Phoneless in Paris
Today has been quite a day. And when I say today, I mean the last full 24 hours. And when I say quite a day, I mean WOW I could use a drink. For those of you who aren’t already aware, I’m headed home for the holidays for a whole month and could not be more excited if I tried. So let me catch you up real quick: after graduation in September I decided to book a ticket home for the holidays for a long trip bc my current job (which I worked part time during my masters) is now a full time job and will allow me to leave for a long Christmas with the fam which is soooo worth putting off the search for a big kid job bc I haven’t been in California since last Christmas season and haven’t seen most of my family (and second family i.e. the Bearce family) since March. Seeing as how they’re my favorite people on the planet, this trip has been a long time coming. I booked my tickets while I was out in Greece this past September and found myself a ticket from the 16th of December to the 19th of January. See? I could never have gotten that much time off if I had a real big kid job (this is my justification for not finding one yet but like also it’s true so whatever).
Oh Paris. The city of love, as they say. A city of breathtaking architecture, mouthwatering food, and the undeniable feeling of love in the air. But Paris is not all sunshine and rainbows people. In fact, sometimes it’s cloudy with a chance of pick pocketers.
Yup. I’ve been to Paris twice in the last few years and apparently the third time’s the charm, bc 15 minutes after my arrival at the train station, I fell victim to the pick pocket capitol of Europe. 15 minutes. It wasn’t even long enough to actually mentally arrive in the country (bc as we all know I lag about 15 minutes like an old school dial up computer in any given situation) and just like that, I was phone-less. Well, not “just like that” so much as “just after an elaborately planned and probably well-used strategy to distract me while pulling my phone out of my jacket pocket” but you catch my drift. Ya girl was phone-less in yet another foreign country. I say another, bc for those of you that have been following my idiotic adventures for a while, you know that my phone has been stolen before (significantly more violently bc it was from a super jerk on a motorbike who also took my passport and wallet with him in Malaysia) and ironically enough, it’s the same exact type of phone that got stolen last time. I’m getting the distinct impression that the universe does not want me to have a Samsung Galaxy S8, so if anyone has any other phone recommendations, I’m ready to hear them. I prefer cheap.
So after a few moments of reflection which mostly involved me laughing hysterically and repeating “holy shit holy shit holy shit” I got my hands on a fellow traveler's phone and texted my mom and dad (whose numbers I remembered but that’s only bc they got those numbers in the years before I had a phone and so I had to actually remember them myself) and let them know that I’d be off the grid for the next few days.
Anyway aside from the casual loss of belongings, there was another super fun factor at play which I haven’t yet mentioned: the entirety of Paris public transportation systems are currently on strike. This is not new. French people and Spaniards alike go on strike like it’s their job (like, literally) so the super fun task of getting from one end of Paris to another without any actual consistent train possibilities fell to us. The joys. So I waited for a train for way too damn long only to shove myself onto a packed one like a couple of sardines bc when no other trains are running, the ones that do are full to the brim. I regrouped and emotionally rallied before heading out to see as many sights as possible – without the use of public transport. Mind you, Paris is massive. And there was no public transport. I walked a half marathon yesterday from our hotel to the Arc to the Eiffel Tower and everything in between – with a stop for crepes in between, bc like, obviously??
It wasn’t long before I was heading home to set alarms and make plans for transport to the airport (bc I am consistently stressed about catching flights bc I’ve missed a few in my time and this whole public transport strike thing really wasn’t helping). I thought I'd found a train that would run and planned several hours of leeway time just in case, only to walk over to the freaking metro station and see a totally and completely closed down train system. Alright, fine, so we’ll call an Uber, right? Wrong. An Uber would cost us a casual 100 euros, bc supply and demand is the enemy. So now what? Cry? Well I won’t lie, my next stop was to a French boulangerie for macarons and a very disappointing spinach quiche which happened to have freaking SALMON in it and nobody told me so I almost threw up into the airplane doggy bag but I digress) which is when I found ONE SINGLE BUS heading out in HALF AN HOUR which was about a 20 minute walk. Fine, so I walk. I get to the station and find a bus that is almost completely full, and cross my fingers that I will be allowed on it bc if I missed it I would have basically been down for the count bc they only come every half an hour and all these public transport issues were screwing me over. I made it – freaking barely – and spent the next hour thanking the universe for letting us get this far… but I spoke too soon, folks. Much too soon.
I arrived at the airport a solid 2.5h before our flight, which is pretty respectable in any normal freaking situation, but at this point what in my life should actually be normal, right? So I walk up to Air France (bc we’re flying a Delta flight operated by Air France) and they send me to some line which I eventually find out was not the line I should have been in in the first place bc there was a whole other check in area for our flight which no one mentioned bc everyone kept walking away when Itried to walk up and ask a question. Fabulous, we love the French. At this stage, Iwere starting to worry. I run up to the correct desk, and think I'm good to go, until the woman started shaking her head and looking confused. We asked her if everything was alright, and what was her answer? No. Literally, that’s all she said. The word “no.” Awesome. Fantastic. COME ON.
So apparently, something was wrong with my passport, as in the machine couldn’t read it, so she walked away to another counter to try and put it in manually. She was gone for what felt like forever. Did it work? No. What was wrong? Don’t know. She starts saying that something was wrong with it and spent the next half hour trying to call people from different departments trying to figure out what the hell was wrong. At this stage my flight literally LEAVING THE GATE in an hour and the likelihood of me making it through security and to my gate before they close boarding is slim to none. So like, obviously I’m crying, bc what the hell else am I going to do. A solid 20 minutes later, at which point I had not left to go through security on my own and the front desk had made no progress with his visa, somebody higher up made some sort of executive decision to let me fly. So… now I was still crying, but it was one part happy tears and one part there’s-still-no-way-I'll-make-it tears. I ran to the passport control area and it was all I could do not to explode standing there waiting to get through. Next up was security, where I met a couple hoping to catch the same flight. Fortunately one of them spoke fluent French and got us to the front of the security line – much to the chagrin of the man in charge of organizing the security line. After the rush through security, it was an all-out race to gate K51, which just so happened to be as far as any gate could possibly be from the security check point, bc of course it was. I won’t lie to you, folks. I am out of shape. A one-year intensive masters and a love of alcohol has not fed into the physical ability to make a break for it. Like, if I was running for my life, I would just give up. It’s not going to happen. In my defense, the couple was even further behind me, but they didn’t seem like the gym-going type, so my defense here is pretty weak. Anyway, I made it to the gate just in time and they let us on no problem (the front desk had told them there would be a couple of idiots running late) and we heavily breathed our way down the gangway to our plane, in total disbelief that we’d even made our flight period.
But for now, I’m going to sip my poor quality free airplane wine and appreciate the fact that I am about to see a whole bunch of my favorite people in the whole wide world. Sometimes life can punch you in the face, but it seems to work out alright in the end… phone or no phone.
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About the Author
Mouth like a sailor, great lacker of empathy, paper cut survivor, avid arguer, harsh critic of people who put clothes on their pets, easily distracte
USA, Mexico, Iceland, Austria, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Malta, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Poland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece, Vatican City, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guatemala, Kenya