Musings from Florence: Part 4
In praise of Mussolini, people always say, "he made the trains run on time." It always seemed an odd thing to praise a dictator for, but after a week in Italy, I can see how it would be a trait that caught people's attention. Nothing is quite on time in Italy, but it doesn't really matter. The culture has a relaxed--a "tomorrow" way--of looking at the world.
It's a wonderful attitude, until you face it in the airport at 5 in the morning.
On the outward journey, the woman who checked me in messed up my final destination. My bag was going to go to the right place, but not me. When we realized the error, she pressed a few buttons, then shrugged.
"They will straighten it out in Frankfurt."
Uh? "Can't you..." I started but she was already waving the next person up.
Fortunately, the tomorrow-mood is infectious. "OK," I said and walked away. I'd deal with it in Germany. The Germans are nothing if not efficient. However, the tomorrow mood lifted by the time we landed in Frankfurt. Iceland was erupting, security lines were longer and more rigorous than I'd seen in years and I couldn't find a cup of coffee to save my soul.
So I went to the USAirways desk and asked about my final destination. They looked at my records, muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, "Italians," and said that they could get me to Chicago, but they couldn't print a boarding pass.
"You will have to get it in Philadelphia."
"But can't you--"
"No, we can't."
Knowing better than to argue with anyone before my first cup of coffee, I simply nodded and went to my departure gate. Eight hours later, we land in Philadelphia. Custom lines are short, security lines are long AND I cannot go through security to get on my next flight without a boarding pass. So I got to the USAirways gate outside customs. After explaining the problem, the woman called up my records. Her supervisor leaned over her shoulder, shook his head and sighed, "Italians."
"We can't print a boarding pass," the woman said, "because you're on a codeshare fight with United, but the gate agent should be able to get you on the plane."
"But...security won't let me through without a boarding pass."
"We've developed a procedure for this," she said, and went to a cabinet, pulled out a stack of pre-printed forms and gave me a special pass to get through security. Clearly, I'm not the first with this problem.
At the United gate, the agent looked up my records and sighed.
"The Italians will never die of stress," I offered.
"Unless someone kills them for causing it," she muttered and handed over my boarding pass.