Friday, April 22, 2005

THE TRIP FROM HELL...

QUOTE OF THE DAY: All people have the right to stupidity but some abuse the privilege.

Yesterday was literally from hell. And I’m not saying that lightly. It was so bad, well, I won’t even publicly voice the thoughts that were running through my head at the close of the day. Here’s what happened:
**Disclaimer, there is extreme cursing in this particular entry, so if you are easily offended, please discontinue reading**

It started out as any normal trip. My sister flew down to watch our kids for a long weekend so Hubby and I could fly to Jacksonville, Florida. It was to be the two of us, something we haven’t done in about NINE years, and it was about time. Hubby was going to do business meetings all day Friday, and we’d have Saturday and Sunday to ourselves. Pretty sweet, eh? Yeah.

So, in the morning, before we left for the airport, I had on my snazzy outfit, and my expensive but snappy shoes, and my sister took one look at them and said “you are going to be dying in those by tonight.” I snorted and calmly (and a bit airily) informed her that I would only be going to the airport, then one terminal, then into a car, so I wouldn’t be walking much. I wasn’t worried.
So, our flight out to Memphis was on time, comfortable, and everything was just hunky dory. Our gate was even just a stone’s throw from our entry, so we casually walked over and sat down, and waited, chatting comfortably (me, my hubby, and one of his co-workers, Nicole.)
Well, shortly afterwards, there was an announcement, that the flight was “delayed due to mechanical problems.” They announced that the flight would be departing 40 minutes later than scheduled, and since we had an hour on top of that, we decided to scoot on down the terminal for some sit-down lunch.
Things were still going well, I had a fabulous salad with grilled chicken, then when we were finished, we walked back to the gate, (30 minutes before departure) only to be informed that the plane was departing out of a gate on the other end of the terminal. We were a little miffed, but walked all the way down there anyway, and as we got closer, we heard the distinct sound of someone yelling, at the top of their lungs. It appeared to be a lady (along with a couple others) and they were being escorted off the plane, and we shrugged our shoulders and walked up to board and the attendant shook her head at us and said we couldn’t board the flight.

Our jaws dropped. We had tickets, we were WAY before the takeoff time, so what was the deal? She explained to us that the big plane was broken, so they’d switched to a smaller plane, and it couldn’t accommodate 12 of the ticketed passengers. So they had to de-plane a few of the passengers, and since we were “late arriving” we DEFINITELY weren’t getting on. “So sorry, go to the (blankety blank) Customer Service counter and she will book you on another flight.”

They said this to us cheerily, not as if they were delivering the most awful news in the world, but as if they were telling us some EXCITING news, and we should be off our heads with joy about it. Like we’d won the lottery or something. (I’m sure it was a diffusing tactic, but it ended up annoying us more than anything.)

Well, we were too dignified to act like Yelling Lady (whose vociferous tones could still be heard even though she had stomped off halfway down the terminal) and we angrily shouldered our bags and marched YET AGAIN down to the other end of the terminal to the (Blankety-blank Airline) customer service desk.
There we encountered MARIAN, the 15-year veteran of (Blankety-blank) Airlines’ Customer service. According to her, she was the GURU of customer service, and as her heavily –laquered two-inch nails clackety-clacked away at the speed of sound on the keyboard, she (also very suspiciously) cheerily informed us that there were no other flights out to Jacksonville until 8pm that evening (it was currently 2:30pm) and Oh, they’d overbooked that flight and we couldn’t get on it anyway, so she was going to look up the partner airline and see what available flights THEY had.
She found one on another airline, but it was the only one out and it was at 3pm, and we said we’d never make it and she told us that was hogwash and if we RAN, we’d make it. So she just as cheerfully-as-you-please printed us up free ticket vouchers, printed up new itineraries, ripped up our old boarding passes, and told us (again, quite cheerily) that we would have to EXIT the terminal, go back in, and go through security again, but it was “absolutely fine, because the airport is virtually empty right now and there won’t be any lines.”
Then she shooed us away and started helping a lady in a pink tank top with a toddler, who was looking quite purple in the face because she’d apparently suffered the same plight we were currently in.
So, by this time, we were jogging (my snappy shoes weren’t starting to feel so snappy at this point) outside the terminal, and back to the ticketing desks, where we came upon Louella, who took one look at what Marian gave us and asked us, point blank, why the hell she’d done that.
She asked us for tickets. We didn’t have any. She asked us for boarding passes. Nervous, we told her we had nothing but the itineraries Marian had printed for us. She rolled her eyes, and asked us our names, and found us in the computer. She said “there is no way you are going to make it onto this flight,” and proceeded to SLOWLY print boarding passes for us, until I was at the point of screaming WELL WE BLOODY WELL AREN’T GOING TO MAKE IT IF YOU PIDDLY-FART AROUND ALL DAY LONG!!!

