I got to the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Let me say here that, if you don't speak French, or understand the written French word, the CDG airport may feel impossible to navigate. It certainly felt impossible to navigate for me. Eventually, I found the tech store.
Even with help, we could not seem to find a compatible gadget for charging my computer in Europe. Maybe my confusion had set in because I was still operating from a sleep deprived mind set in the land ruled by Murphy's Law. It is very possible that the woman helping me could not help me because of me.
It's true, I had slept the day before. That sleep, though, was only for about 6 hours, and that was 6 hours of sleep over the course of days, and that six hours of sleep ended at 9pm the night before, and now it was 10am. And, I needed to use a toilet.
I wandered off to find what I needed most and took care of bio need #1. Relieved of that pressing stressor, I decided, instead of being concerned about my computer, I'd get in the ticket and bag-check line. I decided this because, once I found the line for Turkish Airlines, I saw that the line was long. Very long. It was so long, it took an hour to get from my starting point to the counter. This felt like a big huge, sweaty hassle, by the way, not because of the time it took to get there, but because of my too many and too heavy bags that I lugged, inch-by-inch, along the line, for that entire hour. I saw people with their luggage piled onto rolling carts and longed for one. I don't know why the concept in my mind was that rich people were able to procure a rolling cart. I did not actually know where or how to procure a rolling cart. I didn't think to ask. So I lugged heavy baggage, inch-by-inch, for an hour, sweating profusely, my underarms and shoes and wherever getting stinkier by the moment.
When I got to the ticket counter and handed over my passport, the attendant said "you are not in our system." She asked for my ticket, which I had printed before leaving Brattleboro. She looked at the ticket and said "your flight was yesterday."
It took the poor woman a few times of repeating her statement before it landed for me. When this new reality settled in, the only thing I could do was say: "Ok. Thank you" and step out of the way. There was, after all, still a long line behind me.
I do not want to come across right now as if I were mild-mannered and accepting about what was happening. That would be inaccurate. I would be lying. My ethics hold me to telling the truth, as long as the truth does not harm anyone. If, say, telling the truth meant disclosing that I was hiding Jews in Nazi Germany, I would unequivocally lie. This, here and now, however, is about me and my emotional state at the CDG airport in Paris upon hearing that I'd missed my flight which was actually the day before. The worst part of telling the truth here is that I prove, once again, that I am a vulnerable, imperfect human being. As best as I am able, I will portray the truth.
The truth is: I am a vulnerable, imperfect human being. I was not being mild-mannered. I did not accept the news (that I had miscalculated so massively and missed my plane by a day) as reality. I was incredulous.
The ticket/baggage-check woman pointed me to a small counter across the corridor. She literally just pointed. I followed her finger and saw another long line. I stood there, on an edge, about to tip over, with my too many and too heavy bags, looking across the corridor, at that long line. I wanted to scream. I wanted to lay on the floor belly down and throw a temper tantrum. I wanted someone to guide me and make everything all right. What I did though, because I'm a 64-year-old adult woman, was breathe. I stood there and breathed. and breathed. and breathed. People walked by me and still, I stood there, like a manikin, except for that one human difference: I breathed.
Finally, I huffed and sweated my bags over to the end of the new long line. I inched them, once again, toward the (newest) final destination. By the time I got to the front of that line (and it took a long time. longer. Because in this line, people had a lot to say to the person at the counter)... by the time I got to that counter and that attendant, my voice may have elevated and I was most definitely nearly in tears. I want to state here that I am sorry for the folks who have that job. I bow my head energetically toward them all and send a wave to wash their stress away and cleanse their souls. They need this.
I explained my situation to the attendant. Come to find out, because I got a cheap flight, there was no ability to exchange my ticket for another. There was no refund. There was nothing that could be done. I had to start from scratch. And this scratch was rough. The price of plane fare for the next flight was 3X what I'd paid for my ticket. The price of plane fare for any flight at any time, on any airline was about the same.
I learned this in increments. The attendant would tell me some bit of news and I'd reel, right out of line. I contacted my son and asked for help, because I could not help myself, because my laptop was dead and my phone didn't seem to be navigating the internet. He'd find a ticket that seemed a bit more reasonable and would say "ask the airport to book this."
I'd get back in line, wait, find out I had to purchase the ticket online, and step out of line again. I'd try to purchase the online ticket and it wouldn't let me. I'd contact my son and he'd try and it wouldn't let him. He'd say "ask the airport to help you with this." And I'd get back in line.
The attendant would tell me she couldn't help, and I'd step out and contact my son again. This happened so many times, my phone was about to die. When I asked if the attendant could plug in my phone while we talked, they said "No."
At one point, after being in and out of line so many times, come to find out, all flights were sold out. There were no more tickets available on any plane at any time until the next day, and some of those flights had already sold out. The ticket for the next day was not less. But at this point, what else was I to do but suck it up and pull out my credit card. And then, I had to find a place to sleep the night.
Standing in a perpetual state of dazed and confused, exhausted and frustrated, hungry and thirsty, in a very whiny voice I said, "all I really want right now is one of those carts." The security guard pointed at 2 empty carts, one to the left of the counter one to the right. I walked toward the left and watched as someone else nonchalantly took it. I turned and walked toward the right and, voila... it was mine. I was overjoyed to have a rolling cart.