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.
Firstly, clearly I have safely arrived in St. Ives. I have spent the past two weeks largely offline, because there’s nothing quite so fascinating as Alex, and were it not for the distance which is normally between us, I think I could be largely fine without the internet. In fact, most of our internet usage has been limited to binge-watching “Red Dwarf” on Netflix.
Secondly, I will get to the details of the travel itself at some point, but probably not until I am back in the United States. For now, I will just say that it was a pretty miserable experience.
Right now, I just want to babble about some of the things that I have observed thus far. May not be nearly so entertaining for you, but this is all about me, anyway, right?
The British may not be quite so polite as the rest of the world thinks they are. Or perhaps it’s just customs agents who are there to deal with inbound visitors arriving at stupid o’clock in the morning. Why am I crying? Well, it may be because I’m in a metric butt-load of pain, I haven’t slept for at least twenty-four hours, and I am 4,000 miles from home and you may or may not be allowing me entry into the country. That just might be why I’m crying.
Oh, and Heathrow Express ticket agent… gee, thank you ever so much for not asking me any other difficult questions after my experience with customs, and for charging me more than twice as much as I needed to pay to get to Paddington Station. That’s what I get for coming right out and saying that I was a hopelessly lost and tired American, I suppose. Those famous British good manners may just be a thin veneer coating their sarcasm and/or disdain, that’s all I’m saying.
I have also learned that the British have their equivalents of the pervasive American “hon” or “honey”. While I have yet to be called either of those things here in the U.K., I have many times been called “sweetheart” and “m’love”. Thus far, only one person has called me “m’love”, but she did it four times in under a minute.
“I’m not your sweetheart, honey.”
“I’m not your honey, m’love.”
“I’m not your love, wench!”
Lastly, tourists are tourists. Even people from this country seem to lose their manners while on holiday here in St. Ives. They can’t recall how to share a narrow side-walk with other people and will merrily force you into the street rather than walk single file with their sweetheart or child for a step or two. They will jump the queue in the shop or wherever, as if they suddenly forgot how it works. I have it on good authority that this can’t be so. The British are all born knowing how to queue.
If things have to go wrong, I’m happy that they’re going wrong now, and not at the beginning of May. Alex is scheduled to touch down at 6:49 p.m. on the second of May, and I’d really like it if my house wasn’t in shambles when he gets here.
Recently, the bathroom sink began to back up any time you ran the slightest bit of water in it. As it’s my landlord’s job to take care of these types of things, I called, and he immediately sent a “plumber” to come and take a look.
I began to suspect that perhaps this “plumber” was in no way a professional when, after punching a hole in the pipe by snaking the drain, his solution was to ask if I had any electrical tape handy. This house needs a lot of work. And a real plumber.
Still, I had use of the kitchen sink, the bathtub, the washing machine, until 1.) the kitchen sink began spraying water at my shins any time I used it, and 2.) water began leaking directly onto the fuse box in the basement.
Suffice it to say, my laundry is piling up, and heating water (acquired from the garden hose) over the stove is not the most fun way to clean yourself up. My mother refers to what I’ve been having to do as “having a whore’s bath”. Isn’t that a lovely notion?
Sorry that I’m behind on my reading and commenting these past few days. I’ll be checking in ASAP, as I miss the morning reading.
Hello, my darling girl.
I want you to know that I love you, but missy, we need to have a talk.
I have no idea what has given you the impression that you are Empress of All You Survey, but that is my bed that you are sleeping on. That is my lovely electric blanket that you are hogging.
You are small enough that, should you be willing to cooperate in even the slightest with me, we could share these items easily. The bed is queen sized. The blanket more than covers me, and I would be happy to have you cosy up next to me, or between my feet. Wherever you like, my little miss, provided you can just understand that these are my things, and I have the right to use them.
If you are unable to understand this, I’m afraid that in the future I will simply have to throw you out of the bedroom at night.
Thank you for your cooperation.
I have the world’s most overly-attached little stalker of a cat. Oh, and well, he’s actually not so little, either.
He isn’t often allowed into the computer room, because of his tendency to rub up against everything as he tries to build up a static charge so that he can electrofuckulate you.
Or rather, me.
So, since the computer room is often where I am, and as I mentioned, he’s a stalker, he frequently sits right outside the door and waits for me to exit, so that he can follow me wherever it is I’m going, whether that’s to my bedroom, or to the toilet.
