Sunday, June 29, 2008

The one in which Chicago spited me

I adore Chicago. The architecture, the lake, the neighbourhoods, the people.

Apparently, however, the feeling is not mutual.

I don't know if I perhaps came on too strong, but she is certainly doing a serious job of rebuking my advances.

I arrived in Chicago late Monday afternoon. Being the eternal transit queen (not to mention the afore discussed fact that the bulk of this trip is now out of pocket), I hopped on the train to my hostel downtown with no difficulties.

Apparently the universe decided that a smooth flight and transit experience was enough good luck for me. As such, when I stood up to get off the train, my laptop bag slipped around my waist, leaving me to pretty much drag my luggage hurriedly onto the platform. I made a subway attendant smirk by my inability to figure out how to exit the station. I emerged, bags in hand, directly in front of the Chicago Stock Exchange, which is always a little overwhelming when the last daylight you saw was still in a residential neighbourhood.
And I proceeded to get lost.
Nothing too dramatic, really. Just a few blocks off course. However, a few blocks feels epic when one has numerous bags in hand and has been in transit the entire day.
The funny thing is that I have one of these moments every single time I travel alone, when I curse myself for both my independence and my thrifyness, and swoon thinking about having a taxi and my strong man to carry my bags. 

***

So, yes, I did make it to my hostel. However, Chicago was only just breaking me in.
Later that night, I made my way to the bedroom. Half of the room were already asleep, so I had to navigate my nightly routine via the light of my cell phone. 
Full pyjamafied, I went to hop into my top bunk. Until I discovered that it definitely was not within hopping distance.
There was no ladder. Normally, this is only a minor inconvenience. However, when one side of the bed is pushed up against the wall, the other against a bunk, there is a person sleeping in the bottom bunk, and you are a short and generally uncoordinated person, this is a downright disaster.

After multiple attempts to raise my leg way higher than it is meant to go, I managed to maneuver into my bed... pulling an oblique muscle on the way up. I squirm silently on my bunk.

The next morning, in my half asleep haze, it takes me nearly five minutes to contemplate how to get down off the bunk bed cliff. 
By two days in, my thighs were covered in huge bruises, and I managed to give my arm some massive bunk-burn, which has now morphed to a four inch bruise. 

Deciding I had enough of looking like a neighbourhood brawler slash meth head after two nights, I asked to be moved to a bottom bunk. The front desk staff happily obliged, and I moved my pyjamas to the bottom bunk.

However, when I returned that evening, my pyjamas were missing.
And, to give away the story, were never seen again. 
I literally spoke to about five different people trying to track down my PJs. It turns out that the cleaning staff thought the bottom bunk was empty and the PJs were abandoned. They specifically remembered what they looked like, but not where they were delivered to.

Normally, not a big deal. T-shirts are multifunctional, and I have a few other pairs of flannel pants waiting for me at home. However, they have gone missing the day before I am set to share a room with two male labmates, which leaves me the choice of a) going pantless, b) sleeping in dress pants or c) buying new pyjamas for my remaining three days. I chose c, and spend almost the cost of one night at the hostel on my new pink flannel pants and tank top.

All this due to a missing ladder.

***

The next day, I checked into the conference hotel (well, tried. My rather unique female first name has yet again been transcribed as a rather common male name by virtue of a switched letter, meaning I have to jump through further hoops to get my keycard).

Both my labmates have already checked in. When I inquire as to which bed is mine, there is a pause.

Turns out that both the guys have refused to sleep in a bed with each other.

Apparently, despite the fact that there are only TWO beds, and THREE of us, and that it is a well known lab rule that members of the same sex bunk together, these two have taken the "I'm-so-not-gay" thing a little too far.

Not to mention that the non-creepy one was making a big deal about how much he kicked in his sleep. And the creepy one has been known for making inappropriate sexual advances after a couple of drinks. Plus he's, well, creepy.

After trying to negotiate with them, and telling them that their childish behaviour was something they should have resolved before asking me to share a room with them to save money, I end up being the one spending fifteen minutes obtaining a cot to avoid sharing a double bed with creepy.

***

Oh yeah, and our keycards didn't work half the time, only one of three elevators was working to service an eleven floor hotel, the front desk guy was the rudest bastard I've ever encountered in my life, etc, etc, etc. There was also the convention snafu that led me to presenting my poster in the back of some random room apart from the rest of the presenters (and geeks like me get sad when their research gets neglected!).

Still, I was a little heartbroken to be leaving behind my new favourite city this afternoon.

Apparently it is only now that she decides she wants me to stay.

