It is about 1100 kilometres (or about 700 miles, if that’s how you think) from Toronto to Raleigh, North Carolina. It takes about 90 minutes to fly there, and I know that because on Friday at lunchtime I got on a plane in Toronto and flew straight there, and then I had a terrific time. Really great, and for a bunch of reasons. First, it was warm there. It was super warm there on Friday, and then on Saturday and Sunday it was less warm, but I still thought it was an upgrade from the weather at home. The locals kept saying it was cold, but let me show you a picture I took.
Right? I was so blown away that I emailed that picture to just about everyone in my family with a note that said "Look! Flowers blooming in December!" (The response from just about everyone was "where they in the ground?" It boggled our Canadian minds.) Then there was Mary and her fabulous staff at the two stores, they were helpful and kind and accommodating and everything you’d expect from a shop in the South. Then there was the knitters. See them?
They were pretty awesome too. I don’t know if you’ve been to the south, or had a lot of contact with knitters from there, but they are smooth. They’re so smooth that it’s about 15 minutes into a conversation with them that you realize that the charm is just a cover for the fact that they’re delightfully bonkers… and although it sounds strange, one of my greatest wishes for every person is that they have the experience of being criticized by a Southerner. They’re so good at it that it’s about three days before you realize what happened. (Pro tip – "Bless your heart" isn’t always good.)
It was awesome, and then yesterday morning I packed myself up and went to the airport (thanks for the lift, Mary!) and breezed through security, and got told a very funny joke by a really nice officer, and that, my friends, that was the last thing that went right. When I book flights to and from shops, I try to get the most cost-efficient ones I can. Arriving in Raleigh I had the talk on Friday night, so I took a direct to eliminate the chances of having a connection screwing me up. Heading home I don’t worry as much, and the flights with connections are much, much cheaper. So off I headed, with a flight from Raleigh to Washington, Washington to New York, New York to Toronto.
Things started to go wrong in Raleigh. The inbound plane was late, then we sat on the tarmac so long waiting for a fuel-top up that I knew there was no way I was going to make my connection. In a way, I like knowing that there’s no way in hell that you’re going to make a flight. As long as there’s hope I feel compelled to try, to rush, to keep checking the time… once you know all is lost, you might as well knit, really, so that’s what I did. Arriving in Washington, I discovered that it had snowed there the day before, and even though the snow was gone, there was no ice and the ground was dry, they were dealing with being screwed up from then, so there was a million people there from a million cancelled flights and the lady at the airline just about laughed at me when I asked when I was going to fly to New York.
It turned out that she didn’t have a basically optimistic nature though, because I did fly to New York, although that flight was delayed (also on the tarmac – why can’t they delay you before you get on the plane? It’s like all day steps were taken to come between me and food) arriving there last night at 5:24, which was sort of good, because at least I was one step closer to home, but sort of bad because my connection to Toronto left at 5:30, but closed it’s doors at 5:20, so I knew I’d missed that too. The nice lady at the desk told me that they’d rebooked me onto a 6:30 flight, and the 7:30 as well, just in case I couldn’t make the 6:30 in time – and all I had to do was get to the other terminal so I could switch airlines.
It turns out that to do that there’s lots of stairs and and escalator and a strange hallway that it felt wrong to be in and I had to ask for help three times and take a bus that I waited for outside. Then I had to do security again, and by then it was past the time that I could maybe get on board for the 6:30 … but I didn’t panic, I just kept going as fast as I could because I was sure they’d just bump me to the 7:30, on which I was so conveniently booked. I arrived at the desk, sweaty, jumbled, hungry and tired, and handed my now vintage boarding pass to the agent.
I knew the minute I saw her face that I had a big problem. "I’m not booked on the 7:30?" I asked her, and she nodded. I was – or at least my name was on the list, but she explained, the fact that the other airline had "booked" me on that flight didn’t magically create a seat to put me in. She scanned the list of flights with a deepening frown. They were all oversold and overfull, although she decided to put me on standby for the 8:45, because it was the least screwed up, and there was a slim chance. The place was packed so I sat on the floor and waited, until she came and found me at 8:00 and told me there was zero chance I was going home. We rebooked me on a flight for this morning, and she told me to go back to the other airlines counter, and they would give me a hotel voucher.
Back I went, this time changing terminals by way of a longish walk outside in the dark, until I somehow found the airline counter, where to make a very long story short, they first said that I wasn’t getting a voucher because I was late for the 5:30 flight (I don’t know what I said in return. Something incoherently corrective) then said I wasn’t getting a voucher because the delay was due to weather – even though the weather wasn’t at the airports I was at, there was weather somewhere that impacted my flights so no dice. (I did point out that this policy meant that they would never, ever have to give out a voucher, and they had nothing to say to that.) They gave me a number to call to get a hotel room that at least had a discount, so I went staggering off in search of a payphone, where the hotel broker phone thing put me on hold for 30 minutes and never gave me a room, at which point I sort of snapped a little, hung up the phone and staggered over to a really nice information lady and said "I need help solving this" and promptly lost control of a few tears, which was both humiliating and apparently effective.
She helped me, I got a room, and a shuttle and an hour later I was lying face down on a bed where I stayed for five hours before reporting back to La Guardia to watch the snow start to fall, because it would appear that now I’m in the middle of a snowstorm.
Me and my sock are waiting now, and I’m sort of tired and so far we’ve been delayed four times, to the tune of four hours… but it’s not snowing that hard. Right? No matter. I have a whole other skein of yarn and it has to stop sometime. I’m just going to knit, and list all of the things I’m not in charge of. Let’s start with how it can take 90 minutes to get to Raleigh, and more than 30 hours to get back.