April 2008 archive

(12 entries)

April 30, 2008


I went to Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend to visit friends. We had a gang of seven and did a lot of fun things like live karaoke and wine tasting, but what sticks out most for me about this weekend is that I ate The Most Delicious Sandwich Known to Man. This sandwich was perfect in every way. The bread was warm and fresh and delicious. The fillings were delectable and varied. The taste of the mayonnaise perfectly complemented the salmon. The textures all worked beautifully together and there was neither too little nor too much mayonnaise, salmon or onion. The price was right. The portion size was lovely - neither too large nor too small. The only bad thing I can say about this sandwich is that I didn't take a picture and it is GONE now and I am too far away to get another. Everyone, go eat this sandwich!

And some other stuff happened, too. But mostly the sandwich!

srah | 10:27 PM
Tags: food, travel, virginia

April 27, 2008


I dreamt last night that I was in middle school. I had tried out for the lead in a musical, but the same girl got the part who ALWAYS got the lead in musicals (not in real life, where we didn't put on any musicals in middle school - just in the dream). I was upset because the drama teacher never showed any indication he'd even considered anyone else.

Robin and I were talking about this as we left school to walk home, but I realized I'd left my jacket in my locker. So I went back to the school to get it, but I had to get a janitor to let me in for some reason. So when I went to the office, the office clerk asked me where my locker was and I couldn't remember. I think I may have turned into an adult at some point, which would explain why I couldn't remember where my locker had been or what the combination was.

As the janitor and I were walking to my locker, I saw my college friend Larry, talking to Robin. I was happy that they were getting along because I can't always mix my elementary school and college friends. I thought maybe he HAD gone to school with us before and I'd forgotten it. I said, "Hey, did we go to middle school together?" but as I walked past him I realized it wasn't Larry, but this kid Amahl who we did go to elementary school with. He said, "Yeah. Guess who?" but then I was worried I had his name wrong, so I told him I would come back and guess after I got my jacket.

I guess I got my jacket, but the next thing I remember, we were going on a tour. Robin and I were given whistles, which were stolen by the mother and sister of one of Alfie's friends, who were also on the tour. It was apparently some kind of Rat Tour, because all we saw on the tour were hordes and hordes of rats. The tour people wanted us to have sympathy for the rats, but I just wanted them all to die. I was screaming and screaming when Jay and Silent Bob showed up and told us to blow on our whistles. "Is this going to drive the rats away?" I asked, "Or just draw them to us, like the Pied Piper of Hamelin?" Then Jay and Silent Bob disappeared again without answering my question. I took the whistle back from Alfie's friend's sister and blew and blew, but I woke up before I found out what it did.

srah | 9:03 AM
Tags: dream, middle school, rats

April 23, 2008

Friday on my mind

Five Star FridayIf you would like to read or contribute to a blog that collects funny, sad, amusing and moving, get ye over to Five Star Friday. Every Friday, Schmutzie will publish a list of the links she's received during the week. You can submit a link via Twitter to a blog post from anywhere in the Internet (past or present) that made you laugh or cry or think or in some way moved you. Individual posts only!

Check it out!

srah | 12:52 PM
Tags: blogs

Cracklin' Rose, you're a store-bought woman

In news tangentially related to my last post, it recently occurred to me that when he sings,

I am, I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair

Neil may have meant the chair... of the department¹. At an institution of higher education. Sometimes I feel that way, working in a university.

¹ Of course he didn't. He meant a chair that you sit on. Because he is the most insane greatest lyricist of all time. Love you, Neil!

srah | 12:49 PM
Tags: lyrics, neil diamond

American Idol hears my cry!

Once again, furiously blogging furiously has paid off, several years late. Important Decision Makers Of The World obviously read my blog, but are waaaaaay backed up on their feed-readers.

The DREAM OF MY LIFE is about to come true, you guys, and I notice that none of my little bloggy friends have seen fit to notify me. Fortunately I have other spies who could feed me the information that


Years and years of begging and pleading (passively, in blog-form) for American Idol to institute a Neil Diamond Week, and it's finally happening in the season where I stopped watching. (Seriously, who are these people? I caught the last few minutes of this week's Andrew Lloyd Webber-themed episode. There's a boring girl, the annoying nanny who I saw during one of the early episodes before I gave up on this season, Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean, a five-year-old child, some Irish lady and this guy who thinks he's attractive but he isn't. I'll let you all figure out who I'm talking about. I am not excited about any of them.)