So we finally got our passes, and the pink lady with the toddler arrived at the ticketer to the side of us, and the ticketer told the lady that she couldn’t get on the flight, and the lady burst into tears, threw her bags down on to the ground, raised her hands up in the air and started DEMANDING justice.
We looked back questioningly at Louella, who told us to GO GO GO now, and we asked her if she had called for the agent to hold the plane, and she said yes, and to RUN.
So we ran, of course, since we had changed flights, she had coded us with the SSSS, which I believe stands for SUPER STRIP SEARCH SECURITY, because we had to endure the humiliating search and pat-down while all of our stuff was unceremoniously dumped out, which took TEN BLOODY MINUTES and by the time we were in a dead sprint, heading for the gate, we arrived only to find that it had dispatched already, and we were furious because it wasn’t even 3pm, but 2:55 pm, and WHY THE EFF HAD THEY ALLOWED THE PLANE TO LEAVE EARLY IF THEY’D KNOWN WE WERE COMING?

So they told us that they couldn’t even TALK to us for a half an hour because they needed to close out the plane, so they told us to go BACK to our original airline, and complain to them.
So, we had to walk across the airport once more (by this time my shoes were cutting into my feet and I was loaded down with handbag, magazines, water and a 20-pound laptop bag which made things worse) and found Marian again, and we were fuming.

She looked at us like she couldn’t believe we were standing there before her, and she got on the phone and started cheerfully yelling (I know that sounds impossible but she was doing it) at the other airline and then started the clackety-clack clacking thing with her long nails, and told us that the OTHER airline had a flight leaving at 8:30 pm, and going to ATLANTA and THEN another flight, getting us into Jacksonville at MIDNIGHT. FREAKING MIDNIGHT.

We had no alternatives, so we grumpily allowed her to book us on that flight, and she informed us that we would have to GO OUT OF THE TERMINAL AGAIN AND COME BACK IN AND RE-TICKET WITH THE OTHER AIRLINE, as we had just done a half hour before. More lovely walking.
We huffed off, not able to believe our horrible luck, and when we finally got back to the other airline’s ticket counter we truly were hopping mad, and of course Louella was nowhere to be found. So we went up to the lady and explained the situation to her, and she looked at us as if we’d grown horns, and my husband told her he wanted to speak with a supervisor.
At this point, a crowd of French people came in behind us, and I could tell that they were sneering at us somewhat, because we were angry and demanding some sort of redemption. I knew just enough French to know that they were calling us “arrogant” and making decidedly catty comments about Nicole’s shoes, and I decided that they could ROT IN LINE.
Fifteen minutes later, we got it all resolved, and there was actually a bright spot, there was a flight that left at 8pm and got into Jacksonville at TEN THIRTY instead of midnight, and we got onto that one, and got $50 off our next tickets for all the mess they put us through (Louella’s fault of course).
So, we had to go through the SUPER SECURITY STRIP SEARCH thing again (Weren't they just here Vern? Yes, I think they were! Ha ha ha ha ha!) and we sat in the lounge and had diet cokes, and talked for three hours (I think the old geezer at the bar wanted us to vacate the prime seats, he kept asking us if we were finished, but we weren’t going to move) and finally when the time came, we walked down to the gate (my feet were raw and oozing at this point) and sat down.
Nicole and I were lamenting about being at the very back of the plane, and Hubby looked at his ticket and laughed because he was in the row right behind first class. He said he’d go and see if we could at least get seats together, and sauntered off, while Nicole and I bemoaned our aching feet and took turns ill-wishing Marian and her effing airline into Oblivion.

Well, not two minutes later, Hubby comes storming over to us, and shaking with rage, informs us that he’s NOT EVEN ON THAT FLIGHT, but on the later flight that gets into Jacksonville at 12:55 and it’s departing out of another terminal completely.
Nicole and I just looked at him, agape in shock, and he said that the agent told him she’d put him on standby but he had a “snowball’s chance in Hell” of getting on.

