Never leave your keys with someone who can’t even look after their own passport.
Lesson learnt. The hard way.
Yes, that’s right, I’m easing myself back into the ‘blogging game’ with what should have been a lovely little summary of my time in Berlin. Instead, my supposed ‘comeback’ has turned into a tirade against my own, useless self; because, yes, in case you hadn’t already guessed, the aforementioned ‘incompetent fool’ is none other than myself. Yours truly. Alice ‘The-Lost-Cause’ Parsons.
Nope. Didn’t think so.
If you know me, in even the minutest degree, you’ll no doubt be wondering what major cock-up is about to unfold in front of your intrepid eyes. And I can’t say I blame you. Only this time, it wasn’t entirely my fault, I promise. And this time it wasn’t even a cock-up, as such. There was no passport involved or British Embassy of any sort (DON’T ASK). Nor was there talk of any embarrassing tannoy announcements being made or search parties being issued in my name (AGAIN, BEST NOT TO ASK). No, this time, it was an honest mistake that has since been HIGHLY exaggerated by my so-called friends; friends who seem to revel in the smallest of errors I make. Cheers, guys! Your support is always appreciated.
Now, I could have chosen not to divulge this minor error, like any sensible human-being who doesn’t wish to let their failings haunt them forever. But I’m no sensible human-being, let’s face it! So, instead, why don’t you sit back and revel in the most painfully mundane, and yet frustratingly idiotic, story you’ll ever read. Apologies, in advance.
It was all going so smoothly. Or, so we thought. The journey to London was easy. The Welsh win against England was glorious. The alcohol consumption was excessive and the hangover horrendous. But we were happy. Admittedly, we may have managed to ‘misplace’ my glasses before we’d even left London. And, admittedly, we may have consumed our entire body-weight in hangover food, to the point where I physically couldn’t move for fear of upsetting my stomach. But crippling bellyache aside, we were good to go.
Arriving at Stansted within plenty of time, we glided through security, effortlessly and with no hiccups. For once. We even had time for a cheeky, refillable coffee from the airport’s Spoons; a thrifty, little trick we’d learnt whilst severely hungover in London. Yes, this was the life! We arrogantly thought to ourselves. Travelling had never been so simple; so carefree. We were experts. Pros, even. There was just one slight issue:
RYAN AIR’S STUPID F***ING POLICY ON STUPID F***ING HAND LUGGAGE.
They’d only gone and bloody changed it since we last flew, hadn’t they? The cheek of it! Now, just hours before flying, we were frantically trying to find some miraculous way of avoiding that extra charge! Two. Small. Bags. Not even the normal sized handluggage would pass anymore. Two SMALL bags. I mean, honestly; you’re a budget airline, for God’s sake! Stop trying to find ways of making us pay over the odds unexpectedly! It’s not like these new rules are plastered all over your website or anything; or that we were sternly warned by a good friend, the night before, to consider ‘downsizing’ our previously perfect-sized cabin bags. Yeah okay, alright, this one might be on us! But I digress. Rejigging its entire contents so that every valuable item and essential belonging was now on her person, Owens squished her supposedly-empty handbag into my rather enormous cabin bag and we proceeded to wait for the inevitably delayed flight; anxious that we may be caught out for our cunning ways. We weren’t. Thank God.
It all went so smoothly. It really did. We landed at Berlin Shchoenefeld in good time; a fact Ryan Air couldn’t help but boast about:
“Last year over 80% of Ryan Air flights arrived on time!”*
Gloated a lilting Irish voice, over the victorious fan-fair. Not sure that’s really something you need to boast about, mate. That’s like me saying:
“Last year over 80% of my morning-alarms went off on time,”
And failing to mention the long list of missed trains, cancelled meetings and postponed appointments that resulted from the remaining 20% of accidental lie-ins!* But whatever helps you sleep at night, I suppose. Laughing to myself at the Airline’s delusional positivity, I reached up into the overhead locker and grabbed my bag from above. Edging it out carefully, so as not to drop the hefty boulder it had become onto some poor, unsuspecting head, I noticed a set of keys loose by its side. More specifically, I noticed a random, little dude chilling at the end of the keyring; some little figurine of a nondescript guy in a nondescript red shirt.
