We're here:


Or rather, we were; that's the cruise line terminal. Now we're at the airport.

I’ve been hearing a lot about Offlo Jebaggaj this morning. It’s 11 AM, and I’m in the Amsterdam airport, waiting for security. Periodically a voice overhead calls out someone who really ought to be in his seat, and threatens that they will send over the fearsome Enforcer of Prompt Departures. Offlo Jebaggaj. Here’s what they just said:

Passenger Pontazi Ottio, you are delaying the flight. Proceed to gate E4 or we will Offlo Jebaggaj.

I hope Pontazi makes it. I’d hate to think what happens when Offlo finds him and kicks him down the jetway.

We woke at 7 AM after a nice sleep; seven hours, at least. Room service barged in at 7:01 and deposited something that resembled our order - the omelettes were correct, but one had about 15 pieces of bacon, the other had double sausage. A box of cereal, hurrah! No bowl. No bagel. But these are small details -

Mufferal Carole von de Pommer is now warned that she is delaying a flight, and she had best make tracks to Gate G2, or, well, you know. Offlo Jebaggaj.

. . . small details, because this is the day you can’t complain about anything. You enter the machinery, the conveyor belt, and hope it all works out. First step: wait for Red 2 to be called, then it’s GANGWAY! Literally; you go to -

Ahmery and Gavanni who are going to Abu Dobby are advised to board now, but there’s no mentionof Offlo; he’s busy with Mufferal, I guess.

. . . you go to the gangway for one last beep-de-de-beep over your stateroom card, then the long walk to the baggage area. You find your bags in the Red 2 pile, and note that one has been yoked to a stranger’s bag for some reason with plastic handcuffs. You use the power -

Tracemont and Kupka are going to Venice are requested to go to C18, now; again, nothing about Offlo. His work must be stacking up. So many people to beat.

. . . you use the power of your hands to snap the cord, then proceed to the bus. The driver says it’s a 45 minute trip, but it never is. En route, the sights of the outskirts. Once at the airport, your troubles begin; there’s no recollected precedence for the place, which you entered in a fog a million years ago, wandering through, following the arrows, heading into the basement. What seemed like a rat’s maze then is bright and modern now. Destination: DEPARTURES 2. You are in 3. DEPARTURES 2 is only a mile away. You walk, and walk, and this seems wrong. You’re not departing yet. You’re checking in.

Free, Canby, Hopp and Nicowlo are going to Heathrow are are advised to go to A1. This is really a personal-service airport. “Free Canby-Hopp” sounds like a protest chant for someone falsely accused of rigging a cricket match, no?

. . . but you’re happy to see there’s a line of automated check-in kiosks. This is an age of miracles: insert your passport, and it finds your flight and spits out the boarding passes. Now, you would have had them last night but after buying $8.38 worth of internet the Delta page says there’s no online check-in, because the flight, which is also under the KLM banner, is run by Air France. Thank you for using our online check-in.

Drop off the bags (uh oh: Ahmery and Gavanni have been threatened with Offlo, who’s apparently worked through the backlog) and move along to a large shoppink ahrea where drinks can be had for a few euros, as well as hunks of cheese and the all-important Stroopwaffles. (In faux-Delft tins.) I knew of Stroopwaffles before we came here. Move along eventually to gate G. What’s missing so far?

SECURITY. There’s no huge wad of shuffling supplicants moving through a line with faces of anxious resignation. What? How? Then you realize that they do it differently here, and it’s brilliant: the security line is at the gate. No worries about missing your plane because you got stuck in security. Probably not possible at American airports, but if you’re designing one from scratch, this would be the right idea.

Daughter has wifi, and is burning off her battery long before we get on the plane.

Barbossa, Cardossa and Wilbow: immediate boarding please, you are delaying the flight. Nothing about any assistance from Offlo, because by now everyone knows that’s what you get if you don’t make haste. Then again, maybe they figure Barbossa is some dread pirate, and Cardossa his brother, and they go way back with Offlo.

I have a battery pack. I’m set for seven hours on the plane. Or eight, or whatever it takes. Horrible jetlag ahead, I know; we get back to the house about 4 PM, which will be 11 PM, so . . . nap? Sure. Total sleep? No. Supper? Can’t say. Go get the dog and hamster? I’ll be exhausted. I’ll drive off the road.

Here's a recording of the constant threat to let Offlo loose.



Boarding was swift. You don’t have to take your shoes off. From the staging area on the other side of security through the machinery to another waiting room. One soda machine. Three euros for a Coke. We have 2 and a half Euros left. I told daughter to go around the room looking pitiful and parched.

Well, as it happens, we’re boarding soon, and the first half of the trip home concludes. There are two parts: everything before you get on the plane, and then the flight. Customs and the ride home are the coda no one wants to hear, but it must be played.

Now let's go back, and recount the gorgeous - and clammy-damp - summer of Norway.