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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Eaton Conference: Day One -- American Airlines Sucks

Packing is (usually) easy enough, unless you forget something. I suppose you can guess where this is going: I forgot something. And not just any something. It’s the kind of something that isn’t exactly easy to replace, especially if you are traveling through Miami to Los Angeles.

What did I forget? My cell phone. I didn’t discover this until my friend had dropped me off at the airport and left, which is wonderfully ironic. It also turns out that the wireless Internet at the Gainesville airport was on the fritz, despite having been quite reliable in the past. Without any way to get back to my house in time, I was left with the daunting task of relaying my predicament to my other friend on the other end of the journey in Los Angeles.

This is the story of how Barnes & Noble and Facebook saved the day.

With no cell phone and no memory of the numbers of the various people I would have called in
that moment (I have terrible memory to begin with, so a cell phone makes it quite easy to avoid memorizing long strings of numbers), it came to me to figure out how to get a message to the appropriate party. In comes the Nook. For some reason, the wireless worked remarkably well on my Nook, but not on my laptop. Anyone who has a Nook knows that the device has a little browser. It’s not very good in terms of its ease of use (the Nook is an eReader, not an iPad, after all), but I managed to get on Facebook and relay a message to my friend. Wonderful.

Having averted that crisis, I got on the plane and headed towards Miami, where I would catch a flight to Los Angeles.  I should mention that during this flight, which was on a plane with propellers for some stupid reason, the Captain decided that it would be a lovely idea to intentionally fly through a storm.  On top of that, he actually announced it to us, which was a tad annoying.  He could have easily gone around it.  In any case, for a good five minutes the plane was doing the equivalent of skidding back and forth, along with huge drops and other terrifying things.  Planes should not have propellers anymore.  It's insanity.  Thankfully, we made it to Miami in one piece, but not without a little soiling on my part...
The sea of white fluffy things...
I realized when we landed that I only had about 20 minutes to get to my next flight, though, and so scrambled out and went to the giant board…only to discover that my flight had been cancelled and I had been moved to a flight that wasn’t leaving for another three hours. Lovely! Nobody warned me when I checked in, and I highly doubt that American Airlines cancelled the flight between check-in and arrival. And, of course, I didn’t have a cell phone and the free wireless Internet in MIA wasn’t working. Convenient? I think so. It was a grand plot by airports against me, I think. Worse still was that my Nook couldn’t get into the wireless, so I was left with either paying a ridiculous amount of money for a few hours of Internet service, or leaving my friend hanging in the wind on the other end (oddly enough, there are no AT&T stores in MIA, which meant that trying to get numbers or a new phone were out of the question).
This is how I calm my nerves: Häagen-Dazs 
So, I paid for the Internet. It sucked. I’m not happy. But that’s how life is. From there I went to Facebook and finally had to get a friend I met at another conference to call my other friend to give her the new flight information. It was insanity.
The plane, boss, get in the plane!
In any case, I managed to get the information to the appropriate parties, got some food, wandered around like a chicken with its head cut off, and eventually made it to Los Angeles and had a wonderful two hours talking to my friend while we ate at a Denny’s, drove the hour and a half to Riverside, and so on. Needless to say, the trip over was a long one, and we ended up missing the entire introductory greet-and-meet at the conference (to be fair, this might have been a good thing, since I spent half the conference bumbling like a moron).
Look, it's a Loopdilou Monster!
So that was the first day of my trip to the Eaton Conference. More to come soon!

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