Arrive Alive: Collioure, France to NYC


Awake before the fishermen of Collioure (I know because I went down to the wharf to see if I could watch them prep for the day, before hitting the road).
I arrive before the airport opens in Perpignan
Thunderstorms at Orly delay departure from Perpignan, chopping away at Orly-CDG transfer opportunity
20E bribe to cabby to get me to CDG before noon works.
Roll into CSG just in time for scores of soldiers (or some such with assault rifles) to compress 10 check-in gates into two because, as one airport employee explains, “We have bomb, here, msr.”
Nobody gives a shit. everybody pushing to get to a kiosk to check in. Bad info is flying all over the place. kiosks are smoking and going dark, then BANG!… not BOOM… some poor twat has just had all his traveling worldlies (or the appalling sex toys he was afraid to reveal to security) that he’d left unattended detonated under a heap of lead blankets and a ballistic plastic blast shield.
Crown applauds lustily, goes back to dog-eat-doggery of airport check-in.
Dressed smart in jacket and proper shirt, I haughtily wave my passport and skip past the functionary at the first class/VIP security line. She calls out “Are you with them?” gesturing to three similarly attired travelers, I nod, of course, silly.
I arrive at The gate to discover, Air France has overbooked flight 018 to Newark and me (and the exit row seat I’ve human engineered) have been put on stand-by list until a late-arriving connecting flight from god knows where has arrived and (this was unstated, but obvious) those ticket-holders with more Air France frequent travel miles than me can board first.
Oh no I haven’t, I explain. I’m here now, hon. I’ve got a seat. Says so right here, it’s called 29J and I’m sitting in it. When your late arriving friends show up, they can have whatever seats are left, but I’m here, and I’ll have my seat thanks ever so much.
She tells me I do not understand.
I explain that I understand perfectly clearly, I just don’t agree with the plan.
I’m here, they’re not: My seat. Now please check me through, thank you.
Non, msr. Please you to wait. It will be okay.
Agreed… As long as my ass is in 29J, madame.
Don’t make trouble for all of us, spits an old duck from America, with a mix of anger and fear on her face, also in the stand-by line.
This isn’t trouble, hon. Trouble comes when I dont get my seat. I return her pinched disapproval with a dark menacing smile, and then clock a second gate attendant flirting with a gray haired French man (I hope he’s French, if he’s not, the outfit is inexcusable) while both lean over examining the flight information. I wait, patient/courteous, for the flirting to stop. She and I talk. We are reasonable people. We smile, we laugh sardonically about the bomb; scare c’est la vie and all that. She speaks with The Shrew guarding the gate. Time passes. My name is mispronounced over the klaxon. Air France is ready to board ticket-holder Chaahrlz OW-ahrd. Shortly after I board the shuttle bus to the plane, The Old Duck boards the bus, as well, trying not to make eye-contact.
You get in trouble, too? I ask.
She hates me.

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