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The Third World

by Gail Mooney
December 31 2010

Even spending over three months in third world countries, didn’t prepare us for this past week’s events.  The day after Christmas it snowed – a lot.  In some places in NJ there were 32 inches of snow on the Sunday after Christmas.

Erin had come home for Christmas.  She only had a long weekend because she is still new to her job and had to report back to work on Tuesday of this past week.  She was scheduled to fly out of Newark on Monday, but we anticipated the flight being canceled, so we rebooked it for Tuesday.  Then the airline canceled her Tuesday flight and couldn’t get her on a flight back to Chicago until Thursday!  Erin knew that it would be hard to justify to her bosses in Chicago that she wasn’t able to get on a flight to Chicago until four days later, after the storm.  Chicago knows how to deal with a snowstorm.

We spent the better part of Monday, trying to get through on the phone to the airlines but  their lines were overloaded and they weren’t even placing our phone calls on hold.  Just disconnecting the calls.  A real catch-22 because we couldn’t get through to rebook the flight.  Then we started looking into trains and saw one last seat from New York to Chicago, but before we could finish the transaction – it was snatched. That left either driving or taking the bus.  The bus left at 1:15PM the next day and would get her to Chicago at 5:00AM the next morning, Wednesday  – a full day earlier than the airline was promising.

So on Tuesday, two days after the storm we headed to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC. It took twice the amount of time, due to grid lock, snow clogged streets and lack of services in general. But we made it just in time for Erin to board the 18 hour overnight bus trip to Chicago.

She made it to work on Wednesday morning. There was another glitch in Cleveland but like Orson Welles says  “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”  She and thousands like her did what they needed to do to get to where they were going.  When an airline isn’t getting its passengers rebooked until more than a week later in some cases, you have to be your own advocate.

I was quite impressed with Erin’s attitude and commitment, but then again I learned that about my daughter during our trip.  She is one of those special people that you know you can really count on. Its so much easier for most people to just make excuses, so they do.

I couldn’t get over the irony though. After traveling, virtually mishap free on over 30 flights, on a 99-day journey around the world, on 14 different airlines – Erin couldn’t get a flight from Newark to Chicago until four days after a snow storm.  I’m not quite sure where the third world is anymore.

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