Loyal Readers! Let me take you on a true and whimsical adventure of danger and excitement! Gather ’round to hear my epic!
So I am definitely late posting this, as it happened in March. But for Spring Break I traveled to Taito-ku, Tokyo, Japan and stayed in a little hotel in Asakusa. But, it was quite the adventure getting there so let’s jump in.
I drove to my mother’s house on Friday March 10th and didn’t sleep at all that night. I was too excited. My mother had to work, but had offered to make me cookies if I stayed until about 8:30 pm and I decided that that would still give me enough time to get to Calgary and catch my flight (a 5 hours drive). She asked, while the cookies were coming out of the oven when my flight was leaving, and I went to check my email to find a new email from United (I knoooooow) telling me my tickets had been cancelled. Not the flight mind you, for weather or anything, just that my tickets had been. So I called Expedia, because I booked through them. They told me that because they didn’t have my birth date, they cancelled my tickets. They hadn’t called me, emailed me prior, or anything of the sort. Just cancelled my tickets. I asked them to re-book it and they told me they’d have to refund it and wait for it to process back to my credit card, then charge me again. I told them that that wasn’t possible, my flight left in less than 10 hours. I needed it processed now. The woman told me that she would ask to see what we could do. I was on hold for a hour and a half. It was now 10:00 pm. I had even less time than I had given myself in case of construction or bad traffic. They finally got the ticket reprocessed, told me that I was back on the flight and that everything was taken care of. I flew out of my mother’s house and hoped in my truck. Called my dad on the way there to tell him what I was doing and I was ecstatic. I got to the border in about forty-five minutes. The border guard was really cool, wished me a good trip, and as I readjusted my American sensibilities to kilometers; sped into this new foreign country. I was about 50 km in when I noticed that the temperature outside was below freezing, I didn’t think anything of it. It was March, it still got cold in Montana, I wasn’t worried.
I should have been worried. I took the windiest road I have ever been on. In a blizzard. In an active avalanche area. With traffic that didn’t comprehend that I had never driven in Canada before. It’s different, I don’t care what anyone says. Charter buses DO NOT care what the speed limit is. So, the speed limit drops down to 40 km (25 mph) due to the weather. Or at least that’s what I thought the sign said. I was sliding all over the road, I wasn’t doing more than that. I glance at the clock and it says 12:00 am. I have enough time. My projected arrival at the airport was 4:30 am. Flight left at 6:10 am. I was five by five.
I took the wrong highway. I took Alberta Highway 22. It’s a highway, I know it is. But it’s also two lanes. It goes through farm land, it’s max speed was 70km with blind corners and scary hills and TONS of wildlife that just wanted out of the blizzard. I could barely see. Now I took this highway because GPS told me to, I wasn’t going to question it because I had never been to Canada before. What I SHOULD have done was taken Highway 3 instead of turning onto 22. It would have led me to 2, and it would have been a straight shot on a proper road with a higher speed limit (I think, if I remember correctly). I couldn’t go 70km because of the blizzard. The wind gusts alone hit my truck so hard I thought I was going to die. Not even being dramatic there, I thought that. Or I was going to get into an accident that mangled my body and no one would be able to use my phone because Canada (my plan does cover it, but still) and I would just disappear into the blasted frozen wasteland that I had surrounded myself with. 2 would have been plowed at least.
For those of you reading the dates and realizing what day the Sunday was, yes, it was Daylight Savings Time. I lost an hour when the clock switched to 2 am and then immediately 3 am. My projected time of arrival was now 5:30 am. I had to be at the desk to check in by 5 am. So I did the unthinkable (Don’t read this part mum). I sped through Canada, literally sped. As fast as my anxiety would allow. There was no one on 22. No one at all expect the occasional semi-trunk, who I would like to think were as nervous as I was and also didn’t want me to be doing the thing that I was doing. 22 led to a country road, that led to another one. I could only rely on my GPS to not get me lost. I was taking hills like a mad man, blaring on my horn when I couldn’t see houses, hoping to save any sort of animal that dared venture into my path. I finally found the highway, but I was still running super late. At this point it was 4:30 and I had 60 km to go. I have to be there by 5:00 am. I drove so slow earlier in the night that making up for lost time seemed impossible. I got stuck behind cars that all decided that the icy roads were more of a awkward zit on the shoulder blade than anything that could actually do someone harm. I’m doing 120km in 100km areas, and I’m still going to slow for most of traffic. My eyes are glued to the road, the signs, and the clock in my truck all at the same time. My heart starts to sink into my chest as I realize I’m not going to make it.
