In theory, it was a good idea. We delayed our return to California until New Year’s Eve as a) it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than flying on the 28th, 29th or 30th and b) NOBODY flies on New Year’s Eve. (This theory was supported when I checked the seating chart for our two flights online to find the cabins completely empty.) But then Snowmageddon Lunageddon happened and, per the norm—per my norm—nothing went as planned.
I could just take the easy route and blame it all on American Airlines. In fact, I’ll just do that. Had it not been for them, my car would not have been towed, I wouldn’t have nearly been mugged by some hooligans from “the wrong side of the tracks” in Memphis, I wouldn’t have spent New Year’s Eve drinking “redneck champagne” (Sprite) and eating Domino’s pizza in a dingy airport hotel in Nanconnah, and I would have made it to my niece’s 7th birthday party in Sacramento. But American Airlines had other plans.
It all started when I was hanging out with my lovely family in Memphis for a few days. In fact, here are the cousins and our granddad being festive and generally merry two days before SVV and I got screwed, royally.
(And a princess in a tutu for good measure.)
((And the newest member of our extended family, Baby Margaret.))
On Thursday, my parents left early to drive back to our hometown, so we stuck around Memphis to hang out with my cousins (aka my favorite people on the planet) and play with McKayla and Baby M. Around the time Kelly and Andrew had to head back to Birmingham to host a New Year’s soiree of their own, I got online at Rebecca and John’s house to check the status of our flight, thinking with six hours still to go, there’d be no update. Not so much. Our incoming plane already was scheduled to be a minimum of two hours late, which would put us in Dallas just as our connection to San Francisco was departing. No bother, we called up American Airlines to right this wrong.
Or rather, that’s what we were hoping for.
Instead, the customer service rep told us that if we took the flight to Dallas, he couldn’t rebook us on another plane to California until Monday at the earliest. (And before you go thinking, “psst, winter weather; why are you complaining, woman? It’s always the same ol’ story,” I should tell you now that it was SIXTY-NINE DEGREES in Memphis that day. I was sweating in a T-shirt, jeans and TOMS. For once, the weather was not to blame. They cited the ever-vague “mechanical issues” reasoning instead.)
Now, I’m sure Dallas is nice and all, but I hardly wanted to spend three days stranded at a crap airport hotel where I don’t know anybody. We asked if he could just reroute us—Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix, anywhere closer to where we live. SVV even suggested them flying us as close as they could get us, then giving us a rental car to drive the rest of the way. The airline rep said that unfortunately due to the blizzard and its repercussions across the country and the fact that we were flying over a holiday weekend, there was absolutely no alternative until the following week. Great. So we had Rebecca drive us to the airport, where we were hoping for better news.
The airport was a ghost town. There was one other family in the ticketing area, and that was it. The odds were looking to be in our favor. (I forgot that this was me we’re talking about. The odds are never in my favor.)
We approached the American counter. The agent was very kind. He said, “oh, it looks like they already rebooked you to Chicago on Sunday.” Only problem was, we didn’t want to go through O’Hare, not ever but especially not during the dead of winter with all the flurries, and we didn’t want to travel on Jan. 2, one of the busiest travel days of the year. “That won’t do,” SVV piped up. “You’re going to have to find us another route.”
After much searching, the man finally found he could put us on an American flight the next day to Dallas, then onto Reno, then Skywest from Reno to San Francisco. Perfect. He gave us our tickets and then blinked at us, as if to ask, “aren’t you going now?”
“Uh, aren’t you going to give us a hotel or something?” I asked. He blinked again.
“Oh, you need somewhere to stay?” DUH.
So he booked us into the Courtyard. “They’re pet-friendly, right?” I clarified. After all, we had paid $200 to sacrifice a carry-on and take our six-pound pup instead. With those sorts of fees, Ella should get her own AAdvantage miles, don’t you think?
“I don’t know,” he eyed me wearily. “It’s the only one we work with. It will have to do.”
Of course they weren’t pet friendly—we had to smuggle Ella in just as we had to do for two days previously in the Hyatt Place Germantown; luckily, she’s an absolute angel and seemed to know it would benefit her to lie low and be quiet—and of course we had to wait an hour and a half for the shuttle to come pick us up. After calling the hotel twice, the driver eventually showed and deposited us at the Courtyard; we were met with the most ghettofied two-story Marriott in existence, completely gated and protected as Nanconnah isn’t the safe area in the world. We checked in without Ella being detected in the slightest, were pleased to see that while very snug the room was clean enough and had a king-sized bed and a flat-screen TV, then tried to make a game plan.
“We could go to a liquor store,” I suggested. It was New Year’s Eve, after all, and it seemed we’d be spending it in a shoddy hotel room. One Google search determined we were located within miles of industrial park and there was nowhere to walk to. American had not given us any transportation or dinner vouchers or anything, and getting a cab in that area—let alone on New Year’s Eve—was a moot point. Next alternative.
SVV searched Yelp. “Hey, look! There’s a barbecue place [Corky’s] that delivers here!” If we were indulging in Memphis BBQ, I was hoping for Rendezvous, Central or Germantown Commissary, but beggars can’t be choosers. I called them up. “Oh, we don’t deliver, and if we did, we’ve never come out there,” the snide woman remarked. In the end, we settled for a gourmet NYE feast from the only joint who would deliver: Domino’s. Pizza, Cinnastix and “redneck champagne” was to be our last meal of 2010.
It was just 6pm, so I found Minority Report airing on HBO. “Sweet, at least we’ll have entertainment!” Famous last words. It was then that the satellite reception went out thanks to all those deadly tornadoes in Arkansas that were quickly moving in on us. Our pizza came, we scarfed it down, and I turned on my laptop. I had the last disc of Breaking Bad on hand, so all was not lost. I got out my computer and plugged it in just as the power went out completely—on the whole block.
SVV, being a master of all trades, went to the front desk to try and help while Ella and I shivered in the dark. It was official: This was just not our night.