There is something about me and travel. If travel were a person it would be one of those people that you can’t help but fall for and within days you realize a terrible mistake has been made. The only problem is that you drank too much, married travel and got pregnant on the honeymoon.
Work was sending me to Austin, Texas for a fun filled week of training. Everything was planned out beforehand, plane ticket purchased and hotel booked. I was even lucky enough to have a late afternoon flight that allowed for a bar adventure the night before with a little time to sleep in. Usually a trip to the airport causes panic, but I was oddly relaxed… and that’s never normal.
I packed my bag, locked the door and made my way to the bus. It pulled right up, a rare event that made me happy to say the least. The sun was blazing and I was forced to dress in more than a skank top and shorts to ensure that I arrived in Texas looking suitable. What was even more exciting and strange was the A train. It was pulling into the station as I came down the stairs – could it be dumb luck?
The favorable travel conditions had taken me to the airport more than an hour ahead of schedule. Casually arriving at the JetBlue kiosk I inserted my card and the computer began searching for my ticket. ERROR. Dipping the card a second time. ERROR. Things were suddenly starting to sour and feel more like every other travel experience. Hopping in line with the other unfortunate souls that had been outsmarted by the kiosk, I searched my phone for the reservation. I had to read it twice. Departure Time: 12:59 pm – That didn’t make any sense. It was 1:20. That was the moment I realized what had happened. When originally reading the email my brain had registered the takeoff time as 2:59. It was suddenly very clear why the kiosk couldn’t find my flight.
Somehow I managed to remain calm in what could have been a horrible situation. Ten hours of sitting in the airport finally landed me on a plane that was set for Austin and with another four short hours I was on the ground. It was so late that the airport was darker than a Steven King novel and the only option was a Middle Eastern Cab Driver. I was surprised by his courtesy being more accustomed to drivers that ignore you as they talk on the phone and swerve through traffic.
$40 later we were at my hotel and I handed over my credit card. There was no place for me to swipe it and I could see from the window sticker that he accepted cards. From nowhere the driver pulled a handheld card runner. ERROR. “There’s no signal,” he informed me. Now, if we had been in New York this guy would have been shit out of luck, but being as we were in Texas I told him I’d check the hotel lobby for an ATM.
It was 3:00 am and the hotel manager informed me there was no lobby. That’s when I made my big mistake… I got back in the cab and agreed to go around the corner to the gas station. The gas station was kind of closed, except for a hole in the window where you can’t purchase anything but gas. I believe my words to the guy inside were something along the lines of, “I hate this f##king state.” My happy travel day was truly shot to shit at this point.
We went a mile down the expressway to another gas station that was truly open. I rushed inside to find an ATM that was barely functional. Dipping the card caused the machine to tick and beep as it dialed up the bank. ERROR – Bank not Recognized. This stunned me. How can Bank of America not be recognized by an ATM… what country are we in? Ten steps past being pissed the cab driver took me to a credit union that I was able to get cash from. Once back at the hotel I handed him $60 and asked for $10 back, I figured since the fare was $40 that was a great tip after the bullshit.
“NO, you get $5.” The guy actually charged me for having to go to three places because his card machine didn’t work and he didn’t know how to call in the number. I ripped the $5 out of his hand, screaming several more obscenities that would have made the man at the first gas station blush.
What have I learned? If ever in a cab where their credit card machine isn’t working, no matter the state, well that’s just too damn bad for them. Never again will I make that mistake. Beware of any travel experience that starts off well, you will regret it.