Every year, without fail, I spend three days trying to get home/leave home for Christmas. Of course, I suppose some of the blame could be laid on the fact that my family lives in the Great Lakes region by the Canadian border, and we regularly win the coveted “Most inches of snowfall per day” award thanks to proximity to Niagara Falls and, well, the Great Lakes. But this really shouldn’t be a problem, given Buffalo-Niagara airport also regularly wins the ‘Best-Snow-Plowed Airport in the Northern Hemisphere” otherwise known as
“We Stand Courageous in the Face of Adversity” (Note: I could very possibly be making the title up. I’ve been known to make stuff up. Also, I’m usually in either an insomnia-induced daze valiantly trying to distinguish the exit from the coffee shop or conversely, a mad hurry when I pass the commemorative plaque between gates 12 and 13).
So for all the people who were going to suggest the weather in the town of Buffalo is responsible for making me undergo 3-day episodes of “The Terminal” each and EVERY SINGLE YEAR for the past 5 years, let me just say – snow in Buffalo hasn’t ever been the source of my problems. Mostly, it’s snow elsewhere (if it’s snow at all. Weather is too common an occurrence to plague me).
I thought crews at American airports south of Buffalo were not particularly gifted at dealing with the white powder. But then I went to Europe. This year, I was joined by other unfortunates in what is known as the European Christmas Travel Debacle.
Short recap: I was moving out of Lyon, France, after having lived there for 15 months. Fifteen months is a reasonable amount of time to amass a vast amount of posessions, I think you’ll agree. Not only mine, either – as one of the few people who kept stubbornly staying in Lyon in a workplace where the turnover is 1/3 of staff each year, I was The Person Who Always Gets The “Keep it If You Want It, Otherwise Throw It Away” Stuff. Having Eastern European blood in my veins means it is virtually impossible for me to throw anything away, ever (“A third broom? What do you mean I don’t need it? Men’s dress shirts? Sure those will come in handy!”). So, I did the next best thing – I used what I could (laundry detergent, tea bags, sugar cubes, cans of corn) and then passed on what was left – still 2 carfuls! – to a colleague who has lots of girl friends who luckily wear my size.
So there I was, with 2 suitcases whose total weight did not exceed 46 kilo (or so I esteemed), waiting on an Old City sidewalk by the Saone river in Lyon for my boss to pick me up. Of course, the minute I got into my boss’ car to go to the airport and groggily tried to come up with subjects of conversation at 6 AM, the sky covered with clouds. By the time we were on the highway, the clouds had managed to disgorge enough snow to make driving very perilous.
It only snowed for about 20 minutes, and the skies soon cleared, but not the runways. Possibly the airport ran out of defreezing liquid, or the snow-clearing crews were
being French on strike. I don’t know, because no one ever announced why every flight was being delayed and cancelled. The gate for my flight simply never appeared on the screen.
A mere eight hours later (you’ll find here a detailed account of my experience, which also explains my theory on the concept of ‘customer service’ being completely foreign to the French), I was released from the line at the airport and told to come back the next day. A mere 56 hours, 2 snowstorms and 1 romantic encounter later, I was in Buffalo, where it was not actually snowing, and my patient family was waiting.
Now that I’m done with the weather, I’ll move onto the romance, but you’ll have to check back tomorrow for that.