Monday, July 30, 2007

4 June: Confusion at the Flughafen

I had to drive to Frankfurt this morning to pick up my mom at the airport; her flight was supposed to get in around midday and I gave myself two hours to get there. There was a bit of traffic on the Autobahn as usual, but I’ve now made this drive four times and it seems to take exactly two hours every time, regardless of the traffic. At least some things in life are consistent. Being an old pro by now with regards to the Frankfurt airport, I made my way with comparative ease to the same garage that I had used last fall when I picked up my parents and walked into Terminal C, only to find that Mom’s flight was now listed as coming in to Terminal B. Fortunately this only required a quick walk across the street to the other terminal. I found the sliding doors where it looked like she was most likely to come out, and sat down to wait. After just a few minutes, people started coming out the doors, and a lot of them looked to be American, so I was pretty sure her flight had arrived. I waited…and waited…and waited…but no Mom.

When the stream of people had slowed to an occasional drip and Mom’s flight had moved down the arrival board several slots, I figured that something was wrong. Mom was traveling with carry-on luggage only, and everyone who had come out of these doors in front of me was lugging their checked bags. I began to wonder if perhaps Mom might have come out a different exit, so I walked about 100 feet down the hall to an information desk and asked if there were any other exits that passengers without checked luggage might use. The woman (who spoke English, of course) directed me to go upstairs, find the information desk with a large football hanging over it, and then look for a long passageway to the right. I took the escalator upstairs and found myself in the swarming ticketing area. It took me a few minutes of wandering around but I finally found the giant hanging soccer ball and made my way towards it.

Right about this point, I could swear that I heard my name broadcast over the intercom. At least, I was pretty sure I heard my first name but the rest of it was gobbledegook and it was most definitely in German. Now why the heck would they be calling my name in German? I walked up to the information desk and addressed a smiling black man who, it turns out, was either American or spoke English with a perfect American accent. (As an aside, I always speak English in these situations. I figure, it’s their job to speak English and I’d rather avoid any silly misunderstandings.) I told him I was looking for my mom and thought I had just heard my name called. He chuckled and said, “Oh, so you’re hearing things?” and I said, “Yes, it’s quite possible!” He looked up my name and sure enough, my mom had been paging me. The nice man told me to go back downstairs to the very same information desk that I had departed from less than five minutes previously.

I went down there and, lo and behold, there was my mom. She had been waiting for me in front of that desk for an hour, while I was waiting 100 feet away! They had been paging me the whole time, in English and in German, but I hadn’t heard a thing until I went upstairs. How I missed her when I came by the desk the first time, we’ll never know. We were also pretty frustrated that the people at the information desk didn’t think to consider that I just might be waiting at the door where the vast majority of passengers come out! Such is life.

The drive home was uneventful. We went grocery shopping and Mom spent the rest of the day trying not to fall asleep, but failing miserably!

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