Behind security, Rome airport

imagesSome years ago, when I was living in Naples, I drove to Rome to pick up my father who had come for a visit. Parkinsons had already struck and he walked with a cane, but was determined to travel as long as he could. I told him to present his passport, get his bag, and follow the crowd out of security where I would be waiting.
His flight arrived. I waited and waited, asking people if they came from Philadelphia until the last of that flight had passed and we were deep into Stockholm, Paris, and Cairo. I kept waiting, increasingly anxious. This was long before cell phones. Had he missed the flight? Gotten sick? Some incident? In desperation, I slipped through the security doors when I thought the guard wasn’t looking.
And was immediately nabbed. The following ensued. “Signora, what are you doing? This is a secure zone.” I explained about my father: old, sick, didn’t speak Italian. Yes, signora, but one must be patient. I had been very patient and now I was very worried. “This is a secure zone, signora.” Voice rising. “Entrance is absolutely forbidden!”
I played my last card. “Sir, suppose you had a father who was old, not well, tired after an international flight, and didn’t speak the language. And you had waited nearly an hour. What would you do?”
Looking me as if I were a total idiot, one of those Americans with no sense of family, no respect for elders: “I’d go look for him.”
“Will you take me?”
“Yes, of course. Come on. Don’t worry. We’ll find him.” And we did. He had presented his passport, gotten his bag, and sat down to wait for me. Viva Italia!

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