November 10, 2011

Boston Chronicles

I’ve had quite the evening and as a result, I can’t sleep (you’ll understand why later). In order to distract my mind from what’s happening outside my hotel door right now, I will tell the story of how my night unfolded.

My day began wrapping up a week-long work conference in Boston which concluded an hour early this afternoon. The early dismissal didn’t allow quite enough time for an activity, so I decided to arrive extra early for my 7:15pm flight. I’m never early. For anything. Ever. It only figures that the one time in my life I didn’t test the clock, my flight gets delayed… so I did what I usually make other people do, and I waited. Turns out the toilet on our plane left a huge mess to clean up, so we had to wait for a substitute plane. Four hours of chilling at the Boston airport… check.

On the plane, I sat next to a significantly overweight Korean man who had a serious breathing issue and slept with his mouth open making weird breathing noises the ENTIRE flight. Thanks dude – it was a real pleasure sharing an armrest with you.

Through my headphones, which were blasted loud to drown out the animal sounds next to me, I somehow heard the flight attendant announce, “Unfortunately all connecting flights from Chicago have already left, so anyone with a connecting flight will need to contact an agent to get rerouted once we land.” It was after 10pm when we landed, and I immediately went to baggage claim to confirm what I already knew – that I wasn’t going to have my luggage. Confirmed: My luggage was going where I wanted to go – home.

On to ticketing to speak with an agent about my options. Did you know the American Airlines agent booths close at 10pm in Chicago? I didn’t, but I do now. I walked around for a bit trying to find someone who could assist, but I got the same answer over and over – everyone’s gone after 10pm. I explained to them that the crew on the plane JUST told me there’d be an agent to talk to… and they explained that I was misinformed. I called American Airlines customer service and not only were there no more flights out, but they said they couldn’t get me a hotel without a voucher from a rep. They suggested I try to find an agent. This was going nowhere fast. I gave up on the idea of making it home and accepted I was going to have to spend the night with nothing but my laptop and a credit card. But I still needed someone, anyone, to get me a hotel and an early flight.

I finally found a lady (which judging by her attitude seemed like she was also having a bad day) who did some looking for me. She told me there was another American flight arriving at 11:30pm with a good chance there’d be an agent on board who could help. It was worth a shot, so I waited the entire next hour for that flight to land only to find out there was no agent! LOVELY. I went back to that lady to find out where I could stay and deal with the flight situation in the morning. She then advised me not to do that because they couldn’t issue hotel and flight refunds if it wasn’t handled in one transaction with vouchers. She also said I probably wouldn’t get out until tomorrow evening if I waited until morning to book. Being extremely new to traveling and flying, especially solo, I drank up every word she said. She gave me a glimmer of hope when she told me she had one more person she could call if I was willing to wait ten more minutes. Ten minutes? Surrre, what’s ten more minutes after an already nine-hour travel day? Ten minutes turned into 40 minutes, but I FINALLY got someone with approval to get me a flippin’ hotel voucher… great… but this contact from the heavens still couldn’t help me with flights because he didn’t have access to their systems that late at night. So there went 40 more minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Tomorrow morning it is.


The entire time I’ve been waiting around the airport, a guy reasonably close to my age, maybe 5 years old, was dealing with the same issue. Apparently we were the only two people on our flight who missed connections. He ended up getting a voucher to the same hotel I did. The shuttle to take us there, not surprisingly, was a 20 freaking minute wait of which this guy kept bragging to me about his million dollar business (all lies), details about life I didn’t care to know, and asking me incredibly strange questions about mine. He wanted to know everything about me and the kinds of questions he was asking made me incredibly uncomfortable. Normally, I love meeting new people and having conversations with strangers. I have a very high tolerance for personalities of all types, so I don’t say this about people very often, but this guy was off. And he didn’t pick up on a single social cue that I wanted to be left alone. It was just the two of us, going to the same place, waiting for the same shuttle, well past midnight in an eerily empty airport, so it was pretty much impossible to escape him.

After another 20-minute shuttle ride fending this guy off while he chose to sit directly next to me in a large vacant van, we pulled up to the hotel, where I’m at now. Let me tell you something… it is a shit box (and I do NOT have high standards). Thanks for the royal treatment, American Airlines. Hey, at least there’s free internet, at LEAST.

Upon arrival, I gestured for my new “friend” to check in first so he wouldn’t overhear my name or any info about me. He insisted, several times, “ladies first.” What a gentleman. Okay dude, you win, I’ll go first.

At the end of my check-in, despite me clearly trying to be discrete, the receptionist says out loud, “Here’s your key, you’ll be in room 426.” My immediate thought… fuuuck, creepy man had to have heard that! Without even saying goodbye to him, I moved quickly to the elevator to get to my room before he could finish checking in.

I got ready for bed as much as one can having nothing but a hotel toothbrush. That’s when I heard my room phone ring. My stomach dropped, literally to the floor. I knew it was him. I was too scared to answer. After it stopped ringing, I called the front desk and asked if they tried me calling. Nope, they didn’t. Yup, it was definitely him. At this point, I’m just praying he doesn’t come to my door.

I climbed into bed (where I sit as I type this), scared shitless, only to find there were no top sheets under the comforter. Given the state of this hotel, the thought of sleeping solely with a dingy comforter that likely hasn’t been washed in a year made this a very unpleasant discovery. I looked in all my closets for an extra blanket but came up empty-handed.

I called the front desk to see if they could bring me a few blankets. You may not actually believe this, but the same lady who checked me in informed me that they are not a full-service hotel and don’t do room service. However, I was welcomed to go down and get them myself, which meant I’d have to walk out there with the possibility of the creepy guy who just called me lingering around. No thank you. After politely declining the lady proceeded to ask me if I was the girl who just checked in with “that gentelman” a little bit ago. I hesitantly replied yes, and her response: “Well, he was just down here asking about you and told me to tell you that he’s in room 501.” My stomach dropped, again, as if it could drop lower. I told her I did not know him, not to give him any information about me, and to let me know if he comes down again.

I hung up the phone and feeling extra uneasy, decided to turn on the TV to get my mind off the fear of him showing up at my door. Once again, you may not believe this, but my remote is either dead or broken. Are. you. fucking. kidding. me? As I got up to turn on the TV the good old fashion way, I heard a triple knock on my door. It wasn’t fist pounding loud, but it was definitely a knock. I went into panic mode and remained as quiet as possible pretending to be asleep. I decided to forgo the noise making television and opt for my laptop instead.

So present tense, it’s 2:30 am and here I sit completely freaked out, in a shitty hotel, wearing the same clothes I put on at 6am this morning with no blankets, no room service, no remote, no flight plans, and a quack who may still be lingering outside my door.

I’m going to TRY to fall asleep now, but the next time my boss wants me to attend a conference, I might ask for a raise first. Assuming I make it home alive to have that chance.