[personal|travel] Leaving Omaha for the last time
More weird, restless sleep, with weird, restless dreams. Something about the weather, or the heater in my hotel room, or my unsettled spirit, has kept me awake nights. This time it was vehicular arson as part of some large coverup, except I was very bad at cleaning up evidence of my misdeeds. The car in question in my dream was my first car, an orange 1976 Datsun 710 station wagon I drove in college. Not hard to interpret what that means, really. All in keeping with the melancholy of my visit here.
A friend who has been out of town all this past week is meeting me for breakfast, then taking me to the airport. American Airlines yesterday cancelled my flight this morning. Getting rebooked involved spending over an hour on hold with the Aadvantage Platinum desk (apparently hold times for the main desk were running closer to twenty-four hours). I am dubious of my new connection through Chicago O’Hare, mostly because of ORD’s chronic problems with delivering timely wheelchair transfers. Basically, in my experience they are incapable of doing so at that airport.
None of that matters so long as I get home tonight. Today is Lisa Costello‘s birthday, the last one I will likely ever be alive for, and I’d like to see here thereupon, and I have two oncology appointments tomorrow. So, yeah, this terminal cancer patient really needs to get home today.
Even so, my weather karma has brought not only deeply subfreezing temperatures and inches of snow to Omaha, it appears to be doing the same to Portland today. Unseasonable here in Nebraska, almost unheard of their in our part of Oregon.
And I’ll have the long trip home to think about how I feel about having been here one last time.
Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.
Posted: 5:01 am Mon December 09 2013 | Comments(0) |
[photos|travel] My trip to Omaha (at least so far)
I flew there, of course
Hanging with the pooches
A friendly meighborhood duck
Yesterday we set out in the car of garyomaha
As always in life, we drove down uncertain roads
Until we came to my joint in Shenandoah, Iowa
A slightly more sobering neighbor
Me and my namesake (or vice versa)
The store was full of cool old things, like those sliding ladders, and the manager was very kind about us wandering around gawping and photographing
elusivem and garyomaha enjoyed old fashioned fountain treats (I had an iced tea)
We then looked at interesting old buildings in Shenandoah, which reminded me of my grandparents’ town in north Texas when I was a small boy in the late 1960s
Including a dry-docked caboose
As usual, more at the Flickr set.
Photos © 2012, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and M. Jones.
This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and M. Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Posted: 6:56 am Sun December 08 2013 | Comments(0) |
[travel] Off to Omaha today
I’m off to Omaha today, after some morning lawyering here in town connected to my will and estate plan. Just a few days’ visit to see some old friends for the last time. Back Monday evening.
Note, per my previous post I am not flying United Airlines.
Posted: 7:36 am Wed December 04 2013 | Comments(0) |
[conventions|travel] The high cost of cancellation
As I mentioned yesterday, I am having issues with United Airlines. This first cropped up a while back, as discussed here: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]
This all goes back to my troubles trying to get to this year’s World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. (I have discussed some of this previously here on the blog.) Last summer, I tried to book plane tickets for me and Lisa Costello to fly there. The $700 per person UK arrival fees for a free mileage award ticket were impossible for us to meet. At the time, I checked out simply paying for a fare, and even the cheapest was far higher, because those $700 fees were embedded in any trans-Atlantic airfare to London.
Unnamed Benefactors stepped forward and offered to fund our airfare if we would pay our own on-the-ground expenses. I very gratefully said yes, and proceeded to arrange a low-cost European vacation for myself by couch surfing in London and Paris, spending money only on the Eurostar train to get between the cities. Except for the convention hotel itself, my only expenses otherwise were going to be food and incidentals, as my Unnamed Benefactors provided tickets for the two of us on United Airlines. Lisa was planning to fly out the day before the convention and join me.
Three days before my scheduled departure, Lisa’s father suffered a massive stroke. Other relatives stepped forward to respond with immediate help, but Lisa needed to fly to Maryland at the end of that week to help with the necessary but difficult lifestyle transitions now underway.
That meant (and still means) that Lisa was now juggling my life-ending terminal illness and the life-changing illness of one of her parents. I could not leave her alone with this. So with great reluctance, we cancelled our trip to Europe. We also severely truncated a post-trip engagement with my agent, and cancelled the visit of another friend who was due after Orycon, both of these to great regret.
The financial aspects of this situation have turned into a severe mess.
In order to cover the expenses incurred by my Unnamed Benefactors, I also sought a compassionate medical emergency refund from @UnitedAirlines, which states on their Web site that they provide such consideration. Unfortunately, since our tickets were purchased as nonrefundable airfares, United Airlines also does not offer any refund. Their response to me did not even acknowledge the nature of my request, simply stating that my tickets were nonrefundable, but that I did retain an airfare credit. Which isn’t even my money, as the Unnamed Benefactors paid for it. And it’s not like I’m going back to Europe anytime in the rest of my drastically foreshortened life.
At the same time, my Unnamed Benefactors wrote me asking me to pay them £1,295.90 (approx. USD 2,073), as we would not be attending WFC.
