Home from Vericon — Barely

And now, for the long post-con report. A large part of it is the saga of getting home, though, so if you just want to know how the con went, it will be much shorter for you.

Thursday’s departure was made complicated by a flat tire in the morning (which the folks at Sears fixed with admirable speed) and the fact that no, I had actually been smoking crack when I thought I could go to my afternoon class before leaving (this was problematic because I was supposed to lead class discussion that day). But everything else went fine. I had an empty seat next to me on my first flight, which is always good, and then on my second flight my seatmate was a woman named Sarah, with whom I began chatting about anthropology, moved onto science fiction and fantasy, and ended up on role-playing games. She herself wasn’t a fan, per se, but she knew a little about SF/F, and more to the point, she was interested. So rather than passing out, I spent the flight very pleasantly conversing with someone who was happy to let me talk her ear off about my research interests. It’s always good to test my ability to explain RPGs to a layperson.

My lodgings for the weekend were with La Reina de Hojas, who is very kind to put me up for one VeriCon after another. Friday, she went off to work, and I went off to the Square, where instead of doing my usual pilgrimage (Pandy’s, Tokyo Kid, Newbury Comics, Million Year Picnic), I ended up working with Ruth at Pandy’s to make a pretty flier advertising myself at VeriCon. Basically, I wanted something to stick up wherever they were doing the signings, so that the masses of people there to get George R. R. Martin’s ink could stare at the cover of Doppelganger and maybe remember it when it comes out in a few months. Ruth made up the flier for me, I took it over to Gnomon Copy, and if all went as planned, then there were fliers in Pandy’s, Harvard Bookstore (where the signings were), and the Coop, though I didn’t go back to check if those last two places did in fact put them up.

Thence to the Folk & Myth department, where I was lucky enough to catch both Holly and Deborah at home. Had a fantastic time chatting with them, though it turns out that, due to administrative silliness on the college’s end, they didn’t get me onto the e-mail list for this year’s symposium. I probably couldn’t have gone anyway, but still, it’s a shame. I left a cover flat with them, though, and they promised to pimp the novel for me, since one of the things they’re doing this year is showing what their graduates are up to. And they’re planning on devoting a shelf in the library to things published by graduates, so in fact, I am going to be in a Harvard library. This amuses me greatly.

Then con-going, listening to Martin read, making plans for dinner — and then I walked out into the hallway and was accosted with many smiles and glad cries by, of all people, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. They had come to hear a few things that evening, and had apparently also managed to come across my recommendation for The Fall of the Kings. Their reaction, as Delia put it to me, was “Somebody finally read the book I thought we wrote!” Which makes me extremely happy. As I’m staring down the maw of a fourth year of writing those things, it’s good to know that they do occasionally do some good in the
world.

Right, I didn’t mean for the Friday report to be so long. Saturday I had both my panels. The “romantic relationships” one in the morning turned to sex talk quite rapidly, as I expected, but La Reina assures me we went forty whole minutes before it turned to pornography. Moderated the worldbuilding panel in the afternoon; I think the highlight of that one, for me, was talking briefly to a guy afterward who thanked me for bringing up Mesoamerican fantasy, since his mother is from Guatemala (I wish I’d thought to clarify whether he also meant she’s Maya). Wasn’t properly in a Milk & Cookies mood that evening, unfortunately, but then I went to the Masq, and then, gentle readers, my head blew up. I would like it to be clearly known that I blame Rob Scott. He and I got to talking about Changeling, and Deliria, and . . . well, let’s just say that I do NOT need to be designing an RPG right now. Even if the nugget of the idea glommed onto a title instantaneously and then started cross-breeding with certain short stories of mine. It’s got to wait two weeks at the very least, since dammit, I’m revising Warrior and Witch right now.

Then Sunday. Oh, Sunday.

Started off swimmingly. The HRSFan running the Art Show kindly let me cash out my two pictures early, since I had to leave for the airport, so off I zoomed. Got there in plenty of time. Got onto the plane; empty seat next to me.

. . . . then an announcement that we would be taking off a minimum of an hour and a half late.

I had a connecting flight leaving Philadelphia before we’d even be landing there.

They ended up telling those of us in that situation to get off the plane and talk to an agent. So I stood in line, got up to the front, handed my second boarding pass over to the lady, and explained to her that I was going to Indianapolis, but Expedia had booked me on US Airways for the first leg and Northwest for the second.

This is exactly as bad as you think it is. Maybe worse.

