Charles de Gaulle. Again. Possibly the worst airport in the world, filled with slow-moving idiots pushing bulky carts with unnecessary heaps of luggage, equipped with bathrooms that are no better than Porta Potties, and food options that make hospital slop sound appealing.
I thumb through my passport, recently a source of pride, each paper page stained with arrivals and departures, arrows and countries. Black ink, green ink, dates as evidence. Happy to be here, people. Happy to be here.
I walk to the self-check kiosk with my overstuffed rolling luggage and a massive bag meant to count as my “smaller item.” In it, I have shoes, a winter coat, my actual purse. It stands away from my body like a bum hauling a garbage bag. Knowing I am pushing my luck, I check in quickly and then disappear to a row of chairs to wait for my friend.
“Excuse me! Excuse me!” An American Airlines representative is waving me down from her place behind the counter. “Are you checking that bag in?” This is more a passive aggressive theoretical than anything else. “No,” I say plainly. “I’m not.”
“Is not possible,” she says, her French accent doing its best to trick me into her noble authority. “Is not possible!” she repeats, gesturing violently at my green rolling luggage and not the black bag which is clearly the legitimate offender at this point.
The French think everything is “not possible.” France is the land of “no.”
No, you can’t have this croissant to go.
No, you can’t drink your coffee here.
No, you cannot get whatever you want.
Listen, lady. I’m a goddamn American. And in America, I’m the customer and I am right. When I tell you that I flew over here in a plane that easily accommodated this very same bag, you’re obligated to believe me. The consumerist culture shames you into cowing to me.
Lady France tells me to try to put it into the metal skeleton that determines whether a bag is of appropriate size for the overhead compartments. Emboldened by my frequent flier miles and my familiarity with this whole charade I tell her, “Yeah, fine!” and then reorganize my bags so that the overflow of the rolling luggage fills whatever extra space I actually have in the massive shoulder bag.
I walk over to the skeleton and push it in easily, holding my arms up in victory. “Is possible!” I yell, pointing like a vindicated teenager. “IS POSSIBLE!!!!!”