Saturday, August 21, 2010

Expat Goin' Home

Well, even before we reached Kentucky, it was already a different world out there!  I always get this crazy urge to break out into the national anthem the moment I step off the plane into the good old US of A.  Call it homesickness sinking in…

We DID have a bit of drama during our layover in Frankfurt.  All you moms out there, you certainly know what it’s like to get off the plane and find that your stroller didn’t get off the plane with you.  Yep, you guessed it.  It’s called carrying a 19 pound baby on your arm along with the diaper bag and overloaded backpack on your back.  Suffice to say that this was not the picture I had imagined.

Enter airline help desk #1…

Me:  “Please I need to know where our stroller is.”

Them:  “Oh I’m sorry madam you have to go to [insert other office halfway across the terminal]”

Me:  “Please can’t you help me.  As you can see, I am carrying my son and all these bags and I don’t know if I can make it that far.”

Them: (totally oblivious to the pleading tone and puppy dog eyes) “I’m sorry madam I can’t do anything from here.  You have to go to [insert office halfway across the terminal – AFTER passport control and AFTER baggage claim]”

Me:  (smiling politely but really seething inside) “Thank you for your help.”

Enter airline help desk #2…

Me:  “Please I need to know where our stroller is.”

Him:  (not speaking very good English) “You…check…there.” (pointing at the 2 guys standing off to the side)

Me:  (quickly turning away when I realize he doesn’t speak English) “Thank you”

Me:  (turning to the 2 guys) “Please where is my stroller?”

Him:  (after he checks my ticket) “I’m sorry madam you have to go to that office there.”  (pointing to an office on the other side of this enormous baggage claim room)

Me: (at the point of tears now) “Where?”

Him: (sensing that a waterfall of tears is about to come) “Come with me”

Let me just tell you.  That last office was for baggage tracing.  Yep, they’re acting like my stroller was lost.  And I want to scream “it’s NOT LOST!  That really sweet friendly lady at the Cairo counter (who was apparently not as smart as she seemed) put a baggage ticket on our stroller along with a gate check ticket.   So my stroller is NOT LOST!  It’s just sitting out there with our bags waiting to be put on the plane to Chicago!”

They couldn’t get our stroller to us.  They wouldn’t even try.  And I, afraid that it would get really lost if I pushed them to try, kept my mouth shut about it.  This is one of those times where you hope the look on your face is worth a thousand words.  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking.  But in the back of my mind I can hear my husband saying “give them a break, Erin, they’re just doing their job.”  Hence the look and NOT the thousand words!

The good news is that they had a lost and found stroller that they gave us.  So I plopped my son in the stroller and off we went to check into the hotel.

When we arrived in Chicago, the good news is that our very own stroller showed up at the gate.  I think the guy was kind of shocked by how giddy I was to see it.  And then the 2nd stroller showed up, and I had to go into the whole story to explain why I had not 1 but 2 strollers waiting for us at the gate.

And the 1st thing I did when we got our stroller back was to rip off that stupid baggage ticket.  Probably NOT what you’re supposed to do, but I wasn’t taking any more chances.

So I learned a lesson, but luckily in the end it all worked out.

Note to self:  do not let that nice, sweet, friendly lady who is cooing over your child distract you from making sure that your bags are clearly and correctly marked (yep, we lost a bag last time) and that your stroller is not tagged like a piece of luggage.

I still hope that the guy who was working the airplane in Cairo who ignored the gate check ticket in favor of the baggage ticket will find himself one day…lugging a 19-pound child through an airport on one arm…with a diaper bag in one hand…and an overloaded backpack on his back…

Is that wrong?

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