Travel is a non-trivial pursuit

So, here I am, in the flat. It’s about 6am (PST – assume all are PST now) and I’m awake. Not the “I should get up” kind of awake, but the “I am up, what next?” kind of awake. I have a few things that I need to do before the day’s end. Get to the bank, go to AT&T (or similar), and maybe get some more food, for the evening and days to come. But for now, all that I have are stinky clothes from the day before, and a promise that luggage is on its way.

So I did what any rational person would do, and stayed in bed, on my phone for a while. I think I spoke to Joe, posted to facebook, you know, the usual. And after a while I decided that I could stay in bed no more. I was stinky and I was hungry. So I tried out the shower. Luckily, the apartment was enough like aa hotel that they had some soap and shampoo samples already in the bathroom, as well as a bath towel, a hand towel and a flannel. I can confirm that the shower was lovely. The pressure was good. The temperature was right. There is a heat lamp in the bathroom ceiling. It was all the right feels. Once out, I had to put on yesterday’s clothes, but I mixed and matched what few elements were available to minimise the stink.

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Now that I am appropriately garbed, I venture into the kitchen to see what’s available to me. And the kitchen is lovely. Flat top stove, with a big microwave over it, and an oven underneath. All digitally controlled and integrated together. A fridge-freezer full of bread and cheese and fake butter and ham (there’s my food plan). But I need a kettle. And there is one! It’s a stove-top kettle with a whistle spout. So tea ad toast and telly!

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The apartment comes with some kind of cable tv. I don’t know which channels are which, but it is explained what channels are available in a welcome folder. I flick through some channels to find some mindless TV to appease me until my bags arrive. And that was fine. I also took the time to check in with family, let them know what’s going on, and to contact those I needed to at Glasgow university. Somebody mentioned that I should call the airline (Delta) about my luggage, so I do. A phone call to the airport lets me know not to expect my luggage before 1pm. And so I settled in for a few more hours. It is in this time that I start this very blog!

Eventually, at about 1:45, my bags arrive! But almost immediately, whilst still at the door with the deliverer, I notice some damage! The zip sliders (not just the tag, not the teeth that interlock, but the slider that does the locking) have both disappeared, with the padlock which held them together! I was told at the door that perhaps the TSA got into it for some reason, in which case, they would have put a note into the bag. So I wrench apart the teeth, as one must with a broken zip, and there is no note. So before I unpack the bag, I get back onto the phone to try and talk to Delta about the issue. “I’m sorry, sir, but Delta doesn’t cover zippers.” I wouldn’t mind if  this was only cosmetic damage, but without the ability to seal the bag, it becomes a box with a flappy lid, not a suitcase. So I talk to somebody else, and she asks me to bring in the case in question. I have to tell her that, as I don’t drive, I’ll have to wait until the evening, after she has left work.

So regardless, there’s nothing more to be done now, so I unpack (throw things all over the floor, future Bryn can deal with that), put on some clean clothes (which felt so good), chat to Joe real quick, and left the apartment in pursuit of my errands.

But where am I going, and how am I going to get there? I have no idea where I’m going, and I have no mobile data left for the month. So I guess I have to find someone to ask. The apartment that I’m staying at is part of a complex called Mosaic on the River. It’s pretty swish, but it’s got a centralized office. There must be someone in there, right?

Terri-Ann was in there. I assume that’s howw you spell her name, anyway. I walk into her office and tell her that I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going. Like a trooper, more than happy to help with a smile, she contacts the bus company to find the relevant bus routes, tells me where the Chase bank and AT&T store are, and gives me directions on a post-it note. She was very helpful.

