Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Queuing

January 2003

That night are conversation was full of anticipation for the week ahead. I would leave work, go to the London flat, shower, change my clothing and drive to Heathrow. I warned her of the possibility of disruption; ‘worse case is the flight is cancelled, the best I can hope is a few hours delay, I’ll text you to let you know, it will be too late to call you.

Terminal four was as busy as you could possibly imagine. People everywhere, asleep, sat in groups, watching the unchanging monitors, where the word ‘cancelled’ seemed to prevail. The Hong Kong flight though, was reported as ‘please wait’. What choice did I have?

I joined a queue, that snaked its way this way and that, so that it was impossible to calculate its length. An airport official walked passed. ‘What about the Hong Kong flight?’ I asked. ‘Cancelled’ she said. ‘So why does it say ‘wait’?’

Another official said ‘they are trying to find an aircraft, if they do, the flight will go’. Trying to find an aircraft? The man in front of me was incredulous. ‘How can they not find an aircraft? He was almost shouting.

A few places ahead of me, was a very attractive Asian lady, and what I assumed was her daughter. Was she really old enough to have a teenage daughter? She smiled at me. As the queue made its slow crawl forward, I followed her.

Hours passed without any news. Eventually though there was a call for the Hong Kong flight; ‘would all passengers make themselves known to airport officials’. The flight was going, I checked in behind the Asian lady.

However, we had further delay, as we queued to board the plane, another hour was lost. Then finally, we were ushered into the plane, and I found myself sat next to a young Asian girl, two seats behind the lady I’d been admiring earlier.

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