Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Close Call

We had a lot of things to do last week.

Move out of our house in Washington. Check.
Sell our house in Washington. Check.
Fly back to Texas so we could buy our new house. Ahem.

The movers were terrific; they had everything packed and loaded by noon on Thursday. We were really pleased about that because we had rescheduled our original flight, which was supposed to go through Houston on Friday, for Thursday night, so that we could get into San Antonio before Hurricane Ike closed the airport. We were all set to start the long drive to the airport when the call came in from Continental Airlines -- our red-eye flight was departing as planned, but they weren't allowing any pets on the flight, which meant that, for all intents and purposes, our flight was cancelled because we had to get Tabitha, our kitty, to Texas too.

"Um, what do you mean, we can go, but our cat can't?" I asked the guy from Continental. "Do people often just abandon their pets if you arbitrarily refuse to honor their reservations?"

"Noooo...," he said, "...but the hurricane..."

"What about it?" I asked. "It affects pets first? There'll be extra turbulence cause there's a little cat on board?" I may have sounded a tad bit sarcastic there, but oh well.

"Um...," he was clearly stunned. "Management..."

"Right," I said. "Good answer. Thanks a bunch."

I hung up on him and asked DH what he thought we ought to do. DH thought we ought to reschedule our flight and not worry. I, being the anti-Pollyanna, thought DH was nuts. I called our real estate agent in Texas and told her we might not make it to the closing of our new house on Monday and asked her what we ought to do. I expected her to tell me that it wouldn't be a problem to reschedule the closing, but without coming right out and saying it, she implied that we might lose the house if we didn't close on time.

The seller was supposed to close on his own new house on Monday as well, and there was a backup offer on the house we wanted from the very first day we made the offer. The possibility existed that the seller could use that as a reason to break our contract and accept the other offer. But the seller's new house closing was IN HOUSTON. It was obvious that his closing was NOT going to happen on time. The realtor said she'd check with him about postponing and get back to me. She did and the news was not good -- he insisted his own closing was going forward, and that ours had to go forward as well.

Our realtor is very nice, but she didn't seem to understand that we might not be able to wave a wand and appear in San Antonio on Monday. "Can't you just kennel your cat?" she asked.

It took me a while to explain that this was our last trip, and that we couldn't leave our cat in a kennel indefinitely, and that I had no idea when I'd be able to come back and get her. I finally had to tell her that if she didn't figure something out, the deal was probably off. Once I managed to get that point across, things changed quickly. She contacted the title company handling the transaction, and they found a local notary who would meet us with the closing papers, which we could sign on Friday afternoon. The notary would then send the papers overnight to San Antonio, so they'd be there in time on Monday. Funny how "impossible" things can be made to happen when there's money on the line!

Then we were left with the other problem -- getting back to San Antonio in time for DH to appear at his new job on Monday. We spent Thursday night sleeping on the floor of our empty house in Washington, trying to figure out how to do this.

DH called around to all the airlines and finally found a flight on United that went through Denver on Saturday. United doesn't have the special pet program that Continental does, and in fact, United are complete idiots about pets because they suggested that we put Tabitha in the hold, but then they said they couldn't put her on the connecting flight, so she'd arrive on the same flight the next day. I didn't want to put her in the hold in the first place, but the idea of leaving her in some God-forsaken baggage area overnight was impossible, so we arranged to take her on the flight.

We signed our house papers on Friday and spent that night at the W Hotel in Seattle. It was fabulous having a bed again after spending the previous night on the floor. Saturday morning we headed over to the airport bright and early to be sure we had plenty of time to check in since we expected it take longer with Tabitha in tow.

The airport was a freaking nightmare~! I swore last year that I would never fly United Airlines again, and if they hadn't been the only game in San Antonio this past weekend, I would have kept that resolve. As it is, we probably would have been better to keep it anyway -- they are just pathetic. In addition to the hurricane, there was bad weather in Chicago and San Francisco, and there were several hundred people waiting in line to check in! We waited in line for 3 hours, and we were still waiting when our flight departed -- without us.

When we finally got up to the desk, the gate agent was kind and apologetic and she booked us a flight for the next day, this time via Los Angeles. She also gave us each a $100 certificate for future travel (yeah, right; like I'll fly United any time soon), but that was it. So we had to find an airport hotel that would accept cats -- NOT an easy task -- people travel with dogs, but who brings their cat? By this time, there were about 400 people in line, and some of them were turning into an ugly mob -- United got a manager out there to talk to them, something they should have done hours earlier. Since they were having so many weather problems, they should have called in extra people to work to reduce the line, but I suppose they've fired them all so the management can still take home big bonuses. Whatever.

