A while ago, I was working in the Foreign Service. My job was to pick up a Federal Minister from the airport in Rio De Janeiro and get him to a Summit that Australia was involved with. Wracking my brains for small talk I said “how was your flight”?
“How was it?” he replied.
“Well I got on at one end, flew for a while and then got off at the other end”.
I thought this was hilarious, and it stuck with me.
I’ve unwittingly adopted it as my travel modus operandi. People bang on about long flights and transfers and the horrors, but really you get on at one end and then fly for a while and get off at the other end. The same for connections and transit airports – although airports do annoy me if they do it wrong. I hate a nation that can’t queue properly. Not in a racist way.
I have twice missed flights because I was too vague about allowing time to get to the airport, park etc. Once was terrible – a 05h00 flight, where I was going meet clients at the airport and fly with them to the outback of Australia, have a meeting with people on-site and then fly back the next day. So my clients were on the flight, I missed it and then pretty soon after that they weren’t my clients anymore.
So now very paranoid about getting to the airport on time, and not only that but getting through immigration in good time.
I have twice told people who were meeting me at midnight off a flight to meet me on the wrong day. There’s that thing where the flight lands at 10 minutes past midnight and so the date is the next day, but in fact it is still the same day. My niece rang me when I was transiting Heathrow, because she was the one picking me up in Perth, Australia. She said “are you at the airport?”.
“err, yes. How did you know. Oh. You mean Perth airport”. Sigh.
A few years ago I went to live in Japan, working for a Japanese company. I was never really sure until I got on the flight that I had the job, so I left work on Friday evening in Australia telling my colleagues that I may or may not be there for work on Monday. I stayed in Japan for three years, working in motorsport. But I was very conscious as I got off the plane in Hokkaido that I hadn’t even read a guide book, let alone learnt any of the language.
I’ve followed this pattern recently in India, and come to think of it in France where I am based now. My partner is French, we have been together for almost three years. Recently I read Sarah Turnbull’s ‘Almost French’ . What a revelation! He’s French! He cares about personal appearances and mixing food flavours.
But I think perhaps I should try to focus a bit more, and in fact this year I have become quite martial in my packing. This is because I went on a road trip through Argentina and Chile at the start of the year. A fifteen day road trip for about 2,000 people. My bag goes one way and I go another, and if I’m lucky I’ll see it again the same day. Each days starts in the dark at about 05h00, and you have to grope around in the dark to find the things that you left in dark the night before. The weak ones get left behind.
I’m so lucky to be able to have adventures and for me its all about the adventure. But I’m more than happy to get to the airport three hours before departure if it means I won’t miss a flight!
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