After making it back onto the train with my many bags, I arrived at the airport. To a departures sign telling me that my flight has been inexplicably canceled. Oh yeah, and there are no other flights today.
As I am waiting in a massive United line-up, I get the official call from the airline that my flight has been canceled. Gee, thanks for the heads up, United.
As I'm waiting, it emerges that I am surrounded by people who are as big of fans of United as I am at this moment. I hear tales of missed cruises due to missed connecting flights and so forth.

I finally make it to the counter. It turns out I have been rebooked for very early morning (though not early enough for me to make it to any of my scheduled Monday meetings). However, my hotel information has not made it to the computer yet.

So I wait.

The worker, after holding onto my Canadian passport for ten minutes, asks me if I live in the US.

I wait some more.

The worker directs me to wait at the side of the desk. I set up a make shift bench out of luggage and stare at the wall.

After nearly half an hour of sitting beside the United counter, and being told that there still is no information available about my flight, the frustration starts to get the better of me. I briefly contemplate setting up a bed to try to make a point, but decide that crying is a far better statement. (I am such a girl.) The fact that I am fighting back tears in front of a line up of other irate people is made even more surreal by the fact that there is an Italian family that doesn't understand personal bubbles standing directly beside me, and their two seven year old daughter dressed in matching outfits are staring at me from less than a foot away.

I somehow manage to hold onto my cool, and it is the worker who eventually starts yelling at others about how long I have been made to wait. Eventually I am provided with a voucher for a hotel in glamourous Rosemont, Illnois, and a food voucher that turns out to barely cover the cost of an appetizer. 

To add to the slap in the face... I now see a Target out my hotel window... but rain stands between me and its sweet, sweet deals. Le sigh.

Don't worry. Chicago was still deliciously fantastic, and I have lots of photos and tales (including of not one, but three bloggie meet-ups!) to share. But right now my feelings are a little hurt by Chicago's behaviour, and I plan to sulk instead.

42 comments:

Bayjb said...

Wow. I'm sorry to hear Chicago was such a b*tch to you. I can't wait though to see your pictures! Our list of Friday-night attendees is quite impressive :)

~Angela~ said...

Oh, no! I'm so sorry to hear that Chicago brought you distress! It's normally a nice place, I promise. I look forward to seeing your pictures. :)

distractedspunk said...

Good lord.

I think I brought some of my travel fiasco luck with me to Vancouver and accidentally misplaced it with you.

I apologize. If you'd like to send it back my way, I'd be happy to give you an address.

Also. What the hell is up with those two boys? I guarantee you they probably had a drunken hook-up and are afraid to have it happen again. A bit "Y tu mama tambien," methinks.

nrichie2345 said...

Chicago is the best city I love it!

Alexa said...

oh lord that does not sound like a very fun situation at all. so how about you tell us about fun things like the blogger meet up ; )

and i hope your bruises heal!!

Surfergrrl said...

oh damn!! that sucks!! I really can't wait to hear about the bloggie meetups though!

twentysomethingandclueless said...

Eek! I can see why you plan on sulking, I would too.

Ant said...

Wow.

It must have been a super-spectacular place for you to still love it after all that...

I'm slightly amazed at the sleeping arrangements with the lab-mates though (specially if one of them is creepy). In all my work-related travels there was only once a suggestion that we might have to share a room, but this was roundly bounced out of court quick-sharp...

jenn said...

Boys are lame sometimes! The 'same-sex-share' rule is hard and fast.

Z said...

WOW, those are some adventures! I'm amazed you still love the place after all that...

Rachel said...

I read your battle with the men out loud to the hubby and he agreed at them being jerks. He said that one of them should have at least slept in the cot.

Seeing Target but not being able to get to it, that's like the 10th ring of hell!

Don't take Chicago's behavior personally, spring time is her PMS time and she can be a bitch to all of us....

Jenn said...

I'm sorry Chicago was being uncool. I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures :) It was great meeting you on Friday!

Doni said...

My sincerest apologies about Chicago, she can certainly be a fickle mistress. I'm glad you got to Taste of Chicago!

poodlegoose said...

Oh, man. It sounds like you had one hell of a time. I can't believe that that many awful things could happen in the same trip.

And I would have drop kicked one of those stupid lab boys until they manned up and let me have the bed. Because, honestly.

I can't wait to hear about the good things, though :)

Jamie Lovely said...

I apologize on behalf of my city!

It was lovely meeting you though!

benjibopper said...

i had no idea chicago was such a jerk.

but, 3 bloggie meetups in one city - whoa!

NamesAreHardToPick said...

