I was "miffed".
I had got to the airport and realised that I'd forgotten my boarding pass. The "penalty" to print it out at the check-in desk was £60. Which was £15 more than the original ticket had cost to fly me to Germany. Sixty quid to print out a page of A4.
So I was, y'know, miffed.
Someone had dropped a whole lot of "miff" on me from a very great height. It felt as if "miff" had jumped from the edge of earth's atmosphere and landed square on my cock and balls wearing ice skates made of shit. While singing "I miff you like crazy".
As you can imagine, learning the "replacement" cost to print your own boarding pass at the check-in desk was an exercise in anger containment, so I diverted my frustrations into facts and figures in my head. £60 - this meant that the cost to print out a barcode was valued at nearly 10 hours of UK minimum wage. Valued, that is, by a certain "Irish" airline. I don't need to tell you which one. It's the one that will soon ask you if you want to "buy a sickbag?" Yes, that one. The one that asks you to pre-print your boarding pass before you come to the airport - that one.
But what could I do? I had to pay it and stop holding everyone up. You can't threaten or intimidate these people - they can stare down a photograph. Of Chuck Norris.
In the words of Rudyard Kipling "Shouting at airport staff is about as much use as a monkey flinging shit at an elephant's arsehole".
So I didn't make a scene. I rolled my shoulders. I frowned. I said "that seems excessive?". But I paid up. To make things worse it took about 15 seconds to re-print my document; or if you want think of it as I do, four quid a second.
I wanted to shout "Look, I know ink is expensive but unless you are hand-milking the world's most dangerous octopus and employing David Beckham to draw my boarding pass with a pen made of gold onto a fucking Dodo egg, then I think that's a bit "much"".
But I didn't. I said "Thankyou"
I tried not to I really did. I willed myself not, NOT, to say thankyou when she passed me the replacement. But I failed. It was like that bit at the end of Ghostbusters when Ray thinks of the StayPuft Marshmallow man.
"I couldn't help it"
I looked at the document, checked to make sure it didn't have any rubies on it - but it didn't so I stuffed it in my pocket.
I started to talk to myself a bit; castigating my politeness for rearing it's head at such inappropriate times.
"James!" said my brain "What are you doing? You don't thank your mugger? You are not Jesus. You are a customer that they care nothing for. They have no respect for you because you are the kind of mug that will pay £60 for a bit of paper when they are willing to fly you over 400 miles for two thirds of that amount. What's wrong with you? They can defy gravity for 10 miles, thousands of feet in the air, for a single pound and yet they would have you believe that they cannot press a print button for nothing."
"Brain you are negging me again. STOP YOUR NEGGING!" I said.
Which is not the sort of thing that works in your favour at passport control.
And my brain had a point. But that's not how it works with these airlines. With these airlines they also give you the option to beat the queues and pay just a few more pounds to board first. Which is great, unless you are LAST in the priority queue, meaning you walk through the boarding gate with your head held high and then the mob of everyone else piles in behind you, and then manages to overtake you in the bendy connecting tunnel and leaves you wondering why you bothered. These are the airlines that ask if you want to buy scratchcards whilst you are flying through the air?
How desperate would you have to be to spend a pound on a scratchcard in the hope of winning A DIME BAR?
A Dime bar which, in the real world, would cost considerably less than the scratchcard? These are the airlines which play "rapturous applause" over the cabin speaker system every time they land without bursting into flames. As if they cannot quite believe that they have got away with it again. I hate to break it to you guys but that's not the sort of thing that inspires confidence in an airline. You may as well have the stewards audibly praying on take-off or have the Captain say,
"We are on final approach - may God have mercy on our souls!".
Fake applause is, frankly, inappropriate unless you have somehow managed to finish one of their in-flight meals.
The sad truth, though, is that I know despite the continuous disappointment and the stealth charges, despite continually failing to meet our ever lowering expectations, despite the way they leach any joy out of the flying experience and leave you feeling like sub-human scum who deserve nothing better, I will use them again.
Because as the old saying goes "Yes the service is awful, but so reasonable!"