“Delay and dirt are the realities of the most rewarding travel.” Paul Theroux, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star
Air France pilots are still on strike, and chances of our flight taking off on Tuesday look slim. We needed to figure out a Plan B. We got to the AF office fifteen minutes before opening, and were pleased to see no line. Here’s why: a sign on the door read, ” This office is closed today. Go to the Invalides office.”
That office was two Metro trains away, and had opened at 9:30. Scrambling to the Metro station down the block, we imagined the worst: lines longer than Space Mountain Disney, with no fun at its end. When we arrived, we were given Number 80. The number being served: 36. We found a couple of chairs and settled in.
Everyone — the young couple with a toddler from Sweden, the group of Italian women, (one with a horrible collegan cheek job, I noticed), along with Africans, Chinese, and even some French — had the same problem. They were stuck. Yet, there was no grumbling, no rudeness, no displays of frustration. No one was barking into a cell phone or demanding special treatment. An air of calmness permeated the room. At the stations surrounding the room, Air France employees were courteous and attentive to their customer at hand and in hushed voices, discussed options with each one. One agent rotated through the room with a tray of coffee and juice for those waiting.
After an hour and ten minutes, it was our turn. Mike and I explained our situation to the agent, and watched silently as she clicked incompressible numbers and codes into her computer. Finally, she said, “I can get you on a direct flight on United on Monday morning.” Done and done! We got our tickets, instructions on how to get our refund from Air France for the price difference, and by noon, we all set.
Walking out the door, we passed a line that snaked down the hall — at least three Space Mountain lines long. Poor souls.
The rest of our day? Lunch on Rue Cler, a walk through the 7th and the 15th, some new territory for us near the Eiffel Tower. A gelato at Amorino’s. Tonight, dinner at the best place we’ve been, Au Port du Salut. Dominique is scheduled to sing.
We’ve one more day in Paris. By Monday afternoon, reality and the dreaded weigh-in set in.