October 5, 2021.
It was like a kick to the gut. I was beyond angry all the way to sick and actually felt like I might vomit. I told Glenda this is the kind of angry that makes a man drink and then commit violence.
Our calendar says that we have nine days until our scheduled departure on October 14th for a trip that includes a tour of three Italian cities and a 7-day cruise in the Adriatic and around the Greek Isles. A trip we have anxiously awaited. A trip we have planned for months. A trip we booked and paid for in May of this year. I had slept poorly the night before, out of excitement and apprehension for the trip. We have made lists, shopped, located all essentials for travel, practice packed. Still, my mind wouldn't stop going over the lists and the mechanics of the travel.
The Email in my inbox from the travel firm said, "Here's your updated itinerary!" Cool. Except upon examination, it proved anything but cool.
This 'updated' itinerary was a major change. Nearly every aspect of the trip had been changed. The date of arrival in Italy was changed--meaning the date of our departure was changed to an earlier date. The city of arrival into Italy was changed. The date of the cruise ship's departure was changed. Its departure port was changed. The city and country of departure for our return flight to the U.S. was changed, along with its date. Nearly every detail of the two-week vacation was different than the one we had planned. And the changes were problematic.
My mind boggled. I felt clammy, my breath rapid and shallow. My hands were sweating. The 'updated' departure from the U.S. was now only five days away--on a Sunday.
Italy currently requires a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival. A Sunday departure and near 24 hours in transit means we would have to have the quick-turn test done on Saturday next. Does anyone do that? Can we get an appointment? We have an appointment for the tests a week from tomorrow, Wednesday the 13th. We would have to cancel that one.
That assumes that American Airlines can and will change our air reservations. We are booked to fly to Milan and then return from Rome 14 days later. The new itinerary calls for us to fly into Rome and return to the U.S. from Athens 11 days later. Does AA even serve these routes? We paid for upgraded seating--will AA have that available on new flights at short notice? What will the change cost us? (We booked our air travel separate from the main group because of our departure city and the fact that we had nearly $3,000 of flight credits with AA from an earlier Covid-related cancellation that needed to be used before the end of this year--so the travel firm is not, cannot, make changes to the confirmed air reservations for us.)
An 11-day tour and cruise instead of a 14-day tour and cruise? Will we get a partial refund from the travel firm?
Sigh. Airport parking. I have a pre-paid reservation for airport parking in Phoenix for two weeks starting 9 days from today. Will I be able to change that?
And our furry best friend. The pet-sitter is expecting him the afternoon of Wednesday, October 13th. Can she accommodate the change? Will that impact the cost?
There's a hotel glitch, too. The original tour group was to wind up their visit so as to depart the Rome airport for the U.S. on October 27th. AA could not accommodate us at our required level of service on the 27th, so our return from Rome is booked for the morning of the 28th. As a result, we have a reservation at the Rome Airport hotel for one extra night. Pre-paid, of course, to the tune of $250.00. So many changes to be made! I didn't even think of the scheduled USPS mail hold.
But, of course, I can't make any of those changes until I speak with the travel firm and confirm that what they sent me is correct. So I called them. Three times. All I could do was leave a voice mail each time. I Emailed both the customer support team and the travel assistance team.
Their voice mail recording said, "We'll get back to you within 24 business hours." It's Tuesday now. That means, at best, not later than Friday afternoon. For last-minute flight changes on an international agenda. For changes in parking, pet sitting, and a myriad list of other things.
Each Email elicited a prompt, automated response. "We have received your query. We will get back to you as soon as we can." Yeah, right.
I wasn't feeling any better. But all I could do was wait. Or wait and pray. Probably the same overall impact, but quiet time might calm me down. After some solitary reflection (checking my Email every two minutes), I told Glenda, "Well, we have a roof over our head, food in the pantry, and a little money in the bank. We are OK." After that, I decided I had other errands and I had better do them.
Bidding my bride farewell I headed to the grocery store three miles away. On my way, cruising northbound at the 45-mph speed limit, a traffic signal turned from green to yellow just as I entered the intersection. For some reason, the driver of the southbound red Mustang decided that was his signal to turn left. In front of me. Despite my full-panic stop and evasive maneuvering, our cars kissed, clipped ever so lightly. A piece of chrome trim was torn from his taillight trim. He didn't stop. When I stopped, after a few moments of shaking, I examined my car. I could see no sign of any damage at all. No dents. No scratches. No missing pieces. No sign that another car at speed had been so close. All the lights and accessories operated as normal. I resumed my drive and completed my shopping. The trip home was uneventful.
Waiting at home for me was a response from the travel firm by Email, "Hello Dan, The previous Email regarding a new itinerary doesn't apply to your upcoming vacation. That Email was sent to you by mistake. So sorry!"
Relief battled exhaustion. I think exhaustion won.