Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Terrorists and the Car Park

You will probably remember that, a while ago, a couple of idiots decided to drive their car into an airport with the aim of blowing it up.

Thanks to the considerate actions of these two, we can no longer drop people off at Leeds Bradford International Airport (I always give the title in full because I find the "International" part amusing - -yes, of course it does fly to other countries, it just seems to me to be a title that's blowing its own trumpet a bit too much.)

Instead, we have to drive into the car park, taking a ticket from the machine on the way. Then we drop off the person to catch their plane, and drive out from the exit of the car park, putting the ticket in the machine to raise the barrier.

So far so good, though rather annoying.

Anyway, the Car-Park-Improving People spent much of the winter doing stuff to the car park in order to improve it, though I'm not quite sure what they did, because, firstly, I'm unobservant and secondly - - er, there is no secondly, I'm just unobservant. But it resulted in the the car park being closed, mostly, and you had to park hundreds of yards away, all because of the two idiots who tried to drive their car into an airport.

Last week when I took my mother to the airport the new car park had opened. But you still had to get your ticket from the machine and then put it in the machine at the other end of the car park to get out.

But there was a crucial difference. Some total fool with the brainpower of a packet of crisps had decided to only allow five minutes for dropping off your friends and relatives and then getting to the other end of the car park and getting out again. If you went over this time then you had to go into the airport and pay and the cheapest time you could pay for is £2.50, which gives you up to a magnificent 15 minutes, the robbing greedy evil bastards.

So I did what everyone else was doing - - grab the ticket, storm through the entrance, screech to a halt, open the passenger door, give my mother a hefty shove onto the pavement, rush round to the boot, hurl all the luggage in the general direction of my mother, ignore her feeble cries, jump back in the car and speed to the gate.

But, of course, when I arrived at the gate, I found that the man at the front of the queue had been dropping off the Nursing Mothers With Pushchairs Orchestra from his minibus. Yes, all fifteen of them plus their babies, pushchairs and all their instruments. He'd hoped to do it in under five minutes by setting up a sort of relay where the babies were thrown through the air from one person to the next - - but sadly, because of the double bass and the drum kit, it took five minutes and thirty-four seconds and hence the machine wouldn't let him out.

Of course, by the time he'd realised this, there was a queue of twenty-two cars behind him - - and by the time he'd made his way to the airport terminal to pay his £2.50, and come back again, the time had expired on the tickets of the twenty-two cars behind him, and nobody could get out, ever.

I may have exaggerated, just a teensy little bit, but this was the essence of what went on. And it all had to be sorted out by World-Weary Airport Ticket Man.

I wondered what to ask him when, after a couple of days, he got to my car in the line. I thought the question "Do you enjoy your job?" might just result in my death, so instead I asked him if this now happened all the time.

"Yes, every moment of every day," he said wearily.

A few days later, when I returned to the airport to collect my mother (she'd been to Amsterdam to see my brother and his family) a small yet significant change had occurred.

Using the latest, high-tech sellotape, a small piece of paper had been stuck to the entrance barrier machine. It told us, without enthusiasm, that the time we could stay without paying had now been doubled to ten minutes.

Silverback told me later that the Yorkshire Evening Post, our magnificent local rag, was claiming credit for this after they wrote an article about it. The airport asked a few people what they thought, listened to the ensuing abuse, dodged a few flying suitcases and swiftly changed their minds, saying:

Following this constructive feedback we have decided to revert back to the 10 minutes free drop off/pick up period.

Now then, dear reader, I ask you: firstly, do you have a degree, or indeed any kind of qualification at all, in Airport Parking?

No, I thought not. And yet you knew, instinctively, didn't you, that a five-minute drop-off period would not be long enough, even if you're not a member of the Nursing Mothers with Pushchairs Orchestra?

So: How come then, that somebody whose job title is something like Head of Airport Parking didn't know? And why haven't they sacked him or her? Or, failing that, put him/her in some nice old-fashioned stocks - just for an hour or so, I wouldn't want to be cruel or anything - and we could all pelt him/her with uneaten airline food.

On occasions like this, I realise that if I'm ever put in charge of Everything, there are going to be a few changes around here.


Anonymous ruth said...

When you are in charge of everything please will you sort out a few things for me?

8:12 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

One sees such official stupidity everywhere...but at airports the stupidity is particularly intense. Take their variable security arrangements! It is disconcerting to discover time and time again that there are no commonly agreed international security standards...and as for those Xray security doorframes, I swear that most of them simply don't work. When you rule the world, may I please be in your inner cabinet? I swear I will keep my expenses claims down to a minimum...just the odd floating duck house or two.

8:55 pm  
Blogger Silverback said...

I'm sure your saintly mother has forgiven you for your actions at the airport but why on earth did everyone else feel they had the right to do it all to her too ?

The poor woman must be black and blue.

Even with 10 minutes grace, I can imagine the antics at the car park at LBA looks like the set from It's A Knockout - I can just hear Stuart Hall's laugh now.

12:37 am  
Blogger Debby said...

I'm laughing here...I can just see babies flying through the air. I also think I can see your mums feeble wave as you burn rubber out of there!

Thanks for making me smile!

Ya, ya, I got the point of the blog...let me enjoy my smile!

3:03 pm  

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