Caroline Murray, senior editor at ICIS, has returned from the GSI PET Day in Florence with this tale to tell …
I know when I have had a good networking session at EPCA when I am forced to add ‘hold belly in for donning of suit’ to the to-do list. As if ‘maintain appearance of having a beating pulse by day three’ and ‘ignore severed foot caused by new shoes’ isn’t enough.
I realise now that leaving for Budapest airport at rush hour to get to my next conference, the GSI PET Day in Florence, takes the pleasure out of kicking my shoes off and reminiscing on another successful EPCA. Instead I hang on for dear life, hovering precariously on the end of the leatherette seat as the kamikaze driver speeds into oncoming traffic to dodge the queues.
In this episode alone I lose a couple of pounds.
My relief at having made it to the airport alive is short-lived however, as heightened security has created the sort of haphazard queues English people balk at. These queues are so long it’s like the first day of the January sale, but not in a good way.
My sarcasm at check-in does little to heighten my chances of getting on a plane any time in October.
I feel the first signs of panic well up as I consider the very real possibility that I may miss not only my flight to Rome but my connecting one to Florence, too.
Looking towards the security check I thought I had just arrived at the mosh pit of a rock concert, the stars of which were a mere three slow-functioning x-ray machines. Their bodyguards were two fresh-faced boys carrying Rambo style artillery, ill-equipped though, for the mass of people crowding in on them.
I mean, I am English; ergo I do queuing rather well and am fiercely protective of the rules. So when half an hour later I am precisely one meter closer to my plane that leaves in a matter of minutes, I throw caution to the wind and wangle a much-coveted Gold Priority Lane sticker.
Imagine my fury and that of my fellow Gold Priority Lane sticker holders when the sound of a war cry from an aggrieved traveller cuts through the polite muffles of annoyance prompting what I can only describe as a charge by the masses.
Briefcases attached to suited arms flap around my head and bodies close in on me. My head starts to spin and the ringing in my ears drowns out the angry shouting around me. As I literally gasp for air (I think they call this a panic attack!) a knight in shining armour plucks me out from the wild crowd and instructs me to stick by him. I do. He gets me through and onto my plane.
Surely that trauma cost me another couple of pounds in weight?
Have you been to Rome airport? It’s as big as my home town and I realise that my unused gym membership would have come in handy. The flight to Rome was boarding in 15 minutes from what must have been the furthest gate from where I had landed. I endured more frisking at yet another security checkpoint before running the half marathon to gate B27.
I bulked up a bit during this part of my journey, due to the accumulation of muscle.
We take off only to start our descent into Florence a few moments later.
A sense of dread engulfs me. Sure enough I am left stranded at the bag reclaim conveyor belt, willing my bag to at least be in the same country as me. It’s not.
Oh well, I am sure the clothes it holds no longer fit me anyway.