Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Worst Best Vacation Ever: Part I

The ticket agent looked too long at the screen, examined my passport too closely, and avoided eye contact. Jeff had the car seat, tagged and ready to leave at the bulky baggage drop, in his arms; he bounced the stroller with one foot but Theo was getting bored and starting to fuss. Our luggage, full of swimsuits and flip-flops, had already disappeared down the conveyor belt.

Finally, she looked at me. "You can't fly to Thailand on this passport, it expires in two months."

"But I'm coming back in a week," I said, thinking she had mis-read my itinerary.

"Thailand requires your passport to be valid for six months after your departure from their country. See?" She turned her computer monitor toward me so I could read the rule for myself. I stared at Jeff and he started to talk to the agent, trying to see what could be done. Because of course we were going to Bangkok tonight, we had two guidebooks, a laminated map, and a cooking school reservation on Tuesday.

The agent called her supervisor who quietly told us there was nothing he could do for us, and that they couldn't let us on the plane. Jeff kept talking to him while I closed my eyes and performed my most powerful negotiating tactic: I burst into tears.

The airline supervisor politely averted his eyes from me and offered to call the Thai consulate, the American consulate, or anyone else we suggested. Jeff left with him, and Theo and I huddled to one side of the ticket counter with our bags that had reappeared on the conveyor belt. I collected myself as the agent tried to go about her business, not responding to my mutterings about guidebooks and plans and learning to make Pad Thai.

The demise of a tropical vacation isn't exactly a tragic life event; I wasn't missing my best friend's wedding or even forgoing the return to a place that I loved. I hadn't been that excited about Bangkok until a couple of weeks earlier when Jeff suggested we join him on his business trip. But I stood there watching people receive their boarding passes and drying my eyes and realized that I was crying tears of disappointment, yes, but they were mainly tears of embarrassment. I, who like to believe I'm an organized, well-traveled person, had screwed up in a major way. Jeff's business trip was becoming a mess because of me. We weren't sure what would happen with our expensive airline tickets. I would have to tell my friends, who had armed me with photos of lovely clothing the Thai tailors could sew for me, that I was still sitting in Germany. And, worst of all, I would have to confess to The Internet that I ruined our trip.

Later, after we were invited into the airline office to reconsider our plans, Jeff got on the phone with the travel agent and I fed Theo a banana. Of course, at 6:00pm on a Friday evening, there was no hope of reaching anyone who could help us at the Thai or American consulates until Monday, when it would be too late. I started to think about what we should pick up at the grocery store on our way home since we'd cleaned out the fridge in our pre-vacation glee.

Jeff hung up the phone. He gave me a questioning look.

"Our bags are packed," he said. "Why don't we just go somewhere else instead?"

(Story to be continued.)


Susan said...

I think that I am a little bit in love with your husband.

And you know that I am a lot in love with Theo.

Can't wait to hear the rest ...

Maria said...

I hope Part II goes a little better!

Daniela said...

And THAT is #465 reason why you married him. Yeay for Jeff.

I would totally have cried. Then alternated between psycho bitch and pleading mother. I know. I've done it. :-)

Can't wait to hear the results.

Anonymous said...

Thailand is over-rated in my book and the tailors are better in Hong Kong anyway.

American Express commercial in the making.

Hazel's daddy

Anonymous said...

Oh no! Please let there be a happy ending.
(Also, a good heads up...mine expires in 4 months. Must renew immediately!)

Miss Bangkok Hotels said...

I recommend Wat Pho to those planing to visit Bangkok. This temple is famous for the Reclining Buddha statue. I heard that it is the largest Temple in Bangkok. What you shouldn't miss is to have a really good traditional Thai massage there. Do show respect for the monks when visiting Wat in Thailand.