Israel Stories

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Carousel of life

Godzilla eyed me suspiciously as I waited by the luggage carousel in Ben Gurion's Terminal 1 arrivals halls. After a few days in Eilat, I was relaxed and contented, but in an instant that changed. The kids were tired, our luggage was bound by the laws of Sod (or Murphy) to be last and to make matters worse I had Godzilla standing next to me, arms out by her side to make sure no one encroached on her four meter fly zone. She had marked her territory and although you could have parked 3 trolleys next to her, no one dared.

Godzilla, stood, dragon-eyed by the luggage carousel wearing a large green poncho, flared green trousers and a red T-shirt. Oh, and she had a green and red hair band. She was, in the opinion of this beholder, ugly as sin, scary as Freddy Kruger and she frankly unnerved everybody within a very wide radius. I decided that as the hall was packed it would be my duty on behalf of the other Arkia and Israair customers to ask her if she wouldn't mind moving a few centimeters so I could get closer (on a temporary basis) to grab my luggage.

Godzilla threw me a look even before I approached her. I know her don't I? I asked myself. New tactic, I thought. My youngest was struggling to break free of the constraints of her stroller, gnawing on the straps and struggling like a fish caught on dry land (thank you Sting). Idea number two; the best way to clear a supermarket line, government office or doctor's waiting room is to parade around with an overtired screaming kid. Not even Godzilla would be able to stand that.

Godzilla flashed her a look that Medusa would have been proud of, and the screaming stopped. Bloody marvelous, I thought. I turned to my wife and she laughed, "maybe we should offer her a job", she called. Godzilla stared at her, and my wife fell silent. "I think she just passed the interview", I laughed back. My wife flashed me a stare and I shut up. Whose turn was it to stare and laugh, I was confused.

Godzilla was getting as impatient as we were. The other two kids were causing havoc claiming boredom and hunger. Tempers were fraying. Godzilla started rocking from one foot to the other. Now with my kids that’s a sure sign of a full bladder and bathroom trip. Maybe she would have to leave her spot and I would have a front row poll position. She continued to rock. Oh go already, I thought, or I thought I thought, but I didn’t think - I said. Another black look. "I was talking to my kids" I said, sheepishly smiling, cheeks as red as Godzilla's shirt.

Godzilla was feeling the strain. I knew she would have to leave. Now I had hope. Hope of seeing my bags emerge from between the plastic stripped curtains and not have to wait until I saw them go past over Godzilla’s shoulder. I was excited. I could see Godzilla was struggling. I called for extra ammunition. A bottle of water was passed to me. My youngest could be trusted to the do the rest. I waited for her to spill the water, but for the first time in her short history she drank from the bottle and didn’t spill a drop. The luggage continued its journey around the carousel towards us.

Godzilla stopped rocking. Two reasons I thought, I hoped the second reason, that I was wrong about her needs, was correct. The cases continued coming. Then I saw a case and I had renewed hope and vigor. A green case with a red sash. Must be the mythical, fire-breathing, Japanese dragons. The case came nearer. I could feel myself standing in her (hopefully dry) spot. She began to rock again, she's getting ready for what I term 'the holiday's finally over' syndrome. That feeling, when you heave your case off the carousel and you realize that finally you are going home and the holiday is truly over. It’s a long lonely walk to exit. But before she could grab her case someone else did. She looked at me, smug and satisfied, she knew what I was thinking and that I was wrong and she was staying.

Godzilla, rock solid up until this point, started talking to herself and then she started cursing and then she started talking very animatedly to the guy next to her who pointed to the electronic information board, and then she started backing away from the carousel. But it all happened to quickly. Godzilla had been standing all this time at the wrong carousel, as she backed away I had to move further back and Darth Vader moved into her spot before I had little time to awaken my lightening reflexes. I cursed, my wife cursed, my youngest then started crying and the kids continued their moaning and complaining.

Godzilla had left the hall, Darth Vader walked off with his massive suitcase, wheezing into the night. Our luggage still hadn’t arrived. The hall was emptying out. The kids had long since been bribed with ten million packets of overpriced Bamba and chips, bumping off the walls as the E numbers took their toll. I was on my fourth coffee, tongue burnt to a cinder, and my wife had resigned herself to sitting on the trolley. Our youngest was asleep. Then the carousel stopped and our bags still hadn't appeared. Dejected, tired, emotionally and physically worn out, and really, really angry, I turned to walk to customer services. At least, I thought, I'll get some decent compensation. And then I saw a green poncho glide across the hall to the exit.

Godzilla heaved her case out of the hall. It suddenly occurred to me that there were so many flights from Eilat maybe just maybe..................Whatever Godzilla had mumbled to herself, cursed out load and shouted to her neighbors around the carousel was nothing to what I shouted as I realized that I did know her. She was on my flight. I rechecked the electronic information board, and then checked my ticket. I had been standing waiting for 81 and my tickets last numbers were 18.

Godzilla turned and saw me schlepping my cases off the stationary carousel, her gaze met mine and she smiled. I smiled back. She wasn't so frightening after all. My wife noticed us and put two and two together. She smiled. "She's definitely hired", I called to my wife. Well a three second smile is better than none at all.