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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kind Strangers

...................... A story about how I nearly missed my flight.......................

Today I was supposed to catch a 4.20 pm flight to Kota Kinabalu for the Chinese New Year Holidays, and despite waking up at 6.00 am and packing everything by 9 am and being completely dressed up by 11 am, I still somehow managed to leave the house late and end up nearly missing the flight. Here's how:

Kak Liza [another picture] called around 11.30 am, just as I was about to leave, and told me that she was coming over to her shop (which is next to my house) and that she'd like to have lunch together. Well, thinking that we could just have a quick bite over at her shop, I agreed, making sure to remind her of course, that I had to leave by one o'clock at the latest. But when she arrived at around 12.15, I went to her shop and found that her shop was closed and she was planning to eat somewhere else. Alright, fine. A little bit of a rushed lunch, but fine. We could make it back before one right? Wrong!.

You see, she had to go to Maybank first, to deposit a cheque. Fine, no biggie, I needed to withdraw money anyway. But by the time we were done at the bank, it was 12.30. So quickly we headed over to San Francisco Pizza, and of course I was ready to order right away. But not she. Nope, she took her own sweet time deciding what to order. And after what seemed to be an infinitely long span of time, she finally ordered chicken chop and a braised lamb shank (which wasn't even that good) . So by the time we finished eating it was already 1.15. Yeah, I know. Fuck

Anyway, she sent me home, and I got there by 1.25. Farid was already there, ready to send me. Now, the plan was for Farid to send me to the KTM station, so I could take a train to Nilai, catch the 1.50 pm bus to the LCCT (Lousy, cheap, crappy terminal), and reach the aeroport in time for the flight. If I had left earlier, that plan would have worked out just fine, but it was frikkin 1.30 by the time I got to the KTM station. Thank you Farid, by the way, for driving all the way up the hill and dropping me right in front of the station. If you had made me walk instead, I might have just missed the flight completely.

The train heading for Nilai didn't seem like it was about to show up anytime soon, so instead of buying a ticket for Nilai (and completely missing the 1.50 pm bus to the LCCT), I bought a ticket to KL Sentral. Luckily, the train arrived soon after.

So I got on the train, already sweating and terribly worried because I was quite late, and I saw this friendly looking lady, and decided to ask her and see if she thought I'd make it on time.

Me: How long does it take to get to KL Sentral from here? One hour?

She: About 30 minutes.

Me: You mean like, 40 minutes?

She: Well yeah, sometimes it can be 40 minutes.

Me: Right now it's 1.40. If we reach Sentral in 40 minutes, it'll be 2.20. Then if I take a bus from there...the bus takes what, 1 hour right?

She: Yeah, about one hour.

Me: OK, that means if I take the bus from KL Sentral at 2.20, I should reach the LCCT by 3.30? My flight is at 4.20. I have to be at the aeroport one hour earlier right. I won't miss the flight right?

She: I don't think you'll miss the flight.

Me: Oh alright. I was supposed to leave earlier, but my friend wanted to have lunch together. Damn I shouldn't have had lunch with my friend. I don't wanna miss my flight!

Of course this was completely unrealistic and unlikely, I mean, come on, does the KTM ever arrive on time? Even if it did, what are the chances that the bus will actually leave at 2.20? More likely than not I'd spend a good fifteen to twenty minutes in the bus waiting for it to fill up and finally go. But hey, at the time I was happy with that plan, and it seemed good enough at that early stage of not-yet-complete-catastrophe.

But then I SMS'd a few friends, and I slowly started to realize that "Fuck Hakim, you're never gonna make it to the aeroport in time". And as more and more people crammed themselves into the KTM, I grew more and more restless. Until finally I decided, "Maybe I should take a taxi from KL Sentral" And I took the liberty of wondering out loud:

Me: Maybe if I take the bus, it'll be slow, and I'll miss the flight right? Maybe I should take a taxi from KL Sentral.

She: But it'll be expensive.

Me: How much do you think it'll cost?

She: I don't know.

Me: 50 maybe?

She: Maybe. 50 or 60.

Me: Good. I hope it's 50, coz that's all I got.

She: Don't worry, I don't think you'll miss the flight.

