December 28: Gaining Kuwait over the Holidays

I’d apologize for the email’s title, but for two things: it’s fairly accurate, and I’m not sorry. I have actual plane tickets! Or virtual plane tickets, anyway, which are just as good and I also can’t lose them. Not that the attempt hasn’t already been made, mind you. The confirmation was sent to the wrong email address and I didn’t know to look for it, so it almost passed under the radar.

I’m leaving for Germany on the sixth of January. I’ll hang out there for a week and a half, then go straight from Germany to Georgia—the state, not the country. From there, I’ll be hopping a plane straight for Kuwait. This is, of course, in direct contradiction to the repeated assurances that I would not be taking military transport, and thus would not need to worry about their rules for baggage. So I’ll be taking everything I need for Kuwait with me to Germany, not that these two sets necessarily have much in common. I will then schlep all of that stuff back into the country and down to Georgia, whereupon I am quite sure I’ll be told that I can’t take those suitcases on a military transport, and will need to simply mail them home. Despite the incredible clarity of my prognostication, I expect to be quite irritated by this.

It may seem as if the wiser course of action is simply to mail my things to Kuwait. This is complicated by the fact that I do not actually have an address at which I’ll be staying, and although I’ve been assured that it will be easy to mail things there and have someone else hold on to them for me until I arrive, these assurances come from the same people who’ve been lying to me every step of the way so far, so I believe I can be pardoned for not putting overmuch faith in their claims. On the other hand, I’m not sure what choice I have at this point. Better to mail things and find that I could have carried them, than to carry them and find out that they have to be mailed.

Some might question the wisdom of preparing to travel to a country where the only guarantee of clothing or shelter comes from the mouths of known liars. However, I don’t believe that the liars are being malicious, so I expect it will work out in the end. Besides which, I am able to give up both food and sleep when necessary, surviving on nothing but water and complaining. I derive energy from the sympathy and pained looks on my listeners’ faces, and can last indefinitely on this diet. It’s not entirely pleasant, especially for other people, but it’s sustenance.

The next email may be from Kuwait!

Another short email! Thus, another contemporaneous LiveJournal entry. Gotta hit that word count.

A while back, I read a short story by Melville called
The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids. It was a decent story, not a patch on Bartleby the Scrivener, which is far and away his best work, but a fine tale all the same. I’m bringing this story up now because it makes the point that something which produces so much comfort and convenience can, at the same time, suck the life out of people.

All of this is to say that I had the pleasure of dealing with modern transportation conveniences yesterday. After consulting the schedule to find out when the buses would be running, I stood around outside, only to find that the bus driver had no intention of going where the schedule claimed she would. I’d checked another schedule while I was out there, which disagreed with the one online—not that it mattered, as the bus driver didn’t agree with either of them, and she was in charge at this juncture. She dropped me off at a slightly different outside location, where I consulted a third schedule which gave me yet another answer.

Despite this, I made it to my plane on time. I had received a miniature Leatherman as a gift, and rather than allow airport security to steal it on the grounds that I might really annoy someone with the half-inch knife blade, I elected to check my bag. I’d been using the bag as a carry-on, but it looked sturdy enough to survive the baggage handlers.

The flight left a bit late, but was relatively uneventful, which is largely what I look for in an airplane ride. It took only an hour and twenty minutes to travel the six hundred miles home, which never fails to impress me. Upon arrival, I paid for my parking at the AutoExpress kiosk, then went to get my bag.

Ten minutes later, I’d watched no fewer than three harried-looking employees disappear through a door near the conveyor belt. None had returned, so I assumed that there was some sort of a monster outside consuming them. Selfishly, I hoped the monster had not gotten the bags. When the belt finally started up, I discovered that while it had clearly not eaten all of the bags, it had quite possibly found mine, as I certainly could not.

I went to fill out a lost luggage form, only to find that the person on duty was unable to work the computer. Fortunately, they had hard-copy forms, so this was only a minor hiccough. She told me as I was writing that the bag would probably be on its way to my house tonight, and if not, I would assuredly hear from the airline before noon the next day.

I left and attempted to catch a shuttle to my car. The first was not going where I wanted and although the driver offered to take me, given that it was crammed so full that people were attempting to stack baby carriages with babies still inside, I elected to wait for the next bus. It came by not two minutes later, but was headed for the same place as the first one, and this driver was not willing to take me to my lot. Eventually, one arrived that was going where I wanted to go. It had now been just over an hour since I exited the plane.

Upon attempting to leave the parking lot, I found that because I had used the AutoExpress payment system and then failed to leave the airport within a half an hour, I was expected to pay an extra dollar. I pointed out that the sign said it was a maximum of six dollars a day; I had paid that, and I was quite frankly willing to block up the only exit to the parking lot and argue about a single dollar for as long as the gentleman in the booth would care to. I admit that this was ridiculous, but I had no intention of paying more for the privilege of having been subjected to the aforementioned irritations. After a short conversation with his supervisor, the employee on duty elected to void the dollar and let me pass.

On reflection, I figure I still came out ahead. Certainly, it took me over an hour to travel less than a mile of the way home, but that averages out with the six hundred miles I traveled in the previous hour-and-a-third to come out to something well over two hundred miles an hour—and I didn’t even have to risk a speeding ticket. Good thing, too, as I passed a cop on my way home, and at that speed, I doubt I’d’ve been able to explain that I was just trying to make things balance.

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