I promised Ireland and it is written, but it requires pictures, and at the moment, I’m on a bus headed out of Chinatown that has sketchy wifi and I’m unable to upload pictures because the browser freezes every time I try. So for now, I’m going to write a current update.
When last I wrote (Mind the Gap), I was having unfortunate traveling mishaps—the result of poor decision-making on my part and general bad luck—that led to me missing my flight to America and having to stay in London another day.
There’s a remote possibility that I wasn’t too upset about it.
In fact, I maaaay have been slightly excited. However, the day of my public transportation test finally arrived: I had to navigate through the London Underground ALONE from the airport to Simon’s bar, including a line transfer, whilst carrying my backpack and a carry-on. I had to first GET to the Underground, then get on the train going in the correct direction, get off at Green Park, find what I thought was the Northern line but was actually north-on-the-Victoria-line* train, get to Warren Station, top up my Oyster card, and exit in the right direction to walk to Shaker and Company, and (drumroll) I did it! (applause)
This is evidence that the London train system is, in fact, top notch and capable of serving even those people who have an amoeba-like sense of navigation and/or limited common sense.**
*a near fail, but I asked someone with a nametag if I could get to the Warren station (“Which one? There’s Warren Street and Warren Avenue”) in Euston? (“Yup, Victoria Line”), and it was a success.
**ALSO! I forgot to mention my greatest high-five moment! At the end of my morning jog in Regents Park during my first (non-accidental) trip to London, I was stopped by two tourists who were lost, and I WAS ABLE TO GIVE THEM DIRECTIONS. They mistook me either for a local or for someone who doesn’t spend 90% of her time lost, and I didn’t need to correct them!
So, I enjoyed my extra day in London, arriving at Simon’s bar feeling as though I’d never left (not in the alcoholic-stays-at-bar kind of way, but in the “hey, I recognize this place and these people” kind of way). ‘Twas a good evening, and the next day I made it to the airport and boarded my flight without a hitch.
First of all, my flight entering America was the first international flight in which I’d seen a detailed video with instructions about how to enter the country and how to follow signs. There was a reenactment of questioning at Customs and a discussion about the importance of not being deceitful. Then it switched to this happy “Welcome to America!” diddy. What’s funny is that the people who need that video the most, I think, are Americans as they enter foreign countries because generally we lack international savviness. Before you raise your fist at me and call me names, consider the fact that, one: I’m right, and two, I admit that I could have used such a “we think you’re stupid” video the first time I traveled internationally because I ended up in the wrong line and got my passport flagged as “suspicious” because I told the English Customs guy I wanted to visit Scotland for the accents.
Quick little rewind: before getting onto the London -> JFK plane, I asked the man at the gate if he could tell me where my luggage was—in New York or in London or…? He entered my bag tag into the computer and said, “Your bag is on this flight.”
As you Sherlocks out there have probably deduced, that was a lie.
I waited and waited in baggage claim to no avail. What’s better is that luggage security people (? Do they have a name?) started pulling suitcases off the carousel before passengers had a chance to look for them, which didn’t save anyone time because it wasn’t obvious what they were doing, and when it looked bleak for the rest of us, we asked the Head of the Luggage Security People if all the bags had been taken off the plane. He said, “More bags are coming.” Thirty minutes later, and zero more suitcases later, he said, “All the bags are off the flight.” Unabated joy rose within the crowds.
I met Nikitas, the kind soul who waited for me for over an hour while I stood watching an empty carousel, and we rushed to the missing baggage counter, the first handful of people to arrive. The next time we turned around, there was a line of at least 50 people behind us who were already shouting and calling the AA personnel bad names.
Nik and I only had to wait 20 minutes or so, and I was given a reimbursement form for $150 to spend on clothing. They made it seem like a seamless process and my luggage would arrive shortly. This was Saturday night.
Today is Wednesday, and I still don’t have my luggage.
And in fact, for three days, my luggage was “unable to be located,” a concept I still don’t understand. What exactly is the point of bag tags, then, if they are not used to locate luggage? Are they really just placebos—they make passengers feel like their luggage is secure in a system governed by databases and intelligent life rather than thrown into a room full of cigar-smoking monkeys? I don’t know. But I called American Airlines twice a day, every day, and I called British Airways, too, until finally they were able to locate my luggage… in LONDON.
Nikitas and I decided the man at the gate was actually playing tetras rather than checking to see where my luggage was when I asked the day of my flight. Well played, sir.
Originally, I’d planned to leave New York on Monday, but given my lack of knowledge regarding my luggage, and the fact that Nikitas has a super sweet set-up in New York and offered to take me to a Broadway show as a birthday gift, I decided to stay another day. And another. New York is awesome! Granted, I had no liquids (shampoos, lotions, deodorants), so I smelled like a man the entire time, and I couldn’t find a decent pair of shorts, so I wore exercise clothes a lot, but I had a great time. Nikitas was a wonderful host, and we had some very intelligent conversations regarding the plurality of words that end in “us” (papyrus, campus, walrus, humus, alumnus, etc.) He is fascinated by my fascination with food, so he made sure to tempt me in every evil, possible way. He taught me how to use the subway and told me how to get to Central Park, where I went for a jog and got caught in torrential downpour that caused flashflood warnings throughout New York.
And overall, I laughed more in three days than I have this entire year. High five, Nikitas, for eating a pancake at warp speed and asking for a funnel to pour wine back into the bottle.
I also got to do yoga in a NYC studio with my friend Lauren and eat gelato and see a crowd of girls scream for One Direction.
Last night, my luggage was located (hooray!) and flown to JFK. It was supposed to be delivered to my door last night, but given the late hour of its arrival, it was postponed until today. And because of traffic, it was not going to make it to Nik’s apartment before I had to catch the bus, so now it’s supposedly going to be FedEx’d to New Hampshire.
Maybe someday I’ll see it again.