Thursday, July 31, 2008

Trip Planning 101. Or how to win friends and kill your husband.

A woman has to face reality and realize that there are things she will have deal with in her life. One is wrinkles, two, bloating and that not quite fresh feeling, and three, if you’re married, your spouse will screw things up and you’ll have to fix it. I’m old enough to realize the first in inevitable, the second is bearable and the third?? I just may kill him before our trip is over.

Why, Nicole? What has brought you to the harrowing intersection of homicide and self-inflicted bite wounds?? I’m glad you asked.

The Dutch boy and I are planning a trip to the Netherlands. He wants to go home, to see family and friends. My needs are more simple and direct. I want to go so that I can eat my weight in marzipan and mergpijpjes. As is always the case, it fell to me to book tickets for this excursion into pastry paradise. For months I perused the pages of various sites, hunting down the best price. I study airport reports and statistics to determine who had more cancellations, which airline had the worst delays, misdirected luggage and customer complaints. I researched every aspect of air travel, immersing my self in the exotic world of trip planning. At last, I came to the conclusion, I had to buy direct from the airline for the best chance to avoid being bumped. Fifty dollars more or less wouldn’t matter but a lost day would mean less mergpijpjes. To keep this story short and interesting, I will tell you that I settled on Lufthansa airlines. Instead of changing planes in Philadelphia, New York, or O’Hare, we would fly non-stop from Charlotte to Germany. Oh, the pleasure of an uninterrupted nine hours in a metal cylinder with nothing but air, ocean and occasional stray bird and migrating fish beneath you! But I digress. Dutch, feeling the need to get involved, decided to follow up on the tip I had uncovered that sometimes a person can call an airline and the representative could get a better rate, or uncover a better flight. Unfortunately, not so with Lufthansa and the very nice young woman directed him to the website for the best fares. I tried to book the tickets on Lufthansa via their website. No dice! Site wouldn’t work. I tried twice and got bumped out both times. So, Dutch decided to be helpful and call them yet again! Helpful twice, in one night! It’s a record! Hooray!! Maybe this marriage thing isn’t overrated! Unfortunately, Dutch may have been willing to help, but Lufthansa wasn’t. The only flights available through the telephone representative were much more expensive and he couldn’t find the flight we wanted, even when I gave him the flight numbers and times. The rep did, however, offer us the number of Tech Support to help figure out our website woes. Dutifully, Dutch hung up the phone and called Tech Support. Which was closed. Yes. That’s exactly what I thought, too.

So, our magical mystery trip was off to a rollicking start! At this rate, we would be strapping ourselves to an oil barrel retrofitted with a homemade guidance system consisting of a rigged up TomTom, a Rand Mcnally atlas and sharpie marker, all carried by a couple of hundred crows tied on with curling ribbon. It is at this point in my story, we reach the point that leaves me at that fateful intersection I mentioned earlier. Dutch decided that I should NEVER be this upset over anything and he takes over. He heads to his PC and types He selects our trip dates. He selects leaving from Charlotte. He selects the first airport in Germany that he sees. I am standing behind him repeating, in an unending litany filled with mild panic, “Do NOT book a flight flying out of, or into, O’Hare or JFK! Watch the connection times! Allow time for delays! There are always delays!!” He gleefully continues punching keys, ignoring my ever- growing urgent pleas. He clicks the first flight he sees that looks reasonable to him. As he is entering our seat selections and flight information, I ask him, begging, “Where exactly are we going to fly to?” He waves me away saying, “It doesn’t matter! We’re going to Europe! It will be fine. It’s always fine!” I’m spitting and sputtering, pleading for him to NOT book me into a connection or return through O’Hare or JFK. He clicks away like a mad, clicking thing. And….the site accepts his reservation. Just like that. We’re going to Germany. Not to Munich. Not to Frankfurt. But to Dusseldorf. Not by direct flight but with layovers. The outbound flight has an hour and a half layover at JFK. And the return flight, a two- hour layover at O’Hare.

Now, gentle reader, I ask you, who would NOT be willing to commit murder under such a circumstance? Who would not stand behind their husband and scream like a banshee before stomping into the bathroom and locking the door, only to unlock it and come flying out again, spitting the vilest of epithets? Yes, I can see gentle reader that you understand my plight.

But time, Xanax and tequila can calm down the most restless of souls and I finally drift off to sleep, his apologizes and assurances ringing my ears, allowing myself to be lulled into thinking that this may, indeed work out. After all, we’re going to Europe!

Or, are we?? There’s more to this tale, but that will come tomorrow.

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