25 September 2010

Have You Ever Wondered What Being a T-Rex is Like?

My most recent trip to Serbia began very inauspiciously. I walked into the airport with my suitcase, duffel bag, camera case, the large shoulder bag that holds my monster laptop, and my regular shoulder bag that holds everything else. Three, maybe four steps into the airport I promptly fell flat on my face.

Well mostly it was my shins that took the brunt of the fall which was good because I was wearing glasses but still. And of course all my bags fell on top of me. Have you ever fallen like that? Me (and I do that often), I usually just want to remain sprawled on the ground for a couple minutes to gather my thoughts, assess the damage, and put off facing everyone who just saw me fall. That is usually not really an option though, especially if you happen to do this in the street. Which I have done. A quadron of very nice men rushed over to pull my luggage off me and and check to make sure I was ok. I am not really ok but what can you do?

I got to my feet and dragged my bags over to the United check in counter. Sigh. My flight wasn't until 5:30 but I'd planned to get to the airport at 2 because on my last trip it took over 90 minutes just to get up to the counter there were so many people. This time I was there super early...and walked straight up to one of the blasted check in counters. So with over three hours to spare I headed to security which was equally empty. Except that I was in line behind a woman with two small children and a zillion carry ons who had obviously never been near an airplane before. ever. No ma'am, you cannot bring large tubes of toothpaste, lotion, yogurt, and SCISSORS on the airplane. I was ready to stab her with the bloody scissors. Her and the security guard who was possibly the slowest moving person I have ever encountered in my life.

I finally got through (no problems with my bags thank you) and headed for the nifty new trains at Dulles that give the illusion it's a real airport. Then I got on the escalator, or at least tried to. My nemeses, gravity and stairs, struck again. The foot to first hit the escalator and flew. I grabbed the rail with my right hand but the blinding premonition of tumbling head over tail down the escalator prompted my to sacrifice the bag in my left hand in favor of holding the rail with both hands and hold on tight. Unfortunately (and yes it can get more unfortunate) I hadn't actually closed the bag I'd let go of so as it tumbled down the stairs everything flew out: pens, my passport, tickets, granola bars, and yes, my laptop. Awesome.

A very nice gentleman helped me grab everything from the bottom of the escalator and I limped on my way. So to inventory, I'd banged up my shins and knees pretty well, wrenched my back, and a possibly no longer working laptop, my writs were sore, and I was getting a headache. Oh, and then there was the mild humiliation. If there's a collection of funny security video clips I made top 10.

And that wasn't the end. My flight was delayed for two hours. Luckily I had a five hour layover in Munich so I wasn't going to miss my connection but frankly I'd rather spend the time in the Munich airport than in Dulles. We finally got on the plane and I was happy to discover that, while I had a middle seat, at least it was in the first row of econ plus so I had all that leg room. We were finally served typically bad United food but I was so tired and hungry at that point I was happy for almost anything. Unfortunately that's when the bad thing about being in the middle kicks in. With people (in this case large men) on either side of me with jutting elbows I had little choice but to keep mine tucked close to my body and use only my hands and lower arms. At that moment I felt a lot of sympathy for T-Rex's. Although now that I think on it, I can empathize a lot more with them than with other dinosaurs. I'd have gone for the meat option as well.

But I've arrived now and am happy to be back in Belgrade. Hopefully the entire airport experience will be limited to that and not a portent of my entire trip.

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