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Alex Robertson: Terminal torture

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All Alex Robertson wanted was a bar and a quiet beer between flights but he got his ears bent instead.

Would you like elevator music with that? A few undesired jazz standards grate on Alex Robertson's jetlagged nerves. Photo / Thinkstock
Would you like elevator music with that? A few undesired jazz standards grate on Alex Robertson's jetlagged nerves. Photo / Thinkstock

It's 10.30pm and I'm in Changi airport, Singapore, having left my home in Auckland about 18 hours previously.

My connecting flight leaves in three hours.

Allowing time to be processed through transit and finding my bearings and take that funny little train to another terminal, that leaves me two and a half hours. But, then I'd need to arrive at the gate half an hour before departure: that leaves two hours.

Two hours to find a bar and have a quiet, relaxing drink, read my book or my magazine, or both, just whiling away the time until the next flight.

But now I'm wandering around this vast conglomeration of buildings looking for that quiet corner bar, but none comes into view.

I'm walking past a shop that displays Rolex watches that sell at around the $50,000 mark; a store selling designer frocks for more money than I make in a month; numerous electronics outlets packed with televisions, computers, tablets, cameras, phones, CCTV systems; and a luggage shop where I could get enough bags to accommodate all my purchases and still have no two the same.

What the hell is that? A large stuffed toy with a single eye where its forehead should be beams at me from a window like a good-natured cyclops urging me to spend (I later learn it is a Minion from the movie Despicable Me) and I could even purchase one just like him, but I don't know where he'd fit among all the other items I haven't bought.

Still no sign of that bar, but here's yet another noodle bar (don't they feed us enough on planes already?) and a shop selling beauty products and sheepskins from New Zealand.

I'm down to an hour and 50 minutes. Better get my skates on.

I'm consulting the airport map now, trying to work out which of all the hundreds of shops and restaurants would serve me a nice cold beer and offer me a comfortable chair in which to enjoy it.

It should be about 50m over there to the right and I'm approaching the spot, but it's still not obvious.

I've gone too far now and retrace my steps, looking into the far recesses of each nook, corner and blind alley as I go.

Finally, here's something that could pass as a bar.

No comfortable chairs? No bother, this tall stool at the bar will do nicely.

A beer please. Yes, that nice cold-looking draught right there. Oh, one of those tall skinny pint glasses. That's okay, I'll just be careful not to spill it on my book. And nuts. Yes, please, just a small bowl, thanks.

I'll pay now with my credit card. Eighteen what? For a beer? What the hell, it's not like I'm gonna have more than one. Just the one so I can sit and relax and read my magazine and my book until the next flight.

Ah, here it is and it tastes great. I'll sip it, though. Only an hour and 20 to go.

Book or magazine? Magazine. I love the delicious writing in the New Yorker, especially washed down with a cold beer. I'll read the short story then a couple of chapters of my book. Less than an hour now.

"Good evenung ladeezangennelmum... "

What's that? It's the Asian Barry Manilow standing over a keyboard, microphone stuck to his lips, black shirt open showing an impressive gold medallion. And is that chest hair?

"Ahm back from ma shor break and will continue with jazz stannards for your lisnin pleasure."

But I've still got more than half my beer and 45 minutes to go. AARRGGHHH!

- NZ Herald

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