NEIL DIAMOND WEEK, EVERYBODY! You remember that girl last season who watched Sanjaya sing and sobbed and sobbed at the...erm... beauty... of what she was experiencing, unfolding before her? Yeah, that's going to be me, at home on my couch. Except that my delightful Neilish experience will be ruined by Davy Jones' tentacles and the fear that the child's voice will change mid-song.

srah | 12:29 PM
Tags: american idol, american idol 7, neil diamond, tv

April 19, 2008

In which I call shenanigans on United Airlines

Tuesday, March 25 - Wednesday, March 26

When I woke up on Tuesday morning, I checked my flight status and discovered that my flight from San Francisco to Chicago was delayed something ridiculous like 4.5 hours. So I called United and asked them to change this in some way, even if it involved putting me on a different airline. Frequent Flyer Miles"Okie doke," the operator replied (although perhaps not in those words), and she booked me on a US Airways flight leaving slightly earlier that would take me through Charlotte instead. However, she told me, I would have to stop by the United counter when I arrived at the airport, before proceeding to the US Airways one.

Cari and I got sandwiches from Little Lucca on the way to the airport so that I would have something to eat while I waited, or once I got on the plane. Then we went on to the airport.

There were huge lines at the United area, but I didn't need to check in there - I just had to find someone to talk to and figure out what I needed to do at the United desk before going on to US Airways. Unfortunately, the lines were so long and it was so hard to find anyone to talk to, that by the time I actually talked to a human being, it was less than 90 minutes before my US Airways flight, and I had basically missed my check-in. But that's okay, because it turned out that no one had actually MADE the reservation they told me about over the phone, and I WAS still scheduled for the delayed flight, and there was no other way they could get me to Dayton. I was near tears but the desk agent assured me that this was an equipment problem - rather than the normal O'Hare excuse of "weather" - and therefore United would be giving me a hotel voucher, meal vouchers, etc. So I agreed to go with the horribly delayed flight, checked my bag, went through security, and then when I got to my part of the terminal, I went immediately to the customer service desk to collect my vouchers and confirm that there was no other way to get me to Dayton. I was not going to make the same mistakes I'd made on the way to San Francisco, of trusting anything that one United agent told me.

I stood in line for about an hour before I finally got to talk to an agent. As I stood in line, they started making announcements about weather problems in Chicago, and how this was delaying our flight. BULLSHIT, I thought, They are NOT going to try to get out of these vouchers now, just because the weather got bad. When I got to the agent, I told him that I had been told it was an equipment problem rather than weather, and that I wanted my vouchers. He explained that the weather was bad, I explained - in more polite terms - that that was bullshit, and he said that he couldn't issue the vouchers and he would call someone to come talk to me, if I could just stand over there for a moment.

I stood aside for about half an hour, charging my phone and waiting for this mystery person to arrive. After half an hour, I went back up to the desk and asked if this person was coming. He assured me that she was and that I should wait a little longer. I waited another 15 minutes or so, and then saw that agent putting on his coat and walking away frm the customer service area. I chased him down and asked him if I should still be waiting for this person and he said that the guy would be coming soon and that I should check with one of the other gate agents if I wanted him called again. Oh boy, more bullshit! This mysterious person - who I was already suspecting did not exist - had just changed genders!

I got back in the line - which fortunately by this time was shorter - because I hadn't formed the kind of relationship with any of the other agents that I had with my friend back there. The one who was free when I got to the front of the line seemed to be the guy in charge (based on the fact that he was wearing a jacket, rather than a short-sleeved shirt and tie). I told him my predicament and that - again, more politely than this - I didn't want any more bullshit about the weather, and he immediately printed out my meal vouchers, explaining that the hotel and breakfast vouchers would be waiting for me in Chicago. AND THIS GUY - WHO APPARENTLY HAD THE POWER TO PRINT VOUCHERS - HAD BEEN STANDING THERE THE WHOLE TIME I HAD BEEN DEALING WITH THE OTHER GUY AND WAITING FOR THE MYSTERY PERSON TO ARRIVE.

