It’s a bit of a dilemma trying to find flights to Canada, where the best adman and editor in the universe reside.
You may be wondering, “Why does she want to go to a place like that when there’s Skype?”
Because that’s not the way my not-quite-right brain works. It took 3 people and a lot of dragging to get me to download and then to actually use Skype.
Besides, the 2 week deadline with no outside interruption will help to motivate me.
If I were a bird, all I’d have to do is take flight. That would solve the transportation problem. I thought about this as my 20 pound Coon Cat pounced on my lap. Man, did he STINK! It was like something unwashed had just died.
That’s when I decided being a bird in my next life might not be the best plan.20 pound coon cat is now peacefully sleeping on his half of my desk, an indication that he recently committed a cardinal sin. Why that made me hungry, I’ll never know.
Soooo… my next stop was a 10 foot jaunt to the kitchen to wash my hands and get some lunch. There in the middle of the floor was a pile of bird feathers and, yes, what was left of a Cardinal.
As any die-hard pet owner will tell you, when you come upon a mess like that, you sweep what you can into the bushes to fertilize the plants, put the feathers in the garbage, wash your hands, and proceed to make lunch.
None of this was going to solve my immediate problem—how to travel to Canada without spending a fortune for a 2 week editing marathon so I can get book 2 in the series (Aptly called “The First Level of Hell”) published before I die of old age.
You’ve heard the joke, “I’m too old for a paper route, too young for social security, and too tired to have an affair?”
This is the airline version:
I can’t get the senior tickets because I’m not old enough. I can’t have an attendant fly with me free because I’m not disabled enough, and yes—anything requiring more energy than petting the stinky 20 pound coon cat now sleeping on my lap is more than I can handle.
If I don’t get the flights spaced right, I’m left at the airport or I have to play “Bowling for Passengers” trying to figure out how to get to my next flight.
However, I do have the airline miles for a free flight and that was the first place I looked.
Unfortunately, that particular airline only flies in the USA. I would have to rent a car and cross over the Canadian border for the 5 hour drive to my destination.
First I wondered, “Why do all my friends seem to come from Canada? Is that like being an atheist and all your friends are ministers?”
It was too painful to think about.
Hmmm….If I go through USAA it’s less than $400 for 2 weeks. That’s the cheapest car rental I can find. But what is it going to cost to take a rental car from the US to Canada?
And who the hell is going to drive me?
Yes, I do have a driver’s license—by the grace of God, and the fact that the eye test to renew your driver’s license doesn’t make you read virtual road signs at 60mph. Sure, I can keep on my side of the road if there are plenty of bumpy things between the lanes, and if I need to go the 3 miles to town at 30mph, I’m fine. But being in 2 strange cities with lots of traffic going 70 miles per hour?
Though my biggest worry would be hitting a small animal, I do have a bit more regard for human life than running into a bus stop full of people thinking it’s an exit.
All right. I can make this happen with the right supports! I contacted my web page expert asking if she would like to go to Canada. Since she lived in Canada for years before moving to Florida, she was excited about the possibility.
I had my driver! Now all I had to do was find the tickets.
No matter what the airlines tell you, there may be no black-out days, but somehow all the dates you want to travel aren’t accessible if you’re using points/miles/gimmick of the decade. And if you can find a day, the fare for your driver/attendant/webmaster isn’t cheap.
What I thought was a simple task was now more like trying to herd cats by blasting a shotgun in the air.
I searched for cheap flights to Canada on my 22 inch large-print screen, finding that if someone drives me to a major airport 2 hours away from my house I can get a ticket from Florida to the city of my destination in Canada for $137 round trip.
I found a ticket! It got me to Canada at 1am–but so what? I scrolled down to buy 2 tickets only to discover that the $137 fare was one-way. Of course, there was nothing less than $247 for the return flight on the day that I wanted to leave Canada. I was looking at redeye flights with plane changes for $384 minimum per person.
Skype time! I texted my adman about the situation. No problem! He would be glad to pick us up at the airport. Unfortunately, he couldn’t text very long at that moment as he was going out the door to a funeral.
That solved one problem. But how was I going to get decent flights on the days I wanted? In a nutshell: I wasn’t.
Next step: Calling Air Canada.
Have you ever heard the phone pick up, heard 2 words spoken in the receiver and just knew that in the world of Customer Service Roulette you’d been the one that got the bullet? Talking to the most unenthusiastic customer service rep out there was a lot like listening to the Robot on The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy say, “Here I am, brain the size of a planet and you want me to…”
It took a while, but she found tickets a week earlier for a 2 week stay at $363 per ticket, non-stop. It wasn’t what I had in mind, but it was cheaper than renting a car to cross the border. I had my credit card ready to go, I was as good as there!
Then she said:
“I need the date of birth of the other passenger and
her full name as it appears on the passport.”
“My passport expired 2 years ago,” I said. “But I’m in the process of renewing it. Can I make our reservations with just my information?”
That was more than a little blunt. Robo-call now at an end, I contacted my web page expert.
“Do you have time to talk?”
“Is it an emergency?” She asked.
I quickly explained the problem. She put her hand over the phone for a minute. Then, she gave me her passport information while the sounds of people rustling under the sheets caught my ear.
At least one of us isn’t too tired to have an affair.
The first call to Air Canada was an 8 minute wait. The second one was 20 minutes, but this time Customer Service couldn’t be more cheerful. Her family lived close to where I live, the first in over a decade from my small town to call asking for plane tickets to Canada. She either thought it was a miracle or I was the dumbest person this side of the Florida/Georgia line.
She searched the available tickets to make sure I was indeed getting the best price available. It seems that Robo lady made up in efficiency what she lacked in personality.
I can live with that.
At the end of this 3 hour marathon, I’m now $726 deeper in debt, but I don’t have to rent a car, and I still have my airline miles. I don’t know if you’d call that a win, but as long as my emergency driver/webmaster/attendant who gets to have all the fun doesn’t pull out, I can live with that, too.
Now, I have another problem. In Morocco, the girl my daughter and I traveled with spoke excellent Arabic. We didn’t need a translator. I’m already stressing out about flying because I can’t get the seats until 24 hours before the flight, and what if it’s still snowing in Canada, and what if it’s under 70 degrees and I’m freezing to death… but my driver/attendant/webmaster doesn’t speak French. Who is going to translate for me in Quebec!