It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Letter Tuesdays

One of my New Year's resolutions is always to write more letters. Not email. Letters. Ink on paper, paper in envelope, stamp on envelope – to the USPS! I love getting mail. Again – real mail, not email. Don't get me wrong, I love a good email – especially one with a great story in it – but there is nothing like walking down the driveway, opening the mailbox and finding a pretty envelope with my name handwritten on the front. I love it! It is so exciting. My mom and my friend Megan are the only people who will occasionally just send me a card or note for no reason. I'm just as guilty; I rarely send anyone else a letter for no reason. I will send my grandmother something occasionally, but I don't do that enough. 

The art of the handwritten letter is all but lost. Texting is killing decent communication. The US Postal Service is tanking and keeps toying with this idea (as well as my emotions) of discontinuing Saturday delivery (hate). This madness has to stop. 

I have decided to implement "Letter Tuesdays." I am going to write a "letter" to someone every Tuesday. I'm using the term "letter" rather loosely because it might be a note card with a couple sentences – after all, I have a kid, a messy house, a blind chihuahua, two needy cats, and no clean underwear. This might not be thought-provoking prose, but there will be an envelope dropped in the mailbox every Wednesday. Yes, there are a million other things I could, and maybe should, be doing (aforementioned laundry and messy house) but on Tuesdays, this is going to happen. 

To whom will I write all these letters, you may ask? Well, I will certainly step up my game with my grandmother. And I'm sure I will send my parents some letters. Who else wants a letter? Seriously…do you get what I am asking? I'm asking you if you want me to send you a letter. Do you want to walk down to your mailbox after a shitty day at work and find a bright yellow envelope, open it up and see a cute ladybug on a daisy with a kitten sitting under it (or some such eight-pack-of-blank-card illustration) – inside, a handwritten note from me? I will add you to my list - just say the word! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Scorpions On A Plane: Sequel to Snakes On A Plane?

I have another doozie of a work trip to share. You may remember my January Chicago trip two years ago, and I would say this is on par. I had a conference to attend in Chicago (again with damn Chicago. I'm starting to really hate that city.) on Monday and Tuesday. I should have left Sunday, but Sunday was Christopher's first Father's Day and I thought it would be nice to spend the day with him and Elle. 

So I took the first flight out of Greensboro on Monday morning – which was at 5:25 am. Ick. I had to get up at 3 am. I got to Chicago without incident (which is noteworthy because as it turned out, I was unknowingly and accidentally traveling with a large pair of office scissors. In my carryon. Oops.) and had my meetings on Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon I got to the airport and checked in. My tickets printed out and I thought it was odd that my ticket stated Charlotte before Chicago… 

…but I was like, whateves. Then I looked at my other ticket and that said Chicago and then Charlotte. 

And then I was like, DAMN. 

So I go to my gate and wait in line for one hour to talk to the gate agent. She tells me that this is not a "switch flight" kind of situation and I have to talk to my travel agent because she will have to buy a whole new ticket. Great. I call her. And don't you know, she answers the phone and immediately asks if I can hold. I stupidly and automatically say, "yes" like I am getting ready to order a pizza or something – and not like my flight is getting ready to board in 10 minutes and, as of now, I am scheduled to fly from Chicago to Charlotte and then immediately back to Chicago. 

Meanwhile, I am talking to the agent again, asking her if there is any way I can get my zone bumped up to NOT Zone 5, so that I can get my carryon actually on the plane and not "checked to your final destination," because, if you will remember, my final destination is currently Chicago. She says it won't be checked to the final destination and that I shouldn't worry about it. THEN, a flight attendant comes hustling up the ramp from the plane we are getting ready to board and shows the gate agent a picture on her cell phone and is like, "What do we do about cleanup for this??? I've never had anything like this happen before… It bit someone and the paramedics are on their way." Then she shows her a picture on her cell phone. And then she's like, "It's dead – we killed it." And it's a scorpion. And I'm like, "Aaaaaaaaaawe, hellllllllllllllllls no!" And then she's like, "It was in 13A." And I look at my ticket and I'm in 11B. What if that thing was traveling with friends?!?! The flight is delayed a bit, but not as long as you would expect or hope for after a scorpion has just attacked someone on a plane. I want them to fumigate that thing before I get on it. 

