Monday, 31 May 2010

Travel - Murphy's Law

I'm being a bit cheeky here. I confess to a slight forcing of the prompt in this post. But after 15 Magpie's I just couldn't not keep playing. to read other writers take on the magpie prompt this week click here.

Travel - Murphy's Law

Beginnings should be easy. I’ve been packed for a week. Flights are confirmed. I’m just standing still, marking time.

Out of frustration Andrea checks the weather forecast for Singapore, London, Lisbon, Seville and Granada on a daily basis. This also helps with last minute packing. We don’t want to be caught out. Googling the weather doesn’t really help as London is hovering around 11 degrees Centigrade and Seville is 39 and rising. I take the middle road and pack one warm item and hope for the best. Andrea is still shopping at 5pm on the Friday. She and her sister-in-law, who is travelling with us, phone each other three more times in the 24 hors before we leave to share wardrobe notes. For months its been shoes now its tops and bottom combinations which seem to be the hot topic.

Saturday is last minute details day. Murphy’s Law is about to kick in. Andrea is going through her bank cards checking which ones she’ll carry and which one’s she’ll leave behind. We’ve discussed this a number of times and come to a different decision each time. We’ve finally decided to buy a travel money card to outwit those Gypsy pickpockets and thieves which our more travelled friends tell us run amok in Europe. We’ve decided to take our standard ATM cards as well in case of an emergency.

I’m on the phone saying goodbye to a friend when I hear a scream. Oh shit. I know Murphy has struck. We’re experiencing meltdown in the kitchen I tell Denis and hang up. I glimpse Andrea bent over the kitchen rubbish bin looking like she’s about to throw up. She’s distraught. Scissors in hand, she’s just completed carving up her ATM card. She’s staring disbelievingly at the pieces in the bin. She’s mistaken this card for her out of date credit card which she had quite wisely decided to destroy. We’ve got enough cards to build a small raft and sail to Europe I remind her helpfully. My advice doesn’t seem to be the salve that I had intended.

I go back to the computer screen to check-in on line for our flight. Such a great use of technology. Anything which avoids queues gets my vote. I log on, fill out the fields, change our seat allocation to a double by the window and hit PRINT to get my boarding pass. The screen goes blank and tells me I’m an idiot. I decide to call QANTAS for advice. To my surprise I get a real person. A real person who is, unfortunately, unable to help me. She can’t access information about my flight tomorrow but she can allocate me the last two seats together for our Singapore to London leg next Tuesday.

It feelsw like a win of sorts – Andrea is amazed that this inadvertent blank screen ‘idiot’ moment has resulted in actually getting seats on that flight. I assume this makes me less of an idiot and , in fact, vaguely psychic.

That evening my beloved LIONS AFL football team (1oth on the ladder) beat Collingwood (2nd) by 8 points in a thriller. And while I’m out at the footie Wayne (whom I’ve never met) turns up at my house to take away our unregistered Peugeot which has been sitting outside our house for eight weeks since I sold it to his mate in South Australia. It’s been a saga. Fittingly, Garry, the bloke who bought the car and has been somewhat difficult, turns out to be a Collingwood supporter.

Is this life balancing things up?

Sunday, day of departure. Our kids deliver us to the airport, almost getting lost amid the new maze of overpasses, underpasses, bypasses which are rendering forty years of driving in Brisbane useless. I may as well be a newly arrived migrant taxi driver. It’s getting to the point that I need to buy a new street directory each year to get around my own city. Perhaps the department of Main Roads and the publishers of the UBD are in cahoots.

At the airport things go well. My check-in from the previous day is in the system. We have our window seats. I ask an innocent question in passing about flights from Heathrow (London) to Portugal which uncovers that our scheduled connecting flight to Lisbon has been cancelled. The British Airways (BA) cabin crew are on strike. As we’ve booked QANTAS as our primary carrier we trust that they will work it out with their BA mates.

