‘Where’s the crane then ?'
We had just embarked on our summer vacation to sunny Marbella (near Spain) and were sitting on the shuttle bus taking us and our suitcases from long stay parking to the North terminal at Gatwick airport.
‘Sorry what did you say ?'
‘The crane that gets the cars - where is it ?'
As I pondered what on earth my intelligent teenage son was on about, I sensed other passengers on the bus pricking up their ears in interest. The bus was now deathly quiet, in a very British way, as the small audience attentively and patiently waited for the next exciting exchange in this bizarre conversation.
‘Sorry, son but what on earth are you talking about ?'
‘Well - we came to one of these massive car parks at this airport a few years ago when we went to Florida…'
‘Yes - I remember. It’s because it’s cheaper than getting a taxi and more convenient than catching the train.'
‘Yes. Well back then I looked at the massive car park area packed with loads of parked cars. Row after row of parked cars, all tightly crammed in, and I asked you ‘How do they get the cars out when people return from their holiday ?’
I listened intently together with the other thirteen people on the ‘Summer Special’ shuttle bus and sensed the driver was also now captivated.
‘And you (nods in my direction) told me that a massive crane swung round to the correct row, dropped down to the exact postion, lifted up the car, rotated back round and slowly lowered the car precisely into position on the exit lane.'
I made a spluttering noise as I tried to stifle my laughter. ‘Sorry. I said what ? No, no - I never said that.'
Norma Jeane now piped up ‘Oh yeah - I remember now. You did say that.'
People looked away. I could see them thinking ‘Oh - look at that tall, handsome teenage boy. He looks perfectly normal but he actually attends Special School and now his selfless parents are taking him away for a lovely holiday.'
‘So - where’s the crane then ?'
‘Norman Junior - listen. I might have said that as a joke when you were 6 years old but the cars are parked in lanes according to the date and times when people are scheduled to arrive back at the airport. For example, all the cars for tomorrow will be parked in lane 27 with cars belonging to people getting back in the early morning parked at the front. Then the men just drive the cars round ready for people as they arrive.'
‘Oh - so there’s no crane then ?'
‘No - sorry son but there’s no crane.’ I could no longer contain myself and burst out laughing.
My son looked disconsolate and fell silent.
‘Son - you haven’t told any of your mates at school this little story, have you ?'
‘Nah. All that worries me now is how many other little stories you’ve told me over the years.'