I finally talk to my travel agent and she asks, "Well, didn't you check your flights when I sent them to you?" Uh – yeah. I checked that I was flying out of Greensboro and to Chicago. I checked that I was flying in on Monday and back on Tuesday. I looked at the times to make sure I could fit all my meetings in. And I EVEN looked at how much time I had between flights. But no, I guess I didn't check to see that she was sending me all the way home and not seven-eighths of the way home and then back to where I started. If I was booking this shit through Travelocity, that wouldn't even have been an option. You would think an error message would have come up stating, "Are you sure you want to turn around and go back?" So, after a reminder of how important it was to check my flights carefully, she said not to worry about it and she would fix it. (She also told me to not get back on the flight to Chicago when I got to Charlotte. Uuh, yeah. I think I got that.) 

We finally start to board the scorpion plane and guess what? They want to check my bag to my final destination. Which according to my ticket is exactly where I am currently standing. Since I had talked to the agent previously, she was like, "Charlotte, right?" And I was like, "Yes, please." And then I was like, "Crap, no. I have a flight to Greensboro." So she sends it to Greensboro. 

I get on the plane. After I sit down, my feet don't touch the floor. I keep them propped on my computer bag. Silly, right? Like that's going to keep the scorpion from getting to me. Additionally, I remembered learning at some point that one extreme color of scorpion was deadly and the other extreme was not – like black was and a light color wasn't, or vice-versa. I couldn't remember which way it was, so I kept thinking, "please if a scorpion has to sting me, please, please, please let it be a really solid, medium brown color…please." (Research after I got home revealed that my memory was completely off and there are a variety of highly venomous colors, though luckily you would be hard-pressed to be killed by one. But even so…)

So we get to Charlotte (luckily I was traveling with work pals, Jimmy and John) and the Greensboro flight was delayed from 8:25 to 10:30. Additionally I notice I don't have a seat number my newly acquired Greensboro ticket, so I go to the counter to make sure I am on the flight. The flight was overbooked and I am on standby. Yup. On standby for an overbooked flight that is leaving at 10:30 pm. I don't feel great about this. Jimmy and I talk it through and decide to ditch the Greensboro flight and go rent a car. (Incidentally, as it turns out, there was actually an open flight to Greensboro at roughly the same time. I'm not sure what made the sold out flight a more appealing option to book…)

Jimmy and I (we mistakenly thought John had already made it to Greensboro because he was not on our first flight) leave the terminals and head down to the car rental counters where…Hertz, our [company] preferred rental company is out of cars. And so is Enterprise. And so is Alamo. And so is Budget. And so is the company I have never heard of – Aloha Fun Rental Cars, or some such nonsense. Even Avis, who apparently tries harder (psh) was out of cars. There were literally – the literal use of literally – no cars to be rented. None. So we went back through security. Jimmy had to throw away his just purchased coffee. And get a good groping from TSA. 

I'm back through security. Jimmy has a hand in his crotch. I get a text from John. His plane just landed in Charlotte. He's confused because he got a call that our flight to Greensboro was canceled…but that couldn't be right, right? Silly John. Of COURSE it could be right. Double check. Yup – canceled. 

We found the customer service line. Judging by the length of the line, it seems many, many flights were canceled. We start making phone calls and John is lucky enough to get on that aforementioned open flight to Greensboro. Jimmy and I are stuck in Charlotte. We are SO CLOSE to home, yet so far away. I start calling car services. Much like the rental cars, they have nothing available. Good grief. 

We grab dinner and book the first available flight in the morning which is 7:50 and start to call hotels. I'm sure it will not come as a huge surprise to you that all the hotels near the airport were sold out. Jimmy found a Residence Inn, which stated it was 11 miles away from the airport so we grabbed two of their remaining six rooms, paid our bill and then stood in line for an hour to try and figure out where our luggage was (we received several conflicting reports). Jimmy's bag was there but they wouldn't give it to him. They had no record of mine. She shrugged her shoulders and said, "sometimes they just don't scan it before they put it on the plane." I'm sorry, what? Simple as that, eh? Sometimes they scan it and sometimes they don't? I mean that seems like a shit policy to you guys too, right? Scan all of them. Not just some of them. All the bags. All the time. I think that should be on a poster somewhere in the US Air baggage break room. A big picture of a suitcase, inset image of the luggage tag with the red scanny line over the barcode. Above the suitcase it reads, "LUGGAGE: SCAN IT," below the suitcase it reads, "All the bags, all the time." Maybe I should draft that up for them. 

