I'm pretty sure that this is how it started for Amerigo Vespucci.
You know that he booked his trip on Sail India, thinking that he would hop on board at the local dock and sail around to India to do a little spice shopping, some trade, what not. Easy. While Sail India may not have been a house-hold name, it did have some years of experience in global travel. And it certainly was affordable. You can imagine his horrified surprise when Sail India (out of the blue) decided to stop sailing Amerigo's intended route. What was he going to do? Well, by God, Amerigo was not going to be deterred - after all, he had already reserved his hostel room and Eurail pass. No, Amerigo, packed his bags and sailed his own ship for India! We all know the state of sailing back in those day (not pretty) and he had to take matters into his own hands. Of course, he ended up getting lost along the way. But he did discover America - so all in all, not a bad trip.
The point is, this is how all great adventures start! With a hitch in the road. An obstacle in the path. The random and seemingly cruel cancellation of a flight. And just like Amerigo Vespucci, Kelly and I are determined to make it to our destination.
You can imagine my surprise when the woman from Priceline.com, in a completely monotone (she actually sounded annoyed) voice informed me that Air India had decided, effective September 1st, to suspend all flights between New York and London. I was at a loss. That just happens? They just decide that they are bored with New York, so time to cancel all flights? They didn't know this in July? She did not have any words of condolence or sage advice. She just said she could give me my money back. Uh, like we had just come back in because we had gotten the wrong order. "We didn't order the turkey, we wanted the burger." "Oh, well, you can have your money back." This is international travel! Planned months in advance. She did, however, say that there may be some flights still operating with Air India between New York and London and that we could try it. Can you imagine this? We get a flight to London but then have no way of getting back when the flights in November stop happening. That would be great. "Just get on, see if you make it." Thanks.
You may be thinking that we would have learned our lessons about discount carriers from this snafu so close to our departure date (two days). No. You may call it cheap-ass but I like to call it wise frugality. Unbelievably, we were able to find a last-minute fare on Kuwait Airlines for tickets only $70 more than those on Air India! Eureka! Okay, the plans me have changed somewhat but just like Amerigo Vespucci, the adventure continues! Go Amerigo! And go us!
To be fair to Fate/Karma/Luck, though, I should point out that this is not quite the first place that our worldwide adventure has veered from the tracks. Last Friday we were at Public Storage signing up for a our storage unit to hold all of our earthly belongings when they tried to cheat us! That's right friends, Public Storage told us that the first month would only cost $1 but when we got there, they said that it would be only half off ($80). Okay, you may call us cheap-asses but I call us principled! What the heck? Back in my door-to-door vacuum selling days, we called this the old "bait and switch." This probably also happened to Amerigo Vespucci. But, heck-no, we would not stand for it! Kelly tried to pressure them by getting out her cell phone and saying loud enough for the clerk to hear: "I guess we'll call some other places." The clerk did not seem to care. Obviously she was paid by the hour and not on commission. She even said: "Yeah, people cancel a lot because this happens all the time." This happens all the time? Wha? Well, now that she was essentially double-dared, she had to follow through with the vague "calling around." I was ready to throw in the towel bute Kelly would not be taken for a ride. As luck would have it, the one place she did call offered an even better deal - the first month free, not even $1! So we, with noses raised high, marched from the Public Storage (stinks) to Extra Space Storage (sweet). It worked out and I actually had to hug the clerk at the Extra Space Storage. He did not try to bend us over and. . . well, you get the idea.
Of course, when we were actually moving all of our earthly belongings into storage on Saturday we just happened to get the space across from the couple who spend their weekends in their storage unit preparing moisturizers to sell at local markets. Essentially they sat there watching us lug and organize all of our junk while offering unwanted advice. "Oh man, you just gotta put all your stuff in there. You don't have the luxury of organizing it the way you want like we do. It won't all fit." Of course, he says this with no idea how much stuff we have. What if the yard gnome and TV/VCR combo were all that we had? What about that? I smiled through the sweat. "Thank you." And as we were celebrating (high-fives and dancing all around) the last of it fitting into a 5x10x8 space, he said: "Let me give you some advice. (Please do.) Put two locks on there - make people work for it to steal your things. Do it." I will admit that I can be a cynical person from time to time but, jeez, how about we have some faith in humanity, in our fellow man? Plus, the latch that the lock is attached to is flimsy enough to break off with a karate chop.
And so our adventure begins! As a young Haley Joel Osmet said, pay it forward. So I will assume that it will be nothing but smooth sailing from here on out, right? Unlike Kelly, I will expect a warm bed and hot meal waiting for me at every turn. Yippeee!