Sunday, December 10, 2017

going home

I wake up at seven. It's still dark outside. Ah, but I am in northern Europe. Sunrise at 8:35. Too, it's raining again. Europe has been wet for me this December.

It's wonderful to have an afternoon flight home. My morning is not rushed. I pack, enjoy a strong shower (I tell Ed our farmhouse shower is growing weaker each year... he laughs at that).

No need to go far for breakfast -- Les Editeurs on a Sunday morning, a wet Sunday morning no less will be quite empty.

(In Paris, these blocks are my home...)


Indeed, the entire neighborhood, perhaps all of Paris, looks like it's sleeping in today.


Over breakfast (just a croissant and coffee this morning) I play with my camera. I've had some fun with it on this trip.


And now all I have to do is pick up my bags and head out to the airport. Plenty of time, plenty of time... Ping! A phone message.

Well now. My flight to Atlanta is canceled. Or delayed. Not sure yet. But it's not looking good. I try calling Air France and quickly realize that I'm not going to solve this problem by phone. I call Ed to let him know that my arrival may fizzle into no arrival at all.

Yes, he tells me. I tried to call you earlier. I saw it on the news. Atlanta is experiencing incredible snow issues.

The irony! I mean the utter irony! I picked Atlanta (over Detroit or Minneapolis) as my US connecting airport because I was sure that city would not give me December weather problems in the way that the Midwest might.

You don't want to hear this, he continues, but we're experiencing perfect weather this Sunday here, in the Midwest. Rub it in, why don't you.

Well, time to persuade, cajole, beg. Time to head for the airport. Goodbye Paris!


You've been, as always -- beautiful.


A quick ride on the train and I am at the airport check-in counter. I spend a long long time at the airport check in counter. Air France tells me the flight is on! Departing this evening! I explain that it will give me a 23 minute layover which,  in an international connection, is silly. I will be spending the night on the floor of the Atlanta airport. I will surely miss the last flight out to Madison.

Do not worry, madame! Air France will give you a hotel voucher!

Again, an explanation is in order: Atlanta is in snow chaos. Many people will be looking for a place to stay. By the time I get there no voucher will help. I will be on the floor. Might you try booking me through Minneapolis or Detroit? (The irony!)
Those flights are all overbooked.
Try another city. 
The agent hesitates, then has a Eureka moment: we can maybe get you to Toronto and from there you can fly to Atlanta! 

We are at square one.

I try again. 

How about Chicago? Fly me there and I'll take a bus to Madison.

It takes forever. We must ask for permission to book you to Madison from Chicago. We and our partners -- we do not fly that route.
I know that. Forget the permission. Just let me get off at Chicago. I'll pay for my own bus.

But she is stuck on the call asking for permission. We must try that first.
I wait. And wait. And then I ask -- what time does the Chicago flight leave?
It strikes her that it leaves now. Go! We'll get permission by the time you get to Chicago. Go! Go!

I go alright. And I am grateful. Ed laughs that I am airline loyal. Oh, the perks are nice, but it is in moments of great chaos that loyalty really pays off. Thank you Air France. And thank you hotel in Paris! (Madame, if you can't get a flight today, we'll give you the nice room again for another night!)  Thank you thank you. And thank you all of you, who stick together and help your pals when things start to unravel.

In the air I watch Love Actually, the very finest movie about well, holidays and coming home and ... love, actually.

Post Scriptum:

It didn't all work out beautifully thereafter. In Chicago, I lost my seat on the final flight to Madison. United blamed Delta. Delta blamed Air France. I'm sure Air France would have blamed United if given the opportunity.

This is when you gather your wits and forge a solution. I hadn't fully believed in a perfect finale, so I kept my suitcase with me. When United said I hadn't a seat for any of the flights to Madison, I took my bags, waved goodbye to the whole lot of them and called Ed to get a recent bus schedule to Madison. With twenty minutes to spare, I walked over to the Hilton that stands by the bus terminal, bought an outrageously expensive snack for the bus ride (which I will submit to Delta for reimbursement -- that, and the bus ticket) and then sat back and exhaled.

Travel is easy, except when it's not.Then it's all on you: to stay calm, to appreciate the help that's offered, to find your own solutions when others cant find them for you. I cant say that I'm always perfect at doing any of this, but I try. It's hugely important to me do travel with kindness and patience and so, at the very least, at each and every turn, I try.

Home at last. Ed is waiting at the bus stop. My bags are with me. There's talk of snow tomorrow. There's music in the air.