So when we left off in my last post, I was deciding whether to risk the trip of a lifetime for a bag of Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwiches.
“Everyone who is going to Curacao should already be boarded,” I heard over the airport intercom immediately after placing my order and swiping my credit card. “Flight is preparing for departure.”
I tried to gauge the situation behind the counter and quickly realized that this was one of those unfortunate fast food scenarios in which the employees stand around staring at the order screens, occasionally glancing at each other in confusion as though—due to some major managerial oversight—not a single one of them has been trained.
Eventually one female employee started tentatively filling a bag with an order, but holy hot wings I didn’t know it was possible to move so slow or to be so unsure of oneself.
I found myself wanting to shout something a customer once said to me on the one and only day I worked at Subway: “Don’t be so scared. It’s just a sandwich!”
When she had finally filled the bag, she spent an entire minute staring at the name on the ticket as my heart pounded faster and faster. For all I knew, my plane was already over the Gulf of Mexico.
“Pave-O?” she asked.
No one came to claim the order.
“Pave-O?” she asked again.
A man stepped forward. “Maybe that’s mine? I’m Pavo,” he said, pronouncing his name with a short-a sound.
She looked down at the ticket again to examine his name, while in my head I was all HOLY CHICKEN PEANUT SAUCE IT IS SO OBVIOUS THE ORDER IS HIS JUST COMPLETE THIS TRANSACTION AND MOVE THE HELL ON.”
After they finally confirmed that it was in fact his order, she started filling a bag with what I was pretty sure was my food, even more slowly and tentatively than before.
Once it was filled she just stood several feet behind the counter clutching the bag and gazing around the airport as though she had just decided, at that very moment, to quit her job effective immediately.
Meanwhile, I leaned over the counter with my arms extended (practically around her neck), chanting “gimme gimme gimme” either in my head or out loud—honestly, I’m not sure which. This arm-stretch was an uncharacteristically aggressive move on my part, but my logic was that the increased proximity of my hands to the food bag might compensate at least a little for some of her wasted time.
I don’t regret it. This essential time-saving technique is possibly the very thing that saved me.
When she finally lifted the bag out ever so slightly, I grabbed it from her tightly-clutched paws and started sprinting, for the second time that day, straight to my gate.
When I arrived to the gate I saw that it was completely empty except for Noemi and the gate agent. Noemi pointed at me as I rounded the corner and yelled to the agent, “That’s her!”
She had held the plane up for me. Because that’s what true friends do.
“Thank God,” Noemi said as we finally settled into our seats and I handed her a spicy chicken sandwich. “I was so afraid you were going to hear that announcement and decide to leave the food.”
So in the end, it all worked out.
The only problem, I would find out hours later, was that my luggage hadn’t been quite as fast as I had been.
“I don’t get it,” I said as I stood at the empty luggage carousel at the Curacao airport, long after Noemi and everyone else from our flight had claimed their bags. “It’s not like my suitcase had to stop at Wendy’s.”
To be continued…