Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chris is a Flight Genius, or, On Saving 69 cents.

For those of you who didn't know, I'm in Africa. And I'm pissed, because Toto has had me so excited for years about the Africa. There haven't been any rains here. What a waste of a trip. Anyway, I'll try to post some updates of what we've actually done while here, but the only time I've had to actually write was while on the plane over here a week ago. And without further ado:

Far and away this has been the most difficult trip I've ever been on. It started out with my roommate not having a single item in his suitcase 15 minutes before we had planned to leave for the airport. Well, I suppose it really started for him when it took me 10 minutes to buy my plane ticket, and since I'd just bought a ticket it increased the price for his flight – which he was not able to change after more than an hour on the phone. (The fare came back down later that day). At the airport, it continued with the plane taking us to DC having a mechanical failure. After waiting in the long line, we spoke with the gate agent who rebooked us. Now we were to be routed through London and would not arrive until more than 12 hours after planned in Cape Town. At this point I was fairly content to sit and read my novel, but Chris whipped out his trusty iTouch and, exploring options on, found what he thought to be a superior option. The gate agent told him that particular flight was not available. Chris, however, was not to be so easily deterred. After finding another flight, through Chicago and Amsterdam, he thought it worth another shot – but I had to go bug the agent this time. Knowing I had to spend the next 6 weeks in pretty close quarters with Chris, I thought it best to humor him, though I had little hope.

To my chagrin, it worked. Chris approached the counter, looked at me and said, “I am a flight genius.” I was forced to agree. If the whole psychiatry gig doesn't work out, he should totally just work for people. The connections worked, and we were booked for Amsterdam to get to Capetown at about our original destination. This was great, because the hostel we'd arranged for that night (from the airport – late, admittedly, but still) had required a 10% deposit. It came to USD 1.38. Split between us, that is 69 cents each.

While we did have to see the gate agent in Chicago because Chris didn't get all the right papers from the Columbus agent, we had a nice little flight to Amsterdam. Our connection time was short, and so we quickly printed out our boarding passes for the Cape Town flight from a self-serve kiosk. Since I'm a good person, and karma is real, mine printed without a hitch. Chris's, on the other hand, said that he had to see a gate agent. You can draw your own karmic conclusions. Now we had a new problem, though. Finding an agent. It took us at least 10 minutes to find where the gate agents were. Probably because they were not at the gate, like you might expect. There wasn't even an agent in the same terminal. Turns out that since they wear such nice periwinkle uniforms, they like to cluster the gate agents together. Gives them more of an effect, I suppose.

After watching the agent work on a computer with two different phones glued to her ears for at least 15 minutes, it became clear we were not going to make our flight. Since we don't have phones or any real plans in S. Africa yet, we elected to stay together and started discussing what two things we could do in our 24 hour layover in Amsterdam. (Incidentally, do vacation rules apply in Amsterdam? Or do their lack of rules negate the traveling rule of acceptable rule-breaking?) After our original boarding time had passed, the agent suddenly printed out two boarding passes and said, “Run to your gate.” Obedient young men that we are, we double-timed it across two terminals only to be asked by the security guard, “Why are you so late? Everyone is waiting for you two!”

Not everyone appreciates what a flight genius Chris is, evidently.

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