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« Of Trip Angst and Clip Envy | Main | Master-ing an Assignment »

A Day Late and a DC-9 Short

My little business trip over the weekend got off to a bit of a rough start. I made it to the airport in one piece -- with my snazzy 'business gym pouch suitcase' in tow -- and found a self-serve check-in kiosk. I tapped in my registration number, and the machine said...

"Wha?"

So I tried again. Boop-boop-boop-boop. Enter.

"Never heard of you. See an agent."

Whoa, let's not be hasty. The whole reason machines exist is so I don't have to speak to other humans at the airport. One more try. Beep-bip-boop-boop-bip.

"BAD TOUCH! I NEED AN ADULT! WHOOP! WHOOP!!"

So I gave in. I walked to the counter, slid my ID to the lady there, and told her I was checking in for Chicago. Then I whiled away the time watching the attendants play long-distance luggage toss while she tippy-tap-tapped out my ticket.

Only she didn't tippy-tap-tap out my ticket. She tippy-tap-tapped out a problem:

"Sir? I don't have a record of you on this flight."

Preposterous, of course. This was an official business trip -- not some kind of off-the-cuff, fly-by-night jaunt a doofus like me whipped up at the last minute. There were responsible people involved -- corporate assistants and coordinators and even a travel agency. They were the ones who whipped up this last-minute, off-the-cuff, fly-by-night official jaunt.

So naturally, everything was in order. This lady and her foolish airport hardware were clearly confused. With a smug shake of my head, I passed my phone over to show her my email receipt.

"My heart prepared to commit seppuku on the nearest available rib."

"Um, sir? This ticket is for yesterday's flight."

I looked. She was right. The travel agency had horked the date. My plane left Thursday. Now it was Friday. My plane had probably been to Chicago and back and halfway to the West Coast by now. I'd never catch it. Not even with a rested steed and a stout mesh net, I wouldn't.

There's this moment of panic that strikes when you realize that you're just completely and utterly screwed. The plane's leaving in an hour. You don't have a ticket. You never had a ticket. It's probably full. And you're expected to be in attendance, well rested and wearing pants in the morning several hundred miles away. My heart prepared to commit seppuku on the nearest available rib.

That's when I remembered: it's not my fault. For one shining, glorious cocked-up moment, this one's not my bad. Hallelujah!

Oh, I could still get dinged for it. I knew that. If I wasn't in Chicago for the morning meeting, hell could still break loose. It could still be my head on the chopping block, and my testicles in a vise.

(Which seems like a bit of overkill, if you ask me. I understand abuse, sure -- but work one end of the body at a time, is all I'm saying. How a bout a little focus here, before we have to clean up a big mess for no good reason? One end or the other, Captain.)

Long story short, I called the office, the office called the travel agent, and the travel agent (presumably) said, "Shit." And they called in another ticket, somehow, and squeezed me onto the outbound plane -- and my original flight back, which had been summarily canceled when I failed to be anywhere near the airport the day before. So it all worked out.

They even got me upgraded for the flight out to first class. Maybe as a way of saying, 'sorry!'; maybe because that's all that was left. One more ticket sold, and I might've had to fly as one of the stewardesses.

(Which nobody wants, clearly. I don't look good in those little hats, and how the hell should I know where the emergency exits are located? I don't look for those things. I figure if the plane goes down, we're all shooting through the cockpit window, anyway.

Accept fate, I say. That's what it's there for.)

So it was touch and go for a bit, but I made my plane -- or A plane, anyway -- to the windy city for my meeting. And happily, the ride back was smooth, uneventful and unmarred by any sort of cockamamie calendar confusion.

Though the flight did get back to Boston at one-thirty in the A.M. on Sunday morning. Which turns out to be a time, oddly enough, when hordes of cabs are not swarming around the airport, picking up fares. Who knew?

As I waited with most of my planemates for taxis, the humor of the situation started to sink in. Such a rough start, then almost home -- and now this. Exhausted and a little slap-happy, I nudged the girl behind me and said: "Hey, wouldn't it be funny if all the cabs left yesterday to pick up fares?"

I wasn't especially coherent, nor as wittily breezy as I'd initially hoped. The beaten-down ragged girl looked up at me, and her response summed up the adventure perfectly:

"BAD TOUCH! I NEED AN ADULT! WHOOP! WHOOP!!"

Yeah. Somebody remind me never to go on a business trip again. I think I'm good for the next decade or three, thanks.





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