the jetlag diaries

Jetlag from Europe to California is a beautiful thing: you wake up at four in the morning, bright-eyed and bushy-taled, and sit at the kitchen table eating cereal. Yes! Indeed, there is cereal, you realize, because you’re in America. God Bless.

Jetlag from California to Europe, however, leaves you dead-tired during all your waking hours, forgetting to eat at CERN and not having time to go to the silly French supermarket before it closes at 7 PM, living exclusively off of smuggled cliff bars for two days straight (true story), and blogging about it from your depressing and smelly hostel room at 3 in the morning before you collapse again in exhaustion just as it’s time to wake up.

All that being said: Have you ever built a bike out of a box at Geneva airport while some of the wealthiest people in the world mosey on by on their way to glitzy Alpine slopes, skis and designer luggage in tow? I have. It’s quite the experience. It takes about half an hour, will earn you a good deal of interested but aloof glances, and it makes you feel like somewhat of a badass. Badass, that is, until you don’t know what to do with the cardboard bike box and decide to carry it awkwardly in one arm (bike in the other) down the airport stairway to the left luggage desk in the train station. Barring all those confused stares from Swiss businessmen ascending on the adjacent escalator, this was my plan of action.

Soon enough, however, I realize that I don’t know how to say “Can you throw this away please?” in French, and so when I reach the desk  I simply push the box toward the left luggage man and say “trash?” Poor guy is taken aback, clearly not understanding.* As luck would have it, I am saved by a blond youngster, maybe the left luggage man’s apprentice, who approaches from behind the counter, looks me in the eyes and nods. “Oui, trash,” he says. He is of the generation that has been raised on the internet and therefore, understands English, at least to some degree. We stand there for a second in mutual understanding before he takes the bike box from me and starts walking toward the back door. “trash,” he says again. “Merci Beaucoup!” say I.

Exiting the airport and riding toward CERN and the snowcapped Jura, I have no regrets. I have my own bike, in Geneva. It’s rolling so smoothly beneath me that I just have to smile. I’ve waited a while for this moment. And besides, no longer am I subject to the whims of the bus, maybe now I can fit in some grocery shopping before Carrefour closes.


For the record, “trash” in French is les déchets.


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