Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Our long national over

We woke up this morning in Rensselaerville, tucked safely into our beds at Katherine's mom and stepdad's place.

Katherine woke up because Jack woke up. I, sleeping in another room to get a full night's sleep (thank you Katherine) woke up because my damn travel alarm clock was still set for 5:00 AM Chicago time from the day before, and was in the bowels of my bag.

My carry on, that is, as the rest of our bags are still in Chicago.

No problem, though, because we are not.

After a decent night at the Hilton, we were on standby for the 7:55 am flight, which was oversold by 7 seats (quite a few in an 80 passenger plane) so our odds weren't great for getting on. Our odds of getting on the 7:55 worsened significantly when the flight was cancelled. On to the 1:25 flight, now with a standby list about 2.5x the number of seats in the already sold out flight.

We found a corner and hunkered down. A while later I asked Katherine if it was 10:00 am yet. Nope, 8:45. Time marched on, just too slowly for my liking.

We meandered over to the gate for the 1:25 flight at about 12:00 pm. The gate agent who arrived about 20 minutes later announced to the assembled rabble that anyone on standby better not approach her desk as she had a gun and an itchy trigger finger, or something to that effect. Still, a steady procession of people who either can't hear or don't care approached to ask their odds of getting on the flight. Not good. The flight was full and all ticketed passengers had checked in, the woman announced.

We had a confirmed flight for 9:15 pm Sunday night, so we contemplated just leaving until then. But wait, a ticket agent informed us that there was no record of our confirmation in the system, and that flight was now sold out, so we could get out Monday at 1:25 pm. So unimpressed with United at this point. If we can't get on the 1:25 pm today (and it looked unlikely) I decided, we would just hang in a hotel for 2 days rather than spending our time waiting and hoping in the airport.

5 minutes before takeoff. The gate agent starts calling passengers' names. First 9 names! "PLEASE COME TO THE GATE IMMEDIATELY OR YOUR SEATS WILL BE RELEASED!" Please don't, we silently pleaded. Then a rush of passengers. Down to two missing passengers. They'd checked in for the flight, but hadn't made it to the gate. "TWO MINUTES AND YOUR SEATS WILL BE RELEASED!" We had been told previously by a sympathetic gate agent that there was one person ahead of us in the standby list. Okay, if we get one seat, Katherine and Jack go and I stay behind to fend for myself. "TICKETING IS CLOSING, WE WILL GIVE UP YOUR SEATS!"

"NERVIG!" That's us, Katherine says. We only have two seats available, they say. We don't care, we say in unison. Which ticket will you give up, they ask. His, Katherine says, pointing to Jack. Yes, they say with a sigh, but what is his name. Oh, Jack. Cancel J. Nervig's ticket. He's riding on laps.

So through the gate we go and the door closes behind us (Katherine later admitted that she was ready to lose it if we didn't get on the flight). Katherine up towards the front with Jack, and I in the back. Jack decided he'd finally had enough god damn travel; after takeoff I looked forward to see Katherine standing up bouncing a wailing Jack.

Would you like for me to switch seats with your wife, asks my neighbor.


No, not really, I say.

Then I think better of it and thank him for his kindness, while the rest of the passengers around us probably cursed him.

So 50+ hours after the beginning of our trip, we arrived in Rensselaerville.

And it's cold.

And it's snowing.

Are you sure you are excited about Ukraine, I ask Katherine as I try to catch my breath. Well...

It's Sunday morning, and I am wearing a winter hat and a robe. I feel like an unemployed, alcoholic writer or something. I'm guessing that this is how an unemployed, alcoholic writer would dress. At least in the winter.

And so now, Rensselaerville. Rest, recouperation, and dial up internet means that our little blog here will probably go on hiatus for a while. Check back in a week or two.

Time for the Sunday New York Times...


At 4:02 AM, Blogger diplomatbob said...

I can just picture you in the robe, with a cup of coffee and the SUnday NYT, looking out over the snow the hell did they get those MOUs approved just as I left?

Great picture of Jack with the headphones. I feel for you guys.

Good that you will be offline, I ned to work.

At 11:24 PM, Anonymous Shawn said...

Too bad you didn't have any Russian flashcards with you. That'd cheer you right up.


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