This absolutely floored me. If I had $2,073 to spend on airfare, I would have bought the damned tickets myself in the first place. What I thought had been an act of kindness and charity towards me turned into me being expected to pay $2,000 for the privilege of not attending WFC so I could help Lisa care for her stricken father.
The books do in fact balance somewhat. Were I to directly pay back my Unnamed Benefactors, I would get to keep the airfare credit, less change fees and penalties. But I don’t have $2,000 sitting in a travel budget to give them. If I did, I would have bought my own tickets in the first place. If United were going to refund the tickets, the whole business would just be a wash.
But after multiple rounds of discussion, United has flatly refused to refund the airfare. Apparently a sudden life-threatening illness on the part of my partner’s father does not constitute a medical emergency in their eyes. Which makes me wonder what the hell does? I’m pretty damned irritated about this, most especially about the amount of time I have already spent focusing on this issue. My life is running out of time — between the shocking and insensitive demand from my Unnamed Benefactors and United Airlines’ refusal to honor their own compassionate exemption policy, I have been expending significant amounts of that finite time and energy on things I should never have had to deal with.
All to no avail thus far.
I’m honestly not sure what to do here. Had I known the original offer of tickets to WFC required a complete payback in the event of cancellation, I almost certainly would not have accepted it. My own health is too precarious, quite frankly, which is why all plane tickets I buy and pay for these days are purchased with trip insurance. While I have enough money sitting in my bank account to pay back my Unnamed Benefactors, that’s not what it is for. And I cannot spend a United Airlines airfare credit to pay my bills or help Lisa help her parents. The budget isn’t there, especially to pay for a trip I am not even able to take.
I’m feeling very pushed around right now, and looking at a lot of expense well beyond anything planned or budgeted at a time when our expenses have skyrocketed due to both my own illness the problems in Lisa’s family. I’m also much more wary of accepting offers of assistance in the future, as I never foresaw hidden strings like this and do not know how to foresee them going forward.
There’s a strong temptation to tell my Unnamed Benefactors to take a hike, but that’s hardly ethical as I’m apparently inheriting the airfare credit regardless, given the intransigence of United Airlines. I’m tempted to hold a small fundraiser to pay this off, but that also hardly seems fair to people who might want to support me. If United Airlines honored their own compassionate refund policy, the problem would essentially not exist, but that road has now been closed.
This situation frustrates me immensely. At this extremely difficult time in my life, I am left with yet another large, unbudgeted expense for which I have nothing to show but trouble and a waste of my precious, waning days.
Posted: 7:34 am Wed December 04 2013 | Comments(7) |
[travel] Flying back to Oregon
Lisa Costello and I are flying back to Oregon today. We seem to have accomplished all our critical priorities here in Maryland. I personally do not ever expect to come back to the East Coast except possibly for some medical purpose. Was nice to see folks yesterday, will be nice to sleep in my own bed tonight.
Posted: 4:25 am Sun November 17 2013 | Comments(0) |
[food|travel] Open lunch in Bowie, MD on Saturday, November 16th
As Lisa Costello and I will back in Maryland next week, I am declaring an Open Lunch in Bowie, Maryland on Saturday, November 16th. We’ll meet at DuClaw Brewing Company in Bowie Town Center at 11:30 am.
If you can read this, you are invited. Whether we’re old friends, casual acquaintances, or you’re an Internet fan/lurker, you are welcome to attend.
Please do RSVP in comments or by email so I can try to secure a suitably sized table.
See some, all or none of you in Maryland at the end of next week.
Posted: 4:09 am Thu November 07 2013 | Comments(4) |
[personal|travel] Wrapping up (for now) here in Maryland
We’re flying home tomorrow, as I have my CT scan on Friday. That means Lisa Costello and I are wrapping our current round of business with her parents today, so we can move to an airport hotel tonight in order to facilitate our early flight in the morning. We’ll be back next week to finalize, or at least complete next steps, on getting the sale of the house moving as well as some smaller issues of property disposition.
Her dad is doing quite well, given the severity of his stroke. Everything has been going far smoother than we’d feared. A trip which might have been very, very difficult has mere been difficult.
Also, as today is my brother’s birthday, and he lives in the DC suburbs of Virginia, we’ll be having dinner with him tonight.
Me, taking my GI pills to get through today and tomorrow.
See some, all or none of you at Orycon this weekend.
Posted: 4:29 am Wed November 06 2013 | Comments(0) |
[travel] Off to Maryland
Lisa Costello and I are off to Maryland this morning to support her family. We will be very busy and distracted, and staying in a house with no Internet access, so blogging may be spotty or even non-existent.
Watch this space for more details.
Posted: 5:06 am Wed October 30 2013 | Comments(1) |
[travel] Still at the beach, heading home today
What it says on the tin. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.
Posted: 7:41 am Sun October 27 2013 | Comments(0) |
[travel] We are at the beach
Carry on without us. Back soon.
Posted: 9:55 am Sat October 26 2013 | Comments(0) |
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