WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN RIYADH
|A Quiet period at Check In|
I was conducting a Cargo Training course in Riyadh and had finished early. I got one of the guys to change my firm booking which was for 15:00 hrs to the earlier flight of 13:00 hrs. It was Wednesday and Wednesday evening was my favourite time in Jeddah where I was based.
I would be home in plenty time for a game of tennis and after I would return home, have a hot shower and waiting for me in the freezer would be frosted glasses and some chilled homemade beer. Lovely. The lights would be on in our bar. The play lists would be ready to roll and let the evening begin and let's see what happens. I loved Wednesday night. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife.
I was dropped off at the domestic terminal just in time for the one hour flight. Or that is what I thought. I could not get near the check in desk. Even although I had a firm ticket there were just too many people trying to check in. When things cleared and I got to the desk and was told sorry the flight was closed. I asked to be put on the next flight two hours later and was told that I would have to be on standby as all the flights right up until 0300 hrs the next day were fully booked too. The terminal suddenly became quiet so I settled down with my Walkman and the only tape I had was The World Party's, Hey Jumbo. The rest of my tapes were in a small carry case which unfortunately I had left in the crew room where I was sleeping during my stay. It was pretty good but after several hours it had lost its appeal.
The terminal began to fill up so I made my way to the gate and was first in the queue. I was told to wait and if there was a seat I would get it. Fat chance of that, it was pandemonium, I have never in my life witnessed anything like it. People were shouting, screaming and even brawls started. Some Arabs took off their keffiyeh or ghutrah (the ropes which kept their head gear on) and were hitting each other. Some other guys took their sandals off and used them to hit the guys who had the ropes. It was like watching Gladiators fight to the death. Security were called several times to calm things down. I just sat there in silent resignation. Two other flights had departed and I was still no where nearer getting on a flight. I later learned that this was normal for a Wednesday evening and there are usually several arrests. I suppose you could call it 'Airport Check in Rage'.
During a quiet period in-between flights I suddenly saw an Arab guy who worked in the Cargo department and I trained him about a year ago. He was with the check in agents. I made a beeline for him. He recognised me and I asked him if he could help. I said I have a big problem my wife is pregnant and has had to go to hospital in Jeddah because the baby may be coming early. Could he help as I just have to get there. Three minutes later I had a boarding pass and a first class seat at that. I hugged my new best friend and headed through to the departure lounge.
Always remember, it is who you know. And if you have to tell a little white lie to get the job done, then so be it. I made it home in time for a good evening with some friends who had called round and there was plenty Pizza Sheik too for this hungry traveller.
World Party - It's Too Late
4/ 5Oleh Old Pa's Corner