I walked through Princes Street Gardens for the first time this year. The sun was starting to set, but it was comforting to note that it was 7pm. Instead of the usual rush to get to the train station, I strolled. Some tourists took photos of the castle and a couple of kids played on a climbing frame in the small playground just at the entrance at the end of Princes Street.
I’m exhausted today. Last night, I was stranded in Gatwick airport thanks to Easyjet’s usual lack of efficiency. The screens in the departure lounge weren’t working, but no one bothered to tell the passengers about this. Instead, a member of the Easyjet staff walked around calling out to passengers which flights were boarding. This, I hasten to point out is useless if you’re in the shops, the cafes or the toilets when they happen to walk by. So, 18 hours later, I got back to Edinburgh, tired, grumpy and hungry.
Now, having said all this, what really had me going was not the inconvenience I went through. It was annoying, yes, but there was someone else my heart went out to. A young woman, quite elegant wearing a brown fluffy coat, tall boots and a well taioured suit stood beside me in tears. Her lovely face was streaked with make up and smudged mascara under her eyes. Like me, she was stranded, but where I was simply bothered by the prospect of losing half a day in the office with loads to do, she had a real emergency.
Through her sobs she told the Easyjet staff that she had to get to Madrid. Her father was dying. Her shoulders dropped and as she put her hands to her face, the rep just stood there telling her there was nothing they could do. “You can take a flight in the morning”, they said.
Just like that. There was no offer to get her on a flight with a different airline or airport. There was no comfort. I stood there beside her and was ashamed of myself. There I was, cursing my luck when there was someone there who had a real, tangible, desperate need.
In the end, I was angry at the way we were all treated, but that woman’s face and the sound of her voice as she pleaded with them is not something I’m going to forget any time soon.
Writing Prompt: Stranded