! My weekend starts today! I’m off to Chicago to visit my lil brother – actually he’s like 6’5’’ and barely a year younger than me, so I’m not sure he qualifies as “lil” in any sense but let’s not worry about that now – and am so looking forward to 3 days touristing and eating and drinking in a fun city. Also the Nato G8 Summit is in Chi-town this weekend, so that should be pretty, you know, summity. Summutous. Summitastic!
Quick truth test: Raise your hand if you’re just pretending to know what “Nato G8 Summit” means? Be real people, I know it’s not just me!
My flight out doesn’t leave until 9:50 PM tonight and, if my track record proves consistent, should be a sheer delight. Because I am broke and a cheapskate, whenever planning a trip I’ll end up adding immense time and stress to my journey just to save negligible amounts of money. I’ll book the most convoluted itineraries, so long as they’re the least expensive. I’m also frequently disorganized when it comes to life planning and communication. For me, getting from point A to point B usually involves at least three methods of public transportation plus an unexpected detour to some other point, C, that leaves me stranded, having to beg for someone with a car to come save me or find me another bus or plane or train and at the end of the whole thing I’ve spent more money stress-eating vending machine food than I would have spent just booking a direct flight or train or bus in the first place.
An example! Every year my large extended family has a party the Sunday before Christmas, usually somewhere in South Central Pennsylvania. Though I live inNew YorkI do my best to make it ever year. Gold Star Relative Award! A few years ago my cousin hosted – I’d never been to his house but knew it was “near Philadelphia,” which I took to mean “inside the Philadelphia train station” so I was planning, in my head, to get a ride from NYC to the party with my brother and then just hop a train out of town whenever I pleased because life is easy when you live in a train station. His house, of course, turned out to be at least an hour outside of Philly proper, pretty far into the country, with no train station attached.
The rest of the day is an extremely convoluted story, which I won’t go too deep into, but basically what happened was, after finally finding the nearest train station (thanks mom!) I panicked over the cost of direct Amtrak trains ($90 one way!) and decided to get creative – combining Amtrak with SEPTA, the Pennsylvania mass transit which would get me as far as Trenton, NJ, where I could connect with New Jersey Transit, which would take me back to Manhattan. It was a solid gold plan if, in this instance, you swap gold with feces.
I barely missed the Amtrak – SEPTA connection, leaving me with an hour to kill in Philadelphia’s stunning 30th Street Station. The NJ Transit connection was slightly smoother (only 30 minute wait!) and we were chugging along just fine when disaster struck. It was one of those newfangled double-decker trains – you’d enter into an open foyer, of sorts and then choose to walk down, into the lower deck, or up to the top row. I am aware that you don’t need me to define “double decker” for you, but bear with me. It’s relevant! I was riding on top, just the way I like it (haha gross, sorry) and suddenly my fellow passengers and I heard a commotion below us. A woman was running up and down the aisle in the car below us, shrieking at the top of her lungs, just screaming and screaming and running. We pulled into the next station and the conductor stalled the train and called the police to come get her. She then took out her cell phone and called the police herself, screaming into the line that she was mentally ill (…erm, obvi…) and was being held hostage on a train. She ran around in the enclosed area screaming for 15 minutes, until the authorities came to haul her away. It was such a bizarre situation – horribly sad and yet funny in an uncomfortable way. It wasn’t until I was looking out the window, watching her led away in handcuffs that I realized the name of the station we’d been stalled in:Elizabeth. Of course it was! Where else would a train be stalled due to a schizophrenic breakdown disaster than a town calledELIZABETH.
By the time we finally made it back toNew YorkI was so exhausted and frazzled by the experience I decided to take a taxi home from the train station. I walked in my door at 11:30 PM. I had been travelling for over five hours. I was at the Christmas party for under three. Had I stayed on the Amtrak, I’d have made it home before 9. How much money did I save on this expedition? $13. Thirteen dollars.
Have I learned my lesson? Of course not! Tonight I’ll be flying to Chicago on the red-eye leg of an airline called Spirit Air. They do a bang-up marketing job, selling tickets for a pittance, then charging fees for everything from carry-on luggage to a reserved seat. Despite the absurd fees, my round trip ticket still cost me far less than any other airline…and by far less, obviously I mean like, $35. I need to reevaluate my financial situation.
Apparently you get what you pay for. I told a friend I was flying Spirit and she directed me to the internet. There are dozens of city-specific Yelp pages for Spirit Airlines and on each and every one of them the average rating is One Star. Here is one of my favorites:
Just a few words to sum up Spirit Airlines:
Appalling, atrocious, awful, beastly, dangerous, desperate, dire, disastrous, disturbing, dreadful, frightful, ghastly, gruesome, harrowing, hateful, hideous, horrendous, horrid, horrifying, inconvenient, loathsome, monstrous, obnoxious, odious, offensive, petrifying, poor, repulsive, revolting, rotten, shocking, unfortunate, unnerving, unpleasant, vile.
My absolute favorite review comes from the above mentioned friend’s boyfriend, a true poet if I’ve ever known one, who sums up his Spirit Air experience:
You are a bottomless pit of suckitude -- an anus-flavored neverending gobstopper of despair.
So yes, this evening should be exceptional! Who doesn't look forward to anus-flavored neverending gobstoppers of despair?
Wish me luck, please?