I hate you, United. Unfortunately, I have had awful customer service like this on almost all airlines at this point, so I've almost come to accept that I am going to be treated horribly when flying, and I'm probably still just going to make my decision based on price, without factoring in my hatred for particular airlines. I HATE AIRLINES.

The thing is, I had this gigantic sandwich from Little Lucca to eat, so I didn't really need meal vouchers. It was the principle of the thing. So I blew it all on tea and sesame buns, because - hey! Dim sum in an airport! Dayton does not have anything like that. I ate my sandwich, packed my spoils into my bags, and wandered the airport for a few hours. Finally the plane boarded. I think they got a different/improved plane than they'd originally planned, because a lot of people who had originally been in Economy had been upgraded to Economy Plus. Apparently the benefits of Economy Plus are marginally larger legroom (which I don't use much of anyway) and an annoying child installed in the row behind you. I didn't see him board, so I had to imagine how old he was. Based on his behavior - four hours of constantly kicking the seat in front of him and singing the jingle from the horrible freecreditreport.com commercials over and over again at about four times the speed and eight times the volume used in the actual commercial - I guessed that he was about five years old, but when the flight was over and I actually got to see (and glare at) him, he turned out to be more like ten or eleven. Certainly too old to behave like that. His mother paid no attention to the kid's bad behavior, although his teenaged brother was clearly embarrassed and kept trying to stop him and told the kid, "Let's get off this plane as quickly as possible because everyone on here hates you now." How observant, teenaged brother! I only wish I'd had the opportunity to "accidentally" drop something out of the overhead bin onto the kid's head, but unfortunately I had nothing stored up there.

We got to Chicago and fortunately United lived up to their word and provided us with hotel and meal vouchers. I got to stay in the airport Hilton because I had one of the earliest flights out the next morning. Unfortunately we arrived after midnight, so there were no shops or anything open in the airport. I went to bed, although I didn't sleep very well because I was so paranoid about missing my flight.

The next morning I got dressed in the same clothes I'd worn the previous day. Fortunately I had thought to pack my glasses and a change of socks and underwear in my carryon, but unfortunately I had chucked all of my toiletries into my checked luggage, including my toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. I had a swish with the hotel mouthwash, bought some deodorant in the hotel gift shop which I applied in the airport bathroom, and got to the airport about 90 minutes before my flight... which apparently was more than I needed, because my bag was already checked. It meant I could use my vouchers for a leisurely breakfast. I asked the woman at the gate if she would give me a free upgrade for the trip from Chicago to Dayton, but she said they weren't doing that so I didn't bother giving her my whole tale of woe and threats never to fly United again. Besides, in the sort of dinky planes and short flight between Chicago and Dayton, business class doesn't make a whole lot of difference.

I finally arrived at the airport, where my boss very kindly came to pick me up (on his birthday!) and we went back to Srahtown, where I could finally re-shower, change into clean clothes, and use all my own toiletries. I walked to work and back that day (the weather was very nice for once), called and found out that my car was ready, and a friend took me to pick it up in Middletown the next day.

It was lovely to see so many charming people during my trip to the Bay Area, and I hope to come to your delightful part of the world again soon. The End!

srah | 12:52 PM
Tags: airlines, california, food, san francisco, travel, united airlines

She's my daughter! She's my sister!

Oh yeah, I'm not done with this, am I?

Monday, March 24

Dim sum dumplingsOn Monday, Cari took the day off work and we went to Chinatown. We went on a tour where the group was made up of us, a mother-daughter pair, and a half a billion German high school students and teachers. So there was this weird Chinese-American-German amalgamation as the Germans translated things for each other. The tour took us around Chinatown and taught us a bit about the history of Chinatown and the people there, especially focusing on our guide's own family and experiences growing up in Chinatown. It ended with a lovely dim sum lunch where the founder of the tour company came and ate with us, and she and Cari became BFF when they shared their favorite Bay Area eateries.

