Thursday, June 23, 2005

Addendum + 1

As an addendum, My Fair Lady's luggage finally is in her possession once more, which elicted shrieks of joy when last she spoke to me. She promptly set fire to her old clothes and feels more like a human being again. She also had her first bit of fun on the island, which in itself is a minor miracle. At least we know not to use Olympic Airways again for travel into Greece. Instead, we'll likely fly into Turkey then paddle our way to the Grecian islands.

As for the Plus 1, I'm starting to feel at ease with my "new" car. Essentially a hand-me-up, the car I now drive is a four-door Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo which only seem to come in a beige color. I've never seen a red version of this vehicle, only the same dour light brown. A stark contrast to my car of yore, which was a purple 2-door Ford Explorer, that has been by my side for the last ten years. When I actually say that out loud, it still feels weird. Ten years I owned one vehicle, a small truck my dad won in a golf tournament, and now she's gone. She was dying a little bit each day this past year, until finally this spring she decided to randomly give up the ghost.

Every so often, but always on hot days, the car might or might not start. It was completely random too, which explained my shock when I drove to buy My Fair Lady flowers on an anniversary of ours, and then the car died after I bought the flowers. It was somewhat of an odd situation when I left her a voice mail to come pick me up at that specific corner because it would clearly tip my hand.

After a new fuel pump was put into it, the car still would randomly die. Since my sister's Jeep wouldn't pass emissions standards, I got it while she got a brand new smaller car. Ahh, balance. I do so love watching my two younger siblings be handed things while I had to work for them or do with out growing up as a teenager. My parents would correctly point out that they did take care of me when I was younger, but how did that change once I got my first job. After that, it's practically nothing for free unless I specifically ask. Annoying when the younger ones are pampered as they are, but I'm surprised my sister has actually matured to the point where she won't have them helping her out much longer.

My brother on the other hand, does so love being waited on hand and foot.

As for the car, it's driving better for me now. It helps having the entire thing cleaned out top to bottom because my sister does not tend to a car's interior with the same fervor of a butler. Having the inside clean was a breath of fresh air. Having the gear box (which holds the power steering fluid) go out, was less than such. But that's another story.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Need Luggage, Will Travel

So My Fair Lady tells me in January that she's looking into a study abroad program with her law school in conjunction with Tulane University. Since I most likely wasn't paying enough attention at the time, I said, "Sure, look into that and I hope you enjoy yourself." Almost involuntarily, that response. I don't recall feeling any change in my heartrate or breathing speed, so I've come to the conclusion that the wife triggered one of my five automated responses.

Flash forward a few months and My Fair Lady is stranded on an island two hours off the coast of Greece with no luggage, very slim provisions, and an increasingly hostile attitude. In hindsight, I probably need to remove the "shuffle" feature from my auto-response list.

Apparently the American Airlines flight into Gatwick Airport, London, went smoothly, as did the standard two hour lay-around-and-gripe-over that comes standard with international flights. The problem started with the Olympic Airways plane sitting on the tarmac for three hours waiting to take off. What I don't understand about airlines in general is why they won't let you de-plane in case something like this happens. If I'm sitting on a plane for three hours, it damn well better be some where else at the end of that time. If I'm still looking at the same airport after three hours and we haven't taken off at least once, then my head would a-splode. My Fair Lady, on the other hand, is about 1,000 times twitchier when it comes to planes. If there is even a hint of something out of the ordinary, she flips her lid. I can't imagine how much she was freaking out sitting on the tarmac. My condolences to the families of those sitting next to her.

As it turns out, three hours was not enough time to load an additional 20 bags onto a plane. Twenty bags missed this flight to Athens, and I'm impressed they were able to find the plane in the first place. It's not like it was flying around the skies above, or rolling around on the tarmac playing "catch me if you can" with the baggage handler. It was sitting stationary for three hours, yet 20 bags managed to miss it. I could understand if the target was a small hole in the ground and you only had three hours to find it.