What do I need to do? I ask. Fiona, our neatly blonde and totally uninterested check-in attendant hands me a piece of paper with a BA phone number on it. Andrea and I stand rooted to the spot looking at each other both thinking the same thing. But we decide against murder and slink off to call the number which, of course, is a recorded message telling us what we already know – disruptions, some flights cancelled etc and gives us a website to visit for more information.

Life’s yin and yang then come to the rescue. From where we are sitting we spy a Flight Centre desk. Flight Centre, the company who we booked through just happen to have a desk at the airport and it’s staffed. Serendipity. We’re in luck. The boy who knows how to drive the computer system turns up as we tell our tale of woe and he walks his young assistant through the booking minefield. Yes, that flight has been cancelled but there is another flight late that same evening and it has some spare seats. We book it and thank them profusely – marveling at the contrast in customer service we’ve just experienced.

Serendirity is breaking out all over. The bounce of the ball is starting to run our way.

We descend the escalator to the customs area. Andrea almost loses her shoulder bag in the x-ray machine when it takes 5 minutes longer than her other tray of paraphernalia to emerge – I knew that x-rays could see through things but I wasn’t aware it could make them disappear. While I'm helping calm her rising panic I suddenly get whisked off to a quiet room for a quick body search.

Are you nervous asks the young Indian Customs Officer feigning a casual approach but sensing that his day might be improving as he obviously has me picked as a baddie. I don’t help as I fluster and fumble with my camera, computer, MP3 Player, wallet, glasses case and money belt all of which conspire to make me look suspicious by refusing to fit back into their alotted compartments.

Finally our flight is called. We make our way to our seats (windows as promised). It’s all good.

Except for Andrea’s back , which has been in great shape over recent months, and now decides that another long haul flight is not to be embraced gracefully. This time Andrea is prepared. In her bag is an arsenal of drugs – Mobic anti-inflammatories to reduce the symptoms, paracetamol to knock out the pain and valium as a relaxant. she asks for a glass of water and swallows a handfull of pills the combination of which I am vaguely fearful may be lethal.

The holiday has begun. We taxi down the runway.


Ronda Laveen said...

The actual trip sounds like it may be anticlimatic.

Everyday Goddess said...

OMG! Sounds like the raft would have been easier! LOL

They body searched you?? but you look so innocent in your profile picture!

well, on second thought, i guess there is something al qaeda looking about you! ;-)

Grand Purl Baa said...

Hey Steve
We'll be able to live every moment with you this way. Great beginning. Looking forward to the rest.

Hey. I have an iPad!!! Yes I do.

little hat said...

Believe me this is a typical start to our overseas holidays. With this sort of beginning it can only get better (and usually does) - today in singapore was just great - no dramas to report.

E Goddess
Only if it is a life raft. Innocent - yes that's me through and through.

Grand P-Baa
I may have set the bar too high on day one. This afternoon I'm just exhausted. Writing about it is the last thing on my mind.

Brian Miller said...

glad to hear that once you go back on the ground things are going better...have a marvelous trip...maybe you can lock mr murphy in the hotel rooms. smiles.

Jennifer said...

Boy this unfolded wonderfully. So glad you got your window seats, and don't you love that moment when the plane starts to move and you know there is nothing more that can happen to stop the vacation - it has begun!

Looking forward to more Steve.

willow said...

I have horrible travel luck. So bad, I just don't wander very far from home anymore.

Funny, I just cut up my old ATM card over the kitchen trash this week and a panic struck me. Luckily I had cut up the right one.

(hope your trip is smooth from here on out) xx

Tumblewords: said...

Love the humor that cradles the complexities of tripping.

kathew said...

oh my I howled with laughter at points in your story-been there many times-and as we say "Fly if you have the time"
Bon Voyage!

sheri... said...

oh my! it had to be a huge relief to finally board the plane after every little thing that could have gone wrong, did. my hats off to murphy, striking once again but foiled at the end of the race ;) great story, i enjoyed it tremendously!!

Jingle said...

smooth sailing,
I travel a lot..
have fun most of the time.