Archive for April, 2008

Terminal

April 1, 2008

With the typical English superficial horror of / secret delight in inefficiency, the newly opened Terminal 5 at Heathrow went from ‘All hail!’ to shambolic within hours of its grand opening. I had seen it on the news from my hotel in Edinburgh, and so took the precaution of checking the bag only to Heathrow. I fetched it, rechecked it again to Oslo so it wouldn’t get lost, and went back in through security. Since the plane from Edinburgh was an hour late, I was running and puffing through this process and made it just in time for the Oslo flight.

Terminal 5, handsome though it is, is, was indeed a mess – hundreds of men (and a few women) in security yellow coats with BA (British Airways) or BAA (British Airports Authority) on the back – were wandering up and down the corridors, in and out of those doors you and I may not breech, carrying flashlights or clipboards, but obviously lost, trying to look busy so no one would ask them anything or send them on an errand even more foolish and hopeless than the one they were currently on.

Passengers, meanwhile, with no information, no luggage, no signage or anything to help them along, went to pieces in queues or in corners, manifesting all five stages of grief.

I needn’t have bothered with my extra trouble – they lost my bag anyway. So here I am, high in an apartment building over the Aakers Elve Falls with only the sweaty clothes I threw on to make the trip, and BA has no idea, this next day, where my bag is or when it might arrive. CNN says there are 28,000 lost bags in Heathrow, so it could easily be weeks.

Oslo feels a bit lonely and sterile – and I am bound to this apartment for the evening in any case, since I have washed out my only clothes and have hung them to dry for the morning. (I hope). The falls are my straw to clutch at the moment, a beautiful cataract whitewater feature running full force down through the city, the old mills that line it now gentrified into boutique apartments and clever little shops. I look down on it wondering how one would run it in a kayak, a feat I will leave to younger bodies and reflexes.

The constant tumult of white water and spray is a balm to the eye, and background noise so like and yet so unlike the roar of an airplane, which I would welcome if it were the one bringing me my bag with the phone charger, the visual aids I need for class, my shaving brush, and a hundred other things that it will, in the fullness of time, be possible to replace, but I would really rather not.

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