We were aghast. We couldn’t believe it. Could anything else go wrong? At that point, I went into the Ladies and prayed that Hubby would get onto the plane, so this hellish day would be over and we could go to bed in our nice comfortable suite at the hotel.
I came back out, and they announced that some of the standby passengers were going to be let on (apparently there was a delay with another connecting flight, and by some miracle, Hubby got onto the flight.
We were ecstatic. We couldn’t believe it. Even when they announced that there would be a 30-minute delay, we grinned away, because we were officially OVER IT.
We go onto the plane (of course Hubby in the very front and me in the very back) and I sat next to a very kind but very nosy lady who the entire trip, asked me such questions as “did I breastfeed my children?” and “did I use birth control or go by God’s Plan for me?” (and no, I am seriously NOT kidding.)
We finally arrived in Jacksonville, our luggage was waiting for us at the baggage office, and we got it and went outside.
But there was no car service. They were supposed to be picking us up, but there was no car, no man standing with a sign with our name on it, waiting for us, nothing.

We couldn’t believe it. We waited. And waited, and waited. 20 minutes later, Nicole was on her phone, and we found out that we were waiting in the wrong spot, and we had to walk all the way around to where the limos and cars were.
By this time I was openly hobbling with a dreadful limp, my feet were so painful it was all I could do to keep from screaming, and at least Hubby took pity on me and took the 20-pound laptop for me so I could have a lighter load.
To top everything off, after a few phone calls, we discovered that our kids were being little shits for my sister, who clearly was handling the situation well, but becoming very quickly frazzled.
We found our car, and our driver informed us it was 45 minutes to our hotel (very nice, click here to see it) and I nearly fell asleep in the comfy leather while Hubby and Nicole talked business.
We got to our hotel, checked in, and tiredly dragged our bags to our suite. (of course, Hubby got lost and we had to walk the ENTIRE way around the hotel to get to our suite, (at this point I ripped off my #@^&**!! Shoes and walked barefoot, and I didn’t care if the whole of the Jacksonville population saw me, I was officially a mess anyway) and we got inside our suite, set down our luggage, and promptly began screaming at each other about stupid stuff (we admit now that we were both exhausted beyond exhausted and annoyed on top of it all) and Hubby ripped the door to the bedroom open to find some random naked guy barreling out at us, yelling WHAT THE F*CK!!! at the top of his lungs and freaking us out completely.

Looking back, we really must have scared him to bits. It was 1am, we busted in on his suite, yelling and making a fuss, and forcing ourselves into his bedroom, where he and his wife had been blissfully sleeping moments before. I’d be freaked too.
Once we had apologized profusely and explained that they had given us this room as well by mistake, he calmed down and became a very nice person, and even helped me with my bags out the door (which was still extremely mortifying because he was in a state of near complete undress) and Hubby and I STORMED back to the front desk, where to our relief, the customer service people fell all over themselves apologizing and trying to make it right. We got that night free, and were given a different room.
Exhausted to the point of tears now (at least on my part) we trudged up to the room, only to discover, to our dismay, that it was a room with TWO LITTLE BEDS, and not the King Suite we were promised.
I was beginning to seriously wonder if anything else could go wrong at this point. Absolutely NOTHING had worked out the entire day, and I was ready for a nervous breakdown. Hubby got on the phone with the front desk AGAIN, and they wanted us to go BACK DOWN to the desk, and we decided that we’d had it, we could do the Ricky and Lucy Arnaz Sleeping Arrangement for one night.
Of course Hubby wanted to eat something since we hadn’t eaten anything but gum and breath mints in the last nine hours, and I informed him that it was 2am and I wanted to go to bed. But he ordered pizza anyway, and of course had to blare the tv and get on the computer, with ALL THE LIGHTS ON until the wee hours of the morning.

So, here I am, I just finished my in-room breakfast and am going to be moved to a better suite in a short time, and all I can say, is that I hope the rest of this weekend isn’t like yesterday. I think I would seriously die.

Of course, I hear we’re supposed to have severe thunderstorms all day tomorrow….

4 comments:

B. K. Birch said...

It sounds like you had a horrible day. And when you ended up in the wrong room - PRICELESS.

You could sell this one. Take care.

Ann said...

I agree with Brenda - you should definitely try to publish this one. It's funny, in a horrible kind of way.

Michelle Miles said...

Goodness, Lara, you had a day. You poor thing. Here's to a better weekend. This is a great story and I agree - you could sell it.

Devon Ellington said...

Do they have massage/spa services? Tell them to give you some for FREE.

Hope the rest of your weekend is lovely.