Every summer there are inevitably a few casualties – things lost, relationships not tended to, missed connections. Most of which are the result of the expat lifestyle. Or is it? I am so accustomed to the loss, I cannot parse out which is just in the nature of a traveler and that which is unique to those who live overseas.
Here are a few examples from my summer. Wah wah wah.
This August on Continental flight 1682, from Seattle to Newark, I left my Kindle on the airplane. Thousands of people do this every day. I voluntarily gave myself the Family Dunce Award for Inept Travel. I am always cautioning my children not to put stuff in the seat compartment and yet I did that very thing. Dodo! Here is the catch: I realized it within an hour and went to the closest gate. The agent there (very helpful), followed up by phone. The agent at gate 85 did see the cleaning crew with my Kindle. Upon further conversation, it was revealed that the Kindle was stowed in the cleaning person’s shirt. It did not make it to the lost and found department. I went to the agent in Baltimore, as directed, and was given a phone number. This was to an automated unit. I called back and asked for a supervisor. I was told I did not need one. Really? How convenient for Continental! I finally was given the number to a “New Jersey Task Force for Lost Articles”. I called the number in New Jersey [973-681-0658], which was automated, and it referred me to the original 800 number I was previously given [800-335-2247]. Do you see where I am going with this? Thirty nine minutes and four dollars later, the agent “Donna” eating carrots in my ear, I was no further along. Where was the “superior customer service” I was promised?
Two days later I called back and tried again, this time with “Michael”. He could not do anything for me and “the supervisor won’t talk to you about this”. “Michael” won that round. So I called back and said I had been cut off with the supervisor. I was told Continental was not liable for their subcontracted cleaning crew [this begs the question if they are liable for anything on a plane, just sayin’]. But I did ask for the President of Continental/United’s phone number [713-324-2779]. After listening to a recording about Continental/United being a “premier” airline, I left a message for Jeff Smisek on August 16 at 4:50 EST and to date have not heard back.
For a writing class two years ago, I started my China memoir. The opening line is/was, “I miss Gordon Bethune”. Gordon Bethune was the president of Continental from xxxx to xxxx. When he left, things started to go down hill. Larry What’s His Face might have been nicer man, according to one reservation agent, but he did not run as tight a ship. Jeff, in startling contrast, is manning the Titanic.
I am looking for a new airline.
Not looking at my receipt at the time of the purchase I discovered, while back in Madrid, that I had been charged twice for Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand at the Barnes and Noble at JHU. How many times has this happened before? For how many items? One wonders.
Orioles v. Yankees tickets at Camden Yards. Family took earlier flight back to Madrid to avoid Hurricane Irene. I don’t even know if the game was played because ….
My DF Chicks Post College Drop-Off Weekend was also cancelled. This was a blow. Four of us mothers, all of whom had children the same age in Sunday School in Mexico City, had planned a weekend of catching up and kibbitzing after dropping off our children at their respective colleges (two of whom, amazingly enough, attend the same one). It was not to be. We were all crushed. But in order to avoid all the cancelled flights, two women left early and I drove from Maryland to Florida with Dr. Skin, my sister-in-law, and Winnie, my mother-in-law. Nice save! I got the money back from my flight (go Southwest!) and had an enjoyable bonding time coursing through Virgina, North Carolina, etc. in a mini-van. Not what was expected but I would not take back that time for anything. We had real girl talk. This is what I call Making Lemonade Out of Lemons.
Twentieth Wedding Anniversary. This was the same day as Dorm Move In Day. Mr. Understanding and I, at the end of a long day, turned into toddlers on our way to the Maroon Five/Train concert in Columbia, Maryland. The concert was outstanding but we were too tired to celebrate. Not to worry. We had a wonderful meal the next night at Fogo do Chao before the Final Drop Off with the whole family, exchanged gifts, and made up. Also, we are going on a second honeymoon soon (I realized we did not have to take our children everywhere with us).
Laundry explosion. Can of aerosol sunscreen leaked all over clothes, new and old. I was too cheap to throw away the can, especially since they do not have them in Europe, and now I know better. Ka-CHING!!!! File this under General Stupidity and Being a Cheapskate.
Shingles vaccination. I am hesitant to even write this. Right before leaving for the East Coast, I decided to get the shot, ignoring all the literature that says you can actually get the shingles from the vaccination. I also ignored my low B12 level and forged ahead, as I am wont to do. Result: huge, itchy, red welt on the injection site for several days and an anxious 48 hours wondering if I was going to go down. Still, no regrets – I survived!
Tod’s driving moccasins – hole in heel. I am embarrassed to admit owning a pair as they are hideously expensive. But they felt sooooo good on my feet when I bought them in Roma and I have worn them a lot. I was told, at the store in Madrid, that really, these shoes only last a season. They cannot be repaired. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Where is that market research, pray tell? One season? Too rich for my blood. Just call it Comeuppance.
All the missed phone calls to friends and not enough time with family. I beg your forgiveness. We just ran out of time.
Bank account: decimated. See above.
As I look back on the devastation, I am reminded that there were no trips to the ER this summer. No major crises. The toll just came in a different form, not nearly as painful, in truth. Oh, and did I mention I lost a daughter? OUCH.
Happy Birthday to Dr. Skin. You are still older than me. And Happy Autumn to everyone else!