Wednesday, March 11, 2009

And Lift-Off!...or not.

We'd come down off the high of knowing that Abe, in the eyes of the Ethiopian courts, was finally ours and had managed to celebrate and buy plane tickets and reserve a guest house in Addis Ababa and packed our many bags, thanks to the generous work of our friends Carolee and Pattie, who Ted nicknamed "Radar O'Reilly." Really not sure what I would have done without these friends, the same ones who threw us the amazing Welcome Home, Abe party a week after we got back.

I'm a pretty fastidious traveler, having done a lot of it in my lifetime, on planes and trains and buses and ferries across the Nordic seas, many times totally on my own. This was both of our first times to Africa, so we were pretty excited about that. We were flying out of LAX, which is typically an hour long drive from our house through harried traffic in downtown L.A., so we decided the easiest thing to do would be to have a friend drive us to Union Station (only a ten minute drive) and then take the $2 Flyaway bus to LAX.

We had it all planned perfectly. I'd showered at the very last minute, knowing that it'd be a pretty long time before I'd get the chance to do that again. I'd put on my brand new black stretchy pants ("yoga pants" for those more hoity-toity than I am), pulled my hair back in a bun, and only moisterizer on my face since traveling with mascara is the worst. I had my carry-on stocked with all our important documents, including both our passports, as Ted has misplaced his on occasion.

We unloaded all our bags at Union Station with plenty of time for the flyaway bus. We were so giddy and excited and eagerly answered people's questions about where we were going with all that luggage. We even took a photo with this kind fella who was working the station that day:
Can you believe this guy? He was awesome! Just as giddy as we were! We gave him a generous tip for helping get all our bags on the bus, and we smiled the whole way to LAX.

We jumped off at our terminal, unloaded our bags and set up a 'home base' near the electronic ticket check-in where I waited with our stuff while Ted went to check us in.

He stood about 30 feet away at the kiosk for what seemed like forever. I was starting to grow a little anxious. All I could see was him shaking his head back and forth, trying over and over to move things ahead. He must have put our credit card in and out of the slot 50 times. I had no idea what was going on.

Finally, Ted slowly put the card back in his wallet and walked slowly towards me, his head hanging in what I can only guess was shame. He approached me and slowly looked me in the eye. I asked quietly, "Um, what's going on?"

"It keeps saying we are not allowed to check in more than 24 hours before our departure time."

The neurons in my head started misfiring. I stared at Ted blankly. It started to make a little bit of sense. We stared at each other as we figured it out. We pulled out our itinerary and saw the proof of our idiocy.

We'd arrived to the airport exactly one day too early.

Both of us had lived alone in foreign countries. We'd both managed to keep ourselves alive and fed and clothed and relatively safe for years in foreign countries, even going so far as to make friends and travel to other foreign countries with these friends. So how did this happen?

And more importantly, what were we supposed to do now? We were too embarrassed and ashamed to call anyone to come pick us up. So we got on hotels.com and tried to book a room close to the airport with a shuttle service so that we wouldn't have to face the embarrassment of going all the way back home. After the shock of our oversight had worn off, we spent the next two hours sitting in the airport trying to figure out what to do.

We finally sucked it up and called our friend Susan, telling her the truth, and asking for a ride back home from Union Station. She laughed and laughed and laughed, and I'm pretty sure I could hear her laughing on the entire bus ride back to the station. As she pulled up to pick us up, the laughter got louder and as we loaded all our luggage back into her car, all the while avoiding the confused gaze of the friendly station worker, she kept saying, "You have to blog about this! You must! What an incredible chapter of this story!"

Except I couldn't. I was too embarrassed. We made it back home in time to go to bed. I woke up the next day and took another shower and put on the same clothes. I sat in front of the computer, completely unsure of what to do with myself and read the comments left by the kind people cheering us on the day before, the wrong day. I felt like such a loser. So did Ted. He piddled around in the yard until it was time to go.

I don't remember a whole lot about the actual day we left. After the day before, it felt pretty anti-climactic. I think I just felt relieved to finally have our boarding passes in hand and to be allowed onto an airplane, the actual right airplane taking us to bring home our son.
March 11, 2008: Finally sitting on the right airplane, on the right day, two idiots in love.

