In Land of the Blind….the one-eyed woman is Queen.

tour eiffelAnyway you slice it…and Daddy and I were slicing it two different ways…. Zambia and California are very far apart.

First leg was Lusaka to Johannesburg. Daddy and I rode that together, went to transit check-in together. He checked in at South African Airways, in about 30 seconds. My Delta check-in took 90 minutes.

Then it was off to security. The place was nearly deserted. Daddy went through first.

“Can you please help me solve this problem.”

The first security checker spoke toward me and although the words formed a question, his tone of voice did not. He wanted help. I turned around to see who he was speaking to.

No one there.

He was talking to ME.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Can you solve this problem.”

He was definitely talking to me.

Then he gestured to the very upset middle-aged couple who stood right there. All of  us in the ante-space before the x-ray machines.

The couple thrust documents at me….boarding card and passport. And a fire hose blast of French. French! Me? Hmm. I took years of French in high school. Really. More years than I like to count. But Mr. Baldwin would be ashamed at how little I remember. When I had to learn German, it usurped French in the foreign-language cabinet of my brain.

Whenever I try to speak French, I’ll get a word and a half out ,dann kommt deutsch.

I almost ducked….More incoming French!!

French in my pink hair. French stuck in my eyelashes. French prepositions off the left shoulder….swear I even saw caught a glimpse of the subjunctive before it ricocheted off the wall.

I examined the documents. The woman’s name was not precisely the same in her passport and boarding document. Close, but not identical. Security guy confirmed this was the problem.

I s-l-o-w-l-y explained the situation to them.

She speaks French! And they switched from the impulse engines to warp speed. There were huge billows of French taking up the whole room, his French and hers getting tangled up in the security ropes.

I got them to slow down a bit and I actually caught it….

Comprehension hangs around much effectively than speaking ability. Apparently this middle-aged couple was married recently. There was an explanation of this in a little box on her passport. One was her maiden name, the other her married name. Said explanation was, of course, en francais!!  They had been pointing furiously to this box the whole time.

So I got the documents and explained it all to Mr. Security.

“Okay.” He waved them through.

Amazing/odd experience.  I’m thinking two things…

First, I’m headed back to a land where Security does not ask passengers to solve security concerns.

Second: Why did the guy ask ME to help out??

About Karen Ray

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