The Trip From Hell
I should have known my trip to D.C. was going to be bad when my publisher told me there was a “minor” printing error in the foreword by Vint Cerf in the 2nd edition of Net Crimes & Misdemeanors. Yes, it’s only part of a sentence that was set in italics, but it’s still a mistake (buy this first printing while you can, it’ll be a collectible).
Then when the books didn’t show up for the conference until moments before I had to speak last weekend in Virginia Beach, I should have know there would be a problem.
Then the publicist at my publisher told me my badge for the Book Expo had my last name spelled wrong. I got it in the mail the other day and my name is spelled Hitchcoal. Seriously.
Then the day and time of my autograph session was missing from the list on the Book Expo web site and the guy who posted those refused to add me.
Then the hotel I’m to stay at had me booked only for two nights, not three.
The publicist took care of that and told me to get the badge redone when I got to the Book Expo on Sunday. No biggie.
So this morning I get to the Portland airport in Maine and head for the United Airlines counter, printed out paid itinerary in my hot little hands. I’d checked the flight departure time before leaving the house and it was leaving on time. The publisher’s travel agency had made the reservations for me.
The girl at the ticket counter was nice and she tried to check me in using my MileagePlus card. No go. Next we tried my credit card. No go. I gave her the itinerary receipt with the confirmation number on it and she tried that. No go. She did some typing, frowned, then looked at me. She told me the ticket had not been paid for and the travel agency canceled the reservation.
I was nonplussed. I had the *paid* receipt in my hands. Besides, my publisher had called me on my cell on the drive to the airport, anxious for me to get to D.C. for our planned dinner. He was expecting me to arrive at the time noted on the itinerary.
So I tried him on his cell. His voicemail picked up. I tried the publicist. His voicemail picked up. There was no one at the travel agency (what kind of travel agency doesn’t have an emergency number to call in times like this?)
I asked the girl if there were any seats left on the flight. She told me only in first class. The original ticket had been for $302.10. To fly now was going to cost $1200.
I asked if any of the other airlines flew to DC. She sent me to US Airways. I explained to the nice man at the counter my predicament. He looked at me strange and asked if I’d been on TV recently. Turns out he saw me on CNN and told me he recognized me because I looked like a younger Susan Sarandon and she was his favorite actress. That made me perk up a bit.
He found me a flight leaving two hours from then, but going through LaGuardia instead of non-stop. I wouldn’t get in to D.C. until 6:10 pm. The good news is that I was now flying into Washington/Reagan instead of Dulles, a much faster ride to the hotel.
The one way ticket cost $383. I paid for it and left another frantic message for my publisher. The guy at the counter carried my bags to the x-ray machine and was very nice.
I called Chris. He couldn’t believe it. I went through security, called my mom to let her know my flight had changed. She couldn’t believe it.
I found a restaurant, ordered some chicken strips and a drink. My cell finally rang – it was the publicist. He was really, really upset. He told me the ticket had been paid for. I explained that I had given the girl the receipt showing it had been paid for and that she said the travel agency canceled the reservation. He was not pleased or amused. I told him I’d booked only one-way because I hadn’t heard back from him or the publisher.
He told me he’d book my flight home, hung up, then called back to see what time I wanted to fly home on Tuesday.
I’m sitting at the airport right now waiting for his call back. And out the windows I see rain clouds. I hope my flight is not delayed. If it is, I’m calling it quits and going home.
Sunday, May 21st 8 am
The flight did take off on time, so did my connecting flight at LaGuardia. Got to the hotel at almost 7 pm. The clerk checking me in tells me I’m staying two nights. I tell him, no it’s three and show him the reservations page I’d printed from my Priority Club account. He did some more typing and told me I had to come downstairs to the front desk on Monday morning, check out, then check back in. I burst out laughing. I told him I’d better be staying in the same room, because I was NOT going to be moving to another one. He said it shouldn’t be a problem. He gave me my room key, said all charges for the room were being taken care of (thank you to my publisher) and I trundled upstairs to my room.
At first, when I slid the keycard through, the green light came on, but the door wouldn’t budge. So I swiped it again. Success!
Got in, called Chris, then the publicist. He said he’d booked my flight home on Tuesday and would give me the info when I saw him today. I told him about the checking out/checking in on Monday and he groaned. I told him I was going to do room service and was there a limit on how much I could charge. He told me no (especially after all I’d been through). I told him I was going to order champagne and male strippers, ha ha.
I ordered dinner, unpacked, then dinner arrived (ribeye steak, salad, veggies, all cooked to perfection). I got into my jammies and started watching Batman Begins on HBO. Not a bad movie.
About 915 pm, the phone rang. My publisher had said another writer who would be signing his books the same time as me might call. I was too tired, so I let it ring and figured I would just get his voicemail. No message. Two minutes later, it rang again and I figured he thought he had the wrong room. I started to fall asleep. The phone rang again at almost 10 pm, waking me up.
I picked up, groggy, and it was room service telling me they couldn’t charge my dinner to the room and I had to pay for it. I was tired, cranky and sick of the whole day. I told them my publisher was paying for all charges for the room. I hung up, then dialed the front desk and tried not to yell at the poor woman who answered. I explained I was told all charges for the room were paid for by my publisher and he had confirmed this on the phone to me today. She said she was taking care of it right away.
I didn’t get anymore phone calls and slept pretty well.
So far today, no problems. Shhhhhh. Don’t tell anyone.