Monday, August 24, 2009

{tc} Dublin

Folio Rose shall now have a new category, {tc} which stands for travel companion. My friend Andrea, who works for a big, not-to-be-named airline company, has named me her travel companion, or in fancy Folio Rose terms, {tc}. Being {tc} means that I basically get to fly around the world for *free*. Fancy! However, while being {tc} has its bright side: the obvious one I just mentioned, it also has its very dark side: being the standby passenger, or as I've been the past couple of days, non-passenger. Let's start at the beginning when my very first {tc} experience began just ten days ago.

For the last week of summer Joel and I really wanted to do something spectacular. We wanted summer to go out with a bang and so, in the days before {tc}, that idea was a road trip to California with a stopover at Crater Lake, a couple of days in San Francisco and a quick visit to Santa Barbara. Then {tc} happened and we quickly became far more grandiose in our planning. Bali? India? Nicaragua? Those places were all having very hot, sticky weather, and Portland had been hot as hell itself, so we decided, where else? Ireland! It's always freezing in Ireland!

When we arrived at the airport to fly, we did not get on our first flight to New York. Sometime later when we were in Houston and it didn't look like we were going to get out of Houston, the reality of being {tc} really set in because instead of being on Grafton Street and sipping tea at Bewley's, we were walking past statues of George Bush and drinking nasty diner coffee at the Bayou Cafe. Hmmm. During one very low moment in Houston I vowed to myself that in the future, if we didn't get on our first standby flight, we'd forget the rest of the trip right then and there. But it was fun being in first class on the way to Houston. Who cares if it's thousands of miles in the wrong direction? I lulled into a lovely sleep following a hot toddy in that big, generous seat. And the snack plate was top notch as well. Mango slices on an airplane? You betcha!

The longer we were in Houston, the feeling of being a princess in first class was quickly replaced with a terrible sense of dread as we raced from gate to gate, standing by, never getting on a flight and passing the bronze George Bush statue each time. Uggh. The one redeeming point was these echoey chambers on the ceiling that are lit like little starry skies. It was fun to walk under those and hear our echo. Joel liked whistling as we went through. But we were still happy as clams when a connecting flight from somewhere was delayed and we were on our way to New York in time to get our flight to Dublin. Yee-haw! as they'd say in Texas.

Once in New York, another stroke of very good luck put us on the flight to Dublin and we arrived on schedule. Crazy! Fabulous! Amazing! Being {tc} is tremendous.

What followed was a week of fun, sight-seeing, visiting with friends, walking around. We were delighted to be sipping tea together on the James Joyce balcony at Bewley's on Grafton Street. That is a must, by the way, if you happen to be a tourist in Dublin anytime soon. Joel and I rode bicycles, saw a huge prehistoric tomb, met up with Andrea in Belfast, partied like rock stars and then the time came for us to go home.

And that brings us to the present. I am still in Dublin.

Well, I did say that being {tc} has a very dark side. And I've been able to experience that in full force the past two days. If we thought being in Houston was bad, we were crazy, because Houston has more flights going out than you can shake a stick at. Oh no, Dublin is bad. Just two flights a day go out on my particular airline behemoth. Two!!

In such situations, being {tc} requires strategy and skill and dividing in order to conquer. This we did not fully understand yesterday when Joel and I turned down a seat on Andrea's flight so we could fly together. Oof! Of course we didn't end up flying together. Joel went on alone. In our defense, we were all exhausted and had had very little sleep, so decision making was not really even possible, actually. And furthermore, the gate agents at the airport were very laid back (they are Irish after all) and it seemed like it would be no problem to get on the next flight together. When I didn't get on, I was horrified. Mostly because we'd given up a seat and it was going to be 24 hours before I had another shot at getting home. Oh the agony! I did what any reasonable drama queen would do and waited in vain until the plane pushed back, then went quickly to the bathroom and sobbed for a minute or two. Maybe three. That felt good. Being totally exhausted, I became extra dramatic, more so than normally and I began thinking of how much I love Joel and how badly I wanted to be in our little apartment together. I was deeply, desperately homesick. And self pitying. Which of course led to a bit more crying and eye wiping as I sat on the disgusting airport floor and plugged my computer in order to send an email to Andrea, feeling she was the only person in the world who could rescue me from this airport hell.

It's amazing what a nap can do for a person.

By the time I'd come back into town, had a nap and a hot shower, I was a new gal. My life in Portland, I came to realize, would still be there 24 hours later. And in the meantime, I was allowed a life in Dublin. Dublin! As in Ireland. So Shelly and her flatmates and I went out to dinner and then I went and had a great chat and glass of wine with Jenny. Being {tc} is pretty damn great!

Today was more airport hell, yet I had a new zen perspective. I was cheerful. I made a new best friend between the hours of 7 am and 1 pm named Jason. He is also an employee of the large, not-to-be-named airway giant. Jason has mad skills when it comes to standby. He can really analyze a screen of information and he even stands at the gate and counts the number of passengers boarding to make sure it's all legit. He chats with the captains and flight crew and gets the skinny on everything. Then he brings it back to me explains it all so I can properly understand my position, my options and make a strategic and calculated next move. Yes! Being {tc} really is like gambling as Joel likes to put it. Gamblers are always counting cards and stuff like that. I just had no idea how to hedge my bets before meeting Jason. On Jason's advice, I'm listed for the flight in the morning, and I am pretty damn sure I'm going to get a seat. When we parted ways, he said, "All right, kid. See you in the morning." He's like my standby godfather.

Tonight before I go to bed, I will be saying a little prayer to Saint Christopher, patron saint of travelers. First I shall thank him for my standby godfather, and then I shall ask that I get a seat on the 9am flight. Oh, and Saint Christopher, coach will do just fine, but Business Class wouldn't hurt a bit.

2 comments:

  1. Oh, Lindsey, what an adventure! I just love the narrative, and I hope you got back ok!

    ReplyDelete

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