Friday, January 28, 2011

Mama Italiana: Numero Due

We made it to Hotel Leonardo.  Only problem now?

No crib.

I know what you're thinking, and no, this was not due to our lack of planning.  And surprisingly, I didn't freak out.

You see, I am a textbook first child - a complete and total rule follower.  But in addition to that, I battle being a worrier (this is where my hypochondriac tendencies kick in as well).  At home, Seth's crib has no bumpers, a really firm mattress, a sheet stretched within an inch of its life, and don't even think about putting a blanket or stuffed animal in there with him.  Funny how a blizzard (and not to mention a run-in with a crazy lady) can make you less picky about your child's sleeping environment.  Our options were narrowed to him sleeping on a pallet on the floor, in the bed with us, or in his stroller which almost lays completely flat.

The stroller won.

He actually slept better than he had in weeks.  Praise the Lord!

Refreshed, we met our shuttle arrangement the next morning at 7:30 for our 10:10 am flight thinking of course this would give us plenty of time.

Here is a picture of the line to check in:


It's hard to tell by the picture, but let me just tell you, when an airport employee is walking down the line whilst filming it with his iPhone, you know it's bad.  Really bad.  Not to mention the 10 minutes it took us to walk to the very end of the line.  But here in this very line we meet our highly anticipated "Mama Italiana."

At this point, we had been standing in the ridiculously long line for about fifteen minutes.  Our snail-like progress was such that we might make it on time to our flight, but it was going to be close.  We're talking Home Alone close.

Another airport employee, Helga (seriously, that was her name), had broken the line in two to create a walkway for those who needed to get to the ticket kiosks located on the other side of the line.  This was quite a big job because people who had just shown up to the airport would try to line up at the break in the line because surely the line couldn't be longer than that.

It was.

And we happened to be first in line at the break.  Front row seats, for Germany vs. Italy.

Now I am very competitive, have a strong sense of justice, and like I mentioned before, am a rule follower (Read: bad combination in this type of situation).  As you can guess, my first-child tendencies to obey were duking it out with my sense of fairness in an inward struggle on whether we should jump the gap to preserve our place in line.  After sizing up the very formidable Helga,  first-child won.  Though I watched everyone who walked by with suspicion until Taylor told me to take it easy.

Taking my attention off of the line ahead of us to respond - OK, let's be honest, to react, in a whiny voice I might add, "but Taylor, Helga isn't paying attention.  Somebody might cut! And we'll miss our flight all because of them!"

Did I mention that I get very high strung in stressful situations?

Taylor just shook his head knowing that arguing with me was a losing battle, and so, resorted to the best distraction method he has when I get like this.

"Look at Seth, he just made the cutest face.  Isn't he the best baby ever?"

Yes.  Totally asleep.

Realizing his ploy, my eyes darted back to the end of the line in front of us.  And low and behold, my worst fear was realized.  There in front of us, wagging her perfectly manicured index finger at Helga who towered over her by at least a foot, stood a sixty-something, stylish Mama Italiana rattling off in Italian.  Mama and her husband had queue-jumped right under Helga's nose (shocking, I know) and flat out refused to budge, pretending they had no idea what she was saying to them.  Each toted a cart piled high with designer luggage, and they were firmly planted in their new place in line -- the end of the line as far as they were concerned.

Helga finally regained her composure and in English tried to explain to Mama that they had cut and that the line is actually all the way back there.  Mama proceded to speak back to her in Italian again. They go back and forth like this for awhile, voices escalating, stepping closer to one another until Helga finally gives up and comes over to us saying something in German that must have been something like, "can you believe these people?" But as I still don't speak German and was too amused by the Italians to care that they just cut in front of us (OK, I cared a little. Rome wasn't built in a day, eh?), I just smiled and acted like I knew what she was saying.  

Believe it or not, the whole ordeal actually helped me to relax.

We finally got to jump the gap, and Taylor leaned over to tell me he was going to try to speak with Mama using Spanish.  I looked at him incredulously.  Bad idea jeans for so many reasons.

"Hey, they're both Latin based - we might be able to understand each other!" he defended himself as I tried to persuade him not to speak to the reason we would probably miss our flight.  He couldn't overcome the combination of his sanguine personality and extreme love for latin-based languages and began speaking to her. 

Mama's face lit up the second he opened his mouth, and before he even finished, she got going a  mile a minute in Italian pointing now and then back at Helga and shaking her head dramatically with disgust.  Taylor and I both kind of laughed because he couldn't understand a word she was saying. Though naturally, it didn't stop them from becoming fast friends.  We figured out that they were headed to Dallas (of all places!) to see their daughter and her family.  Their flight was to take off in 20 minutes.  Sick of being at the mercy of the ridiculously long line, Mama accosted every airport employee that walked by, and Taylor attempted to translate for her.  We received the same frustrating answer every time.  

"If you miss your flight, they will reschedule it when you get up to the ticket counter." 

I looked ahead at the massive line stretching out before us utterly appalled by the inefficiency.  The German people (well Frankfurt airport employees anyway) had let me down.

Outraged, I complained, "So you're telling me, those of us who might have a chance to make our flight are having to wait while other people who have already missed their flight hold up the line to get re-booked?  Why.  Are. We.  In.  The.  Same.  Line?!"

OK, you're right, I whispered this in Taylor's ear instead of asking the airport employee, but still! Germany had let me down.  But Mama wasn't going down with out a fight.

We were next to the ticket counter by now, but hadn't even made it to the snaky part of the line that you normally get in when you first arrive to the airport.  All of a sudden, Mama spotted an open agent at the ticket counter adjacent to us and made a break for it.  She had the velvet line maker (velvet line maker?! You know what I mean, right?) unlatched and was hauling her oversized luggage carrier to the agent before you could say spaghetti.  And the agent turned a blind eye and began checking her in!

Mama motioned to Papa to follow her, and dumbfounded, we witnessed Mama and Papa successfully check in.  All of the people she just cut in front of were either oblivious or staring in shocked admiration diffused of any anger over her jumping ahead.  She just had that effect on people.

With a mixture of awe and sadness we watched them give their last piece of luggage to the agent expecting them to start making their way toward security when we saw Mama, waving furiously for us to come over.  And you know what?  She worked her magic for us too. 

Because of Mama, we made our almost completely empty flight to Houston.  

Seth even got his very own seat.

Grazie Mama!


heather said...

Italians totally don't do queues.

Watch this:

Mostly 3:05 ff, but the whole thing is hilarious and completely true.

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