Friday, December 18, 2009

October 14th – Air India and other problems

F-ing Postal Workers
I woke up coughing lungfulls of mucous. Sorry, I know that’s a terrible image. My head hurt, my eyebrows hurt, my teeth hurt. I crawled out of bed around noon and showered in water as hot as I could stand, trying to steam out the illness. Xander made me a drink of whiskey, honey, lemon, ginger and hot water that helped enough for me to think myself capable of venturing out.

I decided to try shipping the four mugs, tea, and a few thin booklets I had acquired earlier in the week. The store where I bought the mugs put them in a large, sturdy box which Xander helped me tape, wrap in brown paper, and tape again. I walked the half mile to the post office on Cowley Road.

The line was blessedly short. Post office lines in England can take hours, so I thought I was in luck. I told the postal worker that I wanted to send the box to America, and I put it on the scale for weighing. It was .75 grams overweight. This meant a shipping price of £47. But if I got rid of .75 grams, the price would drop down to £22. I gave the smug little brown man a withering glare meant to convey that I was sick, had a lot to do and not much time to do it in, and that this .75 grams was entirely too ridiculous for me to deal with right then. I didn’t say any of this. I asked “Do you have any tape so I can do this here?” “No” he replied cheerfully. The bastard.

I trekked back the half mile to the house, removed the paper and tape, and with Xander’s help, discovered that .75 grams is exactly the weight of the wrapping paper. Seriously, that is how small the difference was. I took out a couple cards and a thin booklet. Then we wrapped and taped the box again, and I walked the half mile back to the post office.

I'd like to note that upon my return to California, despite careful packing, 2 mugs were broken and the box looked like it had been hit repeatedly with a sledge-hammer. Then sat upon.

I hadn’t eaten anything all day and decided to have one last meat pie with mushy peas, potatoes and gravy at Pie Minister in the Covered Market. Then I went to an internet café on High Street to try and get some work done for my ghost-writing employer. I had to spend a few minutes reassuring Mom that I wasn’t going to catch malaria, typhoid or rabies. Over Gmail chat I promised not to pet any animals and to cover myself with Deet from head to toe. She was very annoyed that I hadn’t pumped myself full of every possible vaccination and anti-malarial.
Air India

LAX is remarkably easy to navigate compared with Heathrow. Maybe it’s just Terminal 3, maybe the other terminals are more organized. In Terminal 3, there are signs that don’t say anything useful. I couldn’t find Air India until I discovered the information booth and asked.

My “carry-on” was too heavy and had to be checked, which I really didn’t want to do considering Air India’s reputation for doing everything badly. My sense of forebodinga was not lessened when the Air India check-in clerk asked me “you don’t have anything too important in there, do you?” Which is NOT a question you want to hear when deciding whether or not to check your suitcase.

The plane boarded over an hour before its scheduled take-off. So even though I arrived at 7pm for a 9:30pm flight, I only had just enough time to fumble through security and find the inconveniently placed drinking fountain to fill up my plastic water bottle.

Then I was on the plane. The moment when the wheels leave the ground, that first moment of feeling nothing but air under me, always makes me grin like an idiot. Every time.

1 comment:

Lauren :) said...

Speaking from experience, you never EVER want to leave anything of the remotest importance (to anyone else) in a piece of checked luggage. I decided I was being smart and fast by putting my jewelry in the outside, zipped pocket of my check-in suitcase on a trip to NY via Jet Blue, and magically when I got to NY it was no longer there, and a little card was in my bag saying it had been checked by the TSA. bastards.