In a Word: Airport

 

There I was in Rome last month which, in October, can be very heaven. Blue skies, temperatures mid-20s max (perfect for cool-blooded creatures), and not as many tourists.

Relishing the experience I WhatsApped glorious pictures to family and friends in Ireland where the wind did blow and the rain it raineth all day long.

I couldn’t have luck!

With just over two hours to flight time back to Ireland, I hailed a taxi. It normally takes about 40 minutes to get to the airport. Soon we were caught in traffic. The taxi man, who had a fixed rate for such trips, seemed lost and remained on the phone taking instruction as we wended through outer suburbs.

“Eight minutes”, he kept saying, meaning we’d be at the airport in that time. It became, literally, the longest eight minutes in history and was soon 10, 15, 20 minutes.

We arrived at a half hour to flight time. The check-in desk was closed and I was rushed to security by helpful staff who couldn’t take me farther as my bags had not been checked in.

I was doomed to a night at the airport! My flight was rescheduled for the following day and I booked into a reasonably-priced hotel a few kilometres distant.

Next morning I was at check-in three hours before flight time. The young woman there became confused and made several phone calls before announcing she couldn’t let me through as the name on my ticket was Patsy while that on my passport was Patrick.

She sent me to a desk upstairs. There, an older man demanded to know why I had Patsy, “a nickname”, on my ticket when Patrick was on my passport. I demurred at my name being so described and pointed out that in Ireland Patsy was every bit a real name as was Pat or Paddy.

He wasn’t convinced. I produced various ID where I was “Patsy”, including health insurance and my pass at work. He decided, eventually, to take a risk on “Patsy” and I was through.

But whoever would have thought that “Patsy” could have been as potentially explosive as anything a potential terrorist might have carried in his/her luggage?

Though, truly, there were times that morning I thought I might explode!

Airport, from Latin aer and port from Latin portus for “port, harbour”.

Inaword@irishtimes.com

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