Wednesday, January 10, 2007

24 Hours In Hell

24 Hours In Hell

7:00am: Wake up. Shower. Dress.

7:45am: Try to hail a cab.

7:50am: Still trying.

8:00am: Still trying.

8:07am: Get in a gypsy cab. Pay $35.00 to go to LaGuardia from the Upper East Side. Plus $5.00 in tolls.

8:50am: Check in to for my flight to Washington, DC. The clerk checks my passport, and gives me boarding passes for both legs of my flight. I try and change my seat for the long leg but am told I must wait until I get to Washington DC as it's technically a flight on a different airline.

9:50am: Board airplane and sit on runway.

10:00am: Still sitting.

10:10am.: Still sitting.

10:35am: Take off! Yesss! I am on my way to Africa, I think. God laughs at me and thinks back, Oh, but I have other plans for her.

11:37am: Arrive in Dulles airport and begin to kill time before my connecting flight to South Africa.

3:00pm: Desk attendant finally arrives at my gate. I queue up to try and change my seat.

3:15pm: Get on express train to Hell.

I hand my boarding pass to the gate attendant. "Is this a window or an aisle?" I ask.

"Aisle," he replies surlyly.

"I was wondering if there is exit row seating," I query.

"Full flight," he replies surlyly. Then he looks at my boarding pass again. "Give me your passport."

Puzzled, I hand it to him. He flips through it, intently looking at every page. Then he says, "You can't get on this flight." He draws an evil black "x" through my boarding pass.

I grasp futily at my desecrated boarding pass. "WHY?"

"You have to have an empty page in your passport for the stamp."

I pick up my much maligned passport and point to some open quadrant. "Look, there is space for a stamp! And there! I have space!"

"No, you need an full page free in your passport to enter the country." He scrawls a number down on a piece of paper. "You'll have to go the passport office to get additionally pages in your passport."

"Where is it?"

"Downtown Washington, DC. We'll rebook you on the flight tomorrow. Next!"

"Wait, can I get my luggage?"

"Maybe, but it will take several hours. Best we just hold it. Next!"

3:25pm: Begin to cry.

3:27: Get a hold of myself and realize that of all cities this could possibly happen in, Washington DC is the best as I know people who live in the city and do not have to wait several days to get passport crap taken care of. Curse the attendant who checked me in at LaGuardia for not telling me this when I could have taken care of it in the morning and possibly gotten a later flight to washington and therefore still made my 5:20pm flight to South Africa. Curse the universe for selecting a dissertation that requires me to travel to Africa on a regular basis.

3:30: Call C. She works near the airport. We deicide that she will drive over to drop off the keys to her apartment. I can then take a taxi and hang out at her apartment for a little while while she finishes up at work.

3:35: Call passport agency. Make a morning appointment.

3:45: C. arrives. I walk outside and realize that while my clothing is appropriate for South Africa January, it is not appropriate for Washington DC January. Resist the urge to cry and/or scream. Get keys.

3:50: Get in taxi.

4:25: Taxi takes a wrong turn and must use GPS system to try and figure out where he is in relation to where I need to go.

4:35: Arrive at apartment. Start writing a journal entry. Realize that it's too soon to really see the humor in the situation, and decide to call boyfriend to complain instead.

7:00pm: Get food at Cafe Asia with friends from college. Eat Pad Thai. Tummy is happy. Thanks NSF!

9:00pm: Go to Tar-jay. Purchase: toothbrush, underwear, socks, deodorant, and a long sleeve shirt. Feel no compunction about charging this to my grant.

9:45pm: Get coffee with friends at Cosi. Realize once more it is not the same as Xandos. Mourn briefly.

11:00pm: Sleep

6:45am: Wake up. Shower. Dress.

7:30am: Get ride to metro. Purchase ticket. Wait.

7:50am: Still waiting.

8:10am: Arrive at passport office. Go through security. Wait in line at the appointment counter with the other 50 people that have 8:00am appointments.

8:30am: Speak to teller. Fill out paperwork. The teller asks for my itenerary. I give it to her. She looks at the dates. "This says you were supposed to leave yesterday," she says. The salt stings my wound. Am given a number and told to wait until my number is called.

8:40am: Waiting.

8:50am: Waiting. Give brief thanks that at least I have plenty of reading material with me.

9:00am: Speak to teller number #2. Am told I will have to pay $60.00 to the US government for the priveledge of having 24 extra pages glued into my passport. Thanks NSF! Am told that it will take approximately 3 hours for said gluing to occur, and I should show up at 12:15pm for pick up.

9:15: Go to corner bakery. Have large chocolate muffin and giant cup of coffee. Write this entry. Let the waiting begin.


  1. That sux. People regularly arrive on their flight to South Africa without the open passport pages and get sent back. It's wild. Why cant we all just go where we want without this beauracracy.

  2. Dude. That sucks. But I assume it all worked out well since you have said no more. And hey, you WERE in the best possible place for it to happen!

  3. EGADS! That's horrible. I'm glad it all worked out though. The fish say hello.