I nearly didn’t wake up on time. I was saved by a ping — my American mobile phone beeping and buzzing with successive text messages. It was Tink, updating me on plans and logistics for an upcoming visit. But it was 430am London time, and it was 830pm Los Angeles time. I needed to wake up for a flight to Amsterdam.
Thank GOD you messaged me, I said, I slept through my alarms.
Well, add me to the list of people who call you to wake you up for flights, she said. I could hear the chuckle in her voice, even through a text message.
I was running behind, again. I dragged myself out of bed and stuffed myself into a suit. I shouldn’t admit that I again didn’t wash my hair. But I didn’t. Have I mentioned that I have a really great dry shampoo? Klorane and a chignon to the rescue.
With that, I was off for Amsterdam for a meeting. It sounds very jetset, doesn’t it? London; Amsterdam. In reality, it was exhausting. By that point, it was approximately 5am; I had slept for perhaps seven hours out of 48; I hadn’t washed my hair in two days.
Oh, and I was on crutches. All very sexy.
I made my way to Heathrow. My assistant was appalled that I’d ventured from New York to London without special assistance, and she’d arranged for helpers and wheelchairs at every stop for the rest of my trip.
I don’t know how to take in help — how to ask for it; what to do with it when it’s given to me. This trip was proving to be a steep learning curve. It was so busy; so intense; not a good time to be less than 100%. But it seemed I could be 120% if I just accepted the assistance being offered. Imagine that.
The flight to AMS was uneventful.
My meeting was in a beautiful old building, right on one of the central squares, across from the Rijksmuseum. Sometimes, I travel and I don’t even see the cities in which I’ve been. I’ve been to Amsterdam a number of times, and I’ve barely seen the city at all. But on Tuesday, the weather was gorgeous, and the windows of the boardroom were open to the square.
We had our meeting, then lunched along the canals. It was truly a treat. But it made me late for my return to the airport for a flight back to London. Thankfully, I was getting a wheelchair.
Eventually, they assigned me an insane Dutch woman, who took her job of getting me to my gate very seriously. Time was getting small. We only had a rickety airport wheelchair and our joint will, until she got the bright idea to commandeer one of those airport golf carts to get me to my destination.
I kid you not. I wish I could have taken photos of this.
At Schipol Airport, staffers leave little notes on the carts indicating who has the cart reserved and for when. My transporter ripped one of the notes off the cart, dramatically tore the note up, and we sped away towards gate D28.
Problem: our hot wheels didn’t have one of those pitiful beepy horns like you always hear at SFO, or LGA. Solution: My helper SCREAMED at people instead. Granted, she said, “Please get out of the way” or “Pardon!” Nonetheless, I am pretty sure we were doing about 25mph as we tore through the terminal.
She may have even had that thing up on two weeks at one point.
An important thing to note here — the transport professional (i.e., my new Dutch friend) — has to sort of clip the wheelchair on to the back of the cart so she can move the passenger from the cart to the plane. Except in my case, we were too busy Evil Kenievel-ing off to the D Gates to notice that the damned wheelchair had fallen off the cart.
So that happened.
Eventually, we arrived at my gate where my transporter discovered that the wheelchair was gone. She became unreasonably upset about this. Someone else might have asked whether I would be okay to walk; maybe apologised.
No, gentle readers. The woman proceeded to try to lift me and carry me to the pre-boarding waiting area at the gate. I was so startled, I didn’t try to stop her. When I recounted the story to my girlfriends immediately after it happened, the only sympathy I got was that Strand asked: Did she carry you like a baby or fireman style?
Leave it to the Women of Winesday…
(For the record, it was like a baby. Like a bride.)
So. That happened.
I left Amsterdam, and all of that weird behind me and headed back to London for an hour or two in the office, and then a business dinner. What a ridiculously long day!
At the end of the day, I crawled into bed, convinced that British Airways had single-handedly given me at least fifty grey hairs that day alone.