“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”
I wrote a little while ago about Tommy who got lost in the fog in a field beside his own house, and about Thomas Nutall the worst explorer in the world. Well, sense of direction, or the lack thereof, has come up many times in my journeys.
I used to travel on business with a guy called “Bill”. Bill was a nice man, old-school, good manners, fairly prim and proper I suppose you would say. He was in his seventies when I got to know him and worked along with him.
He should have been retired from business but he had a wife who sounded a lot better from a considerable distance and luckily she was not unhappy about getting rid of him for a while – as often as possible as it turns out!
Anyway, domestic bliss aside, Bill made frequent plane trips which obviously meant using airports.
Getting him on to a plane usually wasn’t so bad, although if he stopped to buy something or talk to somebody and you walked on without him, he would always be the last man on to the plane.
But the real fun was when Bill got off the plane. Even on short trips, where the gin and tonics hadn’t been flowing in his direction.
Actually, I’ll come back to that in a moment – I’d forgotten about this until I started to write this blog post.
Bill even got lost once inside the airplane itself. I mean actually inside the airplane! Can you believe it?
He had got up, I presume to go to the bathroom – no, hang on, I absolutely refuse to call what they have on airplanes a “bathroom”; for a start there’s no “bath”, and for another thing there’s no “room” either; it’s a “toilet”, and a small one at that, okay! And for another thing why are they always so small, whether you are on a huge 747 Jumbo jet (I haven’t yet been on one of those Airbus monsters) or a piddly small 737, the toilets are still the same size. All for the sake of being able to offer a couple of extra seats to keep more passengers total discomfort. End rant. Sorry about that, back to today’s blog.
As I was saying, he had got up, I presume to go to the bathroom. There had been a queue at the toilet closest to where Bill was sitting, so he wandered to another one on the far side, and at the back, of the plane (it was 747, small toilets but a big plane!)
But when he opened the door and walked out he didn’t know where he was! I mean, he knew where he was, he knew he was on a plane, but he didn’t know where his seat was and he couldn’t remember the number. And his routine was to put boarding passes, tickets and other paperwork neatly away in his carry on bag before take-off, so he had nothing to refer to.
He had a walk round first class and was gently ushered out of it by a polite, but firm, flight attendant, before he managed to make his way up the stairs. He inspected business class but saw nothing familiar. Then he spent the next twenty minutes walking up and down the wrong aisle looking for his seat in coach.
I watched what was going on. But I didn’t help him out. And I kept my head down so that he wouldn’t see me. We were sitting together and I didn’t want to give him a clue as to where to look. It was too funny and I was enjoying it, much better that whatever film they were showing at the time. And I knew there was a limit to where he could go.
After a good half hour he showed up.
“You were away for a while,” I said when he got back.
“I didn’t feel too well,” he told me. “And I went to ask one of the flight attendants for some water and an aspirin.”
“Oh?” I answered. “I though maybe you’d got lost or something.”
“No, no, nothing like that.”
I just left it, he’d already given me enough entertainment. He went to sleep and that was it until we landed.
Which is actually what I started to say in the first place. Bill was just a normal bloke when the airplane doors opened and everyone started to funnel out into the terminal. It was when he got out into the open that the fun started.
For some strange reason Bill invariably took off like a bullet. And always in the completely wrong direction. If he was going for a connecting flight he headed for baggage claim and the exit. If he was at his journey’s end he headed for connecting flights. And all at top speed.
The first few times I tried to run after him, but it was hard work, he had a remarkable turn of speed for an older man. After that I just let him run wherever he thought he was going. Once he even walked from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 at Heathrow airport, and back again, and that is quite a distance despite what the airport brochures tell you. It was perhaps fortunate that he didn’t get on the underground train and end up in the middle of London somewhere.
By the way, when an airport brochure says “close” reckon on at least half a mile or more, and if have lots of luggage that’s a long way.
Remarkably though, he always turned up – eventually. He never said what had happened or where he had been. And I never asked, so I don’t know.
I’m certain that made two of us!
Have you had similar experiences? Send them along. Let the world know what is happening before it is too late.