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.