Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Missing a Flight

As the title suggests, I did miss my flight to Russia.  As a friend already asked, "Why?"

I quote two axioms to explain what happened.  Murphy's Law states, "If it can go wrong, it will go wrong."  Cook's inverse law states, "If there's a way to make it go right, finesse can make it go right."  Let's remember those two things.

Today, a package that it was supposed to deliver my Russian travel book was lost by the Hollywood United States Postal Service.  I called at 9:01am because they had my package.  I told the lady on the phone please hold my package.  She said, "Don't worry, we'll hold it."  I said, "Can you please make sure it's back there because I'm driving from Baldwin Park [an hour drive]."  She replied, "I said 'It'll be here.'"

I should've known then I was dealing with a lazy excuse for a human being.  I go to the Post Office (PO), and the supervisor says, "Sorry, we don't know which package you're talking about.  Go get your slip."  So, I drive back to my house.  I find the slip.  I return. 

This is the second time to the PO.  I ask the African-American male, I mention his race and sex because he was the only one there like this, and I'm copying and pasting this story to USPS.Com.  Therefore, it's not racially charged.  I ask him to get the supervisor.  He says, "I'm busy; I can't."  I said, "I want to see him now.  This is my second return."  He goes and gets the supervisor.

He comes out.  Looks at the slip.  Says, let me call your post-lady.  He does and says, "Hey she's out sick today.  Your package already went out for delivery."  I sigh. 

"Ok, I reply.  This wasn't supposed to happen."  I flash my phone in front of him and show the call log to 9:01am.  I said, "Whoever answered that phone said my package would be here." 

He says, "And who was that?"

I said, "I didn't get her name."  I didn't know we were moving towards the Big-Brother State, where government officials need to be threatened by asking for their name all the time.  Now, I know. 

He says, "I'm sorry.  Your package went out."

I said, "Let me find the carrier.  What's her route."

He gives me the route.

I go and follow the route and there's nobody.  I follow it again, and still no postal truck.  This sucks, I think!  I find a distant mail carrier, who tells me her route in more detail.  I follow his route twice.  This sucks again, I think.

Finally, I met up with the kind mail carrier.  He's an Asian guy with long hair.  (Again, I want him to get credit for doing the right job.)  He calls up, whoever he has to at headquarters and the voice on the line says, "There's no substitute for the route today.  We've split it."  A split is where they divided up a person's load amongst two or three carriers and it's delivered at the end of the carrier's normal shift.  In short, I was sent on a wild goose chase!  There was no carrier that day doing that route.  How P(*&)(*&) annoying I think to myself?  I am really not happy, but I'm controlling myself.

The kind post carrier says, "What's your name?"  I said, "Paul Cook."  The phone on the other end says, "Hey, his package is still at headquarters."

When I hear that, I want to blow my top!  HOW COULD IT STILL BE THERE?!  That supervisor said it wasn't there.

I thank him and said, "Just know you really did the right thing today."  I went back to Headquarters.  I park at a meter and feed it.  I ask the staff to get the supervisor.  The same lazy man says, "I'm busy."  Why are all the people at the headquarters so lazy?  It tells me that whoever is in charge is some lazy guy.  You always know.  Because if I was in charge, I know I wouldn't tolerate such behavior.  Anyone who's worked with me knows that.

They make me wait.  I go again and say, "Where's the supervisor?  This is the third time I've been here for a package you've always had!"

The staff said, "You just have to wait."

Finally, the same supervisor comes out and says, "I already told you the packages went out for delivery."  I protest and explain they didn't.  Then I see the parking meter lady give my car a ticket.  I run out and try to stop her.  She's African American too.  This is weird.  She says, "I'm just gonna give it to you.  If you were my husband or lover, I wouldn't.  But you drive I nice sports car.  So why not?"

OMG, I think.  Is this real?  Is this really happening to me today of all days when I'm supposed to fly out to Russia?  She gives me my ticket.  I take it off my car.

I go back.  Hallelujah!  There are two packages waiting for me.  An Asian lady courier hands it to me.  I give her the parking ticket and said, "Give this to your manager and ask him to pay for it."  She looks like she's experiencing deep shame.

I said, "Listen.  I came here three times today!  Three!  I called ahead of time, so this wouldn't happen to me.  But it still did."  Now everyone in the PO is listening.  "Let me explain why this is important that I need this today.  See: I'm flying out to Russia today."

