Saturday, 10 May 2014

Stranded in the Windy City

Travelling can be a right palavar! And it always seems odd that I start to make decisions that will somehow backfire on me later in the day. One, for example, was deciding to check in my suitcase. I put my laptop in there and my wallet full of receipts and all because I figured that with such a full suitcase I'd have one helluva time getting the laptop back in after going through security. So I checked it in: mistake number one. Well, perhaps that was the only mistake, I don't know. I also distinctly remember a conversation I had with Mike, the manager of my hotel, the gist of which was that to fly long haul with an American airline was not good and certainly not as good as flying with British Airways. And guess what? I will eventually fly home on an American airline. It's amazing how conversations tempt fate in a certain way and how decisions come back to haunt me.

Anyway, I reach Indianapolis airport, Sam drops me off and I go through security and, for the first time ever, I hear my name boomed over the tannoy system. It turns out they want to search my bag and they need the combination on the lock. I give it to them and that's the end of it, although I start thinking, what if they simply steal my laptop or my wallet? So that bugged me, but I went through the security process and soon it was obvious that there was something wrong with the plane. It turns out that there's a faulty door and we, that is me and my fellow passengers, wonder if it'll be fixed in time. Eventually it is fixed and we're sitting in the plane. Outside there's some pretty severe storms going on and this means, as we're making our way to the runway, the pilot decides to turn us around and go back to the gate to get more fuel. Why he didn't have enough fuel in the first place is not explained, but I'm thinking it's got something to do with re-routing the journey and so on.

But of course it doesn't end there. We're told 10 minutes, but it turns into a couple hours and soon it is obvious that all of us on board are going to miss our connections. We eventually fly out of Indianapolis, the flight's pleasant, we land and then the process of sorting things out begins. I wanted to know what would happen to my suitcase as it won't be transferred to the London flight because that was long gone. Eventually I'm rebooked on an American Airlines flight to Dublin for Saturday night and this means a stay in the Marriott O'Hare, which is fine if you forgive them for labyrinthine corridors.

Dinner was pleasant enough and that old Dunkirk spirit crept in too, which is always nice. There was a small group of us: an American judge from Indianapolis and his South Korean wife, a former cop from Colorado and a girl who's heavily involved in to some kind of historical re-enactment society based in Indianapolis (she was flying to Lake Tahoe, the rest of us to London). In fact, the cop was staying near to me in Kingston upon Thames.

We all had breakfast and then I checked out and right now it's Saturday morning and I'm considering going downtown, although I don't want to be stranded down there and miss my flight, but I'll probably jump on the train (the CTA) at a place called Cumberland and ride the 40 minutes into town just to say I've been there. I need to be back around 3.30pm to catch the shuttle back to the airport (Terminal 3) and my flight to Dublin and from there my flight to London.

I discovered by chatting to people and listening to media reports that Indianapolis and Chicago are virtually equal in the battle to be the USA's most murderous capital. Whoever loses, of course,will be number two and it's looking as if Indianapolis might win. And guess who was staying in a dodgy neighbourhood out on East Washington? Yes, you guessed it. Me. And my taxi driver told me there were crack heads in a motel a few blocks away from my hotel and all manner of unsavoury people hanging around elsewhere. And now I'm in Chicago, a city with similar crime credentials.

I can't upload any images for this post because my camera is in my case along with everything else I need. American Airlines kindly provided me with a small overnight bag containing all the essentials, so at least I could shave and brush my teeth, but they didn't provide a change of clothes so I'm dressed exactly as I was yesterday. Still, I'm rested and ready to get back on the plane later today.

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