Perhaps, it’s meant to be the owner.I thought to myself. Bit odd carrying around a figure of yourself but, hey, each to their own! I scanned the seats around me, briefly. Nope. No non-descript men in non-descript red shirts here today. Maybe I should hand them in! I pondered. But, then… I’m right at the front of the plane and there are still another thirty odd rows behind me to get off. What if someone’s still waiting to get to this locker? My brain whirred with dilemma after dilemma; the cogs turning very, very slowly (as usual), jilting at the anticipation of each and every outcome. I don’t want someone to think I’m just stealing their keys for the hell of it! Ugh, but I can’t just leave them either. What if they’ve already got off the plane? Without my Best Friend to consult, I really was at a loss for what to do. Oh, I know! I exclaimed (mentally, of course – I’m not that weird). I’ll mention it to the flight attendant. Yes, that’s the right thing to do, Parsons! Congrats.
Hopping off the plane, somewhat proud of my good deed, I patiently awaited Owens, who had been sat about ten rows behind me. With a twat-ishly large, obnoxiously arrogant grin, I greeted my friend and jumped onto the sweat-inducing, jam-packed shuttle bus. Yes, Alice! You genius! You really did do the right thing. Nice one.
Yes, you see, it truly was going so smoothly! After settling into our spacious hostel, we decided to make the most of the early flight and spend the rest of the day sight-seeing. Despite some initial map issues, we successfully managed to navigate our way to the Berlin Dome and the Reichstag, before finding ourselves incredibly moved by the harrowing tales at the Holocaust Memorial. A quick pitstop for lunch and a short walk later and we were, once again, touched by the awe-inspiring way in which the Berlin Wall had been transformed into a place of art and expression; bringing hope for a more tolerant and compassionate future.
See, I really did want this to be about Berlin.
Yes, come day two and it was all still going so smoothly; if smoothly can be defined as wandering around for hours, shouting at Google Maps and bursting into fits of laughter at one another’s sheer lack of common sense. Delirious with unwarranted rage at this ‘navigation tool,’ we gave up on trying to find an ‘authentic’ German restaurant for our final meal of the trip and headed to a Burger and Craft Beer joint. Not quite the true ‘Berliner’ experience we’d hoped for, admittedly, but the intention was to continue on to sample the City’s renowned night life! A great night was ahead of us, we were sure. Yet, before we could get another pint of German ale down our necks, it suddenly dawned on us…
Things hadn’t been going so smoothly, after all!
Broaching a new topic of conversation over a bite of burger and a sip of perfectly ‘paired’ beer, Owens remarked:
“Al, I don’t think I’ve seen my car keys since we left London,” calmly and without too much initial concern. “I’ve got a feeling they may have fallen out in the over-head locker. I’m sure I put them in my coat pocket when we left Vip’s house. Remember, I asked if I should leave them with Vip’s family before we left?”
I did remember. Of course I did. I also remembered saying that there was “no need”. Another genius move, on my part!
“They’re probably in your backpack at the hostel. I’m sure they will be.” Spoken with all the deluded confidence of that one England football fan still chanting “It’s Coming Home” post-Croatia World Cup Semi-Final last year (sorry, English friends, I couldn’t resist). “We’ll finish this drink and head straight back there. Besides,” I smiled, my head tilted slightly to one side in that way people often seem to do when they’re trying to comfort someone, “If they really did fall out in the overhead, someone will have handed them in. I guarantee it. Someone will have done what I did!”
Someone will have done what I did. Those words still ring in my ears to this day.
“I saw someone’s keys when I took my bag out of the overhead.”
When I took my bag, out of the overhead. My bag.
“I’d heard them jangle about earlier in the flight and… well, there they were, just lying there… next to my bag, as I pulled it out.”
Next to my bag, as I pulled it out. A set of keys, next to my bag, people.
“Hmmm, yeah.” Heather interjected, unconvinced.
“Honestly, Heath! Either a flight-attendant will have found them or another passenger will have handed them in, just like I did.”
Just. Like. I. Did.
“I mean, I didn’t physically hand them in but I did tell the flight-attendant where they were and she said she’d hand them into customs. Look, I guarantee you, someone will have done the same with yours.”
Someone will have done the same with yours.
THE EXACT SAME THING.
Just. Just think about that for a second.
“Yeah, I suppose.” Murmured Owens, only marginally reassured but not entirely swayed.
“Look, we’ll go back and check the hostel. They’re bound to be there and, if they’re not, I’ll ring the airport and we can pick them up on our way back tomorrow.” I declared optimistically.
