Yes we are on holiday again.  I know there have a been few cries of disbelief on Facebook today, but I have worked nearly 3 weeks so needed a break.  Well actually we always have a winter weekend away before Christmas with our friends but due to diary clashes it happened a bit earlier than December and due to us taking our Summer holiday in October, that’s why it appears we are have been away a lot the past few weeks.

(Just so you know, unlike me who basically broadcasts every breathing moment of my existence on the internet as I am deluded that people are interested, our friends don’t like to let people know when they are away.  So for the duration of these blogs I shall refer to them as Bonnie and Clyde.  I can understand why they don’t like to let on where they are.  Charles Street in Goole is very rough and if people knew that number 64 was empty for the next few days they would get home to find their 55″ Samsung TV, 2 mac books, Bonnie’s extensive jewellery collection and Clyde’s priceless watch collection gone.  So better to be safe than sorry).

We are currently in Pisa.  Before I came here these were my top 3 facts that I knew about Pisa:

1. It has a tower that leans
2. It has a tower that leans
3. It has a tower that leans

So anything other than the leaning tower is a bonus in my book.  Bonnie and Clyde came up last night as we headed off to the airport at 5:00 this morning.  We were flying Easyjet, which is fine, but they do seem to like you to do more and more.  We had printed our boarding passes, weighed our bag (14.4 Kg. Boom.  In your face.  That’s 6Kg of Mozzarella we can bring back) and generally done everything that you have to do before flying.  However when we got to the airport we discovered a new twist.  We now had to check our bags in at the airport as well.

If you have ever had the joy of using a self service checkout at the supermarket, you will know how effective this system is and how much time it saves…not!  A young lady (with her hair in a bun) directed us towards a terminal where we scanned our boarding pass.  We then put the case on the the scale (horizontally, not vertically!).  Still 14.4 Kg.   Karen then had to put a little scarf on and ask me if I had packed the bags myself.  She did this, as instructed by the machine, with a fixed grin but without actually engaging eye contact.  Next, a label was printed which I faffed with trying to get it onto the case.  Normally, you get receipts stuck to your passports, but that didn’t happen and we were directed into a second queue by Heidi (whose hair was in a pony tail) passing 3 other members of staff who were on hand to help if we were struggling (so that’s 5 staff so far).  Another lady checked our passports (she had an hijab on, so no idea of her hair arrangement) and we were directed to the usual conveyor belts where we deposited our bag, but instead of the check in steward starting the belt, we had the pleasure of doing that ourselves by pressing a big blue button.  If however this was too much trouble, a button pushing operative was on hand to assist.  (I think we are now up to 7 staff.  Normally there are only ever 4 desks open, so they seem to need more staff for this system.  Good work.  We’ll get those unemployment figures down some how.  NB: Not all of these things actually happened either.  One may be a lie).
We sailed through security, breakfast and onto the gate.  Since the advent of Budget airlines encouraging us all to go hand luggage only, there has been a bit of a one bag or two in the cabin debate.  Not any more.  Easyjet clearly stated one bag only.  Saver Plus Premier Speedy Boarding bods could have 1 bag (i.e. small case) and 1 other (i.e. handbag, laptop bag etc.) but for the rest of us it was 1 bag only.  I think today was “Enforcement Wednesday” as they were taking no prisoners.

The queue was full of women trying to squeeze handbags into their cases without spilling their drawers all over the floor.  One chap was offering us all advice that we were allowed to take on one bag of duty free, so if we all popped back and bought  a bottle of water, as long as we got a huge bag for it, we could get our smaller bags in that.  Does he not know that will cost us 5p?  Some people haven’t even paid that much for the flight.

However, as we moved towards the gate we came across one gentleman who was getting very agitated as he had…well basically…2 suitcases.  He was really giving the girl behind the counter some stick, demanding to know her name etc.  But this girl fought fire with fire.  She just exploded:  “I DON’T WORK FOR EASYJET.  IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE RULES DON’T FLY WITH THEM, BUT IF YOU CONTINUE TO BE ABUSIVE TOWARDS ME, I CAN OFF LOAD YOU FROM THIS FLIGHT!!”

The man sheepishly began to apologies, but this just seemed to make matters worse.  She shouted at him even more.  Personally I was all for giving her a round of applause.  However, the lady in front of us also had a dilemma.  She too had 2 bags, a handbag and a smaller handbag but no way would one fit into the other.  Quick as a flash, Bonnie took her small handbag out of her big handbag and put that into Clyde’s big bag, freeing up space for her to put this lady’s small bag into her big bag until we got through the gate.  I kept my bag firmly shut by my side.

I’m sure this carry on in some ways convened the old “have you packed this bag yourself” rule but we did it anyway.  As we passed through the gate, Heidi (hair still in a pony tail) had arrived to sort out shouty lady and sheepish man.  Funny though, I don’t think I saw him get on the flight.  The moral of the story, never upset a woman in a Hi-vis vest who has the power to off load you.

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