in fact, I left paris about a month ago. since leaving paris, I've been to london, all over(ish) ireland, frankfurt, driven the autobahn from frankfurt to innsbruck (austria), planned to drive from innsbruck to portugal, canceled that plan and am writing this on an airplane back to los angeles earlier than expected.
I left europe early largely because I'm a bit weary of the constant traveling baselessness, and because I miss her. while I was in the airport to board this flight, I was planning on writing this entry about the time I've spent tooling about and not living in paris. in fact, I look forward to writing those adventures and showing you those pictures. however, I had quite a time in the airport and that quite a time is the story y'all get this time forthwith posthaste.
my original plan was to fly back to LA in about a week to reconnect with krista and to make ready for burning man. but I've got one hand over my mouth and the other straight up in the air.
up I showed with the intention of waltzing onto a standby flight. easy as pie, n'est-ce pas? the very crowded-for-a-thursday heathrow had other shenanigans in store. as it was all a bit fast paced, camera gun-slingin wasn't in the cards. hence you're halfway through my first photoless entry in Idunnohowlong.
into the terminal I strode at about 10:10am for my 11:30 standby flight. tardy - bad form. I was greeted by a 90ish minute queue and asked if I was to wait in said queue for standby and was assured that in fact I was. feeling feudal, I assumed the position at the rear of the throng.
after a while, a nice redcoat came searching for those off to LA on the 11:30 flight. I was directed to the "I'm a slacker who showed up late and I may miss my flight if I don't queue in the short queue" queue. where I met and chatted with a french girl en route to miami via the aforementioned slacker queue. I miss speaking french already.
after another while, I make it to the counter redcoat who kindly directs me toward the queueless ticket counter adjacent to the door through which I strode 25 minutes a priori. asshole.
the ticket counter redcoat tells me that I've missed standby which closes an hour before the flight (review the timings and infer my mild frustration) but I can standby for the 3:00 flight. as I've just missed standby for the 11:30 flight, I'm #1 on the standby list. she then tells me that as long as 41 ticketed passengers don't show up for the 3:00 flight, I'm golden. uhhhh
I pay the taxation without representation penalty to the ticket counter redcoat and she directs me to the standby counter. the standby counter has more of a milling crowd than an actual queue.
(on a sidenote, I just finished watching v for vendetta and aside from cheesy ending, I was quite taken by the blatant yet cool social commentary. the first song my ipod shuffled up for me is the overture of 1812. coincidence?)
(on another sidenote, virgin atlantic's inflight entertainment kicks a heap of ass. you can choose any of 100ish movies to watch, start them when you want, pause, rewind, etc. I mention this because brick was one of the films. can you picture that?)
at the standby counter, I'm told that I can quit standing by and start saying bye as I'm totally on the flight. the redcoat even printed me a boarding pass. word.
so there's the boring prelude to my real story...
I'm waiting in the lounge and looking at pictures I've taken over the trip and reminiscing and looking forward to seeing krista.
long about 1:45, my mad dash commences.
they finally announce the gate for my flight. I'm off to a gate which turns out to be about a 20 minute walk from where I sat.
unsurprisingly, and in this case, quite fortuitously, I was "randomly" selected for the extra security check bit. I'm selected for the random search about 10% of the time I'm flying from LA and about 80% of the time I'm flying to LA. I suspect they hate the player and the game.
security guy: passport?
dan: here you go
sg: take off your bracelets
dan: as you wish
sg: take off your shoes
dan: aye aye
sg: take off your hat
dan: done and done
sg: can I look through your bags?
dan: go for it. but please be careful - that bag has a camera, laptop, harddrive, and drawy tablet and that bag has another camera
sg: thanks. please take out the camera and take off the cover
sg: lens cap?
dan: outta there
sg: fine. now take off the lens
dan: no problem
sg: thanks. now turn on the small camera
dan: your wish is my command
sg: now sample your water
dan: rum punch - quite satisfactory
sg: now take out the laptop and remove the battery
dan: uhhhh not ok. I need to go back right now - it seems I've forgotten my laptop in the lounge. can I leave all this stuff here?
sg: no. talk to the ticket counter folk first. and when you return, we'll need to go through this again.
dan: ok (packing up, putting on shoes, bracers, hat, putting everything away)
dan (to ticket counter folk) I forgot my laptop out there... I need to run and go fetch it quick like a bunny.
ticket counter: ok take your passport and ticket.
dan: ok - running off.
it was actually more of a waddle as I'm packmuling all the aforementioned heavy stuff. but it was a fast waddle. picture burt in the cartoon penguin scene from mary poppins.
I power-waddle the 10ish minutes back to the spot where I'd previously lounged.
unfortunately, as I power-waddled, the external hard drive fell out of my backpack and slapped the tiley ground somethin fierce.
I didn't have time to mourn - and I still hold out hope that it'll still work.
I return to the scene of my idiocy.
the russian guys who had been sitting near me told me that a couple minutes after I'd left, a girl in a black shirt came by and walked off with the laptop saying she was taking it to information.
I power waddle to the nearest official looking person and ask them what I should do and where I should go.
check security, they say. they gave me vague directions to find it.
I vaguely wander (waddle) off in that vague direction.
after a while, I find security. they've seen not hyde nor hare of my computer. but will announce it on the PA if somebody turns it in.
long about this time, I'm realizing that I don't know what I've done with my passport and ticket and travel notebook full of notes from the last weeks. I will further note that I've had this passport for 9 years. it's near full of stamps. I'm a bit slack when it comes to not losing things and I've always been impressed that I've never lost it and I was planning on retiring this passport after this trip and going to get a new one. to lose it at this stage would be frightful - not to mention logistically trying.
at this point, I've got no laptop, no passport, no boarding pass, a maybe dead hard drive, and am not all that far from missing my flight. whereas an hour ago I was golden, recall.
so I doublecheck everything again - no laptop, no passport, no ticket. but I did find my boarding pass. that's a small step in the right direction.
I powerwaddle back to the gate.
I stopped every single official looking airport guy along the way and asked if anybody had given them a passport.
what got frustrating is each and every one of them wanted me to stay and discuss my problem with them as if they're the first person to whom I'm reporting this problem.
when was the last time you had it?
have you checked security?
did you go to the loo?
you'd better tell your airline about this straight away.
I appreciated it from all of them. but I didn't have time for that and I didn't want to be rude. I was brisk. after the 4th time, I was quite brisk.
halfway through the 15 minute powerwaddle back to the gate, I ran into a black shirted girl holding a laptop who told me I'd forgotten my laptop.
I gave her a huge hug and asked if she's seen my passport.
I put my laptop away and waddled off.
after the 10th time of being asked if I'd left my passport in the loo, I may have stuck my toes on the too-brisk-for-brisk side of the rude/brisk line.
I waddled up to the gate and ask the ticket counter guys if they'd seen my passport or travel notebook.
no travel notebook, but they do have my passport. I distinctly remember them telling me I had to take my passport and me taking it. they, along with the evidence, say it ain't so.
at this point, I've got the laptop, passport, and boarding pass. all I'm missing is the travel notebook. and potentially all the pictures I've taken on this trip on the maybe-dead hard drive.
I go back to security guy and recreate the above rigamarole near verbatim.
during which I found my travel notebook in my bag.
I'm still on the plane, landing in about half an hour, being picked up by my mom, and taken to a warm bed and bath.
after about an hour fifteen of waddling and maddashing and being leaden, I managed to briskly alchemize myself back to golden.