It was bound to happen sooner or later. That moment when I would have to run. Not a wun (that’s ‘walk-run’ – I tend to wun when I see the tram coming), not a jalk (that’s ‘jog-walk’ – I’ve been known to jalk when I’m pretending to jog around an oval, which, let’s be honest, has happened twice in my entire life), but a run.
A frantic run.
An all-out, handbag-falling-off-my-shoulder, backpack-crazily-boinking-from-side-to-side, heart-pumping (almost stopping) dash.
Let me set the scene.
Rich and I have been in Turkey for the past few days. I’ll fill you in on that another time. On Wednesday morning, bright and early (5.30am if you wanna get into exacts) we were collected from our hotel and taken to the airport, for a lovely looooong wait before our flight to Toronto, via Heathrow. The flight was due to land at Heathrow at 11am, and our flight to Toronto was due to depart at midday. Easy, right?
We had a great time at Istanbul airport. Sitting. Playing Scrabble. Counting up our Turkish lira and figuring out what to spend it on in the food court (we had just enough for a weird olive bread thing, two biscuits and a bottle of water). O, it was a joyous morning.
The plane was a few minutes late taking off, and by the time we got to Heathrow there seemed to be 8 million other planes coming in to land, so we had to get in line… We circled over London rooftops for a while, but not too long. Not long enough to get me stressy about making our connection. We still had plenty of time. We were due to arrive at Terminal 5, and depart from Terminal 5. Like I said – easy.
We landed, got off the plane, and I started my power walk to gate B34.
Rich said “Slow down, we’ve got heaps of time”.
I slowed down.
We rounded a corner, and what was this? A security checkpoint. With a pretty long line. This is unexpected. The clock overhead told me it was 11.25am. Which is OK, because our flight closes at 11.40am. We’ve still got plenty of time. We’re in the Terminal. It’s ALL. GOOD.
Five minutes at security and we’re through, and on our way to B34.
Passing a newsagents, Rich says “I’m just gonna get a magazine.”
And I say “I don’t think we have time for that.”
And Rich says “I’ll just be one minute.”
And I say “Welllll, I guess I need a magazine as well.”
So we spend maybe one minute browsing and selecting, and two minutes lining up at the cash register.
At 11.33am (or thereabouts) we’re out of the WH Smith, magazines in hand, with 7 minutes to get to our gate. Still easy, yes? Yes! Of course it is. Until I notice a sign that says:
Passengers for Gates B32-B40, Allow 15 minutes to get to Gate
Not. So. Easy.
We race down the escalator, excusing ourselves to the passengers standing on the left hand side as we push our way past. At the bottom of the escalator, what’s this? We have to get on a TRAIN to get to our gate. What the what???
Fortunately, the train is there, and within minutes, we’re off. It’s about a 2 minute journey, which is doable, and OK. Yes, it’s OK.
We get off the train, and there’s a ticket scanner and a second security checkpoint. There are two other people there, so no lines (phewf!) but just as we’re getting our tickets scanned, an announcement is made:
Gates closing, flight 6207 to Toronto, gates closing
The woman behind me says “Shit” and we all start running.
Have I ever told you about my unsubstantiated fear of UP escalators? Especially really long, really steep ones? Like the one at Parliament station? That’s where it all started. One morning on my way to work, I was on the escalator, going up, up, up, and suddenly my knees started shaking, my heart started pounding, my head went a little bit dizzy and I thought ‘I’m going to fall backwards and tumble all the way to the bottom and then my hair will get caught in the scary escalator teeth and then I’ll die’. I’m not proud of this. But ever since that moment, I get panicky and mental on escalators. Often I’ll see an escalator and know that it’s going to make me come over all jelly-like, and I’ll take a lift or the stairs, or I get Rich to hold my hand really really tight. I can fill you in on this more detail at a later date if you like: Escalators of the World that have made my Life Difficult.
So you know what I’m about to say. After getting our ticket scanned, and hearing the announcement that our flight is about to close, I run right into…. the steepest longest escalator at Heathrow. Rich is already way up ahead. There is no time to look around for an alternative. I have to do this.
So with my bobbling backpack and already-fallen-off-my-shoulder-handbag, I run up that escalator like there’s no tomorrow. Yes. I run. And then when I get to the top and round the corner, O great, there’s another one, and I run up that one too. It’s a real Rocky moment. I kick myself a little when I get to the top that there’s not enough time for me play Eye of the Tiger on my iPod and run around in a little circle (in slow motion) with my hands up, fist pumping the air.
But there’s no time for slo-mo, 80s filmic moments. There’s more running to be done. Down a corridor, heart beating in my throat, until finally, there it is. We get to the gate, and the air hostess gives us a disapproving shake of the head. She scans our tickets, we board the plane, put our backpacks in the overhead locker, and settle into our seats, feeling out of breath from our helter skelter sprint through Heathrow.
We sit on the tarmac for 45 minutes.
Hooray for running.