Saturday, November 16, 2013

Safe and Sound But Feeling a Little Betrayed

Diana's been in London for the last week. (Hi Caz!) Traveled alone again. I didn't sleep well... again.

She arrived in London on Friday. She knew she wouldn't have the extra finances so she canceled her final night at a different hotel from where she'd be spending her week. She'd done this before and just hangs out at the airport instead. It also guarantees she won't miss her flight!

On Saturday she was walking along the busy sidewalks of London getting bumped around when she felt a tug on her scarf. She immediately put her hands in her pockets and her debit card was still there. Feeling a sigh of relief she kept walking. A moment later she remembered her phone was also in her pocket... but now was gone.

Her cell phone, her only form of communication, was gone. She went back to Primark where she had shopped earlier but no one had turned it in.

Getting back to her hotel, she learned that their phones were out of service and they expected them to be working by Monday. (We tried calling them all week but they never were restored.) She's alone in London and has no convenient way to reach anyone.

She walked to the mall where she found an internet cafe and sent us an email telling us of her situation: "My phone has either been stolen or misplaced and as a result I have no way of getting in touch with anyone. As of tomorrow at 11AM I will be in Leicester Square waiting in line for the Catching Fire Premiere. In 45 minutes I will be unreachable."

With the 8 hour time difference, this arrived in our inbox at 5AM.

We made contact with her a couple days later and were relieved to hear she was doing okay. She ended that email with "Tomorrow I'm hanging out here then will be heading to the airport to sleep there. I'll see you guys at home on Thursday!"

This was early on Tuesday morning Seattle time.

Early Wednesday morning my cell phone rang. It was Chuck. He had checked his email on his way to work and told me to get on the computer. (Our cell phones are very old and don't have internet.) This is what was waiting in our inbox, "I just checked my bank account and it seems that the hotel I canceled, charged me anyway and now I don't have the money to get to the airport! I only have 7 minutes left of the internet and then I don't know what is going to happen. HELP!! I don't know what to do!"

She sent this at 1:00AM our time. It breaks my heart every time I think of her writing that email, knowing we wouldn't be seeing it for hours. Her walking back to the hotel, not knowing how she was going to get home.

She ended up walking more than 12 miles that day between the mall and the hotel that charged her, trying to get them to refund her money. She went back to the mall about the time we would be waking up and after we connected by email, we transferred money into her account and she was able to get a train ticket that would get her to the airport. We sent her a little more than she needed so she could eat. Due to the hotel charger her, she didn't even have money for food.

"Thank you SO much! I'm heading straight to the airport! I will see you guys on Thursday!"

Thursday morning I was at work when Chuck emailed me. (That man is an angel!) He told me that Diana's flight was going to be 2 hours late and she was going to miss her train. (She found it was cheaper to fly into Vancouver, BC and take the train here to Seattle.) Did I want to go on a road trip?! Uh, yea!!

We got off work early, picked up Sharaya (Beth had to work) and headed to Canada! Of course we ran into construction and at one point the traffic was completely stopped. I kept thinking of Diana coming off that plane knowing she had missed her train, having no money for a ticket home and trying to find a way to contact us. I felt sick. I could only imagine how she was gonna feel!

I was SO relieved when we got there before her plane landed. Sharaya, Allison and I stood in the airport, hoping, praying she would come to baggage claim before trying to find a computer to find another way home. Remember, there was no way for us to tell her we were there! 

Finally my cell phone rang. "Are you guys at home?"

"No, we're at at the airport." "Which airport?" "Vancouver." She literally sighed. She said her plane had been late and she missed her train. I told her that we knew and that's why we were there. I told her to get her luggage and some down because we were there waiting for her. Another huge sigh and "Thank you."

After getting in the car she said that as the plane was pulling away from the gate in London, the pilot told them they'd be making a 2 hour refueling stop. She spent most of the flight trying to figure out how she was going to get home.

We stopped for dinner, she said it was the first real food she'd had in days. We got home and she crawled into bed, exhausted and feeling a little betrayed by the city she loves so much.


Mardra - Grown Ups & Downs said...

I am hoping Marcus and I can go to London next Spring.
SO much to think about when travelling so far away. Eeek.
And for you, Mom's worries they seep into every nerve like nothing else.
I'm very glad for a safe ending to this adventure.

Becca said...

Oh, no!!! Poor thing. :-( I can't even imagine how alone she must have felt. All I can say, though, is thank goodness for the internet. When I lived in London, away from my family for the first time (other than college), the internet hadn't been launched yet, nor had cell phones, really (other than for the filthy rich), and I didn't even have a landline phone in the house I shared with several other people. I worked at night in a nightclub, and walked or took the bus most places, and my parents had to have been absolutely *terrified* the whole time I was there. I can't even imagine what they must've gone through, and how it would have been alleviated if it was just a few years later, after cell phones, after internet. Glad she's okay, but so sorry about that mess. Btw, did the hotel ever re-credit her?

Caz said...

Oh no, massive anxiety, for all of you. It must have been a great relief to all be back together.
Snake and I were talking the other day about how we used to manage without mobile phones or internet, and how alien that seems now. When I was 16 I left home and lived in London for several years with no phone of any kind, and a travelled across Europe on my own with no fixed itinerary and no means of contact. It seems foolhardy in retrospect. So glad that you could reach out through the internet.
I really hope London will be forgiven.