Egg CustardAfter lunch, we explored Chinatown on our own, tasting different teas in tea shops (this one had a great lychee tea that I bought), and locating the Best Egg Custards in Chinatown (I had never had one before, and now I am ruined for All Other Egg Custards). When we went to the bakery, they were all out of egg custards and told us to come back in 45 minutes, but we left a name with them so that we wouldn't have to wait in line when we came back. It was AWESOME being able to jump past the huge line to pick up our assigned pastries.

On the most exciting thoroughfare I knowWhile we waited for the egg custards, we had some bubble tea, took some pictures around the area, walked up and down some hills, and Cari used clever subterfuge to find us a bathroom to use. That is a problem in Chinatown: not a whole lot in the way of public restrooms.

Cari took my picture (see right) next to the Grant Avenue sign, which holds special significance for me due to the fact that my family constantly mocks my terrible singing and dancing to the song "Grant Avenue" from the musical Flower Drum Song. In their defense, I'm sure it is a pretty terrifying sight to see. I am fortunate in never really getting to see/hear myself do it. Everyone else in the world just has to live in terror that they will run into me and I will inflict that on them. Ha ha!

After we got our egg custards, we hopped on a trolley, got yelled at by the scary trolley driver that we couldn't bring food or drinks on board, hid them, and got on and off without paying. I'm not sure when/how we were supposed to have paid and I was too afraid of him to ask. The trolley ride was sort of terrifying because you're pretty much hanging off the side of the trolley while going up and down the giant hills. It's sort of like a roller coaster ride.

We got down to the shopping area, did some window shopping at Tiffany's, smelled the wares at Lush and browsed at H&M, then we went to Santa Ramen for my first Real Live Ramen experience (as opposed to the instant, packaged, 49-cent stuff). It was very good, although I was pretty full from all of the other delicious things we'd eaten that day and I didn't make it that far into my giant bowl of noodles, broth, pork, mushrooms, bean sprouts and all kinds of other delicious soup ingredients.

Cari and I called it an early night, picked up some ice cream to take home (I had Sideways, which was a vanilla ice cream with a cabernet-flavored ribbon and chocolate chunks, and kulfi, which was like the Indian dessert), and uploaded pictures while watching Pretty in Pink.

srah | 11:32 AM
Tags: california, chinatown, food, san francisco, travel

April 8, 2008

No family and too much money makes Mrs Winchester something something.

Sunday, March 23

Looking back at the pictures, I can believe we packed so much stuff into one day! It seems like this had to have been spread over several days!

Another view of the exteriorCari and I got up bright and early Sunday morning to go to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. We thought we were going to be the only people out being touristy on Easter Sunday but there turned out to be a sizable tour group. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip, I think, just because it was something I knew nothing about before going there, and even the locals didn't know that much about it. So Cari and I got to experience it for the first time together. It was CRAZY!

The house was built by the widow of the second president of the Winchester Rifle Company. She was off living on the East Coast somewhere, as East Coasters do, when her husband and her less-than-a-month-old daughter (and I think her sister and her father) died. I don't really remember the chronology so I don't know if they all died within a short amount of time, or if she just had a lot of people die on her over the years. She got pretty interested in the occult, because she wanted to contact all of her departed loved ones. Something that a medium told her made her decide that she had to move to the West Coast and buy this random farmhouse in San Jose and build a ginormous house around the existing house. She could, of course, afford to do something crazy like this, because she had More Money Than God. Between her investments and her inheritances and the money she made from the company, she made about $1000 per day, which would be more like $100,000 per day nowadays. So... little bit crazy plus way too much money equals crazy house.

The house just goes on and on for miles and miles, with all these crazy little details like fake windows and doors (which it's believed she had installed to 'trick' the naughty spirits when she was trying to contact friendly spirits), these rather ingenious sets of shallow little "easy riser" steps that she had installed when she couldn't scale normal stairs due to her arthritis, a staircase that goes nowhere, her favorite design elements (spider-web designs and the number 13) popping up all over the house, a hugely expensive Tiffany stained-glass window that she then went and built another room behind, so the sun never shines through it, Mrs Winchester-sized doors (she was about 4'10" if I remember correctly), a random exterior door to nowhere on the second floor and a chimney that comes within inches of the ceiling on the top floor instead of going all the way up and out (and therefore a whole lot of useless fireplaces connected to it). Plus, when the 1906 earthquake happened and Mrs Winchester got trapped in a room (the doorframe bent and she couldn't open the door... and the servants couldn't find her right away in the miles and miles of house) she decided it was a sign that she had spent too much time and money on the front of the house and she should be focusing on other parts. So she had that part of the house boarded up and abandoned, which means that it's one of the few instances of earthquake damage that wasn't fixed or replaced later. You can still see where the plaster came right off the wall.