Cue Optimist Me, always ready to cheer myself on when I panic (sometimes to cheer myself into a deeper panic). Telling myself that, no, I am going to make it. I am going to get there. I follow GPS to a T, I’m not getting lost, NO WAY. I’ve come this far I’m getting to the airport. I pull into the parking lot, it is 4:55 a.m. I get my things, get out of the truck and run (in boots and a skirt) into the airport, lugging a heavy-ass bag and my carry-on. ROLLING LUGGAGE FOR LIFE. Seriously, the duffle bag cut into my shoulder, bruised my collar bone, and was hard to run through an airport with. I’ve never walked so fast in my life, because airports frown on you running. I check my phone, It is 5:08, I am almost there. I’m sure that if I explain what happened they’ll still let me board.
I stop to ask for directions to the terminal. It’s at the very end of the building. I am not going to be beaten by this. My boots are ticking on the floor as I pull myself around to the check in desk. I tell them my name and they give me the look. You know the look. The look that says “You’re wasting my time. You’ve missed your cut off.” It is 5:12 a.m. Cut off was 5:10 a.m.
I ask if there is anything they can do. They tell me no. At one point I’m pleading with them. I drove all night I tell them, the weather was terrible, my ticket had been cancelled and I needed to get it re-booked and that took time. The woman has heard all of this before. She isn’t going to budge, she can’t she tells me. Policy that check in ends an hour before take off. I tell her I understand that but I got here as soon as I could. She says to me, and I’ll never forget this “You should have made plans to get here sooner.”
I lost my mind for a second, mind you, I haven’t slept for over 24 hours at this point. I shouldn’t have been driving. When I say I haven’t slept, I hadn’t. At all. No naps or anything I was too excited. I’m frantic. I’m crying. I’m an adult woman crying in the airport because they’ve just told me that the flight I’ve been waiting my whole life to take isn’t going to happen, because I was two minutes late to the gate, and now they’ve embarrassed me. I’m asking about other flights. They offer me one to Houston, but I’d have to stay the night in Houston and then leave for Tokyo the morning of the 14th, which means I won’t get there until the 15th. Which kills my entire trip. They refuse to put me on a flight to LAX, which has a spot but they can’t upgrade my to the seat that is available. They won’t put me on the flight to Chicago (which is strangely a direct flight). They refuse to help me. (Uniiiiiiiiiiited).
I call United, they can’t help because it’s booked through a 3rd party. Took them an hour to tell me that. I call Expedia. They (after another hour) put me on the Air Canada flight to LAX (or San Diego, it was one of them) and then I’ll fly out of there. I’ve told my story so fast and so many times that I’ve lost my voice. I go to the Air Canada desk, happy that I have a solution, I have 30 minutes to check in for the flight. Air Canada tells me they don’t have me, and that United does (12 minutes). I go to United, same women mind you, they tell me that they can see it but I have to go to the Air Canada desk(10 minutes). I hurry off again (because the gates OBVIOUSLY can’t be near each other). I now have to wait in line. I get to the front, explain the situation to the very rude french woman at the counter who then tells me that I am a MINUTE past check in time. THE MINUTE I TALKED TO HER, WHILE SHE HELD MY PASSPORT, AND DIDN’T SCAN IT. She then tells me she doesn’t have me in the system anyway. That I’m not in their passenger list (She didn’t even type my name in, didn’t even open my passport). I have the conformation number and emails stating that I am. She tells me that there is nothing she can do and that I need to leave her desk, because I missed the check in time.
I’m dejected. My bag is cutting into my shoulder, the pain is intense. I can’t feel my arm at this point. My phone is almost dead. I’m tired. The lack of sleep is catching up to me. I go back to the United desk. The women are not happy to see me. I tell them again, what had happened. She sighs and brushes her hair out of her face. I hate her face at this point. I hate the other woman too, but feel like we would be friends if our circumstances were different. She’s sweet. Not like the woman and her stupid hair poof in front of me. I ask her what my options are. She gives me the same options as before. I ask, the life probably drained from my eyes at this point, if I can be put on the flight I missed, but for tomorrow. Meaning I would miss a day in Japan, but would not have to go to Houston. She looks at me like this is a new concept to her. The manager is called and after some more bush beating, I’m on that flight. I ask them to upgrade me, they do. I ask them what I should do around Calgary, trying to make the situation light. They eye me and say “What do you mean?”
I tell them that it’s my first time in their city and they seem shocked. They thought I was local. They tell me this holding my American Passport. They tell me this after chastising me for not being on time. I don’t hear what they say, but I know what I plan on doing. I’m going to find a hotel, and go to sleep. Because this nightmare has to be over eventually.
End of Part One