But how is a 777 sitting in plain view of an airport with the name of the plane painted in large, bright colors on the side of it impossible to not see? And how do you misplace something like luggage which, by definition, is bulky, unwieldy, and usually found in a wide varity of bright colors with plenty of handles?

To insult to irony, the island's phone and internet connections tend to be spotty at best. My Fair Lady's 20 minute walk from the hotel took her to five different phones, only the fifth of which worked. Ergo, I get a panic-riddled phone call from the other side of the planet stressing out about no luggage and inordinately expensive prices on a tourist-driven island in the middle of the Mediterranean. Naturally, my anxiety was a little onthe high side.

I then contact American who says it's a Greek problem, and then contact the Greeks who hang up on me. Twice. So who do I find as the imtermediary?

The British.

A lovely woman named Jenni at Gatwick Airport was more than supportive in helping to track down My Fair Lady's bag, at which point she assisted in getting it on a plane to Athens. I follow-up with My Fair Lady and she is understandably ecstatic at the thought of fresh make-up. Flash-forward to this morning, i.e. my last communique, and Olympic Airlines in the wisdom were unaware of the additional luggage on the flight.

So here I sit with no follow-up from My Fair Lady other than being told the flight was slated to arrive this afternoon (around 4:30 p.m. Athens time) and that I would hear back from her within an hour. Being as that was several hours ago, my anxiety has returned with friends.

I'm now making a mental note to travel only with the 82nd Airborne from now on. Odds are they don't take any crap from snotty ticket agents sit on a tarmac for three hours, unless they're invading that particular airport. Which at this point, sounds like more fun than either My Fair Lady or I are having.

And here I was making a plan to enjoy my DVD collection/backlog tonight.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

An Expensive Week, This

It's been an expensive week thus far, and not for lack of trying. My Fair Lady and I attended a black tie event Saturday night where I left our Canon A95 PowerShot digital camera in the car as we valetted it. Said camera was not in the car when we picked it up several hours later, thus requiring us to dig up a receipt so their claims can possibly send us money for it. Then my car dies on me for the last time, and I make a swap for my sister's old car since it won't pass the emissions standards in her new home of California.

Said car's power steering went out on me last night as My Fair Lady and I were driving home from dinner. I take it to Firestone this morning where after two and half hours of poking at it, I was presented with an estimate longer than my arm. The estimate, naturally, included dozens of supplementary fixes they'd "discovered" and recommended fixing right away. Even after automatically whacking half of it, the total came to around $700 to resolve my car problem.

And now for a little backstory.

My parents have historically purchased lemon vehicles with few exceptions. Whenever either my mother or father say, "I'd like to buy that car," said vehicle is the confirmed bad apple in the barrel. Were I to have the money for a brand new car, I would take them both shopping, tell them what car I want, then have them pick out the one for me. At which point I would select a similar model three ros back and four to the left as the one I would buy.

My sister's old car was an Infinity that damn near killed her on so many ocassions I honestly lost count. Then it was traded in for a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which soon required roughly $2000 worth of repairs to bring it to its current quasi-working state. My car was a 1995 purple Ford Explorer which my father won in a golf tournament, so one would believe it inherently immune to the "lemon curse." One would be wrong.

Ten years on, three transmissions later, the truck sometimes just wouldn't start. The punchline is how intermittent the problem was, culminating in the last three weeks where I would drive it to and from work and that was that. I figured, in my limited mechanical knowledge, that it was simply overheating. The fuel pump was replaced a little while back thus leaving me with a problematic car that might or might not start when I needed it to, but with a shiny new fuel pump.

Cause for celebration, that.

Once My Fair Lady is out of law school and ideally working for vastly more income than I presently bring in, we might look for a new car for myself. Having never had a choice in what car I actually want, I've thought extensively as to how I'll go about the purchase. The first step is about a month or two of research, followed by extensive test driving, followed by dragging my parents out so they can instinctively weed out which cars will die the second the 30,000 mile warranty is breached.