Neither airline has control of the other airline’s ticket. She can’t rebook me to Indy because I haven’t bought a ticket to Indy, as far as they’re concerned; I have to go talk to Northwest. I ask her if Northwest won’t just tell me that they can’t rebook me from Boston because their records have me flying out of Philly, and she admits this would be the case. Northwest isn’t responsible for my failure to get to Philly, since it wasn’t their fault; therefore they’re not required to fix the problem. I grit my teeth and ask how much it will be to buy a new ticket outright, since I know US Airways has direct flights, and it looks like that really is my only option.

She taps away on the keyboard for a minute, says “sixhundreddollarswaithereI’llberightback” and vanishes.

I stay where I am and pray she’s working a magic trick somewhere that won’t cost me six hundred dollars.

She comes back and tells me to go talk to another guy, who gets on the phone with Northwest, does some jiggery-pokery, and somehow gets me booked on a Northwest flight home for no additional charge.

Woot! Life is good, if running later than it was supposed to. I go to Terminal E. I board, gate-checking my bag as I do so. I fly; the plane’s maybe a third full, so I’ve got plenty of space. We land. I wait in the jetbridge.

My bag doesn’t show up.

The baggage handler tells me to go down to the luggage carousel.

Where I wait for about 50 minutes.

It’s pretty late at this point (ten-thirty when I get there), so there are only two baggage handlers down below, sending stuff up. I’m told this, rather snippily, by the Northwest baggage agent when I try to ask where exactly my duffel has gone. I should have been more bitchy in that conversation, instead of waiting another half hour, until the last of the Northwest baggage had been sent up and my duffel still wasn’t there, since I failed to make it clear to her that I was not, in fact, waiting for checked luggage; I was waiting for something I was supposed to have gotten back planeside and hadn’t. Something which has, in fact, now disappeared.

Yes, ladies and gents, I made it home, but sans luggage.

Hands-down, the best decision I made all day was a spontaneous one, while waiting for my Northwest flight, to take my car keys out of my duffel and put them in my pocket. Had I not done that, I would probably have had to wait for the boy to drive up to Indy and get me — I’d missed the last shuttle by then. I’m praying to god they find the duffel; not only are my contact lenses in there, which ounce for ounce are probably worth more than gold, but so are the earrings my mother got me from the Shetland Islands. And those are irreplaceable.

Grrr. Argh.

Good con, bad ending. And now I need to get back to being productive.

0 Responses to “Home from Vericon — Barely”

  1. unforth

    I feel your plane pain. I’ve had delay problems in the past, too. They suck real, realy bad. ๐Ÿ™

    Hope your luggage turns up!!

  2. sapphohestia

    My family’s always had pretty good luck in the past having our luggage returned to us within a day or two. It does sound as if the rest of the trip was pretty awesome. Btw: was that Martin author that everyone wanted you to kidnap so he’d write his books faster also in your luggage?

  3. gollumgollum

    Ouch. Good luck with the luggage situation. Glad you had a good Con, at least.

  4. kitsune_den

    Not that it really help in hindsight, but I always use the search engines to find cheap tickets, which I then buy direct from the airlines. There is so much the airlines won’t or can’t do for you if you go through expedia, orbitz, etc.

    • Marie Brennan

      The issue wasn’t Expedia; the issue was that, to save a hundred and sixty bucks or so, I’d chosen to take the option where I flew two American flights to Boston, then one US Airways/United and one Northwest flight back. US Airways and Northwest don’t have any kind of ride-sharing agreement, so they were under absolutely no obligation, so far as I know, to help me out on the parts of the journey they didn’t control. Which is why I’m so very, very grateful to the people who sorted this out for me.

  5. lowellboyslash

    I’m so sorry about the duffel. Judging from my own experiences, chances are you’ll get it, but you might have to wait like a week.

  6. khet_tcheba

    They lost a GATE-CHECKED bag?!? That’s pretty impressive – it takes real talent to lose something in the 30 feet between where you drop it off and where it goes into the cargo hold. Ugh.

    If there were a practical mode of long-distance transportation besides air travel, I’d be all over it. It seems that about one in three flights you take anymore ends up being a clusterfuck of some flavor or another.

    The baggage recovery people are SLOW, but the tend to be reasonably successful in finding lost luggage. With any luck, you’ll get a call in a day or two from some scruffy old guy in a van who has your bag.

    Major kudos to the agents who got your connection debaucle taken care of, though – it’s good to hear that someone out there is still trying to get people where they’re going rather than offering a bland apology and perhaps a completely useless hotel room for the night.

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