27 January 2009

Cue action movie soundtrack

Traveling can often be exciting. And I'm not even talking about the arriving at some breathtaking foreign scene and exploring little alleyways. No, I'm talking about the often banal process of traveling itself. The boarding of buses, trains, airplanes and so on.

I've had a few, shall we say memorable, experiences. When my partner and I were taking a train to the Venezuela-Brazil soccer game, we jumped onto the moving train while asking if it was the right one. (We could almost hear the "Indiana Jones" soundtrack as we caught the right train in motion-- and didn't maim ourselves in the process.)

Yesterday was such an occasion. We were supposed to fly to San Luis Obispo via Phoenix on an airline that will not be mentioned (cough, cough, US Airways). Our flight was supposed to depart from Boston at 4:30pm, we'd catch our connection in Phoenix around 8:30pm, and we'd be in San Luis by 9:30pm. Sounded great. Except that said airline announced that we were making an unexpected stop in Nashville, Tennessee, which would get us into Phoenix around 10:30pm. They said everyone with connecting flights should go back to the ticketing agents and no, they would not be putting anyone up for the night.

We leapt up and got back in line (and waited while the staff cut in front of us-- so much for customers first), and they said they couldn't get us into SLO in time for my partner's interview at 8am the following morning. We finally canceled the flight altogether and decided we were on a mission (cue "Mission Impossible" music) to get to SLO by 8am, no matter what it took.

We ran over to jetblue, bought tickets and hopped on the next flight to Oakland. (Once we were charged $15 for our one suitcase and saw signs for $2 sodas on the other airline, jetblue seemed like an oasis of luxury with their unlimited snacks and beverages.) For those of you who are familiar with San Luis Obispo, a charming little town on the Pacific coast about halfway between L.A. and San Francisco, you'll know that Oakland is not exactly nearby.

So, we arrived in Oakland around 11:30pm, and we were almost thwarted again as the car rental company we'd reserved through (Budget, who said they'd be open till 1am) was deserted and definitely closed before midnight. We checked the remaining companies and finally found our godsend at Avis around 1am and set off. My partner and I each drove half of the three hours and arrived in San Luis Obispo at 4am, checked into our hotel-- and my partner went to his interview without a hitch in the morning. Yay! (Cue "Rocky" music.)

Now, all we need for the happy ending is to get the job offer. With a huge bonus for trumping the travel-disaster gods and getting here in time anyway. Like unlimited funds to go traveling around the world, for example.

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