Easily Amused

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Every Year About This Time, I Write About Chicago

This June, we (we=me and Some Guy) flew in to Chicago for a long weekend and a Milwaukee wedding. Flight arrangements were somewhat complicated. We were flying into Midway on Thursday, hanging out at The Palmer House for a night, then picking up Teen Angst on Friday. Teen in question, coming in from her 2-week spree in England and France with her other family, changing planes and carriers in Dulles to meet up with us, also at Midway. Complicated much?

So everything is groovy on Thursday. We land and take the cheap route by hopping the L into downtown. Our hotel is steps from the station, but Some Guy decides to hop off one stop early so we chug suitcases a couple blocks to the hotel. We score a fabulous upgrade (yeah, sometimes being on the road a HECKA lot has some upgrade perks) and immediately head out to Millennium Park, mere steps away and featuring Taste of Chicago. Man, timing is everything. We feast for a bit, debate whether to go to the Cubs game, and end up just enjoying Taste.
Friday, we rent bikes and cycle down Lakeshore Drive, around the aquarium, and just generally enjoy the sights. Since it's also fireworks day (July 3), the crowd is already starting to arrive and set up for the evening light show. We have the Teen airport pickup about 7pm so we decide to bellstand the bags and take it easy for the afternoon wait.

I know Teen is scheduled to land about 3pm our time, so I give her a call to verify her flight arrived, and make sure she is able to get through customs without too much drama. Uh, not likely. We connect via phone; she is freaked. In summary: plane left late, plane arrived late, Unnamed Person Who Is Not My Daughter left boarding pass, baggage claim tickets, and passport (not Teen's) on the plane, passport retrieval commences, customs confusion commences, baggage belonging to all passengers except Teen arrives, Teen is on her own as Accompanying Family had to dash for their connection, Teen freaks out trying to locate her airline and her gate. With coaching from Some Guy and airport map at our end, Teen gets to her gate and is now on her way to Midway, sans luggage.

So, wedding next day, pending Teen arrival, and luggage potentially not coming any time soon. Discuss.

I decide to use the immediate future to see what necessities I can snag in anticipation of luggage not being where it should be any time soon. Find shoes for Teen, purchase them. Run out of time.

Some Guy and I pick up luggage and take the L back to Midway, this time getting on the stop that is actually most convenient. See, we practice Continuous Process Improvement! We strategize how to proceed after airport pickup, so that we can locate nearest department store for mandatory girly undergarments and other basics. Some Guy calls Goog411 (love them!) and locates nearest Target and has a conversation something like this:
SG "Hello, can you tell me how to get there from here?"
T "Yes, go here, then go here."
T "What are you looking for?"
SG (puzzled) "Uh, Target...?"
T "No, sir, what is it that you are looking for?"
SG (suddenly nervous, very long pause) "Uh...um. A-a football?"
Two things: One, when you are a guy, telling the Target lady that you need to go from the airport right to Target for the purpose of buying girls underwear, not gonna happen. Even if your immediate need for girls underwear is very appropriate and solves a problem. Two, isn't it normal to need a football RIGHT AWAY when you are coming from the airport? Just saying. Think about it. Must. Have. Football.Now.

Anyhoo, Teen arrives, no luggage, no baggage claim office either. See, when you land in Dulles on United Airlines, and the baggage expert says, no you cannot file a claim here, you must file it at the end of your itinerary, and the teen says, this is the end of my itinerary, as I change to Southwest Airlines now, and the baggage expert says, file it at the end of your journey, it seems no one at United takes into consideration that United flies into O'Hare and Southwest flies into Midway. So, United Dumbheads Airlines, there IS NO UNITED BAGGAGE CLAIM OFFICE to file a lost baggage claim with at Midway.

So no baggage, no baggage claim, no baggage claim tickets (still in some seat pocket with United, probably enroute back to Heathrow), and time to head to Target. We do need a football, after all.

Fastest tour of Target ever: underwear, deodorant, swimsuit, and very happy Teen with all new stuff. Or less frantic about all her missing stuff from her trip, anyway. We finally head out for Milwaukee about 9pm. Only to be stuck in a major traffic jam. [Insert Munch "The Scream" here.] Police herd us into a parking lot. Not anyone in front of us or behind us; we are just randomly selected for something they call a "safety check". Safety check, my a**. We're safe, we get flagged through, and 3 cops later, another one stops us for the same dang check. Very disorganized safety check. Maybe they need some training in Continuous Process Improvement.

OK, we are back on the road. I think we make it half a block before we see this giant cement berm straddling the entire width of the roadway. Problem? We see it approximately 1.2 seconds before we smack into it going about 40mph. Rental car makes not a good sound, so Some Guy decides we need to pull over and check for potential damage before getting on the freeway. So we cruise around for several blocks to find a "good place" to check out the car. The "good place" is a McDonald's in a very dicey part of Chicago. (You know, near the Target.) So Some Guy uses his guy smarts to check out the car, and we strongly encourage him to hurry. He seems to move a little faster after we hear gunshots.

Yay, we are finally on the freeway! Oh, look, fireworks, pretty. No, no, Some Guy, you are the driver - please keep your eyes on the road and I will watch all the fireworks for you. Oh, dear, there is a lot of traffic. Oh, my, is that an accident or another "safety check" ahead? OK, just a lot of traffic. A giant big-time headache, major lot of traffic. Why isn't everyone parked somewhere watching fireworks? Plus, I think I really have to pee.

Two hours later, we find our hotel in Milwaukee. Hey, if we check in now, it's still Friday! We get to our room a bit after midnight. I hassle with United Airlines, courtesy of the call center in India, for a bit before sanity takes over and I accept that her luggage will probably spend some time traveling around the U.S. before it is located and forwarded to Milwaukee. It actually works in United's favor that we are now in Milwaukee. At least they have a baggage claim office there, even if no one is there in the middle of the night.

We bunk down so that we can get some rest before the day of the wedding; since it is the raison d'etre for our trip, it seems somewhat appropo that we should not arrive looking like a trio of zombies. A duet maybe, certainly not a trio. Lights out. As I drift off, I wonder if the wedding couple needs a football. I think I know where to find one.


  • At 4:32 AM , Blogger Miss M! said...

    Holy crap, it's a Suzy blog sighting! You. MUST. KEEP. Blogging!!! I'm tired just reading all that.

  • At 9:10 AM , Anonymous Kim Schroeder said...

    I'm not know for frequent blog entries either, but yours is so funny and well written you really need to do it more often<<<<<


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