Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm an idiot!

Yep, I am. Well, I can argue that there were mitigating circumstances... But no, I'm an idiot.

If you remember, we were gonna go down to San Antonio this last weekend. Have a little romantic frolic in a nice hotel room with a balcony overlooking the river.

It all started out really well.

On the drive down, Friday afternoon, the Bluebonnets were bloomin' along the road and the sun was shinin'. The drive was beautiful. Spring had sprung. Most of the flowers came in bunches along highway 29, from 183 to Llano, but there were splotches of them all along the way to San Antone.

Fredericksburg was a great time. We got there at about 4PM, actually found a parking spot on the main drag (NEVER happens), and had dinner at the Auslander.

Well, that is, We had some food to go along with the beer. That's a 34 Oz. Paulaner Hefe-Weisen there that I'm totin'. 34 Oz. curls, we call that. Good exercise. Denise had a "Shandy".

The beer battered shrooms are always good. But this time, for the first time, we had to send the first batch back because they were cold. I think that was a waiters fault. It took him forever to bring them to us. They probably sat somewhere for ten or twelve minutes, cooling off, before we got them. Once we got the second, warm, right out of the oil batch, everything was OK.

Denise went for the German food. Some sort of Schnitzel, with mashed taters, green beans and a roll. As usual, I chose the Classic Hamburger with the works. As you see here, they bring it in two halves, and then you put it together.

Once you do, you need to cut it in half to get a good grip on it. Mmmmm, wonderful.

This was probably the high water mark of the day. Everything was great. You can see it on my face. I thought I'd planned for everything. The next two days and nights were gonna be awesome!

When the sun started to go down, as we drove south on 281 towards San Antone, I stopped to get my glasses out of the trunk. I couldn't help but notice the weather closing in. It was getting colder. That was the first hint of what was to come.

We got to town around 9:30 PM, did a few turns around down town, zeroin' in on the hotel. The place was a mad house.. Spring Break crowds overrunnin' the town.

Ok, LESSON NUMBER ONE: When you're making hotel reservations on Travelocity, ALWAYS make sure you're makin' 'em for the right month.

Mmmm,hmmm. Yep. It seems that when I made the reservations on Wednesday, I accidentally made them for JUNE!

I'd been checking into air fares for the fishing trip to Canada the first week of that month. After scopin' out what was available, having Travelocity open on the laptop, I decided to go ahead and make our hotel reservations. I closed out the flights and restarted with a hotel search. But I never realized that the pop-up months were still set for June.

So when we drove up to the Holiday Inn Riverwalk and got into the lobby, the lady behind the desk had to inform me that I'd made the reservations for June. It was Spring Break week, and every one of the hotels in town was full up, so there was nothing they could do.

I apologized profusely to Denise, and we got back into the car and began to search for a room. I think we went to at least six or eight places, getting further and further out of town, before we finally found a room at a Best Western near 1604 and 281.

When we got into the room I connected the laptop to the free DSL and clicked on Travelocity. I wanted to see what I could do. Simultaneously, I called Travelocity to see if I could talk someone on the Subcontinent into fixing my problem.

As I waded through the recorded options, the voice on the line told me that I could just cancel my reservations online. I started looking through the site and began to think that that would be the easiest thing to do. Even handy. Meanwhile, there's a noise in the background. One of those constant hums that seems to always bleed in between me and whatever I'm doing on the computer, or when I'm trying to concentrate on a TV show, or a movie, or whatever the fuck.

Of course, it was Denise. And it turns out that the stuff she was saying, in this instance, was stuff I REALLY should have been listening to. She was trying to remind me of the trouble our buddy Mushy had had a year or so ago when he tried to cancel his reservations for our weekend in Nashville. Turned out, the hotel was gonna charge him anyway, so he decided to come even though he was a little puny.

Never mind. I wasn't listening. I was trying to concentrate on the recording and what I was reading on the Travelocity page. I clicked on the cancel button and started reading through the resulting receipt. There it was in bold letters.

Total room charges... $356.09
Less hotel cancellation penalty... $356.09

You can imagine how much more deeply mired in shit I felt when I saw that. I talked to the Subcontinent, but they couldn't do anything for me.

So, LESSON TWO: When you've decided to cancel the reservations you've made on Travelocity, ALWAYS do it through a person on the phone... With the Subcontinent. That way they can plead your case with the stingy fucking hotel, and maybe, just maybe get you your money back.

When I clicked on that Cancel button in the computer, it's as if I was taking that $356.09 and tossing it into a shredder. I was completely destroyed. As low as I could be without actually ballin'.

Combine that with the inevitable "You never fucking listen to me" lecture that I had to sit through, sheepishly, then you get the basic feel for the rest of the evening and much of the next day.

Once that lecture (which, in this instance, I deserved) subsided I pored Denise a 7&7 and myself a stout Rum & Coke (with some of that really strong Bacardi 151), and laid out on one of the two queen sized beds - the one she wasn't on - and began going over the whole sordid drama in my head, over and over.

I was so depressed and pissed at myself I could hardly sleep. I finally took out a book and started reading it just to take my mind off my own stupidity. We got up late the next morning, showered and headed out to find a Denny's. The kid at the desk told us there was one down 281, off Bitters. We found it, waited in line for about fifteen minutes, and then I tried to drown my sorrows in cheesy, buttery, sweetness. I had a Moons-Over-My-Hammy, four slices of bacon and two pancakes slathered in butter and syrup.

After we finished breakfast, Denise decided she wanted to head down 281 and check out a cool looking shopping area called The Alamo Quarry Market. It's actually and old rock quarry and cement plant, with the old smoke stacks incorporated into the market. It's been turned into a shopping center. There's a multiplex theater, apartments, and a bunch of interesting stores and restaurants. We could have spent the whole day there.

