Goodbye Paris

What would you do in the City of Light?

How (Not) to Fly to Paris

early morning Pierre Metivier via Compfight

When flying to Paris, do not drop your phone into the toilet moments before you leave the house for the airport. Do not do this when flying to any country for that matter. There are certainly other granules of wisdom you can shake from this story, but at the top of the list is to keep your phone far away from any body  of water. Especially, toilet water.

Of all the moments to drop your phone in the toilet, three minutes before you leave for the airport to fly away on a two month trip to Europe is certainly the worst moment.

Of course, the best advice always comes after the fact. Just moments before we were supposed to leave for the airport to Paris, Talia dropped her iPhone in the toilet. The phone had been in her pocket and when she bent down to pick up Mars Bars, it slipped out and plopped into the toilet bowl.

She shoved the baby into my arms while she retrieved her phone. When she came out to the car her phone was in a bag filled with rice to soak up the toilet water.

“Good news,” she said, “at least we’ll have rice in Paris.”

I informed her that we certainly would not be having the rice her fecal-bacteria-covered phone was currently soaking in.

Later, after we picked up our friends Hope and Bethany who were seeing us off, she found rice lodged in the charger slot.

“You should use longer grain rice next time,” I said. “Basmati maybe. Less likely to get stuck.” (Okay, I didn’t actually say that, but I thought it was too funny to leave out. Plus, I’m sure I did say something equally snarky.)

“Shut up.”

She attempted to dislodge the rice jammed in the phone by blowing hard on the slot. When that didn’t work, she used the tip of a pen. Still no luck.

Finally, she got the bacteria-infested rice out with a bobby pin.

The drive to the airport was uneventful until we got about two miles from our exit and traffic began to slow and an ambulance zoomed past us on the left shoulder. Then traffic really stopped and we found out from our traffic iPhone app that there was a bad accident ahead of us. Two miles to the airport and we’re going to get stuck for an hour as they clear the freeway?

May it never be! Instead, I veered the car into the next lane and cut across four lanes of stopped traffic to get off the freeway.

“Where next?” I shouted to Talia, who was frantically pulling up directions on my phone since hers was out of commission. “I have to turn now. Which way?!”

“Left!” she said. I went left.

“Now what?”

“Right!” she said. This was great. We would make it to the airport on time after all.

“Now where?”

“Straight!”

“Are you sure? It looks like a dead end.”

“Yes, that’s what the map says. Straight!”

Either South Atlanta is not very well mapped or my wife isn’t good at directions (granule of wisdom #2: it’s always the maps fault!).

Straight we went, followed by a shout. Behind us, a security guard was waving us down. Then, we found ourselves at a dead end of an industrial road.

(Granule of wisdom #3: Even when you want to say, “I told you it wasn’t straight,” don’t say, “I told you it wasn’t straight.” Instead say, “There’s no one I’d rather get lost with than you, honey.” And mean it.)

I turned around and drove back toward the security guard who was looking at us like we were crazy.

“Sorry! We’re lost,” said Talia. “We’re trying to get to the airport.”

“The airport?!” she said, and looked to be thinking, “Then what the f*^& are you doing here?” She had a round face and her forehead was covered by a black beanie.

“Yeah. 85 is blocked,” I said. “There’s an accident.”

“Can you give us directions?” said Talia. The woman’s expression shifted to a stern, contemplating look, which lasted several long seconds, long enough for us to notice the three young men with dreads and baggy clothes and hoodies and to realize we were in the worst part of town and to wish we hadn’t gotten off the freeway at all.

Then, like a breaking wave of inspiration, our new friend’s expression became conspiratorial. “I’ll tell you what you’re going to do,” she said as if she was letting us in on a secret to untold wealth and happiness.

I honestly have no idea what directions she gave. I couldn’t understand a word of it, she spoke with such a thick drawl, but apparently they were correct because Bethany repeated them back to me as I drove and we did end up making it to the airport.

We were at the airport! Next stop, Paris! Hope gave us a giant, humiliating balloon that said, “Bon voyage! We’ll miss you!” and made us walk through the airport with it (I popped it and threw it away as soon as I could—sorry Hope). We checked into our flight, made it through security, and then headed for our airline’s VIP lounge.

Talia, who has a great eye for deals for luxury experiences, had found tickets to the VIP lounge on eBay for $15 each, a good deal considering we got lunch and two drinks for free and Mars Bars got to crawl around on the outdoor terrace and look at the airplanes.

“We should go soon,” said Talia.

“We’ll be fine,” I said. “Our flight doesn’t leave for another hour and a half.”

I was changing Mars Bars’ diaper in the bathroom when I heard something over the intercom that almost ruined our day, if not the entire trip.

“Last call for flight 1098 to Paris. All passengers of flight 1098 to Paris please head to Gate F10.”

“S*&t.” I said (earmuffs, Mars Bars).

(Granule of wisdom #4: You really shouldn’t cuss around your child, but if you do, just make sure to do it before he’s a year old. It doesn’t count then.)

I grabbed Mars Bars and we speed walked for the gate. There was Talia waiting for me, a look of terror upon her face.

“You were right,” I said.

Talia just looked at me. She was clearly following granule of wisdom #3. (Where do you think I learned them?)

We speed walked out of the club and down the stairs and then ran the last of the way to the gate, with Mars Bars bouncing from my navel to my ears, and Talia with her arms full of strollers and diaper bags and suitcases.

“Buntings,” said the gate attendant.

“Yes! Are we too late?”

“No, you just made it.”

“Thank God!”

We boarded the plane and found out we had bulkhead seating and Mars Bars would have his own little bed. Thank you sweet Jesus! The people sitting next to us looked at our baby with alarm—“So this is what I have to look forward to for the next eight hours?” Which proved to be needless.

We sat down breathlessly, they closed the plane’s doors, and Mars Bars immediately fell asleep.

Bon voyage! We’ll message you when we get to Paris. But not from Talia’s phone. Because she dropped it in the toilet.

  • hahahah. i love this so much. how can you not start an adventure in Paris with a little adventure to the airport!!

  • Katie Swan

    Ha! Love how this whole thing started. Looking forward to following along the way!

  • I’m beginning to think Buntings equals adventure and drama! :) All the very best to you all. What an experience. So excited to hear the rest of the story… after you’ve experienced it!

    • Ha. Thanks Arlen. I think you’re right!

  • Beca Lewis

    I have no idea why these emails are so moving. Perhaps because I would love to visit Paris again – maybe because you make me feel as if I was there with you – or maybe both of those reasons (and more ) but I am so grateful that you are sharing your trip with us!

  • Zoe Erler

    Ah Tal, ever since traveling to Atlanta with you last summer, I have had an infinite amount of respect for your skill of traveling with a baby. But you’re never allowed to borrow my cell phone:)

  • La McCoy

    Yep. Good advice!

  • Hope M.

    haha oh man. what a day. the security guard was the best. (as was bethany, for actually paying attention to her directions.)

  • Just catching up on this. Great story! Glad it all worked out. Off-topic: what traffic app do you use? I’m kind of an app addict…