12 December, 2008

In which I complain about US Airways

I made plans over three months ago to go camping under the stars at Death Valley National Park, the darkest, deepest, driest, hottest place in the country (or is it the world?). The night sky is so unpolluted by light and clouds that you can see pretty much any star you'll ever be able to see with the naked eye, plus the Milky Way galaxy on its side, stretching across the horizon.

I was excited. I very much have a romantic attachment to stargazing, as well as campfires and uncomfortable tent sleep. I eagerly anticipated abandoned mines, paleolithic artifacts, coyotes, and seventy degree sunshine in December. I also cautiously anticipated a thirty-nine degree night by packing a suitcase full of blankets, sleeping bags, sweatshirts, insulated jeans, a tent, and some pillows. A bag so heavy and big that I had to check it while my carry-on contained little more than a book (I'm working on Middlemarch by George Eliot now, and it's not very compelling three hundred pages in, but it's okay).

Paul, who's staying with his family in Las Vegas this week--Las Vegas, a city I despise, full of hungover, miserable tourists who have been drinking and gambling and eating at buffets for thirty-four hours straight, miserable tourism industry employees who have to deal with said tourists, no notable cuisine, no common fashion sense, giant blinking billboards of Bette Midler's airbrushed legs, overpriced everything, immigrants thrusting out litter describing women with stars on their nipples, people convinced you really can get something for nothing, hundreds of obese people in cowboy hats, and for some reason my sister and her daughter whom I miss--and I had made all the plans, reserving the rental car, getting the directions, figuring out the campsite, packing the bags, and timing everything so that I could arrive Tuesday evening, we could camp Tuesday night, hike Wednesday morning and afternoon, and hang out with my sister Wednesday night all before I had to fly back Thursday morning (a total of eleven hours of travel, plus the time zone differential) to return to work today.

Fifteen dollars to check the bag each way on an airplane that didn't even offer complimentary water or in-flight entertainment of any kind. (Not even headphones? Come on!). I arrived in Las Vegas. My baggage did not. Not until six hours later, when it was too late to do anything involving a national park. So I spent two nights in Vegas. Two nights in motherfucking Vegas, and I barely got to see my sister. All this money I spent... for two nights in Vegas.

And the woman in the baggage claim office says, "No, there's no refund. The baggage claim only guarantees the transportation, not the time." Are you fucking kidding? What does that even mean? What kind of customer service is that, US Airways? You ruined my goddamn vacation.

I shall seek retribution soon.

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