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What is wrong with my Passport?



By Guy Rosenschein

I was in France at the beginning of April, which was the end of the most active part of the war in Iraq. Since I grew up in Paris, I speak French with no accent and everything was nice. I enjoyed the news about the Middle East showing the bad Americans fighting the good Iraqis loyal to Saddam Hussein, and the bad Israelis killing Palestinian babies. Not a word about Saddam Hussein's regime, and Palestinians killing children were fighters. This news made me believe I had stepped through a reality warp rather than across an ocean. In any case, I had to get back home and with my ticket booked through Delta on Air France I showed up at Charles Degaulle airport. I did not misspell Degaulle, de Gaulle as usually spelled has nobility, which as far as I know Charles did not have, by the same token his title as general is not even documented!

Here I am at Roissy Airport, I walk to the Air France counter and, after I swore on the Koran that I packed my suitcase myself and I did not carry a pocketknife, I am allowed in the secure area. A smiling and good-looking lady greets me and finds out easily, after I told her, that I am flying to Atlanta. She asks for my ticket and passport. I pull out my only weapon, a blue passport with an eagle. Either she is allergic to blue or she has a strong aversion against the bird but she turns cold. She was so cool and now she is icy cold! She asks me how heavy my carry-on bag is and I answer that it is the only luggage I carry. She checks it and finds out it weights 18 kilos, which I quickly convert to 40 lbs. So? She tells me it is too heavy to be in the cabin and I politely pointed out that it is not going to be any lighter in the cargo bay, and the airplane will have to carry it anyway. My logic shook, or shocked, her and she moved on to the next reason (they must have a list): the overhead bin cannot take more than 30 lbs. She confirmed it was a Boeing 777, which from New York to Paris could carry more in the very same overhead bin. Obviously, I was not going to win and I could not repaint my passport purple (European Community). I borrowed my godson's school bag to carry things I did not want to be either stolen or lost, and I checked in. That is not the end!

Here I am in the 777, the overhead bin has a warning: do not exceed 75 kg, or was it pounds? Well, did she lie? You decide. On the other side of the aisle comes a French man, with his suitcase and he puts it in the overhead bin. Guess what, I suddenly had to get something out of my jacket, and for that purpose, I had to lift his 15 kg (33lbs) suitcase! A glance at his passport, which he had in his hand, it is purple and has no eagle but a rooster. Actually there is no rooster on the French passport but it is the symbol of the country as the bald eagle is ours. The reason being it is the only bird that sings with its feet in deep sh.. I got my suitcase back in Atlanta and carried it on the next flight. Delta found it light enough. Now the choice is to change either passport or airline, and I have an idea of which one I may change.