Thursday, March 31, 2011

American Ignorance and African Adventure: Part II

...........continued from Part I: American Ignorance and African Adventure

As Jamie and I approached the AirAfrique flight to Lagos we realized that the boarding of passengers had nothing to do with boarding zones or even ACTUAL tickets for that matter.  The boarding was actually on a first come and first serve basis.  Of course the priority was given to who could "come first" and pay the attendent cash on the spot! They were actually reselling reserved seats on the plane. This can't be happening!  Jamie and I stood looking puzzled in line for about 2 minutes before I looked at Jamie and said, "When in Rome do as the Romans.  We are getting on this flight! I'm going straight to the front of the line so make sure that you keep up with matter what!"

Immediately I began to aggressively push my way to the front of the line like the other anxious passengers.  Finally I reached the front of the line to the entrance way for boarding but the entire line was being pushed back by a male airline attendant. I decided to step back and pay attention to what was really happening.  What was the source of this commotion? After careful observance I noticed that there were only two strategies to board the plane: 1.) you either had to slip the attendent some cash on the spot or 2.) you had to bogart your way up the steps when he allowed his "special contributors" to board the plane. Being that both "paid in advance" tickets for Jamie and I had cost over $1800 each.... I decided on the latter!

Now the real drama begins. I was determined to board this flight. I carefully thought about the task before me and immediately took on the persona of a track athlete just before the pop off of the start gun.  I shook out my limbs, mapped out my plan to slip pass the attendant, surveyed the area, squared my body up for the mad dash and then I checked out my competition.

As fate would have it my main competition was a huge African man around 6"3 feet tall and 270 pounds!  This can't be happening! I could also tell that my competitor was extremely agitated with the process and determined to board this flight next--no matter what.  Less than 5 minutes later the attendent allowed a few people to board the plane so that was my chance and I had to go for it! In an effort to make up for the size and strength advantage of my competitor I elbowed him deep in the stomach "accidently-on-purpose" and dashed up the airplane stairs. Only to reach the top of the stairs and discover that my youth leader and fellow travel partner Jamie did not follow my suit!  What?!!!So now I have to go back down the stairs and figure out how to get my travel partner who is now being blocked in view by the African man that I just elbowed in the stomach!!!!!!!  You gotta be kidding me! 

The worst part of it all is that I had to go back down and face ALL of the people that I pissed off getting on the flight! For example, the entrepreneurial airline attendant, my African competitor and the entire front-line that I skipped to make it to the front. What next? Well in true leadership fashion I boldly went back down the steps, grabbed Jamie by the arm, pulled her through the bottom of the human barricade, pushed the attendent out-of-the way and made way to our long awaited seats in the back of the airplane!

As we were waiting for the flight to take-off one of the fellow African passengers on my row asked me where was I from.  I looked at him, smiled and said, "I'm African, can't you tell?"

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