by Steve Theunissen
[Editor's disclaimer: This Steve guy is a bit weird.]
I’m probably a bit weird, but I love airports.
Especially the big, famous ones like LAX and JFK. They have a
buzz of excitement about them, an air of expectancy and mystery,
what with those massive jets sweeping in and out to buzz busy
tourists off to exotic destinations.
So, it was pretty exciting
when I turned up at the booking agent to confirm my flight to
London. I’d never been to Heathrow and was really looking
forward to getting to see it – after all it is one of the
biggies when it comes to international airports. But, less than
5 minutes into my conversation with my travel agent, she throws
one at me from left field . . .
“All we have available for your London connection are Gattwick
flights,” she apologetically offers.
“Gattwick flights,” I echo. "What the heck are
“Well, Gattwick is a London airport. It’s not as big
as Heathrow, of course, but it provides all the services you’ll
need to . ..”
“But, I don’t want Gattwick flights,” I cut
her off, “Gattwick flights are not what I’m plonking
down 12 months of hard earned savings for. I want a Heathrow flight.
And that’s what I expect. You can go and sell your Gattwick
flights to any Joe Bloggs but let me tell you something, umm …
Sylvia – I may not look it but I’m a discerning traveler.
I’ve been to every major airport on the planet – except
Heathrow. I want to go to Heathrow. So, get me a flight to Heathrow,
This obviously threw Sylvia. I guess she was used to dealing with
subservient, yes ma’am types who would be all too happy to
accept Gattwick flights. Good for her. I was the customer here,
you know the one who actually pays her wages. So as far as I was
concerned she could take her Gattwick flights and stick them …
well, you get the picture.
“Excuse me, sir,” she straightened up noticeably,
her voice registering several octaves higher, "Your time
of travel just happens to coincide with the unveiling of a Hyde
Park statue in honor of David Beckham. It’s a very high
demand event. All flights through Heathrow have been sold out
for months. As it is we’re only just able to put you on
one of our Gattwick flights.”
I looked across the table in disbelief. “A statue of David
Beckham.,” I repeated her words, letting them sink in. “A
bloody statue of David Beckham. Who the heck would travel half
around the world to see a statue of that flamin’ tosser?
Now, are you seriously telling me that the reason that you’ve
got to shunt me onto one of these miserable Gattwick flights is
because of a pathetic piece of stone for that Beckham git?”
By now the poor womans’ hands were going clammy and she was
talking with an audible wheeze, “ Umm, yes sir. That is exactly
what I’m telling you. I’m very sorry but Gattwick flights
are the best we can do. However, I’m sure you’ll find
Gattwick to be a very agreeable airport, never the less.”
Yeah right – Gattwick turned out to be a dump. The queues
were horrendous, the service was laclustre, the staff were ugly
and the décor was, well, British. I couldn’t get
out of the joint fast enough. As I sat in the back of a filthy
London taxi cab, elated to be distancing myself from those horrible
Gattwick flights, I found myself cursing the name of the individual
responsible for my horrors at the hands of Gattwick flights in
the first place.
On a whim, I slipped the taxi driver a twenty
and told him to make tracks for Hyde Park. On the way, I made
him stop off at the Gattwick hardware store so I could pick up
a sledge hammer. You can probably guess the rest. The only redeeming
feature of this whole nightmare was that I ended up with five
nights free accommodation courtesy of the English tax payer. And
you can bet your last British pound that every second I was in
the joint I was cursing the name of David Beckham and those confounded
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