You ever have one of those trips where just getting to the destination seems to be completely riddled with roadblocks? That was last Friday for me. Fuck you, Last Friday.
I left work at three in the afternoon. With a 7:20 flight and an hourlong commute home, it simply wouldn’t do to leave the office at my usual 6 o’ clock end time. I was planning on BARTing to Oakland International, meaning I couldn’t skip stopping at home and parking the car.
It’s a good thing I didn’t leave any later than three. My “hourlong commute” slowly turned into a two-hour ordeal as rain, actual rain, started pounding down on 880-North. In the true nature of California drivers, everyone went bonkers and decided to trudge along instead of drive. The silvery pellets of angels’ tears really threw everyone for a loop, and suddenly blinkers before switching lanes became a forgotten courtesy and any sort of attempt at lateral lane changes was blocked by people’s strange bouts of obstinacy. Not in my lane!
The only benefit of being slowed down to a groveling pace was all the extra time I had to rework the weekend wardrobe I had planned in my head. Two days in Burbank, mostly indoors but there are reports of rain, only bringing a weekender and a purse, not bringing a laptop, not checking anything in…Factoring, factoring.
Finally I got home. At five o’ clock. Two hours later, one hour later than expected. Even for domestic flights I try to get to the airport two hours ahead of time. You never know what kind of kook is going to hold up the security line, and with all the recent body scan hype I was not about to be unprepared for angry travel blogger shenanigans.
I zipped around the house, reworked my outfits and packing, forgot to the turn the heat off, and toted my bag and purse to the BART station. Thankfully, we live about a seven-minute walk away. I had seven minutes to check and double-check that I had exact change for both my ticket and the bus from BART to OAK. All set.
Sitting on BART was painful but efficient. I got to the platform just in time for my train, and sat antsy as I counted down the stops. I was one of many travelers going from BART to bus to airport that day, and though I almost jammed the machine throwing my perfect $3 clutch of quarters into the machine, I can confidently say I moved more swiftly and took up less space than my cohorts.
Alas, the airport. I had printed out my ticket the night before (Woohoo!) so really all I had to do was get through security and plop down at my gate. It was 6 something. I got through security, of course lining up after a woman who needed four bins plus room for her carry-on luggage, but I myself had moved with rather impressive quickness.
And then I got to the monitors.
Flight Blah-Blah, Flight Blah-Blah – Ahh, there’s Flight Blah-Blah. Yes, landing in LAX (because, for whatever reason, a round trip from Oakland to Los Angeles was cheaper than a round trip from Oakland to Burbank when I booked), yes, scheduled to leave at 7:20, but oh, what’s this? In this last column here where there should be an “ON TIME?” 9:15? 9:15? You gotta be fucking kidding me.
The prospect of flying out of Point A two hours later than the original departure time for a flight that lasts about an hour is ridiculous. Add to that the knowledge that I’d have to be picked up in LAX and then battle SoCal traffic into BUR, and I just aged my own self five years. HELL NO, I will not stay for a two-hour delay, Southwest! I don’t mind the unassigned seating, I love the zero baggage fee, but no, such practices do not warrant me to sit quietly while I watch my original arrival time at my destination pass under my nose.
Calmly, and all too aware of how hairy things can get when the wrong person things they’ve been wronged, I approached my ticket counter. I asked how the other LA flights looked. “The later LA flight is delayed as well.”
I stood there. What about the off chance of me flying into the actual city wherein I’d be cooping up with convention goers, instead of touching down in all-too-stressful LAX?
“Do you have any flights going into Burbank?”
“You want to fly into Burbank?”
Thinks a minute. For some reason I had a brain fart where I thought Burbank was Bakersfield and thus I believed I had just requested a flight into the armpit of Southern California. “Yes. I just want to see if there are any alternatives.”
“I’ll put you on the standby list.” I thanked her profusely, she told me to check in at the Burbank flight’s counter, and I thanked her profusely again.
Walking away and figuring that no matter what happened, I’d be late or plans were already turned upside down, I got an overpriced sandwich from Max’s and then decided that an overpriced ice cream from Fenton’s was entirely requisite for the situation. Not only do I love Southwest, I also love that the Southwest terminal of Oakland International has a Fenton’s ice cream counter. $5 for a small mocha almond fudge? Don’t mind if I do.
I withdrew some more cash from the ATM and started making OCD lists and Choose Your Own Adventures in my head. (Been reading too much Stieg Larson.) I think I was doing the grown-up version of rearranging my closet instead of working on a paper: Procrastinating.
Finally, Reuben sandwich and ice cream in hand (and weekender bag and purse on either shoulder), I approached the Burbank check-in counter. My heart sank. I was standing behind a girl who was the polar opposite of me. Preppy like you wouldn’t believe. Coach purse, Hunter boots, Ralph Lauren scarf, and twinkly earrings that grown women should really grow out of by the time they start making their own money.
On top of being dressed in complete non-Mayka fashion, she looked piiiiissed. Nothing more intimidating than seeing a spoiled-looking thing also look enraged, and I was sure that my chances at an non-delayed flight into a more ideal destination were shot. Pissed Spoiled Girl had clearly just had some sort of row with the lady at the counter, and Lady at the Counter was clearly just as unhappy in dealing with Pissed Spoiled Girl. Their equally commendable Ice Queen airs were giving each other preparation touches before knocking each others’ lights out.
I caught the tail end of Lady at the Counter’s monologue, to which Pissed Spoiled Girl said absolutely nothing, “Normally there’s a $75 fee to fly standby, but since this is due to a flight delay, we’re comping the change.” Pissed Spoiled Girl took the new ticket and walked off. Again, saying nothing. Although I painted her in a bitter light, I do hope that she was just acting out of frustration and that she’s not that rude to customer service reps all the time.
Lady at the Counter looked tired.
This is it, I thought. I just fucked up my chances of getting into Burbank at a reasonable hour because I wanted Fenton’s. If I wasn’t such a fucking sucker for ice cream I’d be getting that last ticket into Burbank. Dammit, Stomach!
I waited awkwardly for the Lady at the Counter to collect herself and beckon me forward, and waited for her to speak to me after I had stepped up.
“Hi, I was hoping to catch the 7:20 into Burbank? I was just put on the standby list.”
“What’s your name?”
I spelled my last name for her, “M as in Mary…,” confirmed my first name, and waited for her to purse her lips and go “Cha, y’know what? Bummer.”
My heart was palpitating. She asked if I had my original boarding pass with me. Yes, yes I did! That I could do. I could conjure up my boarding pass because I tucked it in my book. Hold on, I’ll do this so fast you won’t even believe it.
I gave her my pass.
And she ripped it up
Before my eyes.
And my eyes lingered at my quartered flight into Los Angeles, but flickered back to life when she handed me a new boarding pass into Burbank.
What? No. It couldn’t possibly be this simple. I stood there and waited for the $75 speech. Or the “This pass is not a guarantee that you’ll get onto this flight” speech. Or the “Since you got ice cream, we actually gave you a pass for a flight that goes out early tomorrow morning. Buh-bye now!”
I stood there some more waiting for a catch, but she didn’t give me a speech. She just looked at me when she realized I was still standing stupefied and said, “You’re all set.”
It wasn’t even an enthusiastic “You’re all set” but it was the most exciting anticlimactic positive resolution I had experienced in months.
I then sat my ass down, ate my ice cream first, and boarded the plane.