We are traveling from Warsaw to Minsk, Belarus today. From Minsk we’ll take a bus to K., which is going to be a haul, I am told. Translation: eat a good breakfast. Surprisingly, the hotel has a very good European continental breakfast. I have a couple of hard-boiled eggs, muesli, fruit, sausage, and, on a dare, a fish paste on a biscuit with a black olive and tomato…delicious, actually.
The trip from the hotel to the airport was an easy one, except I got packed in with a bunch of suitcases. C’est la vie. The airport itself, however, was another story. It’s a mess, desperately in need of an efficiency expert. I think that Poland’s opening itself to trade with the west (EU, NATO, etc.) has led to huge jumps in business opportunities, tourism and the like. The effect on its small and clearly overworked capital airport is immediately obvious. It’s a small airport, smaller even, in my estimation, than Harrisburg (PA).
The inefficiency starts at the door. There are no signs regarding where to go. What there is is a throng of swimming humanity, featuring people packed in like sardines (a claustrophobic’s nightmare), so thick there is no room to even walk. I think immediately of an Indian railway station. We were redirected, several times, to different parts of the airport, which meant wading through the crowds. When we finally got through to the line we were supposed to be in, it was miles long—it was obvious we were going to miss our flight. I was missing my friend Don’s experience with handling International flights.
It was at this point that an official-looking woman, an angel really, opened the business class line especially for us and we scooted to the front of the line. Previously, we had changed a transfer. As a result, our tickets required a special sticker, which was only available at a different window. Tink and I grabbed the tickets and ran over to the window, where we were greeted by a man with very little English. Needless to say, our Polish is a little rusty…In the midst of us pantomiming what we needed, a second (English-speaking) angel appeared and explained our situation to the man, and started telling him we needed these things right away…SO HURRY! He was hurrying, but clearly a sense of urgency means something quite different to Polish bureaucrats than it does to you and me (with apologies if you’re a Polish bureaucrat reading this). The woman returned and helped us get our tickets processed quickly at the gates.
It’s funny, because this is normally the kind of thing that would frustrate and infuriate me. Others in the group expressed these emotions. For some reason, I just knew we would make the flight. It was a very calming feeling, transcendent really. I am trying now to keep it close to my heart, for those times when I need it. We boarded the plane and took off for Minsk.