Just a thought… Laugh. Laugh until you cry. Cry until you laugh. Keep doing it even if people are passing you on the street saying, “I can’t tell if that person is laughing or crying, but either way, they seem crazy, let’s walk faster.” [Ellen DeGeneres]
*A ticket update: I heard from Blue Heron Books that the folks at Wooden Sticks have squeezed in two more tables. This means there are a handful of tickets to Saturday and Sunday’s events for those who were wishing they could have joined us in Uxbridge! Please call the store after 10 am today at 905-852-4282 with your credit card ready and Shelley and her amazing staff will do what they can to help you.
Journal readers are getting first dibs (I will post to FB and Twitter at 11 am) as my thanks for your loyalty here for all of these years. Hope to see and say hello to you this weekend in person! Now, to today’s journal. Get ready…
Okay, with regards to the quote from Ellen, this time you’re gonna laugh. You have to. I sure did.
Well, here we are: wheels up to Toronto on the 6:15 am flight out of Victoria. Of course, as I write this, we haven’t yet gone to bed on Wednesday and I am hoping for the best: that we get up on time (we will), that Sidney Taxi with its tiny fleet of five comes to get us at 4:45 am and that all goes well getting off the island.
You see, last Friday when my journal said I was safe at home, well, that was inadvertently a lie. I’d said farewell to Rob on Thursday and had left with him a journal that was to be posted that evening. Leaving California and not heading into, say, Calgary or Montreal, I couldn’t imagine anything that would throw a monkey wrench into my travels. What could go wrong with getting the journal (like today’s) set to publish in advance?
The short answer: everything.
My flight out of Palm Springs was delayed, but it still meant that once I got to Vancouver, I’d have well over an hour to catch the small plane to take me home to Victoria.
About two hours into the three hour flight, I got a message through my WestJet app that my 8:20 pm plane was cancelled. The next 15 minute flight to Victoria was set for about 12:10 am. Ugh. Great.
When I arrived at Vancouver International, carry-on in tow, I went straight to the WestJet desk. I asked them, if they were betting folks, whether they thought the midnight flight was going to go. After all, what would be worse than sitting for 4 1/2 hours only to learn your plane wasn’t going to be there for you?
They both looked at me and shook their heads. A major dumping of snow had occurred in Victoria and the airport was struggling to get flights in and out. I took that as the clear sign it was that I should just rebook. I got a new boarding pass for the 10:30 am flight Friday and went off to find a place to spend the night. Here’s where things really go sideways.
There’s a Fairmont Hotel in the Vancouver Airport. I went to the airport information desk and asked the lady there how to get to the hotel; she offered me the phone to call first to see if they had rooms. After being transferred from a central 1-800 line to what I thought was the hotel just above us (it was loud in the terminal and there were folks next to me talking to the info officer) I heard that there was one room. It was going to be $550.
I gulped and asked if there was a “stranded traveller” rate, but I knew the answer. Besides, it was Valentine’s Day. You can bet they’d be busy with all of the snowbound (and lovesick) visitors and had no reason to offer a discount. I gave her my name and when she asked if I wanted to reserve the room and I said no, other people needed the phone and I’d be there in 10 minutes. I hung up and off I went through some doors and up an escalator.
I arrived at a busy front desk and waited my turn. Then the two women there said they never take “holds” by phone and looked through the system for any sign of me. There was none. The woman helping me disappeared behind a door, obviously to ask someone what to do in this case because there were no rooms at the rate I had stated. BUT! There was the Presidential Suite. It was a cool $1000 for the night.
Now let’s just stop for a second. $1000 a night for a suite the likes of which I’ve never stayed in (except in the Bill Clinton Suite one night at Sandals, but that was a one-off and it was really kinda creepy, if you know what I mean). $1000 a night on Valentine’s Day. Alone. For $1000 a night, I want company, dammit. And at that price, Rob would understand!
I guess they were pretty sure some poor mook was going to step up and pay that for a night, or else they might have offered it to me at the previously promised rate. But that didn’t happen. I had no proof and they had no interest. So I said no and, visibly shaken, went to collect myself in a lobby chair.
