Day 167 of 366: Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

This morning, we took Maria and the girls – Alice and Violet – to the airport as they were flying to East Timor to visit their husband/father for a month.  Seems all very easy doesn’t it?

Well actually … no! Why didn’t someone tell me you need to go into training if you are planning on helping loved ones fly out to another country early in the morning? No one told me that it is a marathon event. For it is you know and I will tell you why.

1.  ‘Getting Out of Bed’

The beginning of the marathon starts when you get up in the dark to get the troops to the airport. Hearing my phone alarm go off at 5 am with a type of music that I would call “droning” – a noise like someone slowly playing a violin whose strings have not been tuned properly, is enough to send anyone into the horrors. 

2. Getting Ready

This is the easy part. Whilst half asleep, grab the clothes laid out, make a cup of tea and have a piece of toast to keep us going. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Lock the house and leave.

3. On the Road to Maria’s House

It is another world being on the road – in the dark – travelling up the freeway – at this ungodly hour. I ask myself: why are all these people on the road for heaven’s sake? How many people (read ‘crazy’ here) leave for work at 5.40 am? I cannot believe there is a traffic jam not far along the freeway!

By the time we arrive at Maria’s place, the sun is peeping over the horizon and two small children come out to greet us with backpacks and huge animal pets strapped to their bags. What the?? These animals almost need their own seat on the plane they are so large! Have you seen them?

4. Getting to the Airport Departure Area

And so our day began. But it was far from over yet. Renovations at the airport meant a walk (with large heavy suitcases) through temporary long-winded walkways whilst Geoff went to park the car.

Tempers were beginning to fray and I found myself issuing warnings to Maria (who had a suitcase with wonky wheels) to ‘stop whingeing and just keep going,” Alice noted this hilarious turn of events – HER mother getting into trouble for a change. It had made her day.

We arrive to a busy Departure point. Now with all this do-it-yourself printing of boarding passes and weighing of luggage we line up to do ours but … there is a problem: yes overweight luggage! 

 5. The Luggage Re-distribution:

Now we all know about this one right? When one bag is a ‘bit’ overweight (well … 10 kg over)  and it’s contents have to be distributed over the other two! And there, on the special high bench reserved for this purpose, an older woman is SITTING. Yes, I did say sitting … with no intentions of moving despite my saying “excuse us …” 

Short of being quite rude to her, I thought I had given her the message but she was swinging her legs and enjoying herself and clearly did not intend to leave!

As Maria and I lugged one suitcase onto the bench and went to lug the second one (no  room with her there), I thought we might knock her off  but finally, seeing her territory was being invaded, she quietly got down and slinked off in disgust! Not a good beginning but hey, we were throwing things around too much to care.

Let me just say there was so much in that luggage that I now have some Donna Hay magazines in my possession and Alice and Violet now have packets of lollies tucked away in their backpacks a bit like contraband; hope there will be no arrests.

But we had done it! And the funny part about the whole thing is the plane will still have the same amount of weight (minus magazines) that it had before the redistribution. Only now it “looks good” on paper. Time is getting on.

6. The Luggage Drop-off

Next step is getting all those bags to the drop off. Again, all do-it-yourself; tags must be up a certain way so they can be read. Oh dear, why won’t Maria’s giant suitcase go onto the roller thingy? Cancel it and start again. Oh no, why does the computer think all the suitcases belong to “Violet?” Still can’t get that suitcase to go off to wherever they go. Call for help! Phew, all gone now … finally.

7. Going Through Security

Okay, I was first through the security check and tried not to make eye contact with the woman holding that wand which they wave over you for traces of bombs. Juggling coats, magazines, my handbag, Geoff’s phone and car keys (he was helping Maria and girls) the woman got me! I said “Oh, but I’m not going on the plane, just seeing someone off.”

The woman was not impressed and replied:  “I don’t care, this is security you are going through and so I will check you.”  Oh not real happy eh? And so I submitted myself for checking hoping that the gun powder from the bomb I was making at 5am before I left, would not be detected on my clothes…

Have I got any gunpowder on me?” I asked. Her reply: “I’ll know as soon as it comes up on the screen.”

8. Getting to the Gate

Phew I was cleared for security! Now, with an eye on the clock – only 15 minutes before Maria is due to board – we finally take that wonderful escalator that goes up up and away to the Gates that lead you to the plane.

Maria makes some final purchases at the newsagent for MORE magazines and a book  and I mentally note we have put back the weight we took off earlier for the Donna Hay magazines in my possession. No time for the coffee we had been looking forward to when we left Maria’s house. Where DID the time go since we arrived I ask you?

9. Waiting at Gate 20

Aaah three seats together: time to sit for five minutes. Violet takes the seat I’ve kept for her mother. When I tell her she says “Grandma, you are not travelling on this plane, YOU and BAMPY are the ones who should not be sitting!”

I laugh and kindly remind her who has brought her to the airport on this cold morning at this early hour. She grins from ear to ear and says “ooops” and we both laugh as if we are in a conspiracy.

10. The Boarding Call

All passengers for Flight 284 to Darwin …” comes the call. Hugs all round. Alice says “Grandma, say a prayer to keep our house safe, won’t you.” She knows this is my regular thing so I promise. “And what about a safe flight too?”  Of course Alice, you will be fine! Grandma has decreed it.  They disappear down the tunnel and we turn to leave … finally.


11. We Head to the Car Park

But … the marathon is not yet over. Geoff tells me after going up hill and down dale that we are now in the wrong car park and we do need to retrace our steps …