They led me on.

There I was, so proud of myself. Sitting all smug in my chair at the airport with the grin of a Cheshire cat, holding a red ticket. In the land of Alitalia, a red ticket means one thing: First Class. I had entered Fiumicino on economy and had worked my way up. My friend told me she got bumped up from DC to Italy purely on patience and manners and I was determined to compete. I got up at 5 am, brushed my teeth, and shoved my feet into the tight shoes of doing the right thing.
I got to the check in counter. I smiled. I said “How are you doing?”
“There is no check in until 11.” It was 10. “Ohhhhh.” I nodded like a weeble wobble.
At 11 I came back. I smiled and handed over my passport.
“No ma’am, you’re not on this flight.”
I could feel a little tear in the stitching of the sole but you couldn’t see it in my face.
“You need to get a bus to Terminal 5.”
“A bus?”
“I don’t know if they are going to let you on the flight, but you need to get the bus. You’re late. If you’re going to New York, you’re late.”
“Where is the bus?”
“It’s out there.” Out there is so huge.
“Okey doke. Thank you. Have a good one.”
Smile, run. Bus. Terminal 5. No one. Off the bus. One flight attendant moving a sign.
“Hi,” I said. I smiled. “New York,” I asked? She shook her head. “I’m sure I’m early. I left so early this morning.” I gave another smile.
“No more flights. Terminal 3.”
RUN to catch the bus pulling away from Terminal 5. Back to original Terminal 3. I hand over my passport.
“You know, I must not have mentioned that I was definitely on this flight.”
She asks me to give up my carry on. I may have pushed my shoulders back. I may have done that.
“Sure. Here you go.” I hand over the bag.
She printed out the red ticket. I said not a word. I took my red ticket and walked right up to the first class security line. They didn’t let me through, but fair enough, I didn’t mind. I just kept thinking about those red tickets. Who needs to be in a first class security line? I walked past coffee bars and pizza slices, bagged almonds and cornetti. I bought nothing. I was holding out for delicious. I was starving, I had a cookie for breakfast and I was waiting for First Class, who was purring to me.
I took a walk to my favorite spot for foccaccia stuffed with fresh mozzarella and sauteed spinach. I bought myself a Pepsi. No sandwich. First Class.
They called our flight. It’s the first time I have ever been on a big plane with two rows of first class. I was in seat number 3C, right behind the curtain. Every time the flight attendant moved his way from one end of the plane to the other, the corner hit me in the face. And between Rome and London, no food for economy. On offer was 6 rosemary essenced twiglets with a half glass of water.
I kept the faith. I was flying from London to New York. In London I tried again. I stood in the first class line, they looked at me and let me through. I let out a “YES!” Yes I did. And then I boarded the plane, paused, waited for my beautiful red ticket to be noticed, and then was waved on.. I hadn’t even looked. 26D. Red for nothing. Red to lead me on. Red to make me patient, civil and well behaved for nothing.
Perfectly good opportunities to scream and yell, gone for good.

We were both mislead

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