Aha! You foolishly thought I'd only write one blog post about our thrilling experience flying to Phoenix! No such luck. After all, we'd only just managed to get to Phoenix. We still had to get back. And why it should be any less interesting on the return trip, I have no idea. Neither did the travel gods, who for some reason just didn't care for us this time around.
I might add, though, that the time we spent in Phoenix was fine. We hung around with my parents, sister and other relatives, went to an amazing museum (the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale; definitely check it out if you're ever in the neighborhood) that I had to pry Joan out of with a crowbar, and caught up with some of my friends. But getting there was not half the fun. Getting back wasn't very good either.
For the record, I am firing myself as staff travel agent. Not only did I get us a flight out that required us to catch a Wonder Shuttle at four o'clock in the blessed morning, I got us a flight back that changed planes in Albuquerque. Flights that change planes need to be avoided like the plague. Any time you change planes, you multiply the chances that something can go wrong. And given a chance to go wrong, most things will oblige, at least occasionally. So we need a new travel agent. Applications are being solicited through this blog. All applicants must be marginally sane, understand Expedia.com and believe, as we do, that all airlines are evil, though some are more evil than others. Okay? Okay.
Moving on: Our flight actually arrived in Albuquerque about ten minutes early, and it also showed up at the gate right next to our next departure gate. This meant that not only did we have time to buy a sandwich, we also didn't need the nice wheelchair guy that showed up to help. Unfortunately, I'd bought a sandwich in Phoenix, assuming that we wouldn't have time to buy one in Albuquerque. So we had this slightly smashed roast beef sandwich to share, complete with soggy bread and smears of what looked like salad dressing on the outside of my purse. Oh well. It was pretty tasty anyway.
Upon arriving in Phoenix, though, we had a problem. No ground transportation. Joan called Wonder Shuttle, which told her to wait until we'd picked up our bags and then call back. We got the bags (or rather, I got the bags - note to travel agent applicants: I'll still get the bags. It's why they pay me the big bucks) and Joan called Wonder Shuttle again. The dispatcher guy told Joan they were "having trouble getting drivers to return to the airport," so it would be 30 to 45 minutes before they could pick us up.
Mind you, they knew we were coming. We had to give them our flight numbers and all that when we booked (and prepaid for) the ride. Why they were now telling us, close to midnight at the end of a very long day, that they couldn't pick us up for close to an hour made absolutely no sense. And what were they doing, in the 15 minutes between our first call and our second call? Playing "Tetris," apparently. Or maybe something ruder that can't be typed into a religious-type blog like this one.
Anyway, spending 45 minutes standing outside in the dark and cold at Love Field, which isn't exactly the wisest place for a pair of women to hang out alone at night, wasn't high on either of our lists. I had some money left, so we basically said "fuck it" and grabbed a cab. And as always happens when we grabbed a cab, we took our lives in our hands. Not since we whipped around the statue of Benito Juarez in downtown Tijuana on two wheels have we had such an entertaining high-speed cab ride. I dunno what the speed limit is in Highland Park, but we probably blew through it by about double. In between clinging to the lord help me Jesus bars inside the cab and covering our eyes as we careened through red lights, Joan said, "Why don't you call Wonder Shuttle and ask for a refund." I said, "If we survive this, I certainly will."
We reached the freeway and were forced to slow down to around seventy miles an hour. I called Wonder Shuttle, told the annoying voice-automated system that I was requesting a refund, and got the dispatcher Joan had talked to before. "Hey," he said, "I think I can have a van to you in about ten minutes." "I'm sorry," I told him, "We're already in a cab and gone." He transferred me to a supervisor, who apparently was supposed to talk us out of it. Out of what? Out of being in a cab and gone?
Ponder this: I had only very recently been asked if I was sure I was in Phoenix. Now somebody was trying to talk me out of wanting a refund. I don't normally handle situations like this very well. All the same, I didn't blow up and I didn't tear this guy's head off. I just used my Best Paralegal Voice to tell him, "We were told 30 to 45 minutes. That's unacceptable at this hour, so we got a cab. And we'd like a refund." My Best Paralegal Voice must still work, because he said, "Okay, that'll take three to five business days." By the end of this sentence, we were in our driveway. I think the hyperspace thrusters on this cab were kind of warn out.
Anyway, we made it home in one piece, I didn't yell at anybody and nothing disappeared from either of our suitcases, except Joan's grey robe, which thankfully reappeared. So all's well. Sort of. Except for needing a new travel agent. Again, I'm screening resumes. The salary's not great, but the benefits are pretty cool. Er, or so I hear.