But the whole time she had this facial expression that said:

Oh man, you're totally fucked

By the time I was at Bandar Tasik Selatan station, I was a nervous wreck. So I messaged Kak Liza, telling her I'm worried I might not be able to catch the flight. And then she replied, and confirmed my fears with a rather blunt:

Oh shit. Berita buruk. Kamu akan miss flight itu. Bukan kena checkin 45 minit sebelum masa flight?

OMG! If you thought I'd have to be there that early, why'd you insist on having lunch?! Annnnnnnnnnyway, I just ignored it, and tried to keep calm. But then suddenly my phone rang; it was Kak Liza.

Liza: Hakim, aku rasa kamu tak sempat la naik flight tu.

Me: Ye ke?

Liza: Kalau kamu tak dapat naik flight tu, nanti aku jemput kamu kat LCCT ok.

Me: Tak nak. Aku tak nak miss flight.

Liza: Andai kata kamu termiss flight tu...

Me: Tak nak. Kalau miss flight pun, aku akan tidur di airport. Tak nak ikut kamu. Bye.

Liza: Nanti kalau ada apa-apa, call tau.

And I was literally shouting and screaming ballistically into the phone the whole time. I didn't care that people were staring at me. I wanted the world to know I was not happy. I became that person. That obnoxious person who talks too loudly on the phone in public places, especially in crowded public places, and who annoys everyone. Yes, I was him for a few minutes today. And I'm afraid, that perhaps, i might have enjoyed it just a little bit.

By that time the train had already passed the Midvalley station, so obviously the train was now filled with one thousand six hundred and fourty two people, of which one thousand six hundred were foreigners and maybe 8 of them were not smelly. At that point, the brink of sanity, I announced:

"I'm very late for my flight, so when we get to KL Sentral, and that door opens, you all better move aside and let me through".

And luckily for me, clever Malaysian people all understand English, so the people moved aside. Of course, the one thousand and six hundred Banglas and other foreigners didn't understand the gravity of my situation and remained stationary and smelly. And of course, the people who were trying to get into the train couldn't be bothered to wait for the people inside to go out first. It is a universal truth that people inside the train are always smarter than the people outside. The point is, I finally got to KL Sentral, and it was 2.17 pm

So I ran out of the train like a mad man, shouting the whole time "This is SPARTA!!!".

Well no actually, but I was shouting something along the lines of "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!". And in one particular moment of insanity, I thought I'd lost my train ticket, and I turned around and screamed "NO!! This is not funny! Where the hell is my ticket!? How the hell can I lose my ticket!". And then subsequently, upon opening my wallet wide enough, I saw the red KTM ticket. Yes, I was insane.

It was 11.43 on a cool spring day, and she was sitting there, having a picnic on the grass.

It was 2.17 pm, and there I was, sweaty, tired and temporarily insane. I was disoriented, and rather than rely on my poor sense of direction (which is faulty most of the time anyway) I ran to one of the booths and asked this one Indian lady "Where are the buses that go to LCCT?". And promptly she pointed the direction "Go that way".
"Where do I find a taxi?"
"Go upstairs and out. There's a counter there that sells tickets."
"Should I take a taxi or a bus? Which is faster?"
"Well it depends. When is your flight?"
"I think you better take a cab"
"How much will that cost?"
"I don't know. Maybe 50 ringgit"
"I hope so. That's all I have."
"I'm not sure. You'll have to ask at the counter"
"OK Thank you."

So I dashed towards the escalators, pulling my huge red luggage bag behind me. I even ran up the escalator while carrying the luggage. I swear I heard a few people whisper "gila!"

And quickly I ran to the counter which sold taxi coupons, and I practically shouted "LCCT!". And the girl behind the counter said "90 ringgit".

Holy Shit triple kill! Godlike!

I screamed so loud I think everyone in that floor must have turned to look at me. I thought to withdraw money from the ATM, but I didn't have balance in my account. So I ran back downstairs to find that lady. When she saw me running towards her she asked:

She: So, did you get a taxi?

Me: The taxi is 90 ringgit. I only have 50 ringgit. Could you please lend me 40? I promise I'll pay you back. I'll give you my phone number and IC number. Then you can SMS me your bank account number and I'll pay you back.

