May 23, 2017
2 Hours To Liftoff
In my experience with bus drivers there seem to be two types: the exuberantly talkative, always joking, trying to get the bus engaged driver; or the politely quiet, have a good day, just doing my job driver. The driver of our early morning bus to Keflavik airport is the former.
Filled with passengers at the end of their vacations, the flybus is bouncing along a two lane highway to Keflavik, its driver almost leprichaunic in his merriment. His current scheme is imploring me to sing traditional lullabies in Icelandic. Abruptly, a man bounds to the front of the bus in travelers peril. He’s left his passport on another bus.
All jokes pushed aside the driver makes quick radio dispatches and locates the stray passport, its safe at the central bus station. The distressed traveler droops with relief. People nearby instinctively reach for their own IDs. As a collective the bus agrees to turn back for the stray passport.
1 Hour 30 Minutes
At the self check in kiosks the six of us are a model of efficiency, scanning passports in quick succession, printing out tickets, applying luggage tags. Paperwork done I set out to deposit my backpack while the others re-situate their bags.
At the baggage counter the attendant asks me to wait for my companions.
1 Hour 15 Minutes
Finally my companions circle around to the desk mysteriously bagless. Instead of going to the counter they followed the signs for large bags and already dropped their bags off and spent the last few minutes looking for me!
Unable to check my bag in without the tags on my companions bags the flustered attendant calls a manager over. Now the manager is scrambling to confirm the luggage tags without the luggage in question. Passports are re-scanned, more papers are printed, and a few terse calls are made.
Absent of our hefty backpacks we hasten through the airport. The security line is in sight when Sally remembers and uneaten can of beans in her carry on.
See we’re all splitting the cost of group meals on this trip. At a grocery store in Hella we bought 3 cans of beans in tomato sauce to add some protein to camp stove dinners. After the first two cans were rapidly consumed Sally assertained the last can for those of us who don’t shovel down food like maniacs. We proceeded to forget the can till this exact moment.
Yes, we could just throw the beans away and be done with it, but being cheap enough to fight your friends for a $1 can of beans means you’re also too cheap not to sit on the airport floor and eat that can of beans. Plus, they are delicious.
Beans eaten, can recycled, spoons licked clean and stowed, the two of us hustle up the stairs to the security gates.
There is no line for security, allowing us to blaze ahead. We weave through the large duty free shop, Iceland’s last attempt to get money out of us, and find the rest of the crew waiting just outside the shop.
This is when things get a little haywire. A few people want to buy last minute items duty free, some need to go to the bathroom.The group splits up to attend individual needs. Knowing our flight is fast approaching everyone tries to put some pep in their step. I want to find some food, half a can of beans only served to whet my appetite and remind me I haven’t eaten breakfast yet.
An exasperated Sally catches up to me at the deli counter. She tells me our gate, which we assumed was close by, is actually at the other end of the airport. I grab a cup of yogurt, pay, and hustle down the concourse.
Still frantic to complete our own tasks before boarding our group becomes sporadic. Some peel off to use the bathroom, others stop to fill water bottles. The gate is in our sights and we can hear our numbers being called over the intercom.
This is when, standing at the water fountain, I witness a moment of divine clarity. Sally, who is more that a little frustrated at our group’s inability to get itself together, has reached the gate. She looks back at her scatterbrained friends. She looks at the attendant checking tickets. Then she hands her ticket over and boards the plane alone.
She has figured it out. From now on the one rule for airplane travel is: just get yourself on the plane.
Until next time.