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en route...

So yesterday morning my alarm goes off at 4:00am. I get up, do my thing, taxi comes at 5:00, check in, get through security, and I'm hanging out at my gate by 6:00am. After an hour or so the PA system squawks: "United Flight ### is delayed by at least two hours. We'll call you up individually to rebook. Do not come to the counter." A collective murmur rumbles through the terminal. Cell phones blaze to life, people rush to get in line despite the explicit request...

Seriously? Seriously.

Fast forward two hours. Yes. Two. I'm finally called up and they make whatever arrangement they make so I'm still on United, still through Chicago, arriving in Ottawa three hours later than planned. Annoying, but manageable. I sit back down, resign myself to the fact that there's nothing I can do, and start catching up on email.

Fast forward an hour and a half. Yes. An hour and a half. The PA squawks at me to come to the desk. The girl hands me a Delta boarding pass. Yes. Delta. She says, "You need to hurry. You're going to Vancouver on Delta." I stared at her with a confounded expression. I finally reply, "You need to explain. I'm going to Ottawa on United." "No," she says with a huge grin and a giggle. "This is the best plan, okay. Go on Delta now. It's in E Terminal. Hurry."

Seriously? Seriously.

At this point I've been sitting in the United B9 gate for four and a half hours. Yes. Four and a half. I look at my Delta boarding pass, shake my head at the E75 gate, and start running. Until I see one of the golf cart guys. Then I start riding, waving cash in his face as we whiz past asthmatic grandmothers coveting my chauffeur.

I slide into my seat with no time to spare and I'm off to Vancouver. This means that I'm flying 2 hours west, opposite of the direction I should be heading. It does not escape my annoyed attention that I will soon be flying back across those same two hours of sky. Sisyphus ain't got nothin' on this day.

So I arrive in Vancouver, where I need to wind my way through customs and send my bag through Canadian security. Except my bag isn't there. Of course it's not. I sound like a raving lunatic trying to explain that I was supposed to be on a United flight, but ended up taking a Delta flight, and now I'm going to miss my Air Canada flight and no, I don't know where my bag is, and yes, I do realize Ottawa is on the other side of the country. Um yeah, the customs agent loved me. On top of it, I've been sick and my fever broke in the chaos of the Vancouver airport. So, as it turns out, I was a sweaty raving lunatic who lost her bag and has travel plans on three different airlines.

There was nothing I could do about my bag except hope that it somehow made its way to Ottawa. I board my plane and fly back over those two hours of sky, flipped the bird at the United agents below me in Salt Lake, and made my way across the entire length of Canada. I did get to marvel at the snow-capped Rockies twice...

I land in Ottawa five hours later. Yes. Five. I was supposed to arrive at 4:30. At this point it's 10:30. I went straight to the lost baggage service counter and filed a claim. I again got to be the raving lunatic trying to explain my sporadic itinerary. They can't find my bag. They think it's in Chicago, but maybe Detroit, did it get loaded in Salt Lake, should we call United, maybe call Delta, but I'm at the Air Canada counter, and on and on and on as such for a long time...

I'm given a claim number and I hail a cab to just get me to the hotel already. My friend had been in Ottawa since Wednesday, and had been tracking my ordeal en route. After checking in I went to her room to unwind and bitch about my day. She surprised me with a hilarious greeting card and temporary tattoos from the Iowa State Fair (long story, but they made my night). I surprised her with my man bag.

Yes. My man bag. When I left the baggage service counter they gave me "a complimentary kit to help you settle." Really? What's in the kit? MY LUGGAGE?! No, not my luggage, just man treats.

Stinky man deodorant, shaving cream, a white undershirt, and a weird combrushpickthing. I was grateful for the kid's toothbrush, but Speedstick?

Fast forward nearly 24 hours, still no bag. At this point I'm on a first name basis with the Air Canada helpline and have figured out the menu sequence that lets me bypass the automated system, though listening to French telephone operators is actually quite charming. My latest phone call to them (8:30EST) revealed that my bag is in CHICAGO. AWESOME. The conference starts at 8:00am tomorrow and my bag is in CHICAGO.

I blame United. At the end of the day, it's ultimately United's fault. I have been looking forward to this trip for 6 months now. I'm a stellar traveler and planned to hit the ground running...museums, cafes, photo walks, conference sessions, and work meetings. I've traveled all over the world and never had luggage lost before and it's frustrating me that it's throwing me for such a loop. Thursday was a wash because I was en route the entire #$%*&@! day. Today was a wash because I was so disoriented it was all I could do to find clothes, shoes, a drug store.

I can only hope my bag comes in from Chicago tonight. I so want to put these two days behind me and look forward to three great days in Canada's capitol.

Flip the Script

Something terrible is happening