So, off we went, discussing all possible eventualities en route: would we have to call breakdown cover? Or a locksmith? Wouldn’t that be expensive? Would it be covered on Heath’s insurance? Should we get her spare key sent up to London, ‘First-Class, Signed For’? Or will we have to ‘train it’ all the way back to Swansea and grab the spare key, just to ‘train it’ all the way back to London, get in the car and drive it all the way back to Swansea… again? So many options.
“But it’s okay,” I kept reiterating, “because either way, we will get home! We’re not stranded. We know London. We can get back easily. We’ll sort it. Besides, these things happen all the time!” And don’t I know it, I thought to myself. “Imagine if your bag had have been stolen. That wouldn’t be your fault at all, would it? And yet, we’d still be in the same position! Insurance people and locksmiths must deal with this kind of thing all the time!” I smiled; the words of somebody who was well versed in the art of consoling themselves.
Neither of us panicked. We kept calm. And cool. And very, very collected. We searched the hostel high and low but, sadly, no luck.
“Okay, that’s no problem. Look, I’ll just ring the airport now. There’s no use ringing STUPID F***ING RYAN AIR because STUPID F***ING RYAN AIR refuse to take responsibility for property found on any of their STUPID F***ING AIRPLANES, despite EVERY BLOODY AIRPORT saying it’s actually the AIRLINE’S F***ING RESPONSIBILITY!” I ranted, trying to make light of the situation. “But I will need our flight details and a description of the keyring. Chuck me a pen and some paper and I’ll write it down now and ring them straight away.”
“No problem!” Heath replied, handing me the back of an old receipt to write on and reciting the flight details, as I jotted them down. “Then, on the key ring,” she continued, “there were only three items: the key to a [insert reasonably priced car here], a house key and a Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Lord figurine.”
“A Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Lord figurine?”
“A Guardians of the Gal…” I paused. “What did he look like, this figurine? Was he wearing a red shirt, by any chance?”
“Umm, yeah, I suppose. It was the Star Lord character, so…”
“Yeah, but I’ve never seen Guardians of the Galaxy.” I interrupted, my tone getting just about as close to ‘abrupt’ as it ever does for me. “Was it a red shirt?”
“Yeah, look,” Heather whispered, gently cutting through the silence of an eerily quiet hostel room, where the only noise to be heard was the sound of us and our dilemmas. She whipped out a Googled image of the character, “That’s him.”
My head sunk into my bitterly cold hands.
“Heath…” I said, shaking my head in utter disbelief. “Heather, I handed in those keys. Those are the keys I handed in. The ones I was talking about. That figure. I saw him. I saw that figure.”
Well, we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, did we? Baffled. Embarrassed. Really rather stupid. I felt it all. The relief that we felt upon realising we could get home safely was only marginally greater than the sheer disbelief that anyone could be as DAFT as to, effectively, hand in their Best Friend’s car keys to Lost and Found. And better still, to not even realise until it was pretty much spelled out to her. IDIOT! I thought to myself. Absolute idiot!
Because tell me this, dear reader, and be honest: at what point should one of us questioned the likely-hood that TWO SETS OF KEYS could have been lost on ONE BLOODY FLIGHT? Or that that ONE OF US would have spotted ONE OF THESE sets of keys; a supposedly ‘RANDOM,’ ‘UNRELATED’ set of keys that somehow made it into the locker above HER OWN BLOODY HEAD where HER OWN BLOODY BAG WAS PLACED; a bag which, by some freak coincidence, JUST-SO-HAPPENED to contain THE HANDBAG of her Best Friend who JUST-SO-HAPPENED to have lost her own set of keys! Tell me, at what point, dear reader, upon discovering that said best friend had lost her keys, should one of us not have thought:
“Hmm, how peculiar! Surely this can’t be a coincidence?”
And by “one of us” I, of course, mean the foolish tw*t who had the naivety to tell the tale of the “random, unrelated” keys aloud in the first place, without even hearing the sheer stupidity of it as she spoke.
Well, fortunately for me and for you, dear reader, the rest really did all go smoothly; the return of the keys, that is. Unable to get hold of the airport’s Lost and Found, we emailed them with a rather thorough and hilarious account of our troubles and headed to the airport as early as possible the following morning. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the most helpful and friendliest of ladies who thoroughly revelled in our tale, thrilled to reunite us with the minute Star Lord. One of her colleagues, she told us, was an expert in these characters (thanks to her young son) and was, therefore, able to identify the keys from our “clear” description. We were lucky, she explained, “this little guy has been from Berlin to Budapest and back again!”
Quite the traveller, Mr. Starlord, quite the traveller! Welcome home.