In Which an East Coaster proves the West Coast is Too Hard To Understand (Or at Least Itineraries…)

I’ve traveled quite a bit since I started college (not to mention all the family trips/moves with my parents).  My first international flight (to Jordan) was at 18, and while I was with a group of like 13, I like to think it was the start of my education in how to travel, travel smart, and travel well.

And I’ve done it a few more times since then, you know.  Iceland, Lebanon, Tokyo.  Not to mention countless in-country flights, road trips, train trips, bus trips.  I’ve survived the mishigas that is the Tokyo subway/train/shinkansen system, with students in tow.  I’ve driven 12 undergraduate students 5 hours in a GMC Savanna and not killed anyone.  I’ve learned how to carry a purse in a crowded city and how to dress for most occasions in most Levantine countries.

My partner and I had just finished a wonderful trip to Seattle to attend the wedding of two very good friends (and, of course, to do all the touristy things).  Last night, we’d tied up all the loose ends, checked out of the hotel, and turned the car in.  Everything was going to plan.

Or was it.

Imagine my shock when, having arrived at SeaTac yesterday, the self check-in terminal informed me I was not allowed to check in for my flight until after 11:15 p.m.  This seemed problematic, given my flight left at 11:10.  Right?  Right?

Not right.

I would like to point out at this point that my partner and I are relatively intelligent people.  We both have post-secondary degrees, are voracious readers, and like to think we can put down a few sentences on paper when the muse strikes.  We were those kids reading at a fifth grade level in the first grade.  We got beat up a lot on the playground.

A quick perusal of our itinerary proved that our red-eye back to Reagan (through Cincinnati, I might add) left on Monday.  Not arrived.  LEFT.

The next day.  Not today.

And we’d just checked out of everything.

My partner basically looked like this for a solid minute:

I was right there with him but tried to keep it together (and by keep it together, i mean giggle hysterically off and on for about 20 minutes as I freaked out on the phone with my brother and father).  I mean, it was better than being a day late (I assume.  I’ve never actually missed a flight), right?

I would like to thank the woman from Delta, whose name has escaped my mind as most names do, who calmed us down and gave us a voucher for a reduce-cost hotel room (and helped us figure out how to get to the hotel shuttle…) at the DoubleTree SeaTac.  As I sit here at terminal S5, I can see the DoubleTree we stayed at, and even from here, it looks pretty impressive.  Pros of DoubleTree:  warm, chocolate chip and walnut cookies at the counter, large comfy rooms, a shuttle to the airport.  Cons of DoubleTree:  they won’t take credit card info over the phone (they want a faxed authorization on a Sunday at 9:30 p.m. EDT) when you’re out of money and your father is going to cover the room for you (yes, I’m nearly 28 and I’m still that child), even when you’re hyperventilating-freakingout-upset.  I’m sure this is a holdover from the Conrad Hilton days, when faxes were cool.

So, at 8:30 last night, we checked into our room, complete with lake view, and settled in for the night, knowing the next day would be interesting.  The next morning, we made a quick jaunt across the street for breakfast (Jack in the Box!  Which I haven’t had since they closed the location next to Converse on East Main) and we came back to our room, enjoying a few more hours of comfort before The Long Wait.

Forced to check out at 12:30 p.m., and not having a flight out for 11 hours later, we hid in a side alcove of the lobby, borrowing internet and making frequent trips to refill our water bottle.  After five hours of that (including what I can only hope was a well-meaning, albeit nudzhy and mean, woman who yelled at us for having our feet up on a couch and then questioned our parents’ ability to raise us.  I would like to point out that my feet were far cleaner than the sandals I had so thoughtfully taken off so as to NOT get them on the couch, as I had just showered), we couldn’t stand it and got dinner (Subway! Eat subs!) before heading back to SeaTac.

There was a gutwrenchingly painful moment as the Delta self check-in machine paused as it processed my credit card where I thought I had somehow messed up again and we weren’t going to go home again.

It’s about 8 p.m. as I write this from terminal S5.  Our flight doesn’t board until 10:30.  I’d normally post this immediately, but it’s summer, and given our fun adjunct pay schedule, I can’t renew my domain until Friday’s paycheck (meaning y’all wouldn’t be able to actually read it).  And yes, I’m selfish enough to want to make sure people can actually read this when I publish it.  Comments and stats are a generally erstwhile blogger’s pay, dammit.

I would like to thank the wonderfully kind people at Delta, my brother, my father, my partner, and yes, even Hilton for making this, more than anything, a completely reasonable and downright hilarious hiccup in our travels.

So, after all that blathering, what, in fact, is the moral of my story?  Travel is always full of shocks and surprises.  Sometimes your back tire blows on the side of I-85, and in your rush to check it out, you lock your keys in your still-running car (but luckily still have your phone in hand) and have to make an embarrassing call to AAA (Fall 2012).  Sometimes you’re so excited to get dinner after a 9 hour drive from West Virginia to Charlotte, NC that you lock your keys in your still-running car at the restaurant and have to call the police (Fall 2004 – noticing a common theme here?) to pop your lock.  And sometimes, you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing and lock the keys to your rental in the trunk and have to call Pop-A-Lock, hoping your car has one of those newfangled levers inside that pops the trunk (It did.  Summer 2002).  But, generally, you do get a fun story out of the deal (or, if it’s not fun, the ability to kvetch about it for at least a month before your friends tell you to shut up).  And if you can share it on your blog, it takes out the sting out of the experience and makes you feel like less of a space cadet (or, at least, you keep telling yourself that…).

ETA (8:42):  Just had a minor freakout when I realized I hadn’t seen my house keys in 6 days (and also had no way to enter my grandmother’s house to get my car keys so we could drive HOME tomorrow).  Ripping my backpack apart THREE times and texting home once, my partner finally found them in the bottom corner of the backpack.  When I was five, my parents had a leash for me at DisneyLand to keep me from running off and getting lost.  I can now see why they thought that was a good idea.

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4 responses to “In Which an East Coaster proves the West Coast is Too Hard To Understand (Or at Least Itineraries…)

  1. If this Ph.D thing dosen’t workout, you may consider writing comedy. Sort of a female Dave Berry!

  2. I missed a flight from Dublin to Edinburgh (Dublin Bus System doesn’t run before 6am, who knew), thus causing me to miss my train from Edinburgh to Newcastle, which I didn’t have any $ to get a new ticket, so I stowed away for a 3 hour trainin ride, hiding behind a newspaper, hoping they wouldn’t ticket me and throw me off in the middle of nowhere UK. Fall 2002 🙂 btw, just entered my email address below and a BLOG I started a few years ago and obviously never took anywhere popped up, wacky!

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