Memoir Monday: when I make 2,220 people delay their vacation so that I can get a cup of coffee

June 29, 2010

I know it's not Monday.  But I have been wanting to do a Memoir Monday for so long and, well, Mondays are just not a good day for me.  So I am going to do a belated Memoir Monday, courtesy of Travis at I Like to Fish (that's his button over there -->).  If you'd like to check him out, and read some of the his Memoir Mondays and those contributed by his loyal followers, click on the button to the right.

And here we go, with my personal Memoir Monday....

Shortly after I moved to Arizona, my new friend SuzyQ and I planned a 3-day cruise from Long Beach, CA to Ensenada, Mexico. It was supposed to be a girl’s trip, but one by one people slowly backed out until all that was left was SuzyQ and myself. We decided to go anyway.

The drive from Phoenix to LA is about 6 hours, so we drove up the night before and stayed with my best friend in Laguna Niguel. That part went as planned.

The next morning we got up, with a whole day stretching before us. The cruise ship didn’t leave port until 5:30 that evening (with boarding starting at 5:00) so we had plenty of time.

That is, we would have had plenty of time had I not severely underestimated Los Angeles traffic. And the sad part? I had no excuse. I had lived in Los Angeles. I knew from experience the true level of brutality that is the Los Angeles freeway system.

According to Mapquest, the drive from Laguna Niguel to Long Beach could be accomplished in 42 minutes. 55 in traffic. Okay, so it’s 2pm on a Friday… we should be fine, right? Heck, we even have time to stop off in Irvine and meet an old college friend of mine for a cup of coffee.

Two hours and one cup of coffee later, I was starting to panic. I was stuck in gridlock on the 405, not even remotely close to Long Beach, and we were supposed to be there in less than an hour.
At 5:00, still stuck in gridlock somewhere around Huntington Beach, we called the cruise terminal. Explained the situation.

“Well,” they said, “As long as you can make it here before 5:30, you’ll be fine.”

“I think I’m going to be sick.” Said SuzyQ, her nerves and an empty stomach full of coffee getting the better of her.

“We’ll make it,” I assure her, not at all confident of that fact. “I used to live in Long Beach. I know those streets like the back of my hand.”

At 4:22, we exited the freeway into the east side of Long Beach. We had 8 minutes to make it to the far southwest end of Long Beach.

According to Mapquest, this can be accomplished in 21 minutes. We didn’t have 21 minutes, we had 8. I drove like a madwoman, using every back alley and side street I knew, and we arrived in front of the cruise terminal, tires squealing and engine smoking, in 7 minutes. Yes, seven minutes. I watched the clock on my dash change from 5:29 to 5:30 as SuzyQ went bolting to the terminal entrance while I pulled away to find a parking spot.

After parking, I met SuzyQ in the cruise terminal. She had a sad look on her face and a piece of paper in her hand.

“They won’t let us on. They’ve already pulled up the boarding walkway. The ship is getting ready to move away from port.”

I looked at the ship, still sitting placidly next to shore. “But it hasn’t yet, right? And didn’t we just spend the last twenty minutes calling them every five seconds to assure them that we would make it by 5:30? It’s 5:30!”

SuzyQ held up the piece of paper in her hand. “They gave us directions to meet the ship in Mexico.”

The directions went as follows:

Meeting The Ship in Ensenada
  1. Walk over to the Queen Mary Hotel Entrance
  2. Take a taxi to the local Greyhound
  3. Take the Greyhound to Tijuana (Mexican Border) Central Bus Station
  4. In Tijuana, Take the “ABC” bus line to Ensenada
  5. In Ensenada you can check in after 8:00 at the Cruise Terminal
  6. If you arrive early in Ensenada you may want to get a hotel until the morning (average arrival time for this trip is about 1a.m.)
  7. Average price for the whole trip is about $30.00
Oh yeah right, two young ladies travelling alone are going to take the bus to Mexico so that we can arrive at the bus station in Tijuana at midnight, transfer over to the Ensenada bus, and then somehow try and find a hotel within walking distance of the bus station at 2am. Because I’m sure that a) the bus station is a hub for respectable people, especially in the middle of the night and b) hanging out in the cities of Tijuana and Ensenada between the hours of midnight and 2am is also quite safe.

Brilliant. That, obviously, was not an option. Backup plan? Tears.

After about five minutes of crying and ten more minutes of hapless employees referring us to slightly-higher-up hapless employees so that they could deal with the stupid crying girls, we met a man that told us the good news: they were putting the walkway back out so that we could board. The ship’s Chief purser had agreed to let us on the cruise.

We were hurried through embarkation process and ran across the walkway to the ship, dragging our luggage until finally we stumbled into the bright lights and subtle stuffiness of the inside of the cruise liner. Chandeliers were sparking warmly, people were milling about drinking cocktails, and we had never seen anything lovelier in our entire lives.

It was 6:00 pm. The ship was half an hour behind schedule. Because of us.

Once we had recovered from our near-disaster, we had a fun time with activities like horseback riding on the coast, eating, attending comedy shows, eating, participating in poolside games and enjoying adult beverages, buying knockoff designer sunglasses (me), eating, winning the no-buy-in shipboard poker tournament (SuzyQ), and taking pictures of random objects, such as:

phallic-looking door handles

towel animals

and wanna-be lucha libre dudes hanging out in the elevator.
We also found some time to chat up our fellow cruise-goers.

“You would not believe it,” we’d say, “we held up the whole cruise ship!”

They would chuckle and reply, “yeah, we were running a little late ourselves.”

SuzyQ and I would look at each other in silent communication, “You have no idea what we really mean when we say we were 'late for the cruise.'"


Office of the Campus Writing Coordinator said...

I LOVE. I want to keep an eye on your blogs and consider creating a link from our page (iPinion) in our blogs section to your blog. This one was great!

kate said...

I was catching a flight to Salt Lake City for some training while working for Delta - I knew how long it took me to get to the airport, so I wasn't in any grand hurry...too bad I forgot that the air show was in town and had shut down half of my normal route to work. Picture me sitting in traffic in the early stages of an epic panic attack while I picture missing the flight and losing my job all while my boss sits there and shakes his head about how I 'should've known better'.

I made it to the aiport with about 15 minutes to spare...which meant that I had to park in the terminal parking garage FOR A WEEK. Cue panic attack #2 when I got home and had to take out a home loan just to get my car out of the garage.

Now I leave early. Like, REALLY, REALLY early :)

El Cid Vacations said...

the phallic door handles look weird. LOL. love the towel bear!