10 June 2007

Über Deutschland

A thousand apologies, my loyal reader(s). An update is overdue.

First, we're here. We're really here; pinch us! We've been here almost two weeks, though it seems like much, much longer. This is because our first two weeks in Germany have really been a mixed bag, like a soup redolent of delightful, crisp vegetables and stinky, smelly socks. Okay, not quite like that. But mixed, nonetheless.

First, I nearly missed my flight from DTW to FRA. Well technically, I did miss it. The cut-off for checking baggage on an international flight is one hour prior to scheduled departure. We had six (eight if you count carry-ons) bags to wrestle out of the car and onto the conveyer belt, and we missed the cut-off. But really, shouldn't the hour have started as soon as we pulled up to the curb? (I mean, c'mon people, this might be my first move to another country, but surely other people move to other countries every day, and surely they too take their full allotment of luggage.)

Anyway, by the time we got all of the bags out, the stroller off of the luggage rack (don't ask), and my passport to the nice airline employee, it was too late to do curbside check-in, and by the time we wheeled our luggage cart, carry-ons, and my son (in his stroller) to the inside counter, it was too late to check us onto that flight, period.

The airline was nice enough (?) to check us onto the next flight, which was not a non-stop, but which would (in theory) get us into Frankfurt in time to get our residence permits in order to get me on the payroll. This (need I say it?) is a big deal, so I was a bit frantic. We were now checked onto another flight, departing in less than an hour, and I now didn't know the flight number or the gate from which we were leaving. My diminutive 4-1/2-year-old son and I thus set off at top speed across the airport, a carry-on bag a piece, and me with the jogging stroller slung over one shoulder.

I should point out here that I don't think it's unrealistic of me to expect my 4-1/2-year-old to push his own carry-on bag through the airport. He did it on our last trip, with a much larger bag, and on this trip I had carefully selected a smaller carry-on for his treasures and some favorite books, stuffed animals, and so forth.

However, on this trip, we somehow found ourselves all alone at the top of an escalator. I looked around in a panic for the elevator, and then asked the security guard at the top of the escalator where the nearest elevator was, to which he replied, "There isn't one." I stood like a deer in headlights at the top of the escalator, trying to figure out how to get down to the departure floor, while impatient airline personnel pushed past us onto the escalator. "Can you help me put the bags on the escalator?" I asked the security guard, to which the answer was, ridiculously, "I'm not allowed to touch your bags." To which I could only think, fuck terrorists and rules, buddy, I'm a single mom with a 4-1/2-year-old boy, two suitcases, and an unwieldy all-terrain stroller over one shoulder -- you can't fucking help me place my bags onto the escalator? You think someone might sneak a bomb into my bag between the time I put it down and the time you put it on the escalator for me? WTF?

But because I'm stubborn, and sometimes a little stupid, I thought I could make it work, so I told my son to get onto the escalator, and then I tried to carefully place first his carry-on bag, then mine, onto an escalator step above him. Clearly, anyone whose brain is functioning on a higher-level than mine was that day can already see that this was a huge mistake, but all I could think was, "I have to get down these stairs somehow."

So when my carry-on fell over onto his carry-on, which then fell onto him, all I could do was scream, "yeah, this is better than fucking helping me!" I was essentially restrained by gravity and my own stroller from helping him. I have never felt so helpless -- and simultaneously so responsible -- in my entire life.

As it was, he escaped with only a bruise on his arm and a little grumpiness, but obviously, I could have killed my son through my stupidity and recklessness. It's entirely conceivable that my carry-on could have knocked him to the ground and that he could have hit his head, or been run over by my suitcase, or gotten pummeled by the escalator treads, or any number of grisly scenarios. I apologized over and over again (to which he said, "It's okay, Mommy") but the truth is that I will never forgive myself for my lapse in judgment.

I seriously questioned not only my fitness as a parent, but my decision to move to Germany as a single parent with a young child, and I had an uninterrupted nine-hour stretch in which to do nothing but re-live this incident and question my judgment over and over again. At the end of the nine-hour flight, though, we were in Amsterdam, and I was starting to feel better about the whole thing. After all, he wasn't dead, and here we were. Right?

Anyway, I won't bore you with the last leg of the journey except to say that it wasn't a whole lot better than the first, except that no escalators were involved and we made it onto our flight. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed by over an hour, so with every minute we sat on the tarmac I grew more and more nervous that my paperwork wasn't going to make it through the German bureaucracy in time for me to start on the German payroll as of June 1. That was a very long hour.

Long story short: the paperwork got through the system, I'm on the payroll, we have a house, we have a phone, we have internet access, we have transportation, we have a nanny, and soon (crosses fingers) we will have our cats. Finally (knocks wood) it looks as if my company is going to pay for my son to attend the International School we can see from our kitchen window.

More later.

1 comment:

anish said...

And now, everything is working out for you. Brilliant. =)

Hope it stays this way, and I also hope no more bag-on-child takes place. And that security guard was quite clearly a stupid man. But ah, that's life!

Enjoy and I wish thee more good luck in Germany! :)