"All good things must come to an end."
That was the outlook my wife and I tried to maintain as we rode the crowded train to Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport. It had been a wonderful trip, but Paris had sunk her claws deep into us, and getting her to let go was proving to be an impossible task. We stood mostly in silence, both of us not wanting to speak and expose the sadness that would be clear in our voices. I watched as the last visions of Paris passed outside the window, and then....the train stopped.
At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, because it was a scheduled stop at a platform on the outskirts of Paris. Things went awry, however, when the driver came over the intercom, mumbled something in French, and then everyone got off the train. Well everyone except for us, and two guys from Iran...
|The ride into the city was much easier...|
Neither my wife and I, nor our new Iranian friends, spoke a word of French - well outside of "une éclair au chocolat s'il vous plaît" - but it didn't take a rocket scientist to understand that we needed to get off the train. My wife and I schlepped our huge suitcases out onto the platform and watched in disbelief as the train doors closed, and it pulled away into the dreary mist. Oh yeah, did I mention it was raining?
|First stop...Crepes in the Tuileries...|
In the real world, I talk to strangers for a living. I'm pretty good at it. There are two scenarios, however, where this skill has always failed me...talking to women when I was single, and asking strangers for help in a foreign country. Thanks to my paralysis, we stood on the platform for a few minutes utterly clueless as to our predicament. Thankfully, one of the Iranians asked someone what was going on, and learned that a new train would be along shortly.
At this point, we had about 90 minutes until our flight departed Charles de Gaulle, and I was starting to get a little nervous. I didn't have much faith that "shortly" would still mean we'd make it in time, but there wasn't much choice but to wait and hope for the best. I made small talk with the Iranians -"I promise, we don't all think you're the Axis of Evil" - while my wife dodged raindrops with a folded up newspaper. After standing in the light drizzle for about 20 minutes, the next train arrived, and we resumed our trek to the airport.
|The Pont Neuf...Lost my thumb apparently...|
We arrived at the airport with just over an hour before our flight. Check in was a breeze - thank you Delta medallion status - and we were through security with over a half hour until departure. We marched through the terminal toward our gate, but when we arrived something didn't seem quite right. The gate was empty. Just one agent behind the desk...no passengers.
"Ah Mr. and Mrs. Jones...Just in time." What?
The gate agent scanned our boarding passes, we made our way down the empty jet-way, and boarded a fully seated airplane. Feeling as if this was some weird episode of the Twilight Zone, I got out of the way before the flight attendant hit me in the bum as she closed the boarding door. "What kind of flight is this? Fully boarded and pushing back 20 minutes early?"
|A dreary day here is better than...well, anywhere...|
It was the first and only time in my life that I was the last one to board an aircraft. Apparently in Paris, when they say to be at the gate 30 minutes early, they mean it. I can't imagine how bad our predicament would have been had the replacement train only come a few minutes later. Actually, I can...
An extra night in Paris wouldn't have been so bad.
~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~