Non incautus futuri

A Washington & Lee junior and Marine Officer Candidate in Spain

Travel: Part I

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I’m in Madrid! This place is awesome, but it deserves its own post. I’ll write about Madrid later.

Getting here was something of an odyssey. I had an inauspicious start when I managed to leave my passport at home on the way to the airport. Then there was the issue of the malfunctioning check-in kiosks: nobody could get their boarding passes, so everyone had to get on a long line staffed by a loquacious ticket agent. By the time I had checked my bag and received my boarding passes, it was 1:49 PM. My flight was boarding at 2. I said a hasty goodbye to my parents and moved to security.

During the screening, the TSA pulled me aside for a “random inspection.” No surprise, I guess. I’m a young male (dangerous looking, I might add…) traveling alone on an international flight. But by the time I got through the body imaging machine, it was 1:58. I looked down at my ticket and saw that my gate was at the far end of the terminal. There was no choice. I stuffed my laptop into my bag, crammed my feet into my shoes, grabbed my belt, passport, and boarding pass, and started to run.

Running with unsecured pants is not a good idea. With my belt still in my hand, gravity inevitably took its hold on my jeans. I could feel them beginning their downward slide as I sprinted down the terminal. My shoes weren’t really on properly — my heel stuck out of one of them, and both pairs of laces were untied. I was about to be a pant-less, shoeless traveler. Worse yet, I was about to miss a $1200 nonrefundable flight. But I made it with my dignity only slightly compromised. I boarded my flight, put my belt and shoes on, and settled down for the short connecting flight to Charlotte.

If the passport fiasco and the TSA were my personal Scylla, then the flight to Charlotte was my own little Charybdis. I had an aisle seat, right next to a man who was easily three hundred pounds. Now, some travelers push the limits of personal space. I admit it: sometimes my elbows make incursions into the neighboring armrests. But this fellow wasn’t merely raiding my personal space: he was invading it and pillaging it for good measure. This man was for air travel what Attila the Hun was for Europe. His knees, arms, and stomach all protruded over the borders of his own seat and occupied my seat. I seethed for the whole flight.

Thankfully, the flight from Charlotte to Madrid wasn’t bad at all. I slept for a good part of it, and I befriended a Spanish couple returning from vacation on the West Coast. Approximately eight hours after stepping onto the plane, I was in Madrid.

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Written by Lee

August 26, 2011 at 16:47

Posted in Spain

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