Anyway, it was crazy-nuts and AWESOME. I wish Paris Hilton was building crazy-nuts houses instead of just flashing the paparazzi. That is what rich people should do when they go crazy.

After the Winchester Mystery House, Cari and I went and got bubble tea (for me) and an avocado shake (for her). I thought an avocado shake sounded as crazy as a staircase to the ceiling, but she let me try it and it was actually super good. My bubble tea was also very good, and not as sweet as some. Nowadays I sometimes find bubble tea too sweet.

Turtles on a rock, with garden behindThen we went on to Hakone Gardens, a Japanese-style garden in Saratoga. This was also a popular Easter spot, probably because of all the flowers and because we went around the time that services were getting out. It was very pretty and peaceful, with some adorable turtles and koi and lovely flowering plants.

We met up with Matt and a friend of his and our friend Olga at Saravana Bhavan in Sunnyvale for South Indian food. We ordered a lot of food and split it, family-style. So many yummy dosas and things had a party in my tummy. SO GOOD. For the record, I am ALWAYS getting a cheese dosa, whenever I have the opportunity. Paneer and I are in love and we're getting maaaaaaaaarried. Yum times!

Next, Matt played Designated Driver so that Cari and I could go wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We went to two different wineries and got a little bit squiffy. The second one had a nice Viognier, a delightful dessert wine served on ice with a twist of lemon and a port which they served with Dove chocolate Easter eggs. YUM!

Fence showing shift due to 1906 EarthquakeWe had a bit of windy mountain driving to let us sober up a bit before Matt took us on an Earthquake stumble hike and showed us the San Andreas fault. DO NOT TELL ANYONE, INTERNET, BUT FOR SOME REASON I THOUGHT THE SAN ANDREAS FAULT WAS AROUND LOS ANGELES INSTEAD OF SAN FRANCISCO¹. We learned a lot about earthquakes and how to tell where they've been (ridges and marshy areas, which have a special name that I forgot).

Then we went back to Mountain View for another SI reunion (with Noor and David) over tapas and veggie paella at Cascal. We went out for ice cream again and this time I got one scoop of hazelnut (I love hazelnut!) and a scoop of honey-lavender. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by flower flavors, but the lavender was just subtle enough to make it DELICIOUS.

¹ Oh Internet. You will never divulge my secrets, right? RIGHT?

srah | 8:22 PM
Tags: california, food, san francisco, travel

April 4, 2008

Feel my cocoa beats. Je m'appelle Joe le Lait.

Saturday, March 22

On Saturday, Cari, Matt and I went to Berkeley to go on a tour/tasting at the Scharffen Berger factory. Unlike the last time I went to a chocolate tasting, I was actually able to appreciate the quality chocolate and the different flavors therein. The key is not to use your teeth at all. You break the chocolate into little pieces, then let each individual morsel melt in your mouth, releasing all the fruity undertones that come from the fermentation process applied to the cocoa beans. IT WAS AWESOME. I tasted all kinds of flavors that I don't usually pick up in chocolate. I even liked the bittersweet more than the semi-sweet! It was crazy! It's a good thing they don't sell Scharffen Berger here in town, or I would be broke by now. To Jungle Jim's!

Chilean empanada!!!!!We went to lunch at Café Valparaíso, where we shared humitas and salad and I had my first Chilean empanada in years. Possibly the last one since I went to Chile in 2002!

After lunch, Cari and I swung by the Takara Sake museum and tasting room to learn more about sake. I knew pretty much nothing about sake, so there was plenty to learn. After a while (and after many little tasting-cups of sake) the different types started to run together, but I think my favorites were the lychee-flavored sake and the plum wine. Now you know what to buy me for my birthday!

