I’ve been home for just over a month now.
I flew out of Omaha on December 4, and was meant to arrive in Newquay on December 5. But, this is me, and well… world’s worst luck, right? (Except where it comes to Alex, obviously.) I was expecting to have a four hour layover in Chicago, before boarding a connecting flight to Dublin. Unfortunately for me, though, there was quite a lot of fog in Chicago, and they wouldn’t let us take off from Omaha until it cleared. This is the part, out of the entire fiasco, that really gets to me: Before ever leaving Omaha – where 10 minutes away I had cheap food, a nice comfy bed, etc, I asked repeatedly if it was realistic to expect that I would make my connecting flight in Chicago. I was told it wasn’t realistic to think so, no, but to “just give it 20 more minutes” anyway. You know, rather than letting me re-book the flight, or try the next day when I was 10 minutes from my house, instead they expected me to just wait, however delayed we might be. So, eventually they did start letting us board, and if we had boarded, and not been left sitting on the plane for another hour or so, I might, if I’d run, have made that connection.
It was not to be.
My connection took off about 15 minutes before we’d landed.
So, now, I am many hours from the nice comfy bed in Omaha, and I have missed a connection. And a pretty important one, because the ticketing agent was completely unable to find a way to get me to Dublin to make a connection to Newquay, at all. After telling her a couple of times that if she could get me to Heathrow, I’d be able to get a train, and being ignored… finally she says that she can not find any way to get me to Dublin to connect to Newquay. (This confuses me, to be honest, I guess that flight from Dublin to Newquay is like a once in a lifetime occurrence? Two Aer Lingus flights leave Dublin every day for Newquay, I know, I checked! So she must have meant there was nothing in a reasonable time frame.) So, I again tell her that if she can get me to Heathrow, I can get a train, and finally she listens. The only problem with this is, I can’t get a flight to Heathrow until the following day, so wee, I get to spend the night in O’Hare International Airport. She was nice enough to give me a little bag with… um, shaving cream, shoe polish, and razors. Yeah, none of that was actually helpful, to be honest! You don’t really need shoe polish for knock-off Chucks! And, what was I going to shave, exactly? My legs? In the toilets?
Traveling on December 4, 2016, via Chicago was a huge mistake. Some 20,000 people were delayed that day. Shocking news, I’m sure, but winter in Chicago sucks! :) I should count my blessings that I landed when I did, and was directed straight to the ticketing agent, because when I approached the front of the line, and looked back, there was a line winding itself down the concourse and back full of people, waiting to make arrangements for connecting flights to wherever the hell they were going. One poor guy had somehow managed to be delayed by TWO DAYS!
The plan had been for me to arrive in Newquay because that’s not nearly so far from St Ives as Heathrow is – but so much for planning! To attempt to look on the bright side, though, at least the route by train from there was familiar to me. I’d done that before, so I can honestly say that the second time around it was not nearly so intimidating. And, for what it’s worth, customs was a breeze, too. I had a moment, a tiny moment, where I thought “Well, it’s taking me longer than we’d planned, but this will all turn out fine, anyway” and I was perfectly happy as I made my way from Heathrow to Paddington. Perfectly content as I got on the train to Penzance. The cheerfulness was short-lived, though.
I was meant to get off the train at St Erth where Alex was going to be waiting for me. Again, I emphasize meant to! The train did make its scheduled stop at St Erth, but I’ll be damned if the window on the door didn’t refuse to open so I could let myself off of said train! I even asked for help, and that window just refused to open. So, of course, my luck being what it is – the train left St Erth for Penzance with me still on it. And then I get sarcastic texts from Alex informing me that he guesses that I’m just not getting off the train. Yes, helpful, when one is already nearly in tears from yet another thing going wrong! He says, in his defense, that he thought I’d just fallen asleep on the train and was trying to wake me up. I say, I love him, and I forgive him his ill-timed sarcasm. I had some ill-timed sarcasm of my own, after all. It just wasn’t directed at Alex. Instead, it was directed at the poor conductor who made the mistake of telling me, as I was explaining what had happened regarding my missed stop, that she needed to go, as she needed to “open the doors”. I informed her that I’d have appreciated it if that had been done for me AT ST ERTH. (She meant that she needed to unlock doors, but poor choice of words at the time.)
To the credit of the conductor, and to Great Western Rail, despite my scathing sarcasm, she very kindly made sure I was sent back to St Erth at no charge. There was also a very tall, lanky stranger who was kind enough to offer me the use of his mobile to reach Alex – although, that turned out to be unnecessary. Suffice it to say that despite not being the conductor’s favorite person, she still made sure that not only did I get back to St Erth, but also that someone was contacted there to let Alex know what had happened.
A couple of things in my own defense, regarding the train fiasco, though. 1. I was not the only person to attempt to open that damned window. Legitimately, it wouldn’t open! 2. Aside from the scathing sarcasm after the “I need to open the doors” comment, I wasn’t actually rude or anything to anyone! But that part just could not be helped. She deserved it for saying she needed to OPEN THE DOORS. I realize that she didn’t know my circumstances but, after having spent the night sleeping on an airport bench, having an overnight trip turned into a two-day nightmare, being tired, hungry, and stressed, a little bit of grumpiness should be somewhat understandable. I mean, she got grumpy over one bit of snark! (At least, that is according to Alex who overheard her shouting at the staff at St Erth.) All right, I accept that she may very well have been having a shit day, too, but still… I slept on a bench at an airport! I was hauling this beast of a laptop around for two days, and it, by itself, is monstrously heavy! Then there’s the clothes, and everything else! Hungry. Exhausted. Trapped on a train!
In the end, all of it was worth it. I’m home, now, with Alex, where I belong, and I’m happy.