Flightless birds and broken bodies

Holy crap, today sucked.

Up all night at the office working and getting ready to leave for the New York Comicon. Erik and I hit that lack of sleep where things are funnier than they should be. Just after 4 am our taxi arrives and we head off to the airport. We’re actually quite organized and, barring the need for a nap, we’re ready to rock. We zip through security clearance and chill at our gate.

The new terminal has seats crafted by some vengeful bastard uninterested in comfort of any kind, so I curl up on the floor and snooze there instead. When Erik shakes me awake, we can hear the final boarding call for our flight. Apparently the dozens of passengers sitting near us and the airline people at the desk 10 feet away didn’t think to wake us even as we almost miss our flight. But, luckily, we get on board. Looking out the window, we see big blobs of snow falling from the sky.

I doze off again until an announcement comes over the PA that we have to get the wings of the plane de-iced. Twenty minutes goes by for de-icing, then another thirty minutes waiting for a clear lane for take off. We wait so long that another announcement pops up telling us we need to de-ice the wings again and get more fuel. Our hour and a half flight has already taken most of that time just sitting on the runway.

We wait another half an hour for the fuel truck to arrive, but it never comes. They eventually tell us the entire flight is canceled and we have to head back in to the terminal. We’re frustrated but we’re told there will be an attendant waiting when we get off who can get us rebooked on the earliest flight possible to New York. Our book distributor meetings are today, so it’s crucial we get to New York by 1 pm. Another half an hour goes by as we’re told we can’t disembark the plane until the attendant arrives. When we’re finally let off there’s no attendant at all, just a security person telling us to “Go left” down the hallway… leading us straight towards customs.

Now we’re snared in the line for Canada Customs even though we never left the tarmac in Toronto. None of the staff directing lines seems to care that we’re losing valuable time and that we didn’t actually travel to the States. Every one we ask passes the buck and tells us to follow the line. After that we’re directed to the baggage area to retrieve our checked luggage but no one has any clue which bay it’s going to show up in. We find out the snowfall caused only a couple of flights to be canceled – this isn’t a major catastrophe of passengers overwhelming the terminal’s resources or anything like that, they’re just incompetent, unsympathetic and rude. We complain about the lack of information and a staff member tells us it’s a ‘weather issue’ but it’s not. I have no problem with canceling our flight for safety reasons. My frustration is a complete lack of information or proper process once that flight has been canceled. No one is even remotely trying to help us get back on schedule.

We finally track down our luggage in a carousel that never gets labeled with our flight. I lift my suitcase off and feel a horrifying icy stab up my middle as I strain a muscle in my lower back. My body was a bit tense the night before and now I’m in 100% absolute agony.

We’re told to head up to the main terminal area and grab one of the white phones on the far side of the building to rebook our flight. Having no other choice, we slowly make our way there as I limp along. We can’t even find a wheelchair or trolley to help us.

Erik gets bounced to 3 different people on the phone and waits on hold for about 45 minutes. The time wasted has wiped out our chances at getting a flight before the evening, negating the pre-convention graphic novel conference and blowing all our major meetings. Thursday was the killer day, the rest of the con was more about general social stuff. Toronto’s spiffy new airport terminal has NO chairs or benches to sit on any where in sight, so I lie slumped on the floor near the phones trying to find an angle that doesn’t burn like fire across my spine. It’s been almost seven hours since we arrived at the airport and everything has gone wrong.

We book a flight any ways and resolve ourselves to waiting around the terminal all day. We’re exhausted and need food. Erik goes over all the stuff we’re going to miss and compares it to what’s left over the rest of the weekend. Almost everything for Friday to Sunday is optional for him – without Thursday there’s almost no point in going at all. I’m going to miss a meeting I had with a literary agent but the rest is no big deal and my body hurts so bad I want to throw up.

We give up.

The full flight cost gets refunded after another frustrating half hour wait on the phone. I would’ve been laid up in the hotel for half the weekend any ways. It was a lost cause. At least we don’t waste money on New York taxis, meals, booze and all kinds of other incidental costs.

I just woke up a few minutes ago after shambling home and crashing in bed. My body aches and I feel like garbage, I haven’t eaten since noon and my packed luggage is sitting in the living room. I still have to phone and e-mail business contacts to let them know why I won’t be seeing them in New York.

What a waste.
Time for more Advil to keep the muscle spasms at bay.

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