Thing is, a cold front had blown through during the night, and a huge rain storm had swept through while we slept. It was the same storm that dumped snow on Dallas and Oklahoma City, and it was friggin' freezing there in the Quarry. The wind was blowin 30 MPH, makin' to temps in the 40 seem like the low 30s.

We spent some tome strolling through the Whole Earth Provision Store, donating a few bucks to the folks there who were working to adopt out some retired Greyhounds.

One of the stores there at the Quarry was a fancy cigar store called Club Humidor. It turned out to be the coolest Cigar store I've been to since my pal Mushy took me to the Leaf and Ale, outside Knoxville back in 2007. Club Humidor isn't quite as cool as the Leaf and Ale, but it's the closest I've seen so far.

While Denise wandered off, back into the cold (she can't stand cigar smoke), I perused the goods and picked out a half dozen souvenirs. About $50 later, I was outta there and we were headed back to the car. We spent some time in Borders Books and the Hallmark store, but after a while I couldn't get Denise interested in anything else. I'd seen Blanco Road on the hotel map we used to find the Denny's, and asked Denise if she'd mind a little sight seeing.

We drove back north to 410 and headed west towards Blanco. We saw the sprawling expanse of North Star Mall on the way. Denise ooed and aaed about the huge Macy's and talked about wanting to check all that out.

We got off 410 and headed north on Blanco, and I looked for the signs of anything that might be familiar. Sooner than I expected I came to the place were Eisenhower Middle school sits directly across from the light at Tammy Drive.

It's still there, my old school, and looks about the same as it did back then. I went to Eisenhower for about half of the seventh grade. I hated the place. It was a snake pit, made worse for me by the stuff that had gone on in my life in the few years before I got there, but that's another post.

Turn right off Blanco onto Tammy Drive, and then left onto Silhouette. Then drive along till you get to Serenade, almost to the end of the road, and then take another left. Drive up the hill to you get to the dead end, and the circle.

There it was, just on the right as you get to the circle. 823 Serenade. This is the house we lived in for a few years in the early 1970s, from the summer of 72 to 74, when my father retired for the Air Force. I think it was about the worst place we lived, for me anyway, of all the places we lived during my dad's career. I won't go into the details here. Just trust me. If I could have set the whole place of fire back then I think I would have. Hell, my sister might have beat me to it.

After I sat there for a while and looked at the old place, memories washing over me, we headed back down Blanco and over to North Star Mall. The huge Macy's, Penny's and Dillard's were callin' to Denise. I just wanted to try to let her have a good time, to make up for everything I'd screwed up the day before. I figure walkin' around while she shopped for about three or four hours might be at least a down payment on penance.

In the end, we had a pretty good time. We even found a Marble Slab ice cream place. We had a nice sit down there, where I consumed a scoop of Cheesecake ice cream and Heath Bar chocolate and toffee bits in a waffle cone. Mmmmmm, good!

By the afternoon, both of us were tired and ready to head home. The drive up 281 was just as pretty, and it felt really good to see the house again.

In retrospect, with all the stupidity aside, the trip wasn't all bad. We had some fun, and in the end, money is just money. I'm tryin' to think of it as tuition. lessons learned. I can make more money. Nobody died, so I've stopped kickin' myself about it. The further I get from it, the funnier it all seems. Jesus, what a dumbass!

I'm still thinkin' seriously about callin' that hotel up and cussin' them out. What the hell? keepin' the full fare when the reservations were canceled three friggin' months in advance? How is that not stealin'?

Anyway, I've got to go back to work. They're closin' the library on me here pretty soon. Y'all, be good, and remember these valuable lessons I learned for ya. It makes it less tedious if i can think that I might save someone else some trouble later by tellin' the tale.

Y'all be good. Cheers!


*Goddess* said...

My husband has figured out that the way to quickly end the "you never listen to me" argument is to immediately say, "You're right." Takes the wind right out of my sails. Damn it.

Whereas that does NOT work for me. He continues to tell me for days that I didn't listen. Ugh.

BRUNO said...

NOW I know WHY I've not ventured more than a four-hour drive from home, in the last few decades:

"It's because of the damned PEOPLE!!! They SCARE me!"

"They make Hulk MA-A-A-D!!!".....

Jerry in Indiana said...

I got burned once by Travelocity, and it wasn't really even their fault. Just a communication screwup between systems. I only use Travelocity for shopping the best rates. Once I've decided my travel plans, I'll book that on the individual website for the hotel/airline.

Sounds like you had a good time regardless.

Mushy said...

Oh are so right! I wanted to kill something after my experience. Maybe that's why I decided to come and go to the gun show!

An a lecture does not but aggravate the situation!

Suldog said...

Man, that sucks about the hotel, but most of the rest of it sounds decent enough. Hey, if the times are good, and the only bad thing is a money problem, then the times are good! :-)

FHB said...

Goddess - My unspoken answer is usually something like, "Well then start talkin' about something fucking interesting"... But like I said, that goes unspoken.

Bruno - No doubt. probably a wise policy.

Jerry - Yea, that's probably what I should do too. I'm just lazy, and I haven't had any problems before.

Mushy - Yep, I'd forgotten about it too. And no, the inevitable assignment of blame that goes with female companionship never really accomplishes anything. But it's what they do. Weird how it's always their first instinct whenever anything goes wrong. Like I wasn't feeling shitty enough.

Sully - Yea, nobody died, and it ended up being OK.

PRH....... said...

If you have that bill on the Credit way in Hell would I ever pay it!!

FHB said...

Great Idea.