Thursday, July 26

Rome Airport: A Traveler's Odyssey

My little niece & nephews left for the airport, bound for home.  It wasn’t long however, that I received the frantic call. No, the flight wasn’t delayed 6 hrs.: the security people determined that the kids’ mini-skateboards were Weapons of Mass Destruction. Of course, this is not outlandish, given the times -- it could happen anywhere given that we know that 6 yr. olds from suburbia may be hell-bent on crashing their plane into the Atlantic Ocean…(and, after spending a few weeks with them, I’d say that this conjecture is purely plausible).
So, yes, I would go back to the airport security and see if I could retrieve them for my teary-eyed bundles of joy.
I drive right up to the airport entrance find a parking spot, only to discover that the parking meter doesn’t work. Parking police are ticketing wildly; laughing all the way to the bank. Resolved that, on to the next obstacle.

The Italian airports, your first entre√® into the country, their, say, calling card, are nothing short of inhospitable. Actually, I think it’s all part of a grand marketing scheme: they might as well start you off in the full-on intensive course in poor customer service, surly officials, and general chaos that you’ll be meeting up with time and again on your trip, right from the word go. But, this, I’ll save for another entry.

As you approach the airport doors, you find them blanketed with stickers, front and center, all the way down the walkway, across each terminal. In arrivals, you are not met with “Benvenuti! Enjoy your stay”, nor in departures do you find a chipper, “Arriverderci! Come again soon!” No, what you get, is a huge DO NOT ENTER white symbol with a bold red bar going through it. Below, the mistaken timetable, if you actually take such time to stop and entertain the sign while you’re rushing to your gate, states AIRPORT CLOSED from 12pm to 6am. I often find it amusing that most foreigners actually march up and down the walkway, looking for the one door that might be open.

The Italians, oblivious to these omnipresent warning labels, just waltz right in.
On my way toward the Security Check, I find an office right nearby, labeled, EXTERNAL RELATIONS; which me means, me: Jane Q. Public. I move toward the doors below, only to discover, huge warning labels plastered on both doors, stating Authorized Personnel Only. I debate whether or not I’m authorized for a while, but decide to go straight for the grail.

Back in the boarding line, I bark why I am there, and, thanking Italy for being just as it is, I'm allowed to go through. This would never play in Peoria! Once at the e-rays, I find a baker’s dozen of security people, mostly talking with each other while checking in bags.
They all eye me—this loose cannon, with no ticket, no bags to x-ray, and did I mention a dog? And yet, the important ones, first turn their backs, and then proceed to leave the premises. Must be their coffee break.
I finally attract one woman’s attention. I explain why I am standing there.
And of course, she offers me the standard Italian response to each and every dilemma which is not in their job description: “I can't do anything. We don’t have them. They’ve been thrown out by now.”

Rule no. 1 when living in Italy: NEVER EVER -- NEVER EVER EVER -- TAKE "NO" FOR AN ANSWER. You will end up packing your bags within a week in sheer defeat. Always, always, continue to plead your case…after all, is this not the country of Cicero, Caesar and St. Francis? Great orators, each and every one of them.
So, that’s what I did. I asked to be escorted to the trash bin. After all, I might manage to find some brand new bottles of water, lipsticks and all kinds of make up!
“No, we can’t do it, we don’t know where it is, by now they’re disposed of…etc. etc.”

Finally, a nice officer overhearing my dilemma, and perhaps noticing my cleavage (Rule no. 2: Always Dress Appropriately), said he knew all about the skateboards, and yes, they were still here (probably in his colleagues’ gym bag), and Ecco! Fatto! There appeared before me, two brand new mini-skateboards.
I thanked them effusively, and, with my newfound WMD, proceeded to go back through the crowded security area, and into the even more crowded check-in area.
Once outside, I tossed them into the back of my real weapon of mass destruction (if you really stop for a moment to examine the stats), and sped off toward home.


pt said...

in italy, cleavage IS currency...

Anonymous said...

Cleavage is definitely the way to get things done here...

Anonymous said...

hysterical. that mays woman ain't got nothing on you tucc!