Thursday, February 07, 2013

From Israel Home

We were told to be int he lobby of the hotel at 6:45 am because we needed to be at the airport 3 hours before our 11;20 am flight and it would take one hour for the sherut to take us to Ben Gurion airport. So I figured we needed to be in the lobby at 6:45 as a precaution for when our sherut left at 7. Whoops. The receptionist, a young woman, knocked on our door and said we needed to get a move on. My girlfriend apologized and the woman responded, "Don't be sorry, I just hope the driver waits for you."

A gruff and grizzled middle aged man was not happy that we were late. He was screaming at me as I threw our baggage into the back of the sherut. I ran back to get my girlfriend, whose scooter was acting up. I pushed it fast, but whenever it went too fast, it would lock up. And this was happening as we were attempting to cross a busy street!

When the driver saw the scooter, he began to whine and moan that he wasn't told we were bringing this. I disassembled the scooter and fit it neatly in with no problem. It took up less room than our other two bags. We made our way to the airport. No other passengers complained about being late and we made it around the green mountains to Ben Gurion without a problem. When I unloaded the sherut (with no help from the driver), he tried to demand an extra 50 shekels for the scooter. I gave him 6 extra. We agreed the other could go fuck himself.

Once there, we tried to go through security, but we told to go to the ticket counter. A young dolled up woman who was new to her position came and escorted us around a hellacious maze of security. We were given our boarding passes and then taken to a security desk where they searched our checked bag. The checked bag had our VAT refund, but we forgot to take out the receipts before the bag was checked.

After our bag was checked, we were taken to a special staff only security gate. There, a small while bearded man eyed me. He stood beside a large brown skinned bald man. It looked like they were straight out of a action comedy movie starring Charlie Day and Ving Rhames. They asked us the same personal questions that we were asked at the ticket counter and at the baggage check in.

And we were sent back to the baggage check in place where they searched our carry on luggage and my girlfriend's scooter. This took a while. Next to us, a woman and the security guard joked about the number of bags of bomba she had stuffed into her bag. She said there was no bomba in the U.S., but the guard vehemently disagreed. She settled for arguing that there was no bomba in Denver and the guard tacitly conceded.

We were then escorted by a posse of four to a back security room where the scooter was thoroughly examined. Three more people joined our posse. One was a supervisor who kept shriveling up her face and shaking her head ominously. After another extended period where we showed them how to disassemble the scooter and some more of the same personal questions, we were permitted to go back to the baggage security check in spot. There, we packed up our carry on luggage and headed on our way with only the original young dolled up woman by our side, who kept apologizing for the rigmarole we were put through, and another security agent.

We were then led back to the staff security check in and met Charlie Day and Ving Rhames again. Charlie had promised me that once we came back we would be let straight through, but now Charlie was back tracking. I stared resolutely into his eyes, challenging him. He questioned us as to our security procedure. Ving finally cut off the process and said we could go. Charlie tried to protest, but Ving won the day. The original lady pointed towards our gate and apologized once more, hopefully now sufficiently inspired to change the Israeli security system.

We pre-boarded without a problem and made the arduous 12 hour journey to Newark. I watched Argo and Pineapple Express in addition to a ton of sitcoms. We got to Newark and cut the customs line because of my girlfriend's scooter. We chatted amicably with the customs official and scooped up our checked bag. We then dumped the bag right back off and navigated through the labyrinth that is the Newark airport. Our flight home to DC was slightly delayed. I slept for about twenty minutes on the plane. One man was very unhappy that he couldn't stow his bag on board (it simply didn't fit) and was determined to take out his frustration on the flight attendant.

We got our checked bag again, the scooter cooperated, and we took the metro back to my girlfriend's apartment. It was about 10;40. The total journey took nearly 23 hours.

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