On Sunday, we went back to the airport and waited two more hours to check in, and were finally able to do so. United got their revenge on me for my animosity because they marked my ticket as requiring an extra security check, so while DH and Tabitha were able to sail through, I was forced to be hassled and felt up by my favourite folks, the TSA, before proceeding to the gate, where we learnt that the status of our flight was "delayed." Indefinitely.

At this point, DH informed the people standing near him that he could completely understand why people sometimes went insane on airplanes and defecated on the drinks cart -- and I didn't even shush him because I agreed, although I admit that I sincerely hoped he wasn't thinking of doing so. Fortunately, before we were required to consider that possibility any further, we were told that our flight would only be an hour late, and we would probably still make our connection to San Antonio.

And we did. We arrived there on Sunday night. DH made it to work on time. Our house papers arrived on Monday morning and we were there to deliver the cheque for the house in person. As we expected, the seller of the house was not able to close on his house in Houston; his closing was delayed by 10 days because (Surprise!) there was a hurricane there, you know. Our kitty was a champ -- she was stuck in a carrier for more than 12 hours and she never made a peep. Our furniture will not be here until 4 October, but we are all, including our animals, here, safe and sound, in Texas now.

Thank God. I thought it was never going to happen.


Nanci said...

I am *so* gad you are all there safe and sound!

What is it about real estate transactions that seems to bring out the worst in people? I don't think I know anyone without at least one real estate nightmare of their own (though, admittedly, you seem to have several people's share!)

So, are you camping until your furniture arrives, or in a random corporate apartment?

Doubtful Muse said...

I'm not sure why real estate is that way, but I was ready to strangle the guy we bought our house from. I made a huge impassioned plea (via the realtor) to postpone just until Wednesday, but he insisted that his deal was going through as planned on Monday and that ours had to go through then as well. And it was patently obvious (to me, if not to him) that his deal in Houston was NOT going to go through on Monday, even if the storm missed them, because the schools and govt. offices were going to be closed -- so many people had to evacuate. He was just being an ass. I'm sure no one could tell I was smirking when I remarked what a pity and a surprise it was that he wasn't able to close on Monday!

We're not camping -- thank heavens -- we're in a random corporate apartment. It's an odd one too -- the place itself is not very nice, but the furniture is. Go figure.

Nanci said...

It seems like all corporate apartments fit as many contradictions into one small space as possible. We had one when we first got to NC that had all these Asian dim sum-like dishes - not a single round or even oval-shaped plate was to be found, but we had lots of triangle-shaped ones (and cups too).

As for the seller, karma will get him eventually.

tamsaunt said...

His argument that he would go with the backup offer is a little weird since doing that would have delayed closing a lot more than two days.

Doubtful Muse said...

The other offer was for more than the listing price (we offered list), and I assume he was hoping for a reason to break the contract so he could take the other offer -- even though it would have taken longer -- his new house was delayed and he surely knew it. Either that, or he was just being a jerk.

Anonymous said...

I still stunned by that sequence of events - I'm vastly relieved it all came out OK. And would you belive I have a plane to catch in a few minutes? Just to Melbourne for Jewish New Year - no connecting flights and no hurricanes and no cat and no house vendor and only carry-on luggage (because your moving story has left me profoundly perturbed). When I was packing I found Christmas cards for you. Why did I buy you Christmas cards? Life is a mystery.

May the furniture arrive safely and the move end well and life get back to where it always should have been instead of being crazy.

Tess said...

Oh my, DM. What an adventure. Un****ing believable!! How you stayed sane is beyond me. And what a trooper your kitty is. Glad to hear you're settled now (so to speak). Can hardly wait to see pics of the new house!!

Taminator said...

I'm so glad you are finally THERE and were able to close on your home. And I agree with Nanci...karma will come back to bite the seller at some point. It always does.

FWIW, I would *never* have left my kitty, either. The husband, maybe...the kitty, no way.

Anonymous said...

You are a better person than I am. After all that with the airlines I would have ended up in, as another friend puts it, Looney Land. Thank goodnes you are all there and will be able to put your house together fairly soon. Take pictures for us.