Posted on | May 15, 2006 | By David Linn | 11 Comments
My wife, daughter and I were scheduled to leave for Israel on a motzei shabbos.
Leaving home was nothing short of crazy, with shabbos ending at aprox 6:30 and our flight scheduled for 9, there was little time to spare. Little time to spare, three people needing to shower, six kids running left and right and an icy front porch, steps and driveway don’t go well. Somehow or other with the help of our good friend Meyer, we made it out the door.
Traffic moved well and we arrived at the airport with just enough time to spare. Meyer confirmed with the sky cap that we were in the right terminal for Swiss Air, helped us unload and said goodbye. The three of us, barely balancing our luggage and carry-ons, searched for the check-in counter. It just was not there. Upon inquiry we were told that the flight was a “codeshare” with American and would be leaving from a completely different terminal. Apparently, someone forgot to notify the sky cap of that fact.
I asked the gentleman who had informed us about the other terminal whether he could call ahead and advise them that we were on the way. He nonchalantly replied “They are a very big company and really don’t care.” I asked if he thought we had enough time to make the flight. He replied, just as nonchalantly, “you’d have to rush.” I immediately phoned Meyer who was just about to exit the airport but, Baruch Hashem, was able to get back in to the terminal. My wife and daughter jumped into a cab to get on line and, hopefully, save our chances to make the flight. Before you know it, Meyer pulled up, we re-packed the car and headed to the other terminal. After unpacking the luggage (again), I wheeled the cart into the terminal and thankfully spotted my wife and daughter near the front of the line. I pointed to the luggagae and asked “is this everything” to which my wife responded “where is the big blue valise?” I quickly called Meyer who was wisely waiting outside. Yes, we had forgotten one piece in the car. I ran out, took the hand-off from Meyer and returned to the terminal. Upon checking in, we were advised that one suitcase was overweight (no, he didn’t mention that I’m also overweight!). After a little shuffling, we were able to get in underweight (still no hope for me in that regard).
Upon finally boarding the plane, we found that our seats were not all together and that two of us were seated next to a, how should I put it, not very nice lady who sneered down her nose at us at the thought of having to move her jacket and bag from our two seats. She, quite impolitely, asked us if we could sit in the row behind her since there were three empty seats in a row. Deciding it would be best not to aggravate this lady, we obliged. Now, we were sitting in the last row of the plane, right next to the bathroom, in seats that don’t recline. Oh joy!
Shortly thereafter, an announcement was made that we were waiting for 26 passengers from a late connecting flight and that everyone must move to their assigned seats. The flight was delayed waiting for the connecting passengers. During that time a flight attendant came over and advised us that our kosher meals never made it on to the plane. She said that since we are delayed, she would run out into the terminal to see if she could get some kosher meals. She returned five minutes later with no luck.
The connecting passengers finally arrived and we were set for takeoff. Or so we thought. There was a maintenance problem which needed to be resolved and that would take at least another 30 minutes. The flight attendant came back and said that the captain was so upset about our lost meals that they would escort me back to the terminal to buy something to eat. 15 minutes later, I returned with dinner: potato chips, chumus and crackers, cookies,chocolate and bananas.
After what seemed like six weeks since we left our house, the flight finally took off. Despite all the delays, we still made our connecting flight in Zurich and landed in Israel on time. Things were finally shaping up. Wrong! They lost my wife’s suitcase. We went to the lost and found to place our claim and finally, finally went to exit the airport. Guess what? Our driver didn’t show up! We eventually piled into a sherut (shared shuttle service) and headed for Yerushalayim, dog tired.
Upon arriving at the apartment that one of my rebbeim was so kind to arrange to have lent to us (for free!), we found that it had recently been painted. The painters apparently felt that there was little reason to cover the furniture or sweep the floor. So, the entire apartment was covered with white powder. We called my wife’s good friend who lives a few blocks away and she sent her daughter over with some cleaning supplies. My wife got her first experience in the art of sponga (israeli mop resembling a windshield wiper on a long stick) and My daughter and I pitched in and cleaned the bathrooms, kitchen and bedrooms.
Finally, we decided to run out and grab something to eat before it got too late. We walked in the cool Yerushalayim air to a chinese place called Yossi Pekin which we were thankful was still open. We were quickly advised, however,that it was too late to be seated and we could only have take-out. OK, we shrugged, take out it is. After ordering, we were advised that there was no beef left so we decided to cancel the order and walk into town and grab a slice of pizza. After a slice or two we picked up three bars of our favorite israeli chocolate, mekufelet or flake, and at around 11:15 we hopped in a taxi to the Kosel.
After a heartfelt maariv, some tehillim and a few quick pictures, we headed back to the apartment. Jews for thousands of years have been deprived of the opportunity to pray at the makom hamikdash (the site of the holy temple). Moshe Rabeinu himself was not even allowed to enter the Holy Land. With that idea in mind, I thought to myself who really could have asked for a better day?