Monday, February 11, 2008
My trip to Texas
My sister Maxine has been a winter Texas for a long time; her husband became ill and passed away early in 2002, but that's the only winter she's missed in years. I've been to visit her three times: once when Cliff and I drove down and took my mother along; once when my daughter Rachel and I flew there on a Superbowl weekend (imagine what the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport was like that weekend, with Dallas playing in the big game); and again with my daughter and her three kids, driving down in her van. Maxine has always been a wonderful hostess, taking us to Mexico and Padre Island when we visit and feeding us like royalty.
I've wanted to go visit her there by myself for some time; she's eighty years old, and I realize any winter she spends there could be her last. I've planned on doing this for the last three years, but by the time December rolls around, we've been broke (busted, dusted, disgusted, and can't be trusted, as Woody Guthrie once said). I can fly from here to Dallas for a song, but to go all the way to McAllen, Texas, it's three times as much.
This year I knew exactly what course to take: I bought my tickets in October for the trip in February.
Ever since New Year's, I've reminded my husband, "The weekend after Superbowl, I'm going to Maxine's."
As I counted down the weeks, I have made mention of the trip in my online journals: "Two weeks from Thursday, I'll be going to my sister's."
I even called Maxine a few days before leaving to make sure we were on the same page. Unfortunately, we only spoke about the date and time of arrival, not the day of the week.
So last Wednesday I packed my bag, being sure to put shorts and sleeveless tops inside. My mouth was watering at the thought of the Texas grapefruit I planned to ravish.
About 2:30 that afternoon, I made a sudden decision to get online and print off my itinerary for Cliff, who had just left for work; I'd had my copy printed for months. When I got to the website where I could have done this, it said, "Trip expired".
I felt panic rising inside me as I retrieved my own copy of the trip plans, and literally became sickat my stomach when I saw that I was supposed to leave on Wednesday at 1:30... I had missed my flight!
I called Travelocity, and a nice lady located someplace in India put me on hold for what seemed like an eternity as she checked out my options. Finally back on the line, she informed me that if I did not use my ticket at sometime on that very day, I could not use it all. And by the way, the last American Airlines flight of the day left at 6:20.
I called Maxine and asked her when I had told her I'd be arriving. "Today," she said. "I'm just waiting around here until time to pick you up."
"Well, I've made a horrible mistake," I told her. "I've gotten mixed up on the time. I'll call you back as soon as I can figure something out."
I called Cliff's cell. By now it was 3:30, and he was at work, almost ready to start his night's labors. Crying and moaning (literally), I explained to him my dilemma.
"Do you want me to come home and take you to the airport?"
"That's the only way I'll be able to visit my sister."
And he was on his way.
We arrived at the airport about an hour before my last-chance flight was due to depart. The ladies at the desk discovered that Travelocity (I will never use them again) had totally canceled my whole flight, going and coming. In about five minutes, they had me set up to fly again, at no additional charge. I told one of them, "I'd hug you and kiss you if it would do any good! I'm so grateful!"
My sister usually doesn't drive after dark, but when I told her I'd get a cab at the airport, she insisted she would be just fine.
Next time I book a flight, I'm going to have the departure date tattooed onto my hand.
Oh, after all that excitement, I had a lovely time in Texas.
I'll give the credit to God for my deciding at 2:30 on Wednesday to print off my travel agenda for Cliff. If it hadn't been for that, I'd have been out of luck and $450 would have been totally out the window. The trip I've planned for so long would simply not have happened.