So. So much for all my careful planning and New York Airport Transit ticket buying to meet Cheyne at Grand Central. I prepare myself mentally for the 2 hour bus ride by buying 3 trash magazines that set me back about $17. Worth it.
Then a light bulb flickers on and I recall my very heavy backpack I’ve been schlepping around Europe. I go back to the counter.
“Hi. Since I will be taking the bus, what happens to the bag I checked 2 hours ago?”
“Someone will probably get it and put it on the bus. Don’t worry.” Then I am dismissed as she turns her back on my subsequent questions.
Key word here: probably. I was worried. Especially since this exact thing had just happened to me when coming back from Holland. Sigh. Amazingly, not one single person that works for US Airways in the Philly airport can answer any sort of question you might have about the airline or your flight. I’d be surprised if they could even spell their own names or perform simple addition problems.
Some time later, after perusing the lives of celebrities and bonding with a fellow Pennsylvanian over our plight, they inform us that the bus has arrived and we are to proceed to a certain baggage claim where our bags will be waiting for us to place on the bus. Everyone gets their bag and piles on the bus. I’m still waiting. Guess whose bag didn’t come? You can’t make this stuff up people.
So I find the gate manager by the bus and ask her what my next step is. We go through the song and dance of me being told “I don’t know,” until finally she tells me to file a claim at the counter when I get to LGA and they will deliver my bag when it arrives; probably within 48 hours. A bit of a problem considering that I am meant to leave for Montreal the very next morning. Doesn’t leave much room for error as far as lost bags and what not.
I ask her if I can just go to the holding pen for the US Airways flight and look for my bag there. She looks at me like I’m an alien and explains, as if talking to a child, that there are a series of belts and pulleys in the airport system and there isn’t just “one place” where I can go look. Very well. Maybe it was a dumb question but I was sick and just got off a trans-Atlantic flight! Cut me some slack. You don’t have to be an ass about it.
So then I ask for my ticket stub back. She snaps at me with indignant eyes, “We keep those. Why would we give you your ticket back?”
I pinch the bridge of my nose. It’s better than punching her esophagus, I figure. I slowly explain that in order to file a claim, I will need my ticket stub that has all of my flight information on it. AND since the woman at the counter took my ENTIRE ticket, without giving me anything, I had no information for reference.
What a different tune she started to sing. She apologized and said she had no idea why the other woman took my entire ticket (there seems to be no method of madness in this company) and told me that she would find it and get me my stub. Funny how she can find my ticket but not my bag.
I heave a heavy sigh and climb on the bus. Sick, tired, achy, emotional and bagless. Oh. And the bus has no bathroom. Fail. I curl up on my seat and whimper quietly.
It takes an hour just to get out of Philly.
Then a fight breaks out on the bus. Yes, it’s true. Seemingly mature, grown men and women dove into a verbal lashing that promised to end violently. The front of the bus wanted peace and quiet, and the back, full of Americans and Aussies, were causing a full blown ruckus. A screaming match ensued, and I was right in the middle of it. An unwilling Switzerland, if you will. Sure they were annoying. But I know when to keep my mouth shut. Some battles you know you just won’t win.
So I’m sitting on this bus, eyes darting back and forth waiting for the inevitable glint of a shank slicing through the air, all the while clutching everything inside of me so I won’t throw up/die. Not my finest moment.
Some phrases that were thrown around:
“Not everyone on the bus wants to hear your nonsense.”
“Try having some respect for other people.”
“Why don’t you just turn around and mind your own business!”
“Well I’m used to dealing with children so this is easy!”
“We are trying to make the best of the situation instead of being a sour puss.”
The woman sitting next to me was talking on her cell and kept exclaiming at a very high volume that she couldn’t hear a word that was said cause “the people on this bus won’t shut up,” “i can’t hear you – the gentleman asked them to be quiet and they don’t care, they don’t respect anyone,” etc. I listened to this for about 10 minutes before she actually hung up the phone.
And that was just the beginning. It started to escalate and my eyes got wide when the man in front of me stood up to address the troublemakers in the back. All of the sudden, there was a rumble from the right side of the bus, and the driver pulled over.
We got a flat.
It did seem to quiet everyone down though so conflict averted I suppose.
The driver pokes around outside for a bit while we wait on the bus. 15 minutes later, he informs us that ANOTHER bus will be coming from the airport to get us. I laugh at this point. What more can go wrong?
When the bus arrives and we are getting up, someone actually calls out “same seats!” Huh. So I really was on the bus with children.
4 hours later, our uneventful bus ride ends at LGA. My bag is there, and so are Cheyne and Massimo to scoop me up. I crumble into a happy pile of tears. And then throw up.
We were lied to. It is NOT always sunny in Philadelphia.