I spend an awful lot of time working (or playing) in Photoshop, and sometimes, I really get quite enthused with whatever it is I’m doing. So much so that I’ll ignore little distractions like the need to pee.
That’s a distraction that you can only ignore for so long.
On one such occasion, I was very nearly finished with a project, and ridiculously excited about how it was progressing. I just couldn’t wait to put the finishing touches on it. I got that first little notification from my bladder that it was approaching maximum capacity at just the wrong time. Just a few more brush strokes, so close… must finish!
When I was finally satisfied with the project, I just knew I’d delayed a bit too long. I dropped my tablet, and made for the door with my bladder absolutely screaming at me for my foolishness. Right outside my door, waiting for me, was Beau.
I hurried to the bathroom with my cat right on my heels, quite literally. I nearly tripped over him as I rushed in and closed the door behind me. I undid my button and dropped trou as quickly as humanly possible, and this is where one of us, I’m not sure which, maybe both, made a fatal mistake.
Beau had positioned himself behind my legs, in front of the base of the toilet. I dropped my jeans right on his head, and of course, he moved out from under them. As I bent to sit on the toilet, I put just a tiny bit too much pressure on my overloaded bladder, and unfortunately, a slight trickle escaped.
My poor cat. He was in just the wrong place at just the wrong time, and that little trickle… it landed right on his head. You can imagine his disgust and irritation.
To add insult to injury, naturally he had to have a bath.
On the up side, he was honestly the most well-behaved cat for about a week.
In my internet travels today, I’ve found quite a few blogs that I’m really enjoying, one of them being Britrish. The most recent post, “How to piss off a Brit“, naturally piqued my curiosity, so, I clicked through to read what the Matador Network had to say. Suffice it to say, I was amused.
As I’ve mentioned, for the most part I prefer the British spelling of words such as “humour”, “colour”, “favourite” and “neighbour”. So, even though there’s a gentle sort of teasing between Alex and I (he corrects my spelling!), I completely understand why it would get old to have American grammar/spelling Nazis attempt to correct you.
As an American with manners, I also understand why someone jumping ahead of you in line (or, rather, queue) would be irritating enough to make you forget your manners and scream & shout & call them horrid names. I mean, I would. I’ve screamed & shouted & called someone horrid names for cutting me off in traffic, which I feel amounts to about the same sort of rudeness, but with the added bonus of danger to one’s health & well-being, as well as the health & well-being of one’s car.
As for food, well I understand that there was recently a big to-do on the subject of Scotland’s independence, however, I do believe that the end result is that they’re still part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, so, still British, yes? I have just one word and that word is haggis. With that said, though, I firmly believe that the best way to experience any new place is to be willing to try everything, and to make sure you get out of the tourist areas as much as possible. So, I concede the point about food, too.
Primness and propriety? Hah! Nay, nay, my dear Brits, your cover is blown. Of course you’re not all prim and proper! Just like not all Americans are obese, lazy, possessed of a red neck, or insufferably rude.
But, what if I really do love your accents? What if I understand that there is not a singular British accent, but I really enjoy nearly all of them? I may not be able to listen to a Brit and distinguish where, exactly, they are from, but I can hear differences. I may not hear a person and be able to point and say, “Ah hah! She’s from London”, or “Listen! He’s from Liverpool”, but I can hear differences! (Actually, Liverpool is a bad example, that one is really recognisable to me.) And what if I love them all? I can’t tell you so? Is it rude of me to appreciate something I find charming about you?
As most of the world probably knows, the legal drinking age throughout the United States is 21. We can vote, and die for our country at the tender age of 18, but heaven forbid we should have even the mildest of alcoholic beverage.
Once upon a time, I was a reasonably well-behaved Mormon girl. I didn’t partake of caffeinated drinks (coffee, soda), I never touched tea (sadly), didn’t smoke, and certainly never did drugs. (Well, okay, I tried pot, but it just made me giddy and giggly). Definitely, no alcohol, even experimentally. I didn’t particularly have an interest…
Just before I turned twenty-one, one of my oldest, dearest friends, Kevin, asked me to come and visit him, as after high school we’d landed in neighbouring states. We decided that I’d come for the week surrounding my twenty-first birthday. My birthday is in February, and his twenty-first had just passed in December. So, even though he didn’t necessarily mention it prior to me loading up my little Chevy Beretta and heading for Missouri, Kevin thought that it would be just the thing to go out drinking that weekend.
Imagine my surprise.