Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Guitar Slinger's Tale of Woe, Continued

"Bienvenue a Geneve", that sign is there to greet you when you leave the gate and head towards baggage claim. In 1995 you could still bring your guitar aboard an airplane, provided it was in a soft case, also known as a gig bag. With my guitar strapped on my back I watched for my luggage as the carousel began to move. I had a suitcase and my old Navy duffel bag, as I was going to be in Montreux for an entire month. I knew that Guitar Slinger also had two bags, one of them a light blue hard shell suitcase, which I briefly considered grabbing. Then I thought about it:

"He's going to miss his ride to Montreux. Maybe he'll have to stay in Geneva overnight, and will need a change of clothes. Or maybe he got superstitious and bailed on the gig, thinking he missed his flight for a reason."

Ultimately I left his suitcase riding the carousel alone, like the unpopular kid at the playground waiting on a ride home that would never come. I found out later that Guitar Slinger had ordered a stewardess to tell me to grab his bags and bring them to Montreux. This was back in Detroit as he watched me board the flight he was supposed to be on (see previous post).
I never got the message.

After I went through customs I saw a man in a Chauffeur uniform holding a sign with our names on it. I walked up to him and used the only French I knew:

"Parle vous anglais?"

Then I had an idea. My gig bag was made in the U.S.A., and had a tiny American flag stitched into the seam. I pointed at my name on the sign the driver was holding, then pointed at myself, and my surroundings. He smiled and nodded in comprehension. Then I pointed at Guitar Slinger's name, then the American flag stitched onto my gig bag. The driver's eyes briefly widened in shock, then almost immediately narrowed in acceptance.
He shrugged his shoulders, grabbed my bags, and threw them into the passenger van he was driving. Off we went to Montreux.

Guitar Slinger arrived in Geneva six hours later, strolled through customs with nothing but his guitar on his back, and took the train to Montreux. His luggage arrived three days later.

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