Another view of the Golden Gate BridgeNext, Cari and I went back into San Francisco to look at some bridge that apparently is pretty famous. We went for a little walk around on one side of the bridge, drove across, walked across, then walked back across to get to the car. It was a good day for steps! I wouldn't let Cari stop anywhere on the bridge, because the one time I stopped walking, I could feel the bridge moving and freaked out.

Cari and I went for a bit of a drive around San Francisco next, exploring the Presidio and Golden Gate Park on the way to dinner at Cliff House, where we met up with Noor and had a nice dinner with a great view of the sunset over the ocean.

After dinner we checked out a new ice cream place in Mountain View that was selling gelato and tart Pinkberry-style frozen yogurt. I got a double scoop of hazelnut and caramel-balsamic gelati. Oh em gee you guys! They were both delicious.

srah | 5:34 PM
Tags: alcohol, bridge, chocolate, fears, food, san francisco, travel

Choose Your Own Blogventure

I am participating in NPW's Choose Your Own Blogventure. My section of the story is below the jump, but if you'd like to begin at the beginning of the story and choose your own blogventure, you can start here any time after 10am EST.

srah | 7:17 AM
Tags: choose your own blogventure, writing

April 3, 2008

When I grow up to be a man...

Friday, March 21

Big sleepy elephant seal pupsCari and I got up bright and early on Friday morning. Actually, only I got up bright and early, because - even though I was exhausted from my travel - I was still pretty much on Eastern time. That gave me some time to get myself organized before Cari and I left for our morning drive to Año Nuevo State Natural Reserve, where we went on a tour and learned about the elephant seals that come there every year to lay their eggs have their babies. Then the mothers go back out to sea to feed, and leave the babies to figure everything out for themselves. "Does this stick taste good? No, it doesn't. Are these berries poisonous? Yes they are. Can I swim? Oops, no, I can't. Blub blub blub." I learned a lot of good parenting tips from the elephant seals, I think: Kids'll pretty much figure things out on their own, and if they don't, you can always have another one next year.

We saw a lot of young seal pups laying around in the sand like slugs (to conserve energy) and occasionally emitting the CUUUUUUUUUUUTEST sneezes ever. One of the seals rolled over, looked at us, and waved his little flipper. We also saw a dead seal, which - although we had to leave rocks and pebbles and other things - the guide said we could take home with us if we wanted. I declined, because they did not have a large enough take-out container.

After the elephant seals, @cariberry and I went to Duarte's Tavern, where we met @agrude and @notliz for lunch. It was a big Twitter-fest. I had the artichoke soup, which was very delicious, and a hamburger, which was not very exotic, but hit the spot. In fact, with all the sourdough bread while waiting for our food (or as accompaniment to our soups) we were really stuffed, and spent the rest of the day walking it off!

We drove into San Francisco, where we walked along Pier 39 to see the sea lions fighting and playing:


Sourdough bread at the Boudin BakeryI decided I wanted to be a sea lion when I grew up. After watching them for a while, we walked around the Fisherman's Wharf area, then went on a tour of the Boudin Bakery, where we saw sourdough bread being made. I decided I wanted to be sourdough bread when I grew up. Then we headed toward North Beach, which was where we were having dinner. We passed an accordion player and I decided I wanted to be an accordionist when I grew up.

Lombard StreetWe sat in a little Italian café to rest our feet and wait for Cari's boyfriend, Matt, while having a cup of tea. Once Matt got there, we still had some time to kill before dinner, so the three of us walked up to Lombard Street, then up Lombard Street, and we watched the cars slowly creeping down the twisty street.

Cari and I were still pretty full from lunch and had to save room for dessert, so we shared the Linguine Vongole at Trattoria Contadina, which was lovely and delicious. Then we walked down to Ghirardelli Square for Ghirardelli chocolate sundaes, but stopped for an Irish coffee on the way at the place where Irish coffee was invented. I am not a coffee drinker, but this was somewhat drinkable.

Finally, we rolled ourselves home and went to bed so that we could rest up for our next adventurous day!

srah | 6:49 PM
Tags: california, food, san francisco, sea lions, seals, travel

'I've taken this boat many places. Miami. Tokyo. Denver.'

