Running on Empty

I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to make it through this blog post. I’m home, I’m sitting at the desk in the junk room, and I’m typing. It’s been a long day.

The journey home from Germany is becoming somewhat routine. I get up, have a shower, get dressed, pack my bag, check out of the hotel, walk to the station, buy a ticket, go to the airport, check my bags in, go through departures, and then wait for the flight.

I guess something out of the ordinary did happen though – while checking my suitcase in at Frankfurt, the girl on the counter with my boarding pass looked up, and told me the exact gate my plane would depart from. Nobody has ever done this before – I can only guess that she does the same journey, or has memorised the planes that depart from particular gates. I smiled, and said “Oh, thankyou!”, genuinely grateful I wouldn’t have to search out my flight on the information boards. She smiled the best smile back as I clumsily picked my way through the small army of disorganised passengers bearing down on her.

I just remembered – something else happened too. I forgot to take the Amazon Kindle from my backpack while going through security, which earned me a visit with a security officer to go through my bag. He dug around for quite some time before waving the kindle in the air, and asking if I could log into it for him. As soon as I did, he interrupted me.

“I’ve seen enough – you can go”.

I wonder why he didn’t want to admire my selection of forgettable books?

Once on the plane, I got the impression that a ridiculously clothed English guy with bleached hair had sat in the wrong place on the plane. It quickly became apparent that he saw a very pretty blonde girl, and just decided there and then to sit next to her. Let’s forget that planes tend to be fully booked, and that he looked like a hungover version of Rupert the Bear. For the first twenty minutes of the flight I put up with his inane conversation, which somehow cut through everybody elses. After moving seats for a few minutes, he was back sitting next to the girl, and doing his level best to chat her up. I dug the headphones out of my bag and put some music on, specifically to block him out.

The guy sitting next to me on the plane had just retrieved a laptop from the overhead compartments, and got comfortable with it on the tray table in front of him, when the 50-something guy in front of him reclined his seat, and made it completely and utterly impossible for him to do anything. Why on earth do planes have reclining seats? And why are people so ignorant about the effect they will have on passengers behind them? I once sat on a plane to San Francisco behind an asshole that kept reclining his seat, even though the stewardesses kept telling him to raise it again (because it meant I couldn’t eat the meal, read a book, or pretty much anything really).

One we reached London I somehow found myself walking behind the Rupert trousered idiot. The girl he had subjected to his unique brand of conversation had apparently dropped him like a stone after humoring him for the last couple of hours.

The next leg of the journey home took me along a mile long tunnel walk underneath the airport towards the “Heathrow Express” train. This is a train service that takes you from the airport into Paddington Station in London. In Frankfurt, a similar train costs less than five euros. In London, the same service costs 21 pounds (about 25 euros) – so five times more expensive for essentially the same service. It’s ridiculous.

While sitting on the train minding my own business a member of staff came along selling tickets. An Indian lady sitting opposite me that had been preening herself for the entire journey so far had no ticket. When asked if she would like a single, or a return ticket, she replied

“Oh, I’m not travelling like this again – I shall get a taxi back”.

“So a single then?”

I loved the staff member’s answer. He wasn’t going to get into her aloof, prejudiced bullshit – and he somehow made her look ridiculous at the same time.

The final part of my journey home involved the familiar sequence of trains from Paddington Station back to my home town. I quietly sat and filed a number of the photos I had taken on Instagram, and caught up with friends that live inside my phone to while away the time. I messaged my other half along the way too:

“Is it Pizza night?”

“It can be.”

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