So naturally, I ignore her advice. Not knowing what a bus stop looks like (they look like adverts on a pole, really) I instead elect to cross the highway and walk the way into town. I got a little lost, passing through the residential areas. I’m sort of struck that the residential parts seem really deprived. One-story wooden houses, often with a dusty front lawn and at least one car each in their driveway. The sidewalk (I’m still getting used to the different vernacular) is intermittent, as it appears some lawns extend to the road, and some sidewalks are just gravelly parts on the road side. I walked fast through some areas. Pasrtly because of time constraints, but partly not.

Eventually I make it back to the main road. Lee Drive, I think, and walk along until Jedwin street, where I have been promised by Terri-Ann to find a Chase bank branch.

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So naturally, I walk in. At the counter, it appears that nobody has free time to see me today, and besides, I don’t have the right ID with me. I needed to provide proof of address.

So back homewards I go. But I don’t make it far before I spot at thrift store. “I’m gonna pop some tags”, I think to myself, and laugh a little inside, then die a little inside. In the thrift store, it occurs to me that there is nothing that I might desire from a thrift store. I think that a boardgame might be a nice icebreaker though. So, scrolling through the shelves of boardgames, I see four or five boxes of Trivial Pursuit. That classical boardgame which is fun for all, and torture if you don’t know the answers. The danger with Trivial Pursuit is that if the version you have is earlier than the culture that you know, then it is fun for exactly nobody. In that thrift store, there was not a Trivial Pursuit newer than 1985. So I left empty handed.

Instead, I stopped into a grocery store (Albertson’s) on the way home to buy some food. I decide that to settle myself, I’ll cook, but I’ll keep itt easy. Bolognese. But — I think — I’ll need everything from the oil to the onions. For $40 lighter, I leave the store and head for home. Walking back along Lee Blvd, I pass somebody waiting at a bus stop. We exchange a nod and a smile, so I figure I’ll stop to talk.

[Map time!]

“You’ve come a long way from Albertson’s!”

“Not really that far”

“Where you headed?”

“Just along Duportail, past the highway”

“This bus goes that way, and besides, you’re going the wrong way!”

So we end up chatting. She fronts me the bus fare, as I have no change ($1.25). Her name is Danielle. She grew up here, but has lived between Richland and Portland her whole life. Her parents own horses, and she stays with them now, to look after the animals. We had a lovely conversation, and she gave me a bus map, and told me when to get off. But more than that, it seemed that the whole bus (~8 people) got involved with our conversation, one moment or another. Turns out another guy on the bus, John, is also headed to Mosaic, so I walk back with him and chat along the way.

I get home. I put away food, and start packing away the clothes that are now strewn all over the floor of my bedroom. Just as I finish, Evan knocks on the apartment door. He asks if I got my luggage ok, so I invite him in, and show him the damaged luggage. He agreed to take me back to the airport later to lodge a complaint and see what can be done.

But for now, it’s time to eat. I write some, and cook. It may have been expensive, but about $28 of ingredients makes 8 portions of bolognese. I wolf some down and off we go to the airport. On arrival, we go to the Delta desk, put the luggage on a counter and press the “Call” button to get some attention. The woman who shows up is the same woman from last night. Long hair, beanie and hi-viz jacket. I explain to her the situation with the suitcase.

“We don’t cover zippers”

I tell her that I wouldn’t mind if it were just cosmetic damage, and I wouldn’t mind if the luggage didn’t have its extended trip via Seattle, and I wouldn’t mind if it didn’t compromise the whole bag, and I wouldn’t mind if I didn’t need to use it again. So I chased it. She says that she can lodge a complaint for us, but only after she’s asked her manager. Whilst filling the complaint, the manager emerged.

Now, look, the luggage wasn’t new. It was my mum’s. She told me “I don’t mind if it doesn’t make it back”. It won’t. But I didn’t know how old it was. When asked, I had to respond. “I don’t know. 5 or 10 years old.” – to which I was told by the manager “I wouldn’t get your hopes up, Delta don’t pay out for baggage more than five years old.”

So with the complaint filed, that was that. We turned and went home.

Then, I went to bed.

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[Featured image source]

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