Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On the Road with Mrs. Linklater

Travel tales. Sorry. I gave it a try, but I still don't like the GPS. Not when I have directions in hand. I prefer route numbers, when possible, not the local names of roads, thank you. And I'll pay my way to avoid traffic. The GPS on the rental car wanted me to take the business route which was free, instead of the toll bridge on my way back from the Outer Banks to Norfolk airport. But I took the toll bridge so I could ask the toll taker a question about our next exit. However, for some mysterious reason, our car had pre-paid the toll for the bridge, which meant I had just a few seconds to pass beneath the raised bar before it came crashing down on top of the car. "But what's the exit for route 64?" I whined as I began moving forward. "You've got two seconds and the bar is going to land on you!!" "Route 64?" I pleaded, as we drove out of sight. "Exit *MUMBLE MUMBLE*" shouted the toll taker into the wind. Just as the bar missed the car's trunk by its chinny chin chin. Naturally, despite my efforts to ignore the woman who lives inside the GPS, she picked up where she left off and began ordering us around in time to take a shortcut to the rental car return via the cargo exit, which would have been all well and good if we hadn't been looking for a gas station, not a short cut. All so we could fill up the tank and save some surcharge money. BTW -- Gas was $3.59 in Virginia. It's as much as $4.39 around Chicago. The surcharge might end up being less than the cost of gas here. 

Travel tales foodwise. Ordering Starbuck's Fraps in airports is risky. I've learned over the years that asking for more than three things in a Starbuck's drink is asking for trouble. Even at a Starbuck's you patronize every day. The size of the drink, the type of coffee, and a flavor are all that most baristas can handle. So my attempts to procure a Decaf Tall Mocha Frap with a shot of Hazelnut is fraught with possible errors. I don't even bother to add "With no whipped cream" until they're almost done. Only two times out of ten has this concoction tasted the way I think it was meant to taste, i.e., with hazelnut and mocha. At the Norfolk airport, next to gate B16, the order taking barista thought I meant a shot of espresso instead of a shot of hazelnut, although I don't know how she confused espresso with hazelnut, except that she wasn't listening. When I queried the other barista tasked with making said order into something I could consume, the error in her playback made the mistake apparent. So another Decaf Tall Mocha Frap with a shot of Hazelnut was started. You'd think that care and concern would be part of the second equation, except it wasn't. One sip of the latest efforts and I realized that mocha and hazelnut had still not been included. Time to just get on the plane. 

Travel tales baggage wise. For half an hour the luggage carousel number for our flight wasn't posted. I talked to a woman in charge of tracking lost luggage and taking complaints, who informed me that there was lightning outside, so all luggage operations were suspended. Every so often we checked the monitors waiting for the weather to get better. But no carousel was posted on the monitor as time continued to tick away. We checked the carousels, too, looking for the flight number, just in case. Nothing. I noticed other flights after ours had carousel numbers already posted. Ours still didn't. Again, I asked the woman in charge of misinformation about the luggage. This time, she asked for my luggage tag number, since I must have made a mistake. "Aha! Your luggage has been around three times already." she practically shouted. "But the carousel number is not posted. Anywhere." I whined. "Didn't you hear the announcement? It's on carousel three," she said with smug satisfaction. "Have YOU ever heard an announcement in an airport?" I replied, wanting to poke her in the eye, after realizing that the crackling and buzzing I heard earlier must have been what she referred to. Then, in a moment of maturity I added, "You're an idiot!" And left to get my luggage. As we were leaving, I noticed the carousel number still wasn't posted on the monitor. Nor was the flight number posted on the carousel where the luggage arrived. So I stopped by the desk to repeat my sentiments from earlier, "In case you didn't hear me, you're an idiot."  For some reason she didn't make eye contact. This story will not make it into the next volume of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Unless they change it to Chicken Shit.


Donna said...

You are in rare form when you travel, aren't you?

Mrs. L said...

You're just noticing this?

Landra said...

GPS -- I frequently go on road trips with my blind sister. A few years ago we decided that it made sense to have a GPS devise since she can't read a map anymore. (However she remembers roads as they used to be, so she's constantly trying to direct me back to the 1950s.)

However, the GPS was out to get us. It failed to warn us of a speed trap in rural Quebec, directed us the wrong way down one-way streets, and fought me every inch of the way when I tried to take the most direct route out of Montreal. The coup de gras was when, on the New York State Northway, we exited to a rest stop and it started screaming at us to make a U-turn back up the ramp. We finally removed the homicidal device and drove over it until it died!