This week my wife and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. That means that it’s been 8 years since the debacle of the morning we left for our honeymoon.
As a side note, it’s been 8 years, and still none of my friends or family members can figure out why a woman of The Megger’s obvious quality would marry a schlub like me. I try to tell them that sometimes fortune shines upon the undeserving, but secretly I think it likely that The Megger is being punished for doing something awful in a past life.
But, back to the story at hand: It was the Monday morning after our Saturday wedding and it was 4:00am. My bride and I crawled out of bed and began to scurry about our apartment making the types of last-minute preparations you make when you are going to be away for two weeks.
What we didn’t realize is that while we were scurrying about, my best man – who had generously volunteered to drive us to the airport – was downstairs pressing the doorbell button. And pressing it. And pressing it. All told, he pressed that button, and knocked, for 15 minutes before we heard him. Try standing outside staring at someone’s door at 4am – the time goes by a lot slower than you might think (just make sure it’s someone who will vouch for you when the police show up). I still can’t believe we didn’t hear the doorbell – either it was broken, or our ears weren’t awake enough to pick up that frequency. It’s to my best man’s eternal credit that he didn’t just leave (for some reason, he didn’t have a cell phone with him).
Eventually, he drove us down the empty Turnpike to Logan Airport, where we happily unloaded our bags from his car and waved as he drove off (likely resolving never to drive us anywhere ever again).
We picked up our bags and carried them to the curbside check-in, where a kindly-looking man greeted us. We presented our tickets and IDs and announced that we were going on our honeymoon. To Hawaii. Despite the obscenely early hour, we were giddy. The skycap indulged us with a smile and punched our information into the computer. Then he frowned and repeated the process. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but you do not appear to be booked on any flights.”
My heart began to race. How could anything be wrong? Everything had been booked weeks in advance with our travel agent. We even had paper tickets for the flight. This had to be a mistake. What if we got stranded? Our ride just left and he didn’t have a cell phone with him. It was our honeymoon. Our married life was supposed to be a string of happiness and success and now everything was going to be ruined.
I may have panicked a little. My mouth began to work to form words that I did not have enough breath to speak, and my eyes began to roll back into my head. I am told there might have been a bit of foam on my chin.
Sensing danger, the skycap marched us inside and handed us over to a Mr. Reyes. Mr. Reyes did the “type very fast for an extended period of time” thing that all airline employees do before he confirmed for us that we were not booked on any flights. Our tickets, he told us, had been refunded to our travel agent back in April and were no longer valid.
The Megger rejected my suggestion that we take a cab to the travel agent’s home, burn it to the ground, and salt the earth where it had stood. Instead, she called the agency and calmly explained to the voicemail (after all, it was 5:45am) that there must have been some mistake because the tickets we paid for had been cashed in, and we didn’t have the cash. She asked the travel agent to call us back when she got in.
Meanwhile, at the ticket counter, Mr. Reyes told us that if we wanted to go to Hawaii today, there was a flight 2 hours later with available seats. We could purchase new tickets for the later flight for a total of $1200 (or $300 more than the tickets we had already purchased). Now, remember, these were 2003 dollars – back when $1200 could really buy you something. Somehow – and I’m really not sure how, as this was just after our wedding – we had enough room on our credit card to book the tickets (although this tightened our honeymoon budget a bit). Mr. Reyes insisted that we use his cell phone to confirm that our hotel reservations were still valid, and they were.
When we eventually got in touch with the travel agent (while waiting to change planes in St. Louis), she blamed the Hawaiian vacation company (that she had chosen to use) for cashing in the tickets. In an attempt to make up for it, she upgraded us at our first hotel to a room that had an amazing view of Waikiki Beach. She claimed that she had sent instructions to upgrade us at our second hotel, but there must have been some mistake (shocker) because we weren’t upgraded.
What we didn’t know at the time was that my cousin had used the same travel agent to book her honeymoon (my cousin was married 2 weeks before us), and the agent had done a similar thing to their plane tickets (this time to San Francisco, so I suspect the Hawaiian company wasn’t involved).
In the end, despite the initial bump in the road our honeymoon was wonderful (well, except for one ill-conceived trip to a Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant). We were eventually reimbursed – months later – for the more expensive tickets, although it took a number of phone calls and letters. Needless to say, we never used that travel agent again.