It’s been a long week of teaching classes: you wake up, you do your class prep, you do your teaching, you do your grading, and you go home. At home is nothing in particular. Your wife is living four and a half hours away for her new job; you’ve moved the majority of your things with her. The apartment is strangely empty and strangely full of far too many things you need to pack before you can join her in a couple months.
The wind likes to whistle lonely in the evening.
Today you’re driving home after another day of teaching, but it’s a little different in that you will be picking up your suitcase so you can drive those four and a half hours to see your wife. The first hour is alright as you drive through the forests of northern Minnesota and the setting sun is turning everything golden. Then the trees go stark and two dimensional against the still glowing horizon; the only things with depth are the clouds in the sky. Then there is nothing but the tunnel your headlights carve along the route, a tunnel that is hours and hours long.
Even the waters of Cass Lake offer no comfort when you stop to stretch your legs: the wind blows too cold in your face for you to watch the lights in the water.
About an hour from your destination, still tired, your searching radio finds it, the song that will take you the rest of the way. “Oh, no! There goes Tokyo! Go, go, Godzilla!” Before your mind can think about how improbably wonderful it is to find this song out of nowhere (though is it even a favorite song of yours?), you’re singing, shouting along with the words.
You’re halfway around the earth from Tokyo, you’re in the middle of the flat beginnings of the Great Plains and the tallest thing around here are grain elevators, but what else would Godzilla have left to stomp once Tokyo and the other great cities with skyscrapers are nothing but rubble?
When you take a trip, particularly an airline trip, it’s common to be nervous. I’m sure there are some travelers out there that don’t have imaginations like the Celt and I do, who soldier through airports and car rental lines like nothing bad will happen, but, by golly, I have to believe they’re few and far between.
There’s a reason this Seinfeld clip is funny. Because it’s true, and it happens.
Reservations get lost, people. Airplanes get over-booked, airplanes break down, car rental companies accuse you of damaging a car you did not damage (*ahem* that’s a story for another time), you name it. It happens. And boy, did it happen to us, almost two weeks ago. The Celt and I were traveling to Vermont and… *shudders* so much happened. So very much.
First, we got up at 3 in the morning, because the airlines charge you a little less of an arm and a leg if you fly before even morning birds are winging from tree to tree and singing. Then, we stood in the fog, waiting for a cab that kept not arriving, even though I had made a reservation a few days before for an early pickup. Why? They had misplaced the reservation, they said (see Seinfeld clip above for the second time). Then we waited some more for a cab that was “on its way,” waiting and waiting as our flight time grew closer and closer and as we grew more and more nervous. Just when I was about to go get our car and drive to the airport–outrageous airport parking fees or no–our taxi arrived. Squealing tires through the fog and fifteen or so minutes later, we arrived, just when they were boarding. But we made it, and what more could go wrong…
Oh, but our plane in Chicago had a mechanical failure, so we sat for an hour while they investigated and fixed. The Celt and I kept calm, read books, tried to ignore the cramped nature of ever-shrinking plane seats and leg room. And luckily, they fixed the plane and we made it to Vermont’s Burlington airport. We had made it, and what more could go wrong…
We approached the car rental counter with some nervousness (Seinfeld clip reference #3), but surprisingly enough, nothing amiss here. The line was short, the reservation was ready to go, and we had a nice, little red Toyota Yaris to drive (admittedly a little clown-carish when you saw a Big Frickin’ Swede get into it). I had driven through the area before and we had printed out directions, so we were home free. We ate and then enjoyed the gorgeous Vermont mountain views as we drove to Montpelier. The B & B stay was going to be no problem. I had talked to the owner many times in March and we had made a large deposit on our stay. We were home free for the two weeks, right?
Wrong! *laughs sadly, deprecatingly* So wrong, Mr. Big Frickin’ Swede. So wrong.
No one was at the B & B when we arrived. No one. There was a note for current people staying and a cell phone to call, but the husband that it belonged to did not pick up (the B & B is run by a husband and wife team, of sorts). Backtrack from the country outskirts of Montpelier to somewhere we could get wifi and find some more numbers to call. Finally reached the wife, who was out of state and told us… they didn’t have our reservation listed. Oh, she could remember me from all our discussions in March, but she just didn’t have the reservation listed anywhere (Seinfeld clip reference #4).
Long story somewhat short, they stuck us in another room that night (not the one we had reserved, someone else was in it. …Seinfeld clip reference #5). The Celt and I were panicking, since all the hotels and B & Bs in the area were very, very full, and we didn’t particularly care for how this was going. The husband returned later that night and assured us they would make everything right, as “This has never happened to us before!”
Despite these assurances, they kept talking about how we could stay with them for the whole two weeks, but there would be some nights (okay, every night for a week) where they would have to move us to other rooms in the B & B and two NON-consecutive nights (!) where they wanted us to stay at another B & B because they were booked fully. You know, with people that made reservations after we had (is this really Seinfeld clip reference #6? Egads).
This continued over three days, thanks in part to the wife being out of town (and wanting to play hardball) and her being the one that runs the show and the husband trying to appease us whenever we talked to him. Three days, while I reminded them of my reservation for one room for a whole two weeks (#7). And I reminded them of the massive deposit I had made back in March for one room for two whole weeks (#8). Finally, finally they did the right thing and let us stay in the one room I had reserved (#9), something that was a little essential since 1) we were on vacation for part of our stay and 2) I was attending classes for my degree and the Celt was doing her own coursework online: we couldn’t be moving all over and into rooms that didn’t have anywhere to study.
At the end of our two weeks, the husband said he’d love to have us stay again… after charging us the rate quoted to me back in March (this rate despite our staying in a smaller, cheaper room our first night and having to deal with all the junk they put us through… oh, and Seinfeld clip reference #10!)
Did I mention I was sick for the last week of our stay, coughing and hacking and trying to breath while staying at this place and going to class?