Wednesday, 26 November 2008

MULTIPLY: Writer's Forum Find your Muse #10: Holiday Disaster

Well, it's that time of the year when family and friends gather to start celebrating the holidays.With Thanksgiving happening this week, and Christmas coming up real quick, its time to deck your muse in dressing and tinsel...Your challenge is to write a short about the worst holiday disaster you have ever had...We are taking burned turkey, raw stuffing, exploding gifts, and those wonderful family gatherings where the police are called.It can be fiction of course...some folks are just too lucky not to have anything bad happen

This is, of course, fiction, although something similar happened to someone we knew.

Hans Wurst was glad that his business trip was over. It was a week before Christmas and he wanted to be at home with his family in Zürich, Switzerland. America was interesting but after spending two weeks discussing business affairs with the American agents he was ready to go home. It had started snowing in New York and he called for a taxi to take him to Kennedy airport. He made sure he had enough time as the traffic was not moving as fast as usual.

Hans was always fascinated by the New York taxi drivers. They all had a permit fixed to the car showing a photo, with their name and number. He always found it quite amusing to see how the photos showed them dressed in their best clothes and smiling happily. When you saw the drivers behind the wheel of the car they looked nothing like the photo, and a smile was something you very rarely got from them. It seemed the driver he had was from a country in the Middle east when he saw the name. So Hans was sitting in his taxi waiting to move and they did move because the car behind them drove into them. They were just passing the Carnegie Hall when it happened and the taxi driver was not a happy man. The man in the other car was already standing on the street calling the taxi driver a few names and telling him that the accident was his fault. Hans looked at his watch hoping that he would catch the plane in time.

“You just stay here” said the taxi driver “this won’t take long to sort out.”
In the meanwhile the driver of the other car was talking into his mobile phone and told the taxi driver his lawyer would be coming along in a few minutes. The taxi driver returned to the taxi and sat in the drivers seat.
“Don’t worry” he said “you smoke, have a cigarette” and offered Hans one.
“Am I allowed to smoke in the taxi” Hans asked
“No problem” was the answer “I am smoking, you smoke too, and we just keep calm. Where you from?” asked the taxi man
“Switzerland” Hans answered “and I have to catch a plane at Kennedy as I am on my way home. If you want to sort your problem I can easily take another cab” he told the chauffeur.
“You from Switzerland, that’s interesting, I am from Iran, but have been in New York a few years. Nice country America.”
“Do you think I could take another taxi” asked Hans, looking at his watch with a worried face.
“You stay here, we will soon be going.” The driver of the other car was still standing on the street waiting for his lawyer, when the taxi chauffeur turned the car engine on and put his foot on the accelerator and drove off. Hans was a bit worried, and the other car driver was left standing shaking his fist at the taxi driver, although Hans was glad that they could go further.

He arrived at the airport with fifteen minutes time to catch his plane, so ran as quickly as possible with his luggage and arrived at the airport desk.

“Hello sir”, said the girl “you are taking the plane to Zürich leaving in 15 minutes. Just take your time sir, we have delays because of the snow and we have to clear the runways. At the moment the new departure time will be in three hours, so just take it easy.
In a way Hans was glad to have a few minutes extra, but three hours was a bit much. It was now evening and it seemed the plane would not leave until midnight. He checked the luggage in and made himself comfortable on a seat in the airport.
“Where you going” asked the man sitting next to Hans
“Zürich, but my plane is delayed” he answered.
“All planes delayed today because of the snow; seems that we will have to be patient.”
Hans was not very happy but decided to make himself comfortable on the seat and wait. He had never seen so many people in a airport lounge. Every seat was occupied and those without a seat were sitting on the floor. Time went past and he fell asleep whilst waiting. Luckily he awoke in the early morning hours to find that his plane was still not ready to depart. He was thinking how nice it would be to take a bath, wash and shave and change his clothes. The airport was hot, sticky and crowded. Then a wonder happened.
“Will all passengers for flight 1222 to Zürich, Switzerland please go to gate 32” came over the loudspeaker. Hans was so glad that some action was coming into the airport and made his way. He was soon seated in the aircraft which was completely full.

“Buenos dias senor” said his seat neighbour. You going Zürich, long flight”
“Yes” Hans replied “ I am looking forward to going home for Christmas.”
“Si, I think we all are.”
“You are also going home.”
“Si, senor, I go home too” although Hans thought that the neighbour was probably taking a connecting flight to Spain from Zürich.
The plane was in the air and they were on their way. Hans looked out of the window and saw the Atlantic ocean appearing.
“Scusa senor” said his neighbour and stood up. Hans had a funny feeling about this strange Spanish speaking person, especially as he noticed there were a couple of other Spanish people distributed on the plane. They also left their seats and Hans noticed that they were all standing together at the front of the plane.

“OK” one of them said “now you all remain nice and quiet and do nothing to disturb us. My friend has already spoken to the pilot and we have persuaded him to fly to Havana, in Cuba where our friends are waiting for us. Please do nothing stupid and you will all land safely. In other words this plane has now been hijacked. We have a few hand grenades, pistols and guns, so please no heroes and do nothing stupid. “
Hans was a little bit concerned. He was still feeling tired, unwashed and now this.

The kidnapper spoke further. “Just to make this journey worthwhile for my friends and me, we would like to make a little collection. Please all the Swiss passengers will put their watches in the bag that will be passed around. Switzerland makes such nice watches and it will soon be Christmas. Our families would also like to have nice watches.”
So what could Hans do? Like all the other passengers he put his watch in the bag. He decided not to play the hero and so he saw the Atlantic ocean disappear towards the North as the plane turned South. He saw Florida below them and they eventually landed at Havana airport.

It seems that the pirates then gave themselves up when they had landed and were escorted away by the police. Hans thought it strange that the police did not really arrest them but just let them leave the plane. He did notice from the window that the Swiss watches were being shared with some of the police officers.

“This is your pilot speaking. We must apologise for this disturbance, but the Cuban authorities have assured us that we will be allowed to leave Havana without any problems. We will return to Kennedy airport and a connecting flight to Zürich will be waiting.”

Hans thought at least he was still alive and could travel further. After the arrival at Kennedy the passengers had to wait in the lounge for a few hours and eventually they were on their plane to Zürich. Seven hours later the plane touched down at Kloten, the airport in Zürich. Hans was feeling very tired and was glad his wife was meeting him at the airport. He went to the luggage pick up and watched the cases travelling around on the conveyor belt, the problem being that his case was not on the conveyor belt. He inquired.
“I am sorry sir, but due to the hijacking of the plane, not all of the luggage could be transferred onto the substitute flight. We are doing our best to organise the return.” Was the answer he got.
He entered the hall of the airport and found there was a message on the board that Hans Wurst should report to the flight reception office.
“Mr. Wurst, you wife called and said you should call back.”

“Hello Hans, did you have a good flight. How are you.” She said. Before Hans could say anything she carried on talking “Hans I cannot pick you up at the airport – you must take the train. I had a little problem with the car yesterday. No Hans, don’t get excited, it will only be in the garage until they have replaced the bumper and the doors. Yes Hans, I am ok, but there was a patch of ice on the road and I skidded into a lamp post.”

Hans left the airport and took the train. He was worried that the train might break down in a tunnel or that he might fall asleep and miss his station, but he did not care any more. Oh, yes he did miss his station, but after all Geneva was only four hours away by train to where he actually lived, and he was travelling light. He actually did get his luggage eventually, but unfortunately it was left in a tropical storm and was quite wet when it arrived some time after Christmas.

Writer's Forum: find your Muse #10: Holiday disaster

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