Sunday, August 6, 2006

Curses!

I was in Houston last week; we got home late Friday night (really, early Saturday morning). And with the exception of the trip itself, I had a wonderful time. The travel, on the other hand, was beastly -- as was fitting, I suppose, because travel these days seems to involve being treated like a herd of cattle -- by a bunch of braying asses.

On Monday, long lines forced us to wait through 3 ferries -- the one we intended to take, and the next two as well. When it became obvious we wouldn't make our flight, we decided to ring the airline to find out our options. It's probably a good thing that DH, who is far more polite than me, was the one to make the call. After he explained about the ferry, the customer service (?) rep scolded him loudly enough to hear over the noise from our fellow-queuers, that we should already be at the airport. DH said nothing, whereas I would have been tempted to ask if she was suggesting that we swim across Puget Sound with our laptops in our teeth. Then, she informed him that the next flight, departing in 5 hours, was nearly booked and though we could stand by for it, the only way we could be sure of seats was to cough up another $350 each (on top of the $750 per ticket we'd already paid). DH must have made her day by asking about the departure time of the following flight -- she sounded so happy when she said it was the last flight of the day, and if we tried to save the $700 by going stand by, we'd have to buy new full-fare tickets if there wasn't room on that flight.

We paid.

Once we got to Seatac, we spent a few relatively pleasant hours staring out the window of a nice seafood restaurant, and the flight itself was fine. We arrived in Houston, exhausted, at 12:45 am (13 hours after leaving home) and trudged off to retrieve our bags. Since taking the later flight had allowed us to check in 4 hours early, I hoped our stuff would be in the first batch off the plane -- and it was -- it appeared exactly 57 minutes after the plane landed. That was, by the way, a *very* long 57 minutes in which I had time to note useful things like how singularly unflattering belly-shirts and low-rise jeans can be when worn by anyone with a body mass index over 7.

It was 2 am by the time we got to the rental car agency. DH has some kind of preferred member thing, so they told us to choose a car and go straight to the exit gate to fill out the paperwork. The grinch at the gate took our driver's licenses and started pecking at her keyboard. She pecked a while longer, harrumphed a few times, and then she began writing something on the stack of papers next to her terminal. Just as I was beginning to wonder if this wasn't some kind of perverse Through the Looking Glass episode, she turned. "You," she sneered at DH, "are not a preferred member. I have filled out this application to make you one and save you the trouble of having to go back inside to rent this car. Sign here"

DH, God love him, is patient. He did not attempt to haul her through that little window and turn her into roadkill. He merely said that if she'd spelled his name the same way it was on the driving license and credit card she was holding, she most likely would have found the reservation. Or, she might have simply asked for his membership card.

"Well," she said, "it's spelled like THIS here."

DH snatched the paper she was brandishing. "That's because YOU just WROTE it there." I could hear him gritting his teeth -- never a good sign -- he might be annoyed enough to go back to the counter to complain. Fortunately, he didn't. He just muttered something about not being sure if he should sign using his real name or his new alias, signed, and drove away. We arrived at our less-than-stellar hotel at 3 am.

The rest of the week was lovely, apart from the dental appointment (~shudder) and the blisters from the cute shoes that turned deadly in the humidity. I got to spend time with people I like, and I got a fix of margaritas and Mexican food, which I've been pining for. I even got a few hours of shopping in at the Galleria, surely one of the best malls on the planet.

And then it was time to leave.

Back in Seattle, when all the bags but mine had appeared on the conveyor belt, I decided I was cursed. Of course my bag was the only one on the whole damn flight that was lost. DH's bag had come right away. He had even been offered an upgrade to first class, which he refused since my frequent flyer status wasn't exalted enough to get me one too.

I asked DH if he thought I was cursed. He said it was likely, but it was probably only a minor curse since I've never been in a plane crash. He quite logically pointed out that other than being offered an upgrade when I wasn't, and getting his bag when mine was lost, he'd had to endure the same miseries I had. Like being told flatly by Rosanne B. at the lost luggage counter that she would NOT tell us the airline's policy on lost luggage and that we could call the 800 number if we wanted to know it. Like arriving just in time to watch the 10:20 ferry pull away from the dock so we had another 40 minute wait before we could cross to Whidbey and get home.

We did not hit the deer that tried to cross in front of our car on the final leg of the trip. And I did catch the error Rosanne B. made when she entered my claim -- in time to get my no-longer-lost bag back this morning.

I notice, however, that DH has stopped encouraging me to accompany him to Chicago in two weeks.

Go figure.