I Should Have Gone To Chicago
Tonight is the TGWTG Charity Drive for the Ronald McDonald House of Chicago.
I was not at this drive.
However, I was at least asked to participate. Unfortunately, I had to turn it down. Because, where did I have to be on this same night?
I regret this very much now.
Let’s jump back a few months. I decided, “Hey, you know what I need to do? Get some Japanese language certification.” So, I dropped some money on an application to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in Atlanta, Georgia in December. The test only happens once a year, and only happens in certain cities across the US. Unfortunately for me, not one of them takes place anywhere within the ginormous state of Texas. Bummer.
Only a month before the test is set to take place do they FINALLY decide to send me a letter saying, “Alright! You’re taking the test! Here’s all the info!” Thanks. I didn’t know if I was going to be allowed to take it all year, could have been studying a little more, and now you tell me I’m in. I hate you.
Jump forward to today. The charity drive is live tonight, but I have to catch this flight to Atlanta. But, actually, I DON’T end up going straight to Atlanta. Actually, for some kind of weird reason, I have this connecting flight in Chicago. I think about this briefly and wish that, instead of connecting to this flight to Atlanta, I could just leave the airport and hang out with everyone else up in Chicago. But I know I shouldn’t miss my chance.
What’s weird, though, while I’m sitting in the terminal in the San Antonio International Airport, is that there’s a flight out of the terminal right next to mine, that actually IS going straight to Atlanta. I wondered, then, why I wasn’t on that one. I looked over at the crowd, and casually, I thought I saw someone who might be hiding some inner geek (I’ve decided that over the years I’ve picked up this latent ability to know who may really be “geek” or “otaku” secretly, without saying a word, just identifying them visually). I didn’t really think much of it otherwise.
But then I get a Twitter response later saying, “i knew it was you, lol. i’m in the gate over to your left. #creepymuch”
At first I was like, “Holy crap! I just got recognized in an airport!” Then, I looked him up later. Oh, wow, that’s Brad Jones’ title card author! He lives in San Antonio? How did I not know that before today?
So, here’s this other guy, in the same airport as me, somewhat related to Channel Awesome, and he’s getting on a plane bound for Atlanta. That’s my final destination and all, but I’m headed for Chicago first.
Well, this is where the crap starts to hit the fan. My initial flight out of San Antonio is half an hour late, because just about every flight in and out of Chicago is delayed due to snowy weather. I figure, okay, that’s cool, no big deal. And anyway, everybody was saying that all the flights out were going to be delayed, too, so I wasn’t going to miss my flight.
Well, either I DID miss my flight, or it was canceled. I actually believe it was canceled. I ended up in O’Hare, and my 9:20 AM flight was no longer in existence. So, I found that I had been scheduled onto another flight – that left at 1:20 PM. I’m thinking, “Sheesh. That sucks. Oh well, nothing to be done about it.” And I go about my business. While I’m there, I see Christmas carolers and think, “Oh, that’s cute.” But then I see somebody dressed up and taking pictures as Ronald McDonald. And it reminded me, “Oh. That’s right. I’m in Chicago. The gang is doing the charity for the Ronald McDonald House. I sure wish I was staying.”
I find my flight. It’s not gonna be there for a while. I stumble around O’Hare blindly. I come back. I find that my flight has been further delayed, until 1:50. Okay. That STILL sucks. I’m starting to think, “Maybe this is God’s way of telling me I belong here in Chicago today.” But I thought about it, thought about calling a few of the people I knew were in Chicago, and I didn’t want to burden any of the guys with my presence, anyway. So I continued to sit there.
Suddenly, it was 4:15 PM. And THAT’S when they finally let us on the plane, 7 hours after I was originally supposed to leave. But even when we were physically seated on the plane, we weren’t going anywhere for a while. It was snowing like crazy, and then they even had to cover the jet with some kind of non-freeze fluid.
It wasn’t until about 7:30 PM that I finally landed, sadly, in Atlanta. I thought, “I guess I was just meant to take my JLPT, and not stay in Chicago.” But now I’m starting to believe I made the wrong choice.
I took the MARTA (the local train system) to Georgia State University, which is where my test will be taking place tomorrow. I thought that my hotel was relatively close. Which, it is, it’s just that I found out the hard way that there was an even closer train station that I could have stopped at. Oh well. No harm done, except I’m totally exhausted at this point and have lost TWO AND A HALF HOURS by getting myself dead lost in the middle of downtown Atlanta. I used my phone as a GPS to get me toward the hotel. In the process, my phone battery died. I thought, “Okay, okay, this could be worse. At least I know where I’m going now.”
Finally, after 10 PM, I arrive at my hotel in Atlanta, 16 hours after I had initially left San Antonio.
But it still gets worse.
FOR SOME REASON, the hotel’s web site didn’t find it important enough to make mention that the hotel’s lobby CLOSES AT 8 PM.
And so I sit, with my reservation print-out in hand, staring at the dark window, with the paper sign taped to the inside, saying “Doors close at 8, closed from dusk until dawn, call security if you are here after hours,” which was completely no help when my phone had just died because I was trying so hard just to figure out how to get here in the first place, and I was wondering what the hell I’ve done, and why I’m even here.
I remember everything. All the delays, the snow, sitting for hours in airports, wandering the city-sized landscape that is O’Hare, sitting at bars with men I don’t know while they drink beer and watch football and I choose to be the lame-o drinking ice water, I remember my trekking through the terror that is Downtown Atlanta, realizing I can’t understand a word a single person says around here because their accent is so thick you’d need a wakizashi to cut through it, getting strange cat calls, and uncomfortable racial slurs because I’m a female minority race in this city… and it all just lead to me sitting outside on the curb in front of this crappy little hotel where the front desk doesn’t even stay open or bother telling you that they won’t be open when you get there.
I cried a little.
But when I stood up to try to find some place to just plug in my phone long enough to make a call, I nearly stumbled directly into the on-site security officer. He helped me out quickly and efficiently. He was actually able to fulfill my reservation right there and then. Finally! I had my room.
I thought, “Great! I’ll at least be able to experience the charity event from my hotel room!”
As it is, it was a pain getting the Internet to work. I found the right wireless connection, but it required a user name and a password. And NONE of that information was given to me in any paperwork, and there was no one to call for the information. Luckily, the username was already filled in as “Guest”. And with a lucky guess of “guest” also being the password, THERE! I was in! Wow. What a stupid username and password combination…
I’m sitting in the chat. That’s just about all I can do. This Internet sucks. I can barely have more than one window open at a time. The charity stream is miserable to watch and is completely incomprehensible. Every two minutes, I get to see and hear maybe three seconds of footage. This is hardly fun. Hardly fun at all.
And now I’m up far later than I should be, and I have this stupid JLPT to take tomorrow. Was it really worth it? Or was God trying to give me the hint that I should have stuck around and bugged the Chicago guys to let me help them with their charity drive?
Think about it.
The TGWTG personality in the airport. The initial delay in Chicago. Seeing Ronald McDonald in the airport. Being delayed over and over again. The fact that I just happened to have a flight to Chicago at all on the day of the event, considering I didn’t know until last week that there was even going to BE a charity event…
Am I dense? Why did I get on my next plane?
Here’s hoping for good test results tomorrow, anyway…