22 June 2010

Tue-Wednesday: The Longest Day of My Life

Yes, Tue-Wednesday is two days put together. But more than that, it is two days plus 6 hours (Do the math (get warmed up for the rest of this post): that is 54 hours. Boom.) But more than that, it is two days (plus 6 hours) filled with little sleep, at least a few major gaffes (so far at least), and lots of flying (aka, sitting in a stuffy, cramped space, with sweat drying on your forehead as the a little stream of circulated air blows on you). I am not even sure if I am halfway through Tue-Wednesday (this is where the math part breaks down for me), but let me tell you that it has been an eventful day. Let me fill you in on what has happened so far:

  • 7:15 wake-up, don the sub-fusc, and meet the great Aisha for pre-exam prep (good luck today, by the way, Miss Red-Carnation)
  • 9:28 Eat a piece of paper (see below).
  • 9:30 Flip over the exam paper and panic. These questions don't look familiar.
  • 9:33 Tricky Martin, these are the questions I was looking for but just slyly worded. And Robert, I don't even know what you are asking on your questions...
  • 12:30 Done. Boom.
  • 12:33 Friends waiting with silly string and a gift. How nice. It's three fish heads. I am so thankful. Mostly because the fish heads were in the box and not on my head (a common alternative)
  • (The rest of the day is full of running errands, packing, seeing friends, and saying many goodbyes--but mostly see-you-laters, the best kind).
  • 1:35 (am)--start walking to the bus station.
This is where I will pick things back up. So, as I am walking to the bus station, I realize that my bags are really heavy. As in, I know I haven't been lifting as much as I might have been, say two years ago, but I am not that weak and these feel much heavier than the bags that I brought over to England (which were also over weight). Insert ominous sign here. Fortunately, 10 minutes of walking backwards with two huge bags in the middle of the night later, a taxi picked me up about 200 yards from the bus stop. There was a day when I would have refused to pay for this service. But I can't be sure I would have made it to the bus without his help, and 2 in the morning is not the time to be a hero. Both the taxi driver and the bus driver comment that my bags are extraordinarily heavy. I comment that they should be careful to not throw out their backs. This is the point at which I start to worry.

Well, despite the fact that the bus trip is advertised as a 90 minute journey, I arrive at 3 am for my 7:55 flight (Beth Whorton is so proud.). At first I kick myself for not taking the 4 am bus--which would have seemed much more reasonable and would have still gotten me to the airport a full 3 hours before departure. So, what is a girl to do in a deserted airport with no chairs at 3 in the morning? I'll tell you. She is going to weigh her bags that seem worryingly heavy. After reading the sign that describes the 23 kg limit (at which point you pay $50) and a 32 kg upper limit (at which point your bag does not go back to the United States of America with you no matter how much you need all 20 Shakespearian dramas that you had to bring home). The lighter of the two bags goes on the scale and weighs in at 26.6 kg (for those of you who aren't that good with metric, that is 58.82 pounds--I think that is about the weight of a fifth grader). At this point, I know the black bag is heavier. I quickly calculate that I have a margin of less than 6 kg between the first bag and the 32 kg no-fly limit. So that means that my second bag can be about 11.5 kg heavier and with a little weight distribution (just 12.5 pounds or so...no big deal) both bags can be fly-able.

When I picked up the black bag and nearly had a slip-disk, I should have realized that hoping for this favorable outcome was just wishful thinking. When I put it on the scale and saw that it was over 52 kg I knew I was in BIG trouble. (Yes, that means that I was over 20 lbs over the weight-limit on the second bag). So now, it is about 3:45 and I am sweating and have my belongings strewn all around the airport. Let's talk about how glad I am that I decided to get to the airport ridiculously early.

Recognizing that there was no way that I could squeeze 20 lbs worth of stuff into the 10 lb cushion that I have in my other bag (unless it has some sort of black-hole feature of which I am unaware), I pay to get online and find out what the options are for "freight-luggage" or "buying a second seat for your bag that is so fat that it would better be described as a small person than a piece of luggage" (honestly, that option might be cheaper). After finding out that the 32 kg limit really is a hard and fast rule, I realized that my best option is to fork out $250 and to check a third bag (which I don't have). So I ask a janitor for a card board box, which is the point where the blessings just start to roll. After providing a cardboard box, he gives me a suitcase that was abandoned at the airport. After throwing away several items including some old t-shirts and the shoes I was wearing (the other alternative was to put on all the clothes I could get my hands on, but I was far to sweaty for all of that). By 4:30, I had two 32 kg bags, a 13 kg hand-bag, and a backpack and personal item full of books. To finish up the happy ending, the woman at the desk showed great compassion on me and just charged me for the third bag (which means she didn't charge me for the second bag, or the overweight fees for either of the first two, which means I got a 50% discount on being an unbelievable over-packer and having a real consumption problem when it comes to buying books).

What a day. And to think that it is only half-way over! What a perfect way to end an adventurous year. If anything crazy happens, you may hear from me in Chicago as well. Oh, and the fact that sleep was not mentioned in the days recap is not a coincident. It just hasn't happened.

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