It’s Day O for me here in Paris(or Day 1 if you’re counting using a French style). I said my final good-byes yesterday – think silent sobs, a few loose tears and lots of re-assuring “I love yous & see you soons” and you’ll have my final few days. I really did pack it in right up until the end trying to be sure to see everyone I really wanted to see, along with those people who wanted to see me. All in all an emotional and action packed time which I’ve now survived.
My sister, Sherrin, drove me and my mountain of luggage to the airport for my 11 pm flight. I had packed one very LARGE suitcase that I had to sit on to close -I call it the ‘Beast’ and have NEVER used anything like it in my life, one medium sized suitcase, one carry-on and another personal somewhat large bag. When I hoisted the Beast onto the belt at Air Canada Executive check-in the agent’s eyes seemed to spring from their sockets as he informed me that “NO ONE will lift this bag – it is well above the weight limit so you need to remove 3.2kg worth of items”. He was quite pleasant about it actually and even offered me a few ideas which included buying another carry-on or buying a 3rd check-in and paying $225. Although I’d already forgotten every item I’d packed in the Beast and contemplated simply donating it to a family of recent immigrants I’d passed on the way into the airport, I ended up throwing open the bag on the floor in front of the agent in search of 3.2kg of easily removable items. Now some would say take out some shoes….but do you realize how light most of today’s shoes are? I would have needed at least 15 pairs to meet my needs – and I hadn’t packed that many (there’s great shoe shopping in Paris so no need for my old things). Instead, I grabbed two vacuum sealed bags of underwear, bras and socks – slapped them on the scale and proudly declared “there!”. The agent was marvelling loudly at my mass of undergarments when two other female agents jumped to my aid and declared a “healthy supply of undergarments” to be absolutely essential for any woman and in no circumstances should I leave these behind! The male agent remained wisely silent after this. In the end, I met the weight limit, did not need to buy another carry-on as my vacuum packed bags fit into my hefty Victory Secret tote (how appropriate) and I was comforted by the fact that, in case of an in-air accident, I could ensure that all women on board my flight would have clean underwear before we crashed!
On arrival in Paris all went smoothly. Notably, I’m always astounded by how quickly people are processed through customs and how quickly bags arrive on the baggage carousel in every airport in the world EXCEPT Toronto. How is that possible? I’ve sat and watched entire episodes of tv shows while waiting for my bags in Toronto’s cavernous Terminal 1. It baffles me to no end, however I shall move on before I get carried away on that topic.
I love to get off an overnight flight and see a driver holding a sign with my name waiting for me. It’s not because it makes me feel special (although it’s true), it’s because it means that my brain needs time to adjust before it has to kick into gear in a new country. I’m a pretty low maintenance traveler but I will always splurge for a ride on my first day after an overseas flight.
Fast forward to arriving at our apartment. I had to haul the Beast out of the car because it was too heavy for the driver – clearly deadlifts have value in every day life. Haha. Now, if you’ve been to Europe you know that the elevators are not known for their size – in the older buildings, if they have one at all – they’re tiny, double-door rickety things that can barely hold two people, let alone a woman, the Beast plus 3 other bags.
So, I loaded my baggage into the elevator, pushed “2” and sent it on its way while I climbed the stairs. At our apartment, when I tried to retrieve my bags, the elevator door would not open. It seems that one of my bags had tipped forward slightly and was blocking the inside doors from either opening or closing properly – meaning the outside door would not open at all! I stared at the elevator and marvelled that I could have come so close and yet still be so far away.
Fortunately, a Chinese lady happened along wanting to use the elevator. I explained to her in French that my bags were “coincés” (stuck) in the elevator therefore it was not working at the moment. Together we stared at the elevator in the hope that our double effort of concentration would fix things but alas, nothing. She finally suggested that I call the number listed for the elevator company. I explained that we could use my phone but I would prefer that she do the talking as my French is pretty good but definitely not yet phone-worthy. She agreed and shortly thereafter she was on her way up the stairs and I was sitting on them playing Candy Crush and waiting on the elevator repair guy.
Now, I realize that France, and Paris in particular, is full of crazy and inexplicable bureaucracy that moves at a snail’s pace on a good day. Which is why I was incredibly surprised when a young friendly man showed up within 20 mins of our phone call, quickly pried the outside elevator door open with a screwdriver (wish I’d thought to try that) and then told me I owed nothing for this effort (even though it was my fault). Call me crazy but I was impressed. I’ve NEVER seen Rogers or any other trade in Canada move so quickly, efficiently and cheaply.
And with that…..I was able to officially move into our apartment.
About 5 days after I had my little “incident” with the suitcases in the elevator the following notice appeared on the elevator door:
It essentially says: “Thank you for not blocking the elevator doors with suitcases or other objects. Anything that blocks the closing of the doors can cause a breakdown.”
I wonder if they are talking specifically to me?