She: I have 50 ringgit, take this. And this is my number.
(She handed me a leaflet which had her name and number on it. Manjit. That was her name) SMS me later, and then I will SMS you my account number.

Me: Thank you so much.

She: Are you local? Can I trust you?

Me: Yes, I'm from Sabah. You can trust me. Thank you so much!

I love how she gave me the 50 ringgit before asking me "Can I trust you?"

So with the newly borrowed money, I ran as fast as I could back to the taxi counter. Along the way I bumped into a man, and instead of stopping or saying sorry, I shouted "Move!!". That's how much of a hurry I was in.

So I quickly hired a cab, jumped in and said "LCCT! Cepat! Emergency. Dah nak miss flight!".

I was really thirsty, and even though you'd normally never ask this to a cab driver, I thought "Hey, you already borrowed 50 ringgit from a total stranger, what's wrong with asking for a little bit of water to drink?" So I asked, "Ada air tak?"

The cab driver was so unbelievably nice, and he said "Takder lah, nak pakcik singgah mana-mana belikan air?"

Of course, I was already very late, and in a great hurry, so I turned down that generous offer.

A few minutes into the journey, he informed me that I'd have to pay the toll charges. Of course, I wasn't expecting this (eventhough it was clearly written on the back of the coupon that I had no time to read), so I said "Haa?! Saya hanya ada 10 ringgit. Cukup ker?" And again, he was so nice, and he said "Takperlah, kamu simpanlah duit tu, pakcik belanja duit toll". Oh my God. I couldn't believe how nice this taxi driver was.

While in the taxi, I sent Miss Manjit an SMS, telling her that I'd found a taxi and that I was on my wat to the aeroport. And this is what she replied:

Ok Hakim. Do not worry. u can manage to catch your flight. I will txt u my account No. tonight. Just txt me as soon as u transfer RM50 to my ac. Tq n hav a safe trip.

Oh my goodness it was so comforting and heartwarming to think that a stranger could be bothered to help someone like that.

--------------------------sudden break for dramatic pause no reason--------------------------------

The taxi driver drove fast, and he made small talk along the way, and finally I arrived at the LCCT at 3.20pm. I ran straight to the information board and looked for my flight number. It said:

AK 5114 Kota Kinabalu
counter 51
Departure Time 4.05
I had no idea why it said 4.05 instead of 4.20

I thought that I'd missed the flight. I was so close to tears. I asked the lady at the information counter, but she wasn't any help, so I ran straight to counter 51. There was no queue. In fact, it seemed like there was no one at the counter. I was heartbroken.

But luckily for me there is such a thing as short people, who are most deceivingly almost completely unnoticeable behind high counters. So quickly I asked the petite lady behind the counter "AK 5114 to Kota Kinabalu, is this counter still open?" At first when she said yes I could hardly believe it, so I asked her again twice. By the third time of course she was quite annoyed and then her "yes" was clear and shrill enough to believe. So I quickly got my luggage scanned and came back to the counter 51 to get my boarding pass and to get my luggage checked in.

Now, for some unlucky reason, my luggage was not paid for when the booking was made, and I was not at all aware of this. So it certainly came as a shock to me when she said "You'll have to pay 30 ringgit for this baggage"

Me: What!? I don't have money!

She: Then you can't check in this baggage.

Me: Wait. I'll find money. I'll be right back.

She: You have to remove your baggage from here.

Me: Wait, I'll get the money and pay you right now.

She: Please remove your baggage first.

All I can say to that is "Bitch"

So I removed the luggage, turned around, and there I saw a Malay guy. I walked right up to him and said "Boleh kamu bantu saya?"
To which he replied "Kalau kamu mahu bantuan, tanya dia", while pointing to an aeroport staff.
"Tidak, saya perlukan bantuan kamu"

And then I proceeded to explain about how I had no money and really needed 30 ringgit to check my baggage in. Then we exchanged numbers, I learned his name was Hisham, and he gave me 50 ringgit.

I went back to the counter, paid the 30 ringgit, checked my bag in, and went straight to the departure hall. I was just in time because the passengers had just begun boarding when I got there.

And that is how I nearly missed my flight and ended up owing two complete strangers one hundred ringgit.

1 comment:

Suhana Suid said...

thank god..finally u managed to catch da flight

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