I arrived at the small island airport…
Ivan was off today so I gave head guy $50. And each bagger $10.
It was a little stressful as we walked into the packed airport… and the airport staff kept rushing up to Me and saying Mr Howard they are waiting for you… you are late you are late… the plane is leaving.
At first a lady at the airport counter seemed furious and disgusted with us.
We thought with “island” time and since got there at 1pm for a 2pm flight we were good with an hour to spare.
From the counter, She yelled at me across the crowded airport area and she said that we were 2 hours late and others had been waiting since 8am and that many people couldn’t get a flight and now we were 5 more who could likely not fly out of marsh harbor today.
The place was packed.
One man turned to me and said “if it makes you feel better I been here since 8 am and can’t get a flight.”
I assured him that his misery did not bring me any comfort. He smiled.
Back to the ticket counter lady … Still fussing at me…
I asked her if that was our Plane that Was just landing? …
She said no, that our flight was loaded and boarded and ready for immediate departure without us.
Karen, our friend, asked her if our seats were vacant. “NO”
There was no seats left for us that she may could get us a later flight … at best to Fort Lauderdale and not Orlando.
But she added, that she thought all flights may be full today from Marsh harbor.
I detected a slight hesitation in her answer leading me to believe she may not have been completely candid on her selling our seats to someone else.
By now I was certain all the tourist in the airport shared her dislike for me.
Thinking that me this tourist was only adding to their own delay and uncertain travel.
Also the counter lady said that we had not checked our purchases which would take time in customs and that our luggage needed to be searched.
Some time shortly after that she seemed delighted to add that instead of $125 for luggage that we would “have to pay $350 for luggage”. And this costs was after she excluded and removed a conch shell of one of my guest’s carry on purse.
I slowly made my way to the counter, I smiled and told her I was sorry we added to her stress that she clearly had an important job and she was doing the work of 5 people.
I asked who her supervisor was that he or she should immediately be informed of her efficiency.
I told her it was our fault and we would happily wait for a later flight and would be grateful if we made it any where in Florida today and that if we didn’t it was all my fault and not hers.
I then handed her money with $100s on top. I assured her that there was more than enough to cover our $350 in luggage and any excess money she should consider a tip for her being so professional and putting up with us inconsiderate tourist.
I gave her a business card (as I did all the airport folks) and suggest to her that I was their contact should she travel and need any assistance in USA.
I also said “where is my buddy and dear friend Ivan the terrible?”
“He usually puts up with me and handles everything.”
One of the luggage guys. I think his name was Dwayne. Walked up with my tip in his hand and my business card and he announced. This is Mr. Howard, you need to take care of him.
She looked at the money i had just handed her, she got a big smile and it was then smooth sailing.
She suddenly “found” some vacant seats on our original Orlando flight and directed the luggage guys to remove our luggage from the Ft Lauderdale pile and to put my 4 girls on the flight.
None of the luggage had been opened by custom.
None of our guest had declared our purchases and no body had a boarding pass.
However the counter lady she said that she and I would handle the passports, boarding tickets, claim / declaration forms of all my passengers.
The pilot and a plane full of passengers sat and waited while my new friend quickly stamped our departure declaration forms without so much as a look at the non completed and unsigned forms. All were instantly approved.
No luggage was searched by customs.
Things got rocky again when I hurried out the door on the right with a handful of passports and boarding passes.
I was approached by a big man and a frantic screaming woman telling me I would be unable to board this flight.
The plane engine was cranked and I had committed some horrible (undisclosed to me) customs law.
I told her I had 4 ladies on the plane and I possessed their tickets and passports.
It was there we learned we were short one ticket and one Boarding pass for our friend Jeannie.
Once again Dwayne appeared and earned his tip. He went back inside and shortly returned with the 5 th ticket and boarding pass in his hand.
I again contributed some more money to his already bulging pocket.
Finally after the lady recovered from her sudden rush of authority. I came understand that Apparently I was to exit out of the door on the left.
NOT the door on the right so I went back inside and exited out the door on the left, only to arrive 3 to 5 feet from where I was previously standing.
Once I exited the correct door on the left… And was greeted by the same 2 people who had just accosted me…
Along with 2 more serious looking people.
I dedicated a few more minutes of praise on how wonderful marsh harbor is how much we loved it and what great people customs workers were to tolerate people like me.
Dewayne once again reappeared and told everyone that I was Mr. Howard. As if that was some magical title.
I handed him ever $1 I had and suggested that all the baggage handlers should all have a tip in an amount that only he would determine.
I noticed how interested and concerned the custom people were in the tips of the luggage guys…
Just to insure that I made it the additions 30 yards to my soon departing and already loaded with people and luggage flight….
I suggested that on such a hot day everyone should have a cold beer or 2 on me … So I decided to give early Christmas presents and started giving away all the $20 bills I could find in my wallet and pocket.
Every one immediately stopped searching my 2 carry on bags and abandoned the body search…
Everyone smiled, Thanked me and all 4 walked off leaving we there to gather up my items and run to the plane as the door closed immediately behind me.
None of us sat in our assigned seats. 🙂
All of this took about 30 minutes as our plane taxied and departed at least 15 minutes early…
As the still full airport of tourist and locals flip flops and bright Hawaiian style shirts stood looking out at our departure.
As i looked in their long and some what sad faces I wondered if they were worried realizing that all them couldn’t possibly fit in the small remaining plane going to Fort Lauderdale… or if the source of the sadness was their shock into reality that they would soon rejoin the insanity of the rat race and leave behind this beautiful island paradise.
Life is an adventure. Lol