I called Rob, who was just trying to have a beer and watch the hockey game between the Leafs and Knights, poor guy, and told him my situation. He said to just call a local hotel, take a cab and get a good night’s sleep. I hung up, promised to keep him posted and did better than that: I found a hotel, the Pacific Coast Gateway, and booked a room. Free shuttle, too. My luck was changing. Or so I thought.
I gathered my stuff once again and went down to the pickup area and called the shuttle. The lady who answered asked if my hotel was the Pacific Coast “something” and I repeated what she said, saying yes. The shuttle arrived in 6 minutes.
A nice gentleman came and got my bag and it was just the two of us for a ride that I thought seemed fairly lengthy for an airport-area hotel. But when we arrived, he kindly guided me through the ice and slush and brought my carry-on into the lobby. I gratefully gave him $5 (which he initially tried to refuse) and made my way to the desk. That’s where things went sideways again. Diagonally downward, if you will.
The two pretty ladies at the desk looked at me like I’d come from another planet when I gave them my name. Not only did they not have a reservation from me, but they didn’t have any rooms available. (At this point, a broom closet was starting to look attractive.) One of them asked, “Which hotel did you book at, ma’am?” and I said Pacific Coast. Then she asked if it was downtown or Gateway? And I said I just didn’t know…Gateway?
I opened my computer to the page at which I’d found the hotel I’d booked into. And then we all saw clearly what had happened: I’d reserved a room in their sister property, but taken the shuttle to this one. I was laughing – clearly in a state. Luckily, the man who had driven me a few short minutes earlier was still in the lobby awaiting his next call. He said he could take me there. Now, he might well have offered anyway, but I’m sure that tip helped ensure that he felt more compassion for me than he had to – and I am grateful. Here’s to paying it forward – always. You never know….
As we loaded up into his small van, I felt pretty dumb. Some things that day were beyond my control, but getting the hotel and shuttle right are tasks that I think are within my limited travel skill set. And I blew it. As we drove, I said, “Two Coast hotels – this must happen all the time, right?”
I laughed when he said, “No, ma’am, you’re the first.”
“Wow!” I replied, “So I’m a SPECIAL kind of stupid!” and laughed again. You see? THIS IS WHY I NEED MY ROB.
Ten minutes later we were at the proper hotel. I offered him another tip and this time he vehemently refused. I think he was just a good, good man seeing a woman at the end of her rope. I stood in line behind a man who’d been travelling 30 hours from the Philippines and could barely string a sentence together, but couldn’t wait to have a Caesar in the bar. I felt about the same way, even after my relatively short and partially self-induced trials.
Instead, I grabbed some take out chowder from the bar and, grateful for the toiletries I’d brought along (since Rob was packing all of our clothes etc.), got into bed with my soup and CNN. What goes with chowder? D. Lemon! That’s what.
The next day went much more smoothly – except for the fact that upon landing, the friends’ car I was supposed to have use of couldn’t be dug out. I got in line for the bus to Sidney, but realized I wouldn’t make my 1:30 appointment so…reluctantly…went to the cab stand.
After getting another of the famous Victoria Yellow Taxis (I call them the Crabby Cabbies because they’ve waited so long in the queue, hoping for the long, expensive ride down into the city, that they take it out on the customer when they just have the $14 ride into nearby Sidney) I made my 1:30 appointment in the nearby town, schlepped the carry-on through the snow and slush and puddles, got a flu shot and a prescription filled, grabbed a few groceries and caught a FRIENDLY Sidney cab home.
I could have kissed the WELCOME mat.
Have a lovely day – we’re having dinner with sweet Mike Cooper tonight (after coffee with Lauren’s surrogate grandmother Helen) – that is, of course, unless things go sideways. As you know, there’s always that chance! You have to laugh or you’d lose it.
Tomorrow I hope to have for you times for TV broadcasts and interviews and a few more notes as this great new adventure of a book tour truly begins. Thank you for understanding if I don’t answer emails etc. right away; things are about to launch, baby. And Thank GOD Rob and Melissa from HarperCollins are there to get me where I need to be, every single time. As for our anniversary, we spent it packing, doing about 742 errands and staying out of each other’s way, except for leftover pizza for dinner and bed at 9. Romance dead? NEVER!
Oh – before I go – there’s a new Walmart article that I’ve written for you to read and, in this one, I actually chose the right seats! You’ll enjoy it, and here’s the link.