23 DECEMBER, 2007 Up at 4 a.m., into the taxi at ten to 5, and I arrived at Dublin Airport at 5.15. Plenty of time.
Except that we’ve driven straight into Bedlam.
The taximan looked at me in the rearview, after we’d both assessed the mile-long snake of taxis trying to make their way up to the doors. He suggested dropping me near to the parking deck, from which I would walk— a short walk, but still. There’s something appropriate about starting one’s journey after having been set down at the curb…
‘Yeah, sure,’ I said, already feeling serious unease. The plan worked a treat, as I looked down the slightly sloping raod that lead to the deaprtures terminal, the millions of taxis trying to make their way up. Good thing I’d gotten there so early. I mean, two hours! Plenty of time…
Except that the world and his wife— and her husband— were all leaving Dublin that morning. I jockeyed my way around the foyer, found an Aer Lingus terminal that didn’t have a queue that went on for days, and tried to get my boarding pass.
Except that it was demanding that I slide my passport into a tray, or something, and it kept rejecting it and panic bloomed further. I went to queue at the last-minute sales desk; as Aer Lingus have exclusively instituted check-in machines, there were no humans about to ask what I should do.
And then that didn’t seem to be a good idea. I saw a person, dressed in a Dublin Airport Authority polo shirt, bright pink with chartruese piping [appealing, bright, noticiable] and nearly threw myself at her feet. She directed me to a queue that was not the one in which passengers who had only to check in their bags were forming, and pointed me in the direction of a queue that would, presumably, get me to a human who could sort me out.
Except the queue wasn’t moving at all. It was 5.40.
‘I’m not going to make it,’ I said aloud. The couple in front of me turned.
‘What time is your flight?’ the fella asked.
‘Seven,’ I gasped, sweating.
‘Ours is at seven,’ the woman said calmly, and looked at the fella, who shrugged. They both looked at me.
‘Well, if you think you’ll make, it, then I will, too,’ I said, nonsensically but with relief.
They turned away.
Six a.m. They’ve called everyone for Malaga to skip to the front of the queue. I am stuck behind a family of fifteen and their forty five bags; amongst my many exaggerations in this post, this is not one of them, as I had plenty of time to count, and it was an oddly soothing exercise.
I am hyperventilating. There’s a rustle of activity behind the long desk, behind the computers, and a man all the way at the end calls for passengers going to Malaga, and I leap in place, and run down the length of the desk. I give him my Irish passport and my e-ticket. My hand is shaking.
‘Your passport’s expired,’ he said, looking up at me, blinking. I blink back. ‘Have you got another?’
Which under normal circumstances would be a ridiculous question. I hand him my American one.
And I’m in, and gone, running for the queue to the Xray, the conveyor belt, ready to smile at anyone and anything to smooth my way, almost there, almost there, almost there.
I arrive at the gate. It is 6.20 a.m. The flight begins embarkation right on the dot of half 6, and I sit in my seat and nearly collapse with relief.
It appears I will make it after all.