was uneventful there and we arrived with time to spare, found a parking space and made our way toward the check in counter. This is when we made the fateful mistake of walking into the public bathrooms there at the airport. I don't know how exactly I can put this that won't understate just how awful the experience was, so I'll tell you what I saw when I saw it and you can be the judge.
The stall door barely closed, the TP was dangling precariously on the back of the door so that periodically it would fall onto the festering bacteria laden floor that looked like it hadn't been cleaned since the first plane took off from the airport many, many decades ago. There was no seat protector, but there was urine all over the seat in a decorative pattern which begs the question: how did a woman manage that? On the back of the door hanging over the TP (when it's there and not on the floor), there was a sign stating quite clearly that you were to "throw paper in bowl and kotex in bin". Don't know if you've ever tried this in a third world (developing?) country but, yeah, it doesn't work. The paper made the water in the bowl rise and pour out all over the floor. Thankfully I made a run for it and was spared the humiliation of breaking into the American Airlines display case of what not to bring on board, grabbing the enormous 2L bottle of bleach (bleach?!), and pouring it all over my feet.
When that was said and done, my sisters Lary and Lunie, my headache (at this point it had become a separate entity) and I headed toward Delta. Someone (very wise and very beautiful) suggested that it would be best to go through immigration and into the international section early, just in case. Nothing doing. So the 3 of us and my splitting headache wandered aimlessly through what was once a decent airport but now serves only as an example to all struggling (developing?) countries of what not to become. To say that the airport is in a state of disrepair and disarray is the world's biggest understatement. Our airport here makes the Malawi airport look like the Hong Kong National Airport. (Which for your information is the nicest airport in the world). If you closed your eyes and randomly picked a destitute country, their airport would be nicer than ours.
What's ridiculous about all this is that part of our cities success rests on tourism. Hoards of tourists that come through at least twice a year for Carnaval and New Years, are met with a grossly inadequate airport where you need jungle survival training just to make it in and out of the bathroom unscathed.
Back to my tedious story. When we finally decided it was time to go through immigrations (when I say "we" I mean Lary and Lunie), there was a line that started with one of those little mazes, then stretched the entire length of the airport. Literally, as far as the eye could see. Daunting? Yeppers. Scary? For sure. Avoidable? Absolutely not. So, we waited and waited and waited. And like cattle to the slaughter just inched along until we finally reached the maze.
The story doesn't end there. Once my sister boarded she was blessed with an entire tour bus of little children who sat all around her. You know how they use this example in movies as the plane trip from hell? Well, she was on it. They make snakes on a plane something to look forward to. After scolding children, trying to get comfortable without much success, trying to read a book, and trying to relax, she finally arrived at her destination drained, wiped, spent and a little worse for the wear.
I want to take a moment to suggest to the airlines that they made another class distinction. There can be: 1st Class (Executive?), Economy, and Zoo. Anyone with children, babies, ladies that won't shut up, and teenagers with B.O. should be moved to the Zoo section of the plane, thereby leaving the rest of us to fly undisturbed and in peace. Can I hear an "Amen"?