Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chapter 4: And Then

On July 15 we kissed and hugged our friends and family and we cried as a taxi pulled up to take us to the train. Hana held me for a minute and said "Your mother is interfering too much with your life. You must go now. If you wish to come here we will take care of you, but you must leave your home. It's time."

I tried to understand Mom more on this trip. It was the first time we ever vacationed together and I feel like I learned a lot. S ometimes the things we don't want to do end up being the best things we do. Mom is much more fragile than I realized. I knew I had to step up and take care of things during the trip and we were about to embark on an awful return trip: Tel Aviv to Istanbul, Istanbul to Frankfurt, overnight in Frankfurt, Frankfurt to D.C. and finally D.C. to Chicago on the 16th. This is what you get when the airline flies you for free.

The first flight was delayed for some time so we shopped at my favorite jewelry designer's store, Michal Negrin. The jewelry is a quarter of the price at the airport. Mom bought herself a simple but beautiful necklace and tried to spend crazy money on me but I convinced her not to. When we got back to the gate we still had time so I told Mom I wanted to check out some books, but really went back to buy her matching earrings.

In Istanbul we had about an hour and a half so we shopped at the old bazaar store for some trinkets to bring for friends. We had already gone through the flight connection checkpoint and I knew where our gate was. I needed to get something to drink and then Mom wanted to get some silly airport pictures of us and then I looked up at the board and it said LAST CALL for our flight. I was like, huh????? How was that possible? I had this taken care of!

Mom and I started running down to the gate while she screamed behind me, "You better not have made a mistake!" We made it to the gate at 7:40 with a boarding time of 7:45 and I thought we were ok. But, they had another security checkpoint I wasn't expecting and despite the boarding pass listing 7:45 as the board time, it was really the flight time. Turkish airlines has a 15 minute policy about this and did not let us on the plane. We could see the plane and we were about 5 feet from the gate but they didn't let us on. We weren't the only ones this happened to. Security told me to run upstairs and talk to the Turkish airline attendants in the office and maybe they could open the gate for us. I RAN.

Mom yelled, "where are you going?" I turned around quickly and said, I'm going to try and get us on that plane! Stay there! I'll be right back!"

The office workers were behind an unmarked door in a hallway that took asking 5 people about before I could find it. They were nice but said that I had to go to "ticket exchange" and get on another flight. They said there might be another flight with a different airline to Frankfurt and we'd be ok. Going back to ticket exchange meant a lengthy hike back to the area where we had the flight connection checkpoint. I had to show my passport and boarding pass to about a million people in order just to get there. Finally I had two friendly guys help me at the counter but I was embarrassed by everything and realized very quickly that it was getting late. If we didn't get on a plane soon we'd be stuck in Istanbul. The guys asked where I was coming from and I blurted out, "Tel Aviv. Don't be mad! I like everyone I swear!"

They smiled. They checked other airlines because that was the last Turkish flight to Frankfurt that night. They said I might be able to get on a different flight, maybe even a direct to Chicago, but I would have to talk to sales. In order to do that I had to buy a visa to officially enter Turkey, go through customs, get upstairs to the tickets sales area, and come back for Mom with the newly issued boarding passes. They said sales could help us find a hotel if the flight isn't until tomorrow. Good grief. I looked at the line for customs and realized I had been away from Mom for nearly an hour. I had to go back and get her. The guys walked me through and explained to other guards what was going on.

Arriving back at the gate I saw my mother in the arms of a fellow traveler, weeping uncontrollably. I waved but she was such a wreck she didn't see me. The man holding her said in a heavy German accent, "Look there! There is Aviva! There she is!"

She blubbered on about how she thought they were holding me in some cell and that she was never going to see me again. She said that she called and left me several voice mails begging me to come back to the gate. I told her my phone was still not working properly and thought she knew that. Then I said that she needed to sit down so that I could explain what we had to do. I shook the man's hand and thanked him for taking care of her.

Oh wow. I knew my mom had a dramatic streak but this was not the time! Luckily I had the sense to buy some water on my way back to her. She was shaking violently and could barely walk to a chair. She said, "I don't feel good. I don't feel good."

Ok. Try to calm down. I am taking care of this. I made a mistake and now I have to fix it. You have to come with me now.

No. There was a woman from Turkish airlines who saw me crying and she said she would get us on a flight directly to Chicago.

Mom, she was trying to make you feel better. We have to exchange our boarding passes and we can't do that here. Trust me I just talked to like a million people trying to fix this.

You're wrong. She said she could help us. She was a supervisor.

Fine, fine. Where is she now?

Upstairs in the office.

I already talked to them. Please you have to follow me.

Let's go talk to her. I know where she is.

We walked upstairs to the same unmarked door was was confronted by rude gentleman that barked at us to go down to ticket exchange. They couldn't help us.


Then they got really pissed and started to walk away. She demanded to talk to the woman. They said she was on her dinner break. Mom wanted to wait for her. I asked this guy if the woman could really get us on another flight or if we had to go to ticket exchange anyway, and he said we had to go through the same procedure anyway to get the new boarding passes. I said ok , thank you and then she lost it.

How dare you undermine me when I am speaking.

Please I've been through this already. You need to follow me now.

Fine. Fine.

We walked away from the door and back toward ticket exchange all the while she is muttering, She said she was going to help us. We could have gotten on a direct flight to Chicago. If you would have just waited....

Right before leaving the area we couldn't go back to, I calmly said that if she really wanted to go back and wait for this woman I would wait but that she had to realize that I just ran around trying to fix this and I understand what to do.

What's the point now? No I don't want to. You never listen to me. Forget it.

Don't hold this against me. I don't think she can really help us. There is a procedure.

Forget it!!!!

As I pressed the elevator button she said under her breath, we were right there and you walked away instead of listening to me.

And then I lost it.

STOP GIVING ME SHIT!!!! I roared right in front of a woman in full burqa and her children..............

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