Wednesday, April 23, 2008

go East, young lady

Highs and lows of today's eastbound travel:

  • Low: waking up at the time that you wanted to be at the airport.
  • Low: waking up Ryan who had been sleeping for about 11 minutes to take me to the airport (no time for a cab!).
  • High: sailing through airport screening, buying a sandwich and candy and STILL having time to spare.
  • High: someone started a rumor that row 11 was haunted (and I thank them for it!). On both of my flights, I had the entire row of THREE seats to myself. An excellent couch and nap spot. Did I stretch out across all 3 seats and sleep? Yes, yes I did.
  • High: the smart people in St. Louis have restroom doors that swing outward so that you can actually maneuver in all your luggage.
  • Low: making a rookie travel mistake and accepting a solicited cab ride*
  • Low: hotel check-in lady telling me that there was a "problem" today with the sprinklers in the hallways going off and so the carpets are wet. There are giant fans being used to dry them but they'll probably be off now since it's so late (they aren't). I don't really care about damp carpets or even sprinklers on my (work) laptop, but I'll be DAMNED if they're gonna soak my new iPhone. Is it too paranoid to put the shower cap over it while I sleep?

*Full disclosure: I have traveled quite a bit in this life, and I am usually wary of a con even when there isn't one to be had. Thus, I am flogging myself mightily for the cab ride. I was at the cab stand, where all the cabbies were standing outside their cars trying to flag down business and this guy asks me where I'm going and then points me to his car. No biggie, right? It's not as controlled as in NY where all the cabbies are accountable to the Guys With The Blue Jackets who give you a slip with all your cab's info, plus the passenger bill of rights. It's more free-form here, so I get in the car. Actually, it's a mini-van. But I've been in mini-van cabs before and even though this one is dark blue, I still don't think anything of it. Once I'm seated inside, I realize there's no meter. This guy has a rate sheet sitting on the seat, and he quotes me a fare for my trip. Ok, so I know approximately where I am going, and how far away it is in miles, but does it take 10 minutes or 2 hours? I have no idea. So I agree to the (expensive) fare and we set off. As soon as we pull away from the curb, I doubt myself. What if this guy steals my wallet or abandons me in a bad part of town? I am obviously NOT rich (my suitcase is from Target and cost me $9 and I am wearing a cotton dress from Wal-Mart and flip flops. Ain't exactly Mrs. Howell.) so I'm not really a good target for anything. Kidnapping, maybe? But that seems dumb. So instead I chat chat chat away about my colleagues at tonight's baseball game and the people waiting for me at the hotel. I also tell them about my tough friends who live in a bad part of town. Then, for authenticity, I call home and tell Ryan I have arrived, only word everything so that it sounds like he's at the hotel: "I'll call when we're near the hotel and you can meet me in the lobby."

Obviously, it turns out that I got here safe and sound. I didn't even use my credit card because I was sketchy on giving this guy my numbers, so at the very least I overpaid for a cab ride. But I have a receipt with his info (for what that's worth) and I am safe. Penance enough for being such an idiot.

And, for the record, the fare that was (ridiculously) high? Turned out to be a scam, since the trip took about 11 minutes AND the guy drove under 60mph the whole way here.

[update: According to the hotel's website, the average taxi fare is only about $10 less than what I paid, so I guess it's not so bad. Although I think if I had used a regular cab, it would have been so much less because those guys would have hauled ass to get here in under 10 minutes.]


emily said...

You handled that situation way more stoicly than I would have. I probably would have had "9-1" already dialed on my phone so I could quickly hit the other "1" if something happened. Sadly, I expect the worst out of most people.

Anonymous said...

i think i am way too naive to have a travel job. most of that stuff would never cross my mind.


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