I had a whole lot of stuff to write about my wonderful trip to San Francisco (a bajillion years ago) and the not-so-wonderful travel in order to get there, but there's just too much to say and not enough time to write it all. I will try to do it bit by bit rather than writing it all in one go, and return to the land of the blogging. Jday, you win!

Thursday, March 20

I set off for the airport several hours early, with the idea that as long as I was going for a long drive to the airport, I could make that drive a little longer and do some shopping. In case you haven't heard already, I live in a cornfield and the nearest mall is about 45 minutes away, so any time I am going anywhere near The Big City of Cincinnati or Dayton, I like to take advantage of shopping opportunities.

It was a good thing that I left myself so much time, because as I was driving in a vaguely airport/shopping-esque direction, my car started shaking and shuddering and my check-engine light started flashing on and off. I pulled the car over to the side of the road, shaking a bit myself, called AAA for a tow truck, then waited and speculated about how I would get to the airport, got stressed out, cried, and waited some more. Finally the tow truck came and I asked to be taken to the closest garage. At the garage, I explained my situation and asked to use their Yellow Pages, and called the first number under "airline shuttles."

"Which day would you like to go to the airport?" they asked.

"Um... now," I whimpered. They couldn't do it. I stressed out some more. The guys at the garage mentioned that there used to be "this old colored fella" who drove people to the airport but they couldn't remember if he was still doing that or what his number was. Do people still use that term? Apparently in Middletown they do! And apparently in Middletown your race is relevant to your airport-transportation abilities. Whatever. I didn't have time to fight that battle, especially when my car's life was in their hands. My dream self would have been disappointed in me for not standing up for my beliefs. Anyway, the second number I called said that they could come pick me up in 25 minutes. 35 minutes later, I called again and they said they'd be there in less than 10 minutes. 15 minutes later they arrived: a man and a woman in an unmarked van, who asked for my $70 cash (good thing I'd gone to the bank!) up front. After I got into the van and paid my cash and was informed that they'd take back roads rather than I-75 because it was faster to get to the airport that way, I started thinking, "Wow. I just got into an unmarked van with these people (one of whom is all beardy and looks like a kidnapper) and no one knows where I am. Hope I don't die!"

I didn't die, and I even made it to the airport on time. I flew from Dayton to Denver, which didn't look anything like I expected it to.

I expected Denver to look like this:

What I Thought Denver Was Going to Look Like

But it looked like this:

What Denver Looked Like

As we were pulling into the gate and they announced that cell phones could be used, I overheard the girl in the seat in front of me talking to her uncle about how her flight to San Francisco had been delayed.

"Are you on the 6:00 flight to San Francisco?" I asked.

"Yeah, but I just heard it's been delayed until 8:30," she replied.

I thought, 'That can't be right! That's a really long time!' She had never flown before, so we joined together to navigate the airport and fight the system. Sure enough, the Departures screen listed the 6pm flight as delayed until 8:30. Meanwhile, the 7pm and 8pm flights were untouched! We went to the desk for the 7pm flight to ask to be changed to either the 7:00 or 8:00 flights, and were informed that we couldn't be moved because we'd checked luggage. This was around 5:30 or so. Around this time the flight was further delayed to 9:30. We went and had some dinner, then got in the Customer Service line to see what we could get out of the delay. Once we finally got to the front of the line, we found out that the actual policy was that you could only be moved to another flight with 2 hours notice, so we could have been moved to the 8pm flight when we'd asked about it before 6pm, and that guy was just a jerk. Yeah, thanks, United! We were offered meal vouchers but we'd already eaten, so we got $50 travel certificates instead. Yawn. I would like to say "Well, that's not of any use to me, because I'm NEVER FLYING YOUR AIRLINE AGAIN!" but the truth is, that's the sort of treatment and service I expect from any airline nowadays, and I'll always fly whoever's cheapest.

Anyway, I finally got to San Francisco around 11:30pm, thereby missing the delicious dinner plans Cari had made. Fortunately, she arrived with a strawberry cream puff for me, my first introduction to the delicious Bay Area cuisine that was to be the main focus of the trip!

srah | 5:30 PM
Tags: airlines, california, driving, san francisco, srahtown, travel, united airlines

Blog Directory - Blogged