Nineteen Heinous Hours in L.A., Courtesy of Fate

Posted on
Nov 21, 2011

Rand thinks I’m overly superstitious. I, in turn, think that he’s constantly tempting fate into screwing with us.

Take the following scenario, which happens at least once a month:

Rand and I are driving to the airport. We are almost running late, but not quite. If we are able to keep up the miraculous average speed which we’ve attained, we’ll be fine. If not, we’ll have to engage in that awful sport, long forsaken by the Olympics:  The panicked running-to-the-gate dash (in this race THERE ARE NO WINNERS). As the surprisingly light traffic rushes along, Rand will often say something like,

“Man, I can’t believe how light traffic is.”

At which point I will scream like mad woman, because really, WHY WOULD YOU EVER SAY THAT?

He has to know how physics and the universe works, right? The second you say something like that, the exact opposite will happen. Comment on light traffic, and you will find yourself in a parking lot in the middle of I-5. Make a crack about how you can’t believe that the dress you wore to last year’s holiday party still miraculously fits, and you will instantly gain 15 pounds (I’ve seen it happen. TO ME) It’s not luck. It’s science.

If you need more proof, ask Jodi Ettenberg about how many times she’s been pooped on by birds (current tally: 11 birds, 1 bat). Rumor has it that every time she begins to tell the story, another winged animal drops a bomb on her. SCIENCE.

It’s simple: tempt fate, and you will pay for it. This phenomenon is why the disastrous events of last weekend are utterly and completely my fault.

Rand and I were headed to Los Angeles for the weekend. He was going to be speaking at the Foodista food bloggers conference, and I, rather eagerly, was tagging along. Because Rand also had business in San Francisco, he was going to fly into SFO, spend the day there, and then meet me in LAX (I’d be taking a direct flight there from Seattle) that night. Multiple steps were involved, but it would be easy, right?

No. Of course not. Had it been easy, the story wouldn’t be worth telling.

At some point, as I was driving towards SeaTac airport, I quietly thought to myself how smoothly things were going. Even though traffic that day was heinous, I’d managed to miss a lot of it. My semi-unreliable car was driving quickly down the street. I realized how lucky Rand and I were when it came to travel. We never rarely miss a flight. We never get delayed, never have to sit on the tarmac for hours, watching our youth pass us by. And even with my delicate (read: wimpy) constitution, I’d managed to not get sick on the road in ages. It was really and truly a miracle!

No sooner had these words entered my mind that I realized: I’d doomed us. Doomed us good.

And I’d brought it on myself. I’d tempted fate. Hung my bare butt in front of her and screamed, “GO AHEAD, FATE. TAKE A BIG JUICY BITE.”

And she did. The next nineteen hours were … well … here’s how the next nineteen hours went:

5:00 pm: Because veggies are scarce on planes, I decide that it’s a good idea to eat a salad from the airport. You know the part where Romeo takes the poison, and you find yourself screaming “NO!” even though it’s inevitable? When I recall that salad, it’s kind of like that.

6:00-9:00 pm: Flight is incredibly bumpy as a result of storms up and down the coast. Inflight service is cancelled, and the little light indicating you may now make a rush for the lavatory never goes off. The “salad” is not sitting well.

9:30 pm: Land in L.A., motion sickness clouding my mind like the smog does the city. Stumble into a cab. Instruct driver to take me to a supposedly nearby restaurant, where my brother and sister-in-law were hanging out with some friends, including my pal Katie, who I’ve known since the fifth grade.

9:45 pm: Riding in cab, Rand calls. His delayed Delta flight has now been cancelled. He must get a hotel out of pocket (the airline won’t pay for weather-related cancellations) and fly out on an American Airlines flight early tomorrow.

10:00 pm: I finally arrive at the restaurant and find that I have been ripped off by the driver. He’d taken me the long route – the very long route, and my fare is $30 pricier than it should have been. Plus, I spent another 15 minutes in a moving car. I regret not barfing in his vehicle.

10:15 pm: In a shocking lack of critical thinking, I decide that nachos are the best way to soothe my stomach.

10:30 pm: They are not.

10:45 pm: I discover that no one bats an eye when they hear someone retching in a toilet in L.A.

11:00 pm: Katie loads me into her car to take me to my hotel.

