I am an excellent traveler. Plane rides, train rides, boat rides or float rides–it is a skill I have.
In some ways I feel I was born with this skill (like how naturally level-headed I am…ahem), but in other ways, I’m sure it’s a practised quality. My parents worked very hard to provide our family with experiences. We were taught to value moments over…stuff.
In the end, my parents might be regretting that code of ethics, though…on account of the fact that my travels took me hundreds of miles away, across international borders and right into the arms of the love of my life:
I once navigated myself from Brussels, Belgium on a train to the metro station which took me to the RER-B train which led to a bus stop where I caught a ride to the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport with little knowledge of the language, three large suitcases, a duffel bag, a laptop tote, a carry on, and a four-foot umbrella wrapped in cardboard (my dad worked for an airline and I was allowed unlimited luggage space, you see) and 100 Euros to my name. I did it all by myself, and I was not seduced by any Europeans in the process [despite the warnings to the contrary from my Aunt Linda].
Is keeping track of a kid really that much more difficult? I wouldn’t think so, but I must be wrong, at least according to one frazzled family emigrating to Canada from the Philippines.
Imagine if you were a two year-old kid stuck–lost and alone–in Vancouver. Vancouver! I’ve heard of kids getting lost in Disneyland, where the fun and churros never end, but Vancouver? In the Vancouver airport, no less. It absolutely baffles me. A mother, a father, and two grandparents were evidently so busy getting themselves onto a connecting flight from Vancouver to Winnipeg, that they up and left their two year-old somewhere after getting through security. They each assumed one of the others had the child.
Can you believe that? These four adults (two of whom were grandparents and may have been elderly, in which case I forgive them) handed in their boarding passes, walked down the ramp, onto the plane and down the aisles to their seats. They then settled themselves in, possibly even asking a fellow passenger to trade for the window seat (as bartering is wont to happen on commercial plane rides), cozied up with a nice book or maybe a copy of SkyMall™, and prepared for takeoff. The plane departed, the passengers were served complimentary drinks and peanuts, and still these four adults noticed nothing amiss.
Back in Vancouver, AirCanada™ employees had stumbled upon the abandoned child (who had no identification, since his parents were holding onto it for safe keeping, no doubt). Children his age do not require a boarding pass for flights, so AirCanada™ had no way of knowing what flight he’d missed, or what imbeciles could have left him behind. Finally, with the help of a Tagalog translator and some in-depth searching of the passenger listings, Vancouver employees tracked down the child’s family, who were by then halfway to Winnipeg.
Can you imagine being the airline stewardess chosen to break that news to the parents?
“Umm…excuse me, sir? Ma’am? Are you…forgetting anything? A kid, maybe? Would you like another ginger-ale to calm your nerves while you wait out this flight, and another one back to where you left him? Or maybe this month’s edition of Parenting Magazine? Idiot.”
I suppose it’s a good thing I’m not working for the airlines. I’d be fired on charges of customer mocking.
In the end, Air Canada™ paid for the kid’s father to be flown back to Vancouver and then on to Winnipeg…together, the second time.
The father told a reporter, “The staff at Air Canada™ took good care of him.”
Uh…yeah. Which is more than you can say of yourself, buddy.