We grab a cab and head to the hotel. After a while, I'm like, "So, we've been in this car forever, right?" We google the directions to the hotel from the airport. 22 miles. Funsies. By the time we get there it's midnight. The cab driver recommends we leave at 5 am to get to the airport on time. I recommend we get another recommendation. The lady at the front desk recommends we leave at 5 am to get to the airport on time. Damn it. 

In an odd turn of events it took me a really long time to fall asleep. And by a really long time, I mean about 15-20 minutes rather than the 2.4 seconds I thought it would take. For 15-20 minutes, I mentally catalogued the contents of my suitcase and ranked what I would miss the most:
  1. Underwear (this was less of a "miss the most" and more of a "some creep is going to buy my suitcase at auction and then own my underwear.")
  2. Underwear bag (my friend Jamie got me the neatest "Wear Me / Wash Me" underwear bag – it's got two zippered sides – one for clean, "Wear Me" and one for dirty, "Wash Me." I love this thing and I have never seen another like it. I would miss it.)
  3. The case to my glasses. They fit perfectly in it and it shuts with a perfect clap. Not too loud, but a good, solid "I'm closed." Additionally, the case was the same brand as my glasses. I don't like to mis-match brands like that. 
  4. My makeup – probably a good $350 worth of makeup and brushes
  5. My favorite zip-up, which was a gift from our ad agency (it's green and has "CMYK" on the back with the CMYK values of the color of the zip-up
  6. The only jeans that fit me well 
  7. My new, expensive bra. Okay – so it's more emotionally expensive than cash-expensive. I hate bra shopping and I didn't want to have to replace it. 
  8. My "tarp crew" t-shirt from the Bulls 
  9. My makeup bag and toiletry bag
  10. My favorite yoga pants (these would have ranked higher but the crotch seams were starting to wear thin)
  11. My curling iron (Jen – if you are reading, it wasn't THE curling iron.)
  12. My glittery shoes (these also would have ranked higher, but I love them so much, I had already ordered a replacement pair for when those wore out) 
  13. My actual suitcase
  14. My "liquids" (I had a $25 lip gloss in there and new lotion)
  15. My white tank top, which I had already painstakingly cut the shelf bra out of 
  16. My travel rollers 
  17. My white capris 
  18. My black t-shirt 
  19. My black capris
  20. My Ann Taylor Loft striped cardigan (that cardigan was crap – it was already picked after one wear)
  21. My Ann Taylor Loft white satin tank top (that tank top was crap – it was already picked after one wear)
  22. The other stuff in my toiletry bag – toothbrush, hair bands, contact case, etc.
  23. NOT my company polos. US Air was actually saving me a trip to Goodwill on that loss. 
At 4:45 I met Jimmy in the lobby and we got back in a cab. Jimmy called the 444-4444 cab. It was my most favorite cab ever. 

We got to the airport and checked in. I printed my ticket and printed a receipt. You may or may not be surprised to learn that my flight from Charlotte to Greensboro was $800. I mean, I'm pretty sure I could have paid Clay Aiken to piggy back me while he hopscotched to Greensboro for that amount of money, but whatever. I was thirsty x100 and gulped down an iced coffee and massive bottle of water. 

And so as not to end on a bad note, there were some REALLY awesome people who were not only like, "Eeesh – sorry to hear that," but offered to help! Buddies Ouida, Brianna, Jaclyn and Amy all offered to come pick me up (which is completely and totally out of their way and a huge pain in the ass and would have been completely inappropriate of me to accept), and a coworker with whom I'm not even particularly close called my cell and was like, "Hey Ginger, this is John. I saw on Facebook you are a bit stranded in Charlotte. My flight from [insert place I forgot here] was canceled so I had to rent a car and I'm driving up to DC. I'll probably be hitting Charlotte in about two hours if you want me to pick you up. I can drop you off in Winston." That was awesome. 

Also, I started and finished "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)," which was awesome 

…but maybe we don't take marriage advice from Mindy Kaling…

Oh, yeah! AND - I got my luggage!!! How lucky was that?!?!