I Cut It Finer Than You Do!
About a week ago, Mike, from the Zebra Clan, invited me to attend his blog party! I have never attended a blog-party before, so it was awesome to get the invitation. Like most blog parties (I assume — I’ve never been to one before) this one is a theme-party. And the theme of the party is… bragging! We get to brag about ourselves without fear of reproach.
Today I am going to brag about my close shaves. I won’t brag about my close shaves on a broom-stick (which may or may not involve muggles in helicopters), I’ll brag about my close shaves in airports. I’ll brag about the great number of plane flights that I have nearly missed: far more, I am sure, than you!
The first flight that I remember almost missing (though I’m sure there were others before then) was in September 2004. Our family turned up at Phnom Penh Airport wanting to fly to Kuala Lumpur, and from there, four days later, to Sydney. But the officials said that Mum would need special permission to obtain a Malaysian visa, because she was seven months pregnant. To obtain the permission, we would have to go to the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh. That would almost certainly mean missing our flight! But after some tense discussion, we were saved: they let us transfer our KL-to-Sydney tickets so that we would only spend six hours in Kuala Lumpur Airport. We saw all our relatives four days earlier than we expected!
Then there was the time in April 2010, when we were due to fly from Sydney to Bangkok. By this time our family had grown to six, so it was necessary to come to the airport in two cars. Dad and I came with a friend of Grandpa’s: we had a smooth trip across Sydney and were at the airport within an hour. We waited… and waited for Grandpa and girls in the other car. I was beginning to bite my nails, eyeing the departure board in suspense, when finally they arrived — at least half an hour after us. Grandpa had taken a miss-turn (most unlike him) and had gone through the city centre which was thick with traffic. We hastily said our good-byes, checked in, and fairly ran to the gate — where we discovered that the plane was running even later than we were.
On the most exciting case of all, however, I wasn’t even flying. It was July 2010 and the oldest of my three younger sisters and my Mum were flying from Phnom Penh to Singapore. The rest of us were driving down to the coast. We dropped them off at the airport and set off, but we had hardly been going five minutes when Mum called. Dad was driving, so I spent at least ten seconds trying to figure out how to answer the mobile phone: “They’re not letting us fly.” She said, when I finally picked up, “Ruth doesn’t have a Cambodian visa in her passport.” We abruptly did an about turn and were soon back at the airport. The problem was soon apparent: Ruth had recently been issued a new passport. The visa was in the old one. “Well where is the old one?” the airport officials asked, “Can you go into the city and get it?” But it wasn’t that simple. We had left the passport at home — a full nine hours drive from Phnom Penh! The only alternative was for her to get a new visa. We rushed across the busy road to the office where visas could be issued. The official wasn’t in. I paced the office in frustration while the others sat. About five minutes later, someone came to get us a visa — but we would need a photo. Dad fled back across the busy road like a rabbit and retrieved the camera from the car; he snapped a hasty shot of Ruth, jumped into the car and drove off in search of a photo-developing place. Now the rest of us sat — or paced — and the official patiently filled out the forms. In a surprisingly short space of time, Dad was back — screeching to a halt in an illegal parking spot, bolting to office without bothering to lock the car, and thrusting the photo down on the secretary’s desk. Then Ruth and Mum sprinted back across the road and caught the plane with minutes to spare. I considered including Ruth’s visa photo here, but she wouldn’t like that one bit: it was a shocker of a photo.
More recently there was the time we flew from Kuala Lumpur to Colombo. We spent too much time eating breakfast in the airport, and by the time we were ready to go through Customs we were already cutting it fine. But at Customs we were in the queue of a novice official and our line moved like dripping tar. By the time we got through, it was 12 minutes past boarding time. As we hurried to the plane — no buses in the budget terminal — we heard our names called over the loudspeaker. For all my nearly missed flights, I have only had that happen to me the once. Ordinarily we would have run to catch the plane, but Dad had Dengue Fever — which doesn’t make one feel like running. When we finally arrived, the plane was still there — and there about 150 people standing around it. The plane had some problem, so we would be diverted to another flight! But then they decided the problem wasn’t serious enough to cancel the flight, so we all got on after all.
I could go on and on about late taxis, traffic jams, and general complacency — all of which caused me (us) a very close airport shave. But I don’t feel like it, and these examples are probably sufficient for you. It is enough for you to know that I have come close to missing very many flights. Far, far more than you have nearly missed. But I still have a 100% success rate. I may cut it fine, but I haven’t missed a flight yet!