Ah oh, two men with sexuality-insecure issues. You know what that means? I think most of guys have done it before and doesn't mean anything. Sorry to hear about it not being so friendly, but I'm sure something good will come from it.

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

Oh, you poor thing! That is just outrageous that those boys were going to force you to share a bed with one of them! Seriously, this is not even about chivalry, this about being a decent human being!

mcgee said...

holy crap. i'm so sorry to hear about all of your travel troubles. gaah.

All Mod Cons said...

Holy crap, if I had that much "luck" when away from home, I'd never leave my bedroom!!

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

That top bunk routine is right out of a Jerry Lewis movie. Too funny!

lspoon said...

I love that you still love Chicago even though it was rather mean to you.

And you should kick those guy's asses. One of them should have manned the cot, not you. rudeness.

Valerie said...

Seriously, those two dudes? UGH!!!

That sucks that people were missing their cruises due to cancelled flights. I can't imagine spending upwards of $1000 on a trip that I can't ACTUALLY GO ON!

Kayleigh said...

Hi there! It was so much fun meeting you on Friday, too! I wish I could have stayed longer. I can't believe what happened to you during your stay in Chicago. I'm really glad that you still like our city even though you had a pretty rough time. I can't get the image of you trying to climb into that hostel bed out of my head- what a nightmare.

Matt said...

Good ole Chicago...

sorry to hear about the bruises and PJ's.

But there was some fun that was had, wasn't there?

Brett said...

Wow what an epic post, reminded me of the Odessy( but with out the Greeks and the monsters)Hope you get back home safely

Katelin said...

oh man that sounds awful. i definitely had some ridiculous travel adventures this weekend too. oy.

Joy @ Big Time Fancy said...

Oh you poor thing. If I had known, I would have offered up one of my eleventy billion couches to you.

Question Mark said...

Man, I didn't know Chicago was that dangerous...*note to self: take precautions when travelling to Chicago*

redstaplernation said...

I'm heading up to Chicago in July for a conference, and got enough grant money to well-cover the cost of a plane ticket. But from St. Louis, I'm happy to take the 5 hour train ride just to avoid the airlines altogether. Your story just made me clap my hands for a minute :o)

Dan Mega said...

In many ways, Chicago sucks.

deutlich said...

Dude! I had no idea all that happened. :( I'm sorry to hear that.

I'm glad you made it back home in one piece, though!!

Nilsa S. said...

I think Chicago just likes you so much, she wants you to stay. Longer than planned. Maybe forever. Hope you got back home alright.

Yoda said...

Chicago can be a bitch. My favorite horror story is taking FIVE hours to travel not more than twenty miles out of the city.

I was gonna suggest that you bought a pair of boxers instead ... would've cost you just $3 at the GAP ;-)

Paula said...

Poor Princess. :( Well I promise if you come to Glasgow it WILL be nice to you! :)

EF said...

Alas, that Chicago can be a fickle bitch! That's why it's my kind of town! "Glad" to know you were only bruised and not broken by it!

Marianne said...

Oh dear, sounds like it might be Chicago's time of the month! The bloggers get-together sounds great though, and I'm sure Chicago will forgive and forget in no time- the make-up visit will be amazing!

captain corky said...

After reading about your ordeal I don't think I'll be visiting Chicago anytime soon. Plus, I prefer New York style pizza. ;)

L said...

My heart goes out to you in your time of Bad-Times-In-Chicago-ness. I, too, had Awful Times in Chicago, but my experience lasted from 2002-2004. In fact, I wrote about it recently on my blog (see June 18 post: oh, midwest. why did you make me cry?)

I hope that Chicago turns itself around and stops bein' mean to nice people like us.

p.s. your blog is awesome and hilarious. Keep up the good work. I'll be back soon.

with love from Pittsburgh...

Bobby_2010 said...

Man its sad that Chicago mistreated you..i hope its nicer to me when i go in three weeks...Its my favorite city!!!

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

I had a "personal bubble" problem at the airport too!! This guy was RIGHT.NEXT. to me in line. What made it even worse...he was sucking on his teeth. I gave him the look a couple times, but he didn't get it, and I don't think he spoke English....so speaking to him was a no go.

As an aside, teeth sucking is a sign of disrespect in many cultures.....though I figured he missed that memo.

Psychgrad said...

Wow - you are fair more patient than me to have gone through all of that yet still found it to be one of your favourite cities. I have a hard time disconnecting the annoyances I experience in a city with the city itself.

Sorry that your poster got set off the side. The more conferences I attend, the less useful I feel they are.