29 August 2007

A day of much frustration

I'm not over jetlag, so in order to get up at 8:00 this morning, I set an alarm clock on my computer. See, I have this nice beeping alarm clock that doesn't depend on my computer being in a good mood, but it's packed in the delayed (I won't call it lost) suitcase.

So I woke up at 10:30. I had some orange juice for breakfast and got out the door by 11:15, heading to the airport.

[Background: See, yesterday evening had some adventures. I went to a phone and internet place to call the number the airport gave me, since according to the internet they have my bag but are waiting for me to contact them to arrange delivery. The number didn't work, and the guy who was helping me try to get it to work suggested that I just go to the airport. I came back to the apartment, e-mailed my parents, and then we embarked on the adventure that was talking to a North American toll-free number from France over Skype, through my dad. They were able to give me a different number, so I went back to the phone and internet place to try it. No one answered. I knew that getting to the airport and finding the baggage services place would take longer than I had before the thing closed, so I gave up and watched a movie.]

Now picture the airport. There are three terminals. For some reason, Terminal 3 is in between Terminal 2. The three terminals are quite far apart, so you have to take a tram thingie to get to another one. Terminal 2 is divided into six "halls," 2A-2F, each one the size of what a sensible airport calls a terminal. For some reason, the halls aren't in alphabetical order. The train arrives in the middle of Terminal 2. Got your bearings? Good, because I didn't.

I picked a direction and walked until I found an information booth, where a helpful man told me that Air Canada was all the way on the other side of T2, in 2A. He pointed out how I should get there. Even with the escalators and moving walkways to speed up the journey, it was a 15 minute walk.
At another information booth, I learned that I would have to get a special ticket thingie from the Air Canada ticket selling people (aren't I eloquent?) in order to go backwards through customs to the arrivals area. That was easy enough, and the customs guy was sympathetic.

So, without a huge amount of difficulty and only a moderate amount of frustration, I arrived at the familiar lost baggage counter of Air Canada. The lady looked my bag up and confirmed that it had been found. She called the Land of Lost Luggage (my liberal translation) and described my bag. The guy down there couldn't find it, so once she had studied the photo in my camera, she went and looked herself. No luck. However, she did know some information that I didn't: it was United that had started the problem, by not putting the bag on my first flight. Therefore it came into Paris on a United flight. And it therefore should be with the United lost luggage, since obviously they hadn't forwarded it on to Air Canada yet. I could either wait for tomorrow and call, or, if I had free time, I could go to T1 and talk with United. I had time.

Another 15 minutes and a few questions to the wonderful information people, and I had found the shuttle/tram to the other terminals. It's an eight minute ride, and luckily at T1 there are more information booths, so it didn't take too long for me to find the United ticket counter. That woman directed me upstairs, but they said that I needed a little ticket like I had gotten from Air Canada. So I went back, and she decided to call and tell them to shove it (actually, she just said that that was a silly rule, and she would tell them to let me in; however, the sentiment was about the same). The man on the other end talked to me (in an interesting mixture of French and English) and told me that just that morning the bag had started its journey over to Air Canada. However, since the terminals were so far apart and since the journey was so indirect, the average bag making that trip did it in 3-6 hours, if all went fast and smoothly. He had my file reference number and everything, and said that he himself had seen the bag go, so I trust him. So I went back to Air Canada at T2.

On the way to the ticket selling people, I stopped and ate lunch at McDonald's, and took advantage of the full magical emotional healing powers of ketchup. This time, I asked the ticket selling lady to call the baggage service and tell them that United had sent the bag, and ask if it had by chance arrived. If not, I would be willing to hang around in a café and read until it did. However, the bag hadn't arrived, and for the rest of the day they only had one person on staff, so there was no one to venture into the luggage no-man's land to look for the bag. She said that my best bet would be to call back tomorrow in the middle of the morning (Oh no, without an alarm clock?? I thought) and they should, by then, have the bag and be able to arrange delivery.

Another walk across T2, another $10 train ticket (I plan to write an angry letter to United telling them how horrible their system is and demanding at the very least, reimbursement for the hassles I've endured and the discomfort of not having any more socks, or better, enough frequent flyer miles to come back to Paris and regain the two days I've spent (so far) dealing with their inefficient system), and I set off back to Paris.

My other errand for the day was to go buy a train ticket to Angers, where I'll be studying. My landlord there said that she could pick me up if I arrive in the morning, so I got (with very very little frustration) a ticket for 10am Monday, which means that I'll want to leave my Paris apartment around 8:30. I can't believe I only have about 4 days left, less if I consider that tomorrow morning and possibly part of the afternoon will be spent attempting to get my socks (and the rest of my clothes, but honestly they're not as highly desired) delivered.

After I got my ticket, I decided to go see a movie, and saw Les Simpson: le film (original title, according to the Pariscope where I got the schedule: "The Simpsons: the movies"). It was interesting to notice what the French people laughed at. There were of course laughs at the slapstick, and at all of the physical humor in general. I think that all of the political jokes, which were heartily laughed at when I saw the movie in America, went right over everyone's heads, since there was no reaction whatsoever. Some jokes didn't translate wonderfully, and some would only be recognized as jokes by people who have seen a huge amount of the series, so it's understandable that people wouldn't laugh. However, I was glad to see that, unlike the Russians, the French understand sarcasm!

Now I'm going to make dinner, which is ramen and nectarines from the supermarket. To drink, Evian, which is surprisingly the least expensive bottled water. Then I'll do another load of sink laundry.
Tomorrow afternoon I promise I'll be a good tourist and see interesting things and take pictures of them.
Until then,
I pray you, sirs and madams, to accept the assurances of my most distinguished salutations,
Kel Miller
[that's typical of how French formal letters end, and I think it sounds ridiculous in English]

No comments: