Making the great escape

Well, the Pearl and I made it safely out of North America, across the pond, and into rainy Ireland.
There, the clouds parted and, with the exception of the odd shower, we were treated to lots of sunshine, old castles, green fields, and friendly folks.
Driving was a bit nerve-wracking, particularly when my nephew’s wife started taking calls while whizzing along at about 125 km/h—even if they were on a hands-free set.
Driving on the left side of awfully narrow roads by North American standards, and whizzing through roundabouts with all the apparent abandon of a suicide jockey, was unsettling enough. But on top of it all, the Pearl was riding shotgun in the front left seat.
I continually was flinching, thinking for an instant that it was the Pearl who actually was driving.
Fortunately, the damage from my constant pushing on the floor boards was minimal and the leg cramps abated after a couple of days.
Flying around Europe on budget airlines was another experience. We were booked on Squeezy Jet to the U.K. and their reputation for being el cheapo is not exaggerated. It took us half-a-day to reduce our two 25 kg bags to three 15 kg bags (an extra 35 Euros), which involved jettisoning my slippers, one pair of shoes, and several sets of underwear.
“But why can’t we leave some of yours stuff behind?” I whined at the loss of my most comfortable pair of shoes and my ration of one set of clean underwear.
“Because your underwear is all pretty ratty, your shoes stink, and I need all my stuff—80 percent of the load—for the cruise,” snapped the Pearl as she pitched out more of my goodies.
It took us half-a-day to get everything reduced, re-weighed, and re-adjusted. The only casualty was the bathroom scales we used for the process—it regularly would go “TILT” when I stepped on it then picked up a bag to check the gain.
The Pearl had to kneel on the floor to read the weight as neither of us could focus on the numbers from standing height. It was not a pretty operation.
When we arrived at the check-in, we made sure we were early so we could double-check our weights. We must have given the bathroom scale a hernia as we were now well under-weight. I could have packed those shoes and slippers after all.
Still, there was the entertainment factor, watching other poor souls getting ripped off for their overweight sins.
Fortunately for me, they did not weigh individual passengers, as well.
When we finally went down to the boarding gate, we thought the flight would be more than half-empty as there were very few checking in luggage.
Wrong! There was a huge line where we were securely ensconced in last place.
Even the Pearl, sporting her cane and faking an extra limp, couldn’t move us up in the queue.
The plane, you see, was “festival seating” and when the gate finally opened, it was a mad scramble.
The Pearl passed three joggers low and on the inside, but then coming down the stretch was cut off by an old lady in a wheelchair high on the outside.
Somehow we got a seat but after closing the doors, everything came to a halt as they re-opened and recounted the passengers—three times—before finally determining two had bolted through the gate without turning in their boarding passes.
The crew went through their pre-takeoff routine—most of which was unnecessary as, in the event of a crash, we were so tightly squeezed in there would be no need to brace yourself.
Anyway, we are safely settled here in Portugal, de-stressing.
I think I’ll go out for a beer, and maybe stock up on a new supply of underwear.

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