In a dramatic way, I rip open one of the packages so it makes a loud tear.  I take out the Russian travel book and show it to her and said, "Now you see why I need it."  The PO people are looking in horror as they're hearing my story.  She looks even sadder.  "Then, you make me wait again for 30 minutes to get my package!  I didn't do anything wrong."  She can't handle the stress.

So - this old hag of a toothless lady comes out.  She has wiry grey hair too and reminds me of the witch that would come out of a Grim's fairy tale and says, "We're just going to throw out your ticket in the trash can.  It's not our fault you're not responsible."  I smiled in slight irony.  I'm irresponsible now?

I didn't say much.  No point in arguing with a foolish witch.  The Witch always thinks she's right.  I just left the parking ticket with them, took my books, looked at all the people who watched me cause a scene, I saw the face of the sad Asian PO worker, and walked into my BMW.

It gets worse though.  As I drive back to my mother's place, I think to myself, let it pass.  Don't think about it.  You have more to do.  You have to pack and get your passport.  As I drive home, I realize the mail is there but the passport isn't there!  I live in Baldwin Park for USPS.

I hunt down my courier and find her post truck.  I ask her, "Don't you have an Express delivery for me?"  She said, "Not for your address.  I was there earlier today."  What?!  Where's my passport.

She says, "Here: call my supervisor at the Baldwin Park PO." 

I do.  He picks up and says, "Sorry, no express mail left here for you."

What the heck is happening?!  I go to Starbucks and trace my passport.  It says it got into Baldwin Park PO in the morning.  What is going on?!  Someone in Baldwin Park has my passport!!!!  Where is it?!!

I go back to the courier and tell her my story.  She says, "Go to the post office."  So, I do.

There, I tell the staff my story.  They try to trace it down and the lady staff comes back and tells me, "Hurry!  Go home!  They're going to try to re-deliver it.  There was a mistake.  It didn't go out when it should have."  What is going on?

I go home.  I try to pack.  Another post man comes at 3pm and gives me my express parcel with the passport inside.  I ask him, "Why is this coming so late?"

He says, "Oh, there were 10 express packages delivered at 1pm today.  Yours was one of them."

I think to myself - you are a damn, filthy liar.  Tracking says it came in at 9am today.  Furthermore, your boss already told me no express packages came in at 1pm today.  You're a filthy, filthy liar.  But I don't show what I'm thinking in my face.  That's a common trait and flaw about me.  Instead, this time, I take in a deep breath of relief, show a grateful smile and said, "Thank you."  All the while, I'm still thinking he's a filthy liar or that supervisor is.  But one of them is lying.  And that package came in at 9am.  So someone screwed up royally with my passport.

Anyways, long story short - under all the stress and lost time, I forgot my passport at home on the way to the airport.  Halfway between the airport and home, I turn around to get it, but it's too late.  I missed my flight.  I didn't mean to forget it.  I don't know if I would've made it anyways had I not because on top of that, my booking had a technical error that checked me in early to Moscow but didn't check me into Germany - my interchange city!

See, as Murphy's Law states, if it could've went wrong today, it royally did.

Cook's law was also in play.  I got my packages.  I got my passport.  I had my flights changed without a fee!  Now, that's amazing.  I had to pay a small fee to rebook into Siberia, but my miles covered it.  At the airport, I bought my mother a Japanese dinner.  She patiently and sometimes impatiently waited as she witnessed her son skillfully manage the problem with each of the managers.  And all in all, it felt good to have someone there by my side while I was going through all this.  I mean, I could've suffered through it alone, but it's always better to have someone that loves you around - even when they're just around and not able to help.  That still means a lot.

Thus, in some ways, these kind of challenges can also bring about the best in human behavior and human connection.

As we drove back home, in my little roadster, through the Los Angeles freeways, my mother asked me, "It's night now.  Do you think the ducks and chickens will be ok?"  We put them away every night so that predators like stray cats won't get at them.

I said, "I'm sure they'll be fine."

When we got back home, I found them sleeping in the vegetable garden.  I grabbed them.  My mother grabbed their cage - and I put them inside.  They're always happier in the cage at night, as they instinctively known the night is a threat to them.   I said, "See: I told you they would be ok." 

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