27 comments:

Julie said...

This may be my favorite post of all time. You were just excited to meet Abe. Who could blame you?

Carol said...

This is so funny, and so endearing! You guys must be the most seasoned travelers of all time so I'd assume this was all about meeting Abe. Who wouldn't be excited! Thanks for sharing.

Jen said...

This was the sweetest and funniest post I think that I have ever read. I think that would be something that I would do.

More Dorrs said...

Love this. Laughed outloud.

Thanks -- it was just what I needed to put a smile on my face!

-b

p.s. You wouldn't believe how beautiful it is here today -- not a cloud in the sky!! Come back!!!

Blog Shmog said...

I am laughing a lot to myself right now Lori! I'm so glad you blogged about this even if it's a year later! You guys are awesome. :)

Jana said...

As I've said before, I love you two idiots for this.

filoli said...

Hands. Down. The single greatest traveling to Ethiopia post of all time (quite possibly the best travel post of all time). This is the greatest, grandest, cutest story for your amazing little man...and the picture is like a verse of amazing grace.

Lori said...

That is beyond hysterical and something I can totally see doing myself!!! Thanks for the good chuckle! :)

coffeemom said...

This is just so great. Something I could do...ok, in fact, something very like something i HAVE done. WHich makes me love it even more! What a great addition to Abe's story, and I suspect a part he will relish retelling! Thanks for being brave enough to tell us....we all get it, it coulda been us! Love M

courtney rose said...

Sweet, sweet Lori. I love this story and am ever so glad you shared it with us.
Loeb,
Courtney

Christina said...

Best travel story ever, hands down. Thanks so much for letting us chuckle along with you.

Amy said...

This is a great story Lori! I mean it really is and I agree with Susan that it is a fun little chapter in your journey to Abe! :)

The Albertsons said...

Oh my God. that totally could've happened to us. totally us. totally. Sorry, I laughed. A lot. This is why I love you though!!!

Rachel said...

That is the BEST story ever. I love it. And take it from me - arriving a day early for your pick-up flight is far better than arriving two hours late! Seriously, I read our departure time wrong. I started sobbing at the airport terminal and they took pity on us and booked the next flight with no charge for my stupidity! I've never lived it down:-)

Jana said...

OK. That is really, really, really funny. But so incredibly sweet at the same time.

Rebecca said...

Oh, Lori! I am crying laughing! I can't believe you were able to not keep this a secret from the blog world for so long!

I like the sweet picture of you all on the plane. On the right day.

jen said...

fantastic story, I am SO glad that you shared it!

Stacie said...

I can't stop giggling. That is the sweetest story ever. I love it.

Bonnie said...

LOVED this post! I never could have guessed where it was going... fabulous story. You were just so excited and wanted to be extra sure that you got there on time!!! Right?!?!?!

Jim and Debbie said...

Oh, the stress of having to go to the airport twice. Too funny!
Glad it was you and not us (as it easily could have been).
Hard to believe it's already been a year. We left to get Kuri on the 16th...
Blessings,
Debbie

Drew Carey Show said...

This. is. just. AWESOME. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Laugh out loud awesome. I'm so glad you came clean. Don't you feel a sense of relief?

Eryn said...

Too funny! What a fun story to tell Mr. Abe someday!

You are hilarious!

GravenRecords said...

Hi Ted and Lori
My name is Matt - I'm a friend of Susan Isaacs. This is my first time checkin out your blog. Cool stuff. I loved the tone and details of the text. If you want, feel free to stop by my blog sometime for rantings, rumblings and spiritual mumblings at gravenrecords.blogspot.com - im blogging 365 days this year (or at least aiming to).
anyways, take care and keep writing.
matty

Sam said...

This is the funniest post I have ever read in all my days. I love it. what a great story.

Louise said...

That is the all time favourite, funniest blog post I have ever read!!! That is good..really good!
Louise

Heather said...

I just stumbled upon this blog entry... don't know how I missed it! What a great story! I am sitting here all misty eyed. This will crack Abe up one day.

boltupright said...

late to the party on this ... but this might be the funniest story I have ever read. I am sitting here crying with laughter. Oh, the things that getting a travel date does to our brain....