January 25: Kuwaiti Matters

This email’s about a week overdue, but I’ve been busy. As you may have noticed, a relatively absurd number of things had gone wrong with this trip to Kuwait, and none of them were my fault. This meant one thing: my turn was due. One thing that my superstitious worldview is entirely clear on is that the more I complain about other people’s errors, the more massive my own is is going to be. I wasn’t sure what I’d screwed up yet, but with everything that had been bungled so far, I knew it was going to be big.

I didn’t discover my mistake until after I was dropped off at the Frankfurt airport on Friday and attempted to get my boarding pass. I once again didn’t seem to be in the system, and when I showed the lady my eTicket, the reason why soon became clear: although I had booked travel for the eighteenth, I had neglected to make it for the eighteenth of January. Due to a clever failure in reading comprehension on my part, I’d been scheduled to fly out of Frankfurt on the eighteenth of February. As I had to be in Georgia on the nineteenth of January, this wasn’t really going to work for me, so I paid the Fool Fee and got my ticket switched.

I wasn’t about to be let go with a simple monetary fine, though. My tickets were only booked through to Newark, where I was left on standby for a day and a half before finally getting a flight out. I nearly ended up there even longer, as I discovered that when the airlines say that times are subject to change, they mean backwards as well as forwards. My flight to Georgia was, when I checked in the afternoon, delayed until 9:00 PM. When I rechecked the site at 6:40, I discovered that they had undelayed it to 7:15. They redelayed it to 7:30 on my way to the airport, or I’d never have made it. I had some choice words for the airlines, none of which their representatives had to hear as I was out of breath from running when I boarded the plane at 7:14. Still, I thought the epithets hard enough for them to get the gist, I think.

Oddly enough, arriving a day late for training caused no problems whatsoever. By the end of Sunday, I was caught back up with everything that had gone on on Saturday, and over the course of the week, was pleasantly surprised to discover that I hadn’t screwed anything else up. All of the shots I was supposed to get, all of the paperwork I was meant to do—it was all correct, or didn’t matter. Quite a lot of it fell into this second category, actually. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that all of it could have. Everything that we were told was mandatory to have done before we arrived turned out not to have been. It all had to be done before we left, but we had the time and the resources to get it all done here.

I’m glad that I decided not to push my luck on most of it, though, especially as I spent the week bluffing my way through with unsigned orders. For a contractor to get access to various parts of an army base, you have to have invitational travel orders, which list various things such as the contract number, your company’s name, your point of contact, and so on. It’s about three pages worth of stuff, printed on official letterhead and signed at the end, and you need about a dozen copies to get through the training. Mine were typed in Microsoft Word, printed on regular paper with no identifying marks, and unsigned, but no one called me out on it, so I suppose it worked.

I currently have a red stamp on my hand reading “COMPLETED.” I’ve taken a picture, but I’m on a public computer right now, and can’t upload it. In 45 minutes, I’ll be heading to the airfield to get screened for the flight. Another hour or so after that, and I should be on an airplane. There’s some question as to the route it will take and how long it will actually take to reach Kuwait, but it’s definitely in the cards at this point. There’s only so much else that can go wrong.

Please note that I have included that last sentence fully aware of how I am tempting fate! I do this for you, because I know how much you enjoy hearing of my misadventures. They seem to be nearly at an end, I’m afraid. At most, there should be only another day or so in which things can go wrong with the trip. After that, they’ll have to go wrong in Kuwait itself, but daily mishaps don’t have the same flavor as the frustertainment of travel woes.

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