Getting to the Airport: Practical information of the nature you least expect

Getting to the airport is a near effortless task from where I live.  Even splurging and taking a cab can come to as little as 22€ (5 euro surcharge included) if you are going to the nearby Terminal 1.  And time wise, it takes about ten minutes. That’s what I need to make it to school, if I crawl.  Few major capitals in Europe can boast about that kind of luxury.

      But if you have a little extra time, a little less luggage, and a lot less cash, you can always take one of the public transport options: the metro or the bus.  The Airport Express bus is a new route which races you to Barajas for just 2 euros.  They publicity it all over the place and tell you about all the streets it uses to head over.  It goes right by my home.  I used to think that the vigorous advertising and ensuing detail about the trajectory meant it pulled in at all the regular bus stops along the way, but apparently that is not the case.  I learned this the hard way the other day by trying to flag one down as it roared by.  It must be noted that the extreme speed at which these massive vehicles, so the turndown was that much more humiliating.   In fact I could have sworn the driver accelerated just to make me look that much more like an idiot.

      A better plan is to use the subway, which also takes you out to all the terminals and has the added bonus of being accessible from any subway station.  One typical route is to head for the Colombia station and switch over there.  It’s cool because as you ascend the escalator to the other line, you are treated to a massive (if not life-size certainly close to one) model plane hanging from the ceiling.  It’s actually a big yellow skeleton of a plane but it has the shape and look of an Airbus.

      Once on the next platform, the management reminds you every which way possible that there is a supplement fare for their taking you all the way out to your plane, and they warn you that you will not be able to exit the metro without forking over a little more cash.  So insistent are they in their message that when I first saw this I frantically raced around the platform looking for one of those machines from which I could purchase my ticket and travel worry-free.  I needed a little comfort.

      Such a machine could not be found.  They were only located at the end of the line, though this was not indicated anywhere.  So I couldn’t obtain my ticket to freedom.

     What I could have bought there was a pack of condoms which were dispensed for a modest price from a small machine on the wall.   You know, the kind you sometimes find in restrooms in some bars or at bus stations and places like that.  I appreciate Madrid’s public transport authority’s concern for public health issues, though you would think they would want to invest in the future rather than support methods to reduce the population, but to be honest with you, it did strike me as unlikely the following internal dialog as I made my way to the airport: I hope I don’t miss my flight, but, hey, I could certainly could do with a few extra rubbers.

      I mean, no water, no soda, no candy, no chewing gum, but, yes, a trio of prophylactics.  I wonder about these things not because installing a vending machine for such products is unthinkable, but because I want to know what kind of marketing research was behind the decision to place it there at all.   Did they survey travelers and their needs when gliding into the tunnels?  Did they discover an unattended gap in the commuter sector?  Did they monitor metro user travel habits to and from the airport?  Or did they just take a wild guess based on the universal fact that people all over the world are constantly thinking about the same thing time and again and that, just out of pure volume and numbers, enough of the potential clients would take up the offer.  So, if the drug store is closed and you happen to be in the area of the Colombia metro station, I know of a place which can solve your problem.  In  fact, since you still have to ask for them by name at a pharmacy, and yes, I still make a lap or two around the block if it’s too crowded inside, I know of a place where you get what you need more discreetly, as long as you don’t mind 200 travelers watching what color you get.

    And don’t forget the supplement at the end of the line.

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