11:05 pm: En route to the hotel, I calmly insist that Katie pull over immediately or face having her lovely Mercedes defiled.

11:05 pm and 30 seconds: Like, IMMEDIATELY, Katie.

11:05 pm and 50 seconds: Think about how Katie is a rather skilled driver (safely crossing three lanes of traffic in Los Angeles) as I deposit what little contents of my stomach remain onto a Santa Monica sidewalk.

11:06 pm: Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. I’m lucky Katie is a middle school science teacher. She doesn’t seem that grossed out.

11:07 pm: Seeing me vomit for the second time in less than an hour, Katie decides to spend the night with me so I won’t be alone. Old friends have terrible logic. It’s wonderful, really.

Katie and I the next night. Despite feeling better, I continue to make the "barfy face." I shouldn't do that in L.A. - I might get discovered. -

11:20 pm: Katie and I arrive at the hotel. Miraculously, they allow us to check in, despite the fact that neither of us appears to be Rand Fishkin (the name on the reservation).

11:21 pm: In what would normally be a gracious gesture, the clerk at the front desk hands me a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. I am disgusted. WHAT HAS BECOME OF ME?

11:27 pm:  I stumble (and Katie walks) to our hotel room. As I press my cheek to against the cool seat of the hotel toilet and reflect upon my life (which I assume is about to end), I think of all the mistakes I’ve made. Most notably, eating that goddamn airport salad.

2:00 am: Katie can’t sleep because (I’m postulating) she consumes roughly 3 gallons of coffee a day. I can’t sleep because my body is full of poison. She begins to tell me ghost stories. I politely inform her that I am never sleeping again.

3:00 am: I manage to fall asleep. No one is more surprised than I.

6:00 am: Rand heads to SFO (while I am still asleep in L.A.)

6:30 am: My husband is informed that the seat that Delta secured him on an American Airlines flight (after they delayed and then cancelled his first flight) has been given to someone else. They cannot get him on another flight until that evening.

7:00 am: Rand runs over to the Virgin Atlantic counter, and manages to get on a flight headed out that morning.

7:30 am: He barely boards in time.

7:45 am: It doesn’t matter anyway, because the plane can’t take off. It was originally destined for Newark, and has too much fuel to safely land in Los Angeles.

8:00 am: Rand and his fellow passengers disembark, and wait for another plane.

8:15 am: I wake up in Los Angeles and read my husband’s tweets. I wonder if we will ever see eachother again.

8:30 am: Rand sends me a text. Virgin was able to secure another plane and they’re getting ready to leave! He’s going to make it to L.A.! We are both in a subtle state of disbelief.

8:40 pm: … Aaaand with good reason. Rand’s plane makes it to the runway before they are forced to head back to the gate. The plane has a sewage problem.

8:45 pm: Quietly accept that Rand is just going to have to live in San Francisco International Airport forever. I wonder how much money I can get from selling his clothes.

8:50 pm: Apparently Virgin is able to fix the sewage problem, but they need to shut off power to the plane first. Rand tweets the following photo. It does not instill me with confidence.

"This is your captain speaking ... through a bullhorn." Since the power was off, they couldn't use the PA.

11:00 am: Rand lands in L.A. No, seriously. He makes it to L.A. safe and sound. Katie and I pick him up from the airport, and I don’t throw up. Not even a little bit.

11:30 am: We head to breakfast with my brother and sister-in-law. I am feeling so much better than the night before, I order two servings of pancakes. The waitress stares blankly at me, as though no one in Los Angeles has ever done this before BECAUSE THEY PROBABLY HAVEN’T. But I’ll be damned if I’m eating another salad.

12 noon: I look lovingly around the table at my friends and family, and slightly more lovingly at my second order of pancakes. All is right in the world, and I can’t believe how much better things are at that moment than they have been in hours. But there is no way I am saying that out loud. In fact, I’m going to try to not even think it. I’ve learned my lesson.

So, that’s my tale of nineteen heinous hours, courtesy of the twisted hand of fate. Fortunately, since we just went through an ordeal like that, odds are we won’t have to deal with anything like that again for absolutely ages and …

Crap. I just did it again, huh? I’m going to contemplate what exactly is wrong with me over another pile of pancakes.

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