You know how “Rose and Thorn” is now a thing, where you say the best (the rose) and the worst (the thorn) thing that happened during your day or a trip. While in the Hamburg, Germany airport for the beginning leg of our journey home, my best friend and I experienced both the beauty and the prick within minutes of each other.
As we checked in at the British Airways counter, a lovely woman assisted us. We had let the airline know in advance of the trip that I am legally blind. This was my first air travel since I lost most of my vision and we wanted it to be documented in their system just in case any of the just in case situations occurred. On this early Monday morning, as the British Airways agent checked us in we asked her about our connecting flight in London’s Heathrow as we had had a very difficult experience when we came through there a week earlier. If you’ve never been to the U.K. airport, it is, in our opinion, huge, poorly marked and a real pain in the seat cushion despite the both of us having seen a lot of airports in our day. We wanted to avoid the stress and struggle we had gone through seven days before and the airline rep gave us information and tips on how to better handle the logistics of the city masquerading as an airport.
She also stamped both our boarding passes with a Fast Track symbol, and pointed us toward a special lane to get through security quicker. After thanking her profusely for her help, we headed to security. We got in the lane the agent had indicated but there were no signs and my friend asked an airport employee if this was the correct place for us to be. He replied in a very thick German accent something I didn’t understand, followed by “Don’t you speak English? F***.” We had continued walking as he spoke and with his guttural delivery I assumed the “eff” I had heard was just his pronunciation of an innocuous word. that is until I saw my friend’s face when we arrived at the end of the line and she turned to me. In that instant it registered exactly what he had said and obviously she was way ahead of me in the realization. She asked, “Did you hear what he said?” and I shook my head yes in response. By now other passengers had filed in behind us and we moved through the cattle shoots in stunned silence and shared looks of disbelief.
We got through security and found a place to get coffee and a quick bite. Right across from our gate, with plenty of time for a breather and caffeine, we discussed what had just happened. The surprise of the encounter wore off of her more quickly than it did me; I still couldn’t believe what I had heard. It had been delivered with a smirk and, ironically, words that barely sounded English. We both agreed that had we not been caught so off guard, things would have gone very differently, and we would have gotten to our gate with his name and he would have spent the rest of his day with the very clear words of two Americans in his nasty head. Yes, we do speak English. Here is some just for you, you <insert creative English word>.
We finished our breakfast, used the restroom and reached our gate as they had begun general boarding. We began to merge into the line when a British Airways agent walked up to me and said, “You don’t have to wait” and gently took my arm. I glanced back to make sure my girl was with us. I didn’t understand how this airline rep knew I had the special stamp on my boarding pass or how she knew I am visually challenged. The agent lifted the belt on the stantion to let us through and we began the descent of the ramp leading to the jetway, thanking her. I didn’t look back after that, concentrating as always on my steps. My friend took her unspoken place on my right and I tucked my right arm in her left as we navigated over connection strips to the entrance of the plane. As we waited for the passengers in front of us to cross the threshold, I turned to her and said,“How did that woman know?” She replied, very seriously, “That was the same agent that checked us in.” I could tell by the way she said it she didn’t understand how that had just happened either. Had the agent been looking for me? Was it an incredible coincidence? Whatever the reason it left us as speechless as The Cursor had.
Settled in our seats, we began to review what the hell just happened. In the span of an hour we had encountered an awful man and a wonderful woman . . . twice. We had an incredible week in this new country to both of us and thank the Travel Gods this Guardian Agent found us at the gate. In doing so, she ended our time in Germany on a high note of kindness. A rose between two thorns is great, but two roses around a thorn is better.