Thursday, July 26, 2007

Straight Trippin'

So in a week I'm making my return trip to Ithaca, where we'll talk about innovation and other nonsense for three days, and then I'm spending three glorious nights in the Big Apple. That is, assuming I can get my freaking life in order before it's time to leave.

The project is going pretty well. We have our presentation nearly complete, although I'm not terribly optimistic that the video I spent approximately 8 hours working on is going to be completely cut and edited (and worth a shit) by deadline.

Remember a few days ago where I said I'm broke? Yeah, that's still the case, except I decided to make things more difficult by losing my ATM card. So not only am I broke, even if I had money, I can't retrieve it. I can't get my new ATM card until after I leave for Ithaca.

So now I'm meeting my mom in Emporia tomorrow so she can give me sufficient cash for the entire 6 day trip. I told her I'd treat her to dinner. With her money. Classy.

My mother also "loaned" me $500 for my checking account until my loan check arrives, which I found out today won't be here until Wednesday at the earliest because there was still a form I hadn't filled out. $300 of that was put onto my nearly-maxed-out credit card, which is to be used to pay for my travel from Syracuse to NYC and back, as well as any emergency expenses. (Read: Bottle of Scotch.)

I have to pay for the trip between Syracuse and NYC because of the ridiculous bureaucratic restrictions of the KU travel office. See, they're paying for our trip to Ithaca and back, which involves a flight out of KCI to Detroit, then over to Syracuse, and back again via the same route. Because I wanted to spend a few days in NYC afterwards, I figured it'd be easy to book my return flight out of NYC instead of Syracuse for three days later. No dice. KU only uses a travel agent, and the flights have to have the same destination and departure, meaning that they were able to delay my return flight until Wednesday (instead of Sunday), but I still have to depart from Syracuse. The trip to NYC in the meantime is on my dime.

Three weeks ago I could have bought a round-trip plane ticket from Syracuse to NYC for just over $100. Checking today, the absolute cheapest round-trip is $184, with the Sunday flight leaving Syracuse at 11:00 a.m., and the return flight arriving at a comfortable hour and a half before my departing flight. I try to call my K-State contact from the project to try to find out which Greyhound they're taking, to see if I can't still save some money. No answer. I send a text. 30 minutes later, she replies "I think 9:45." I text back, "You think?" She promptly replies, "9:45 from Ithaca."

I check, and that bus is full. The next available is at 10:25, getting to NYC in a brisk five hours. So if I were to choose to take a bus there, at the price of $61, I'd be riding alone. Not a big deal, but still, it would have been nice to have some familiar company. A return trip on the bus is out of the question, seeing as how I need to be back in Syracuse on Wednesday in time to catch my 4:20 flight home.

So, it looks like I might bus it out there, then fly home. A return flight that gets me into Syracuse at a comfortable but not too early time will run at least $114. So, if I bus-and-fly, I'm still looking at about $190. Fuck that noise.

I then recheck my flight. It's expired. I have to reenter my data. Remember that flight that left at 11:00 a.m.? Well, now it's gone. All that's left for Sunday, at the price of $184, is a flight that leaves Syracuse at 7:15 p.m. Fuck me. For just over $200, I can get flights with better times, but Christ, my estimated travel expenses have literally doubled from what I originally planned on.

I pour myself a drink.

I check the Amtrak schedule. Not a chance. Not only is the train actually a LONGER trip than the bus (by a full hour), the times are absolutely ridiculous, and I can't get back in Syracuse in time for my flight unless I leave NYC in the dark hours of the morning.

So now I'm constantly checking and rechecking travel sites, Greyhound schedules, trying to keep all the various times, costs, and other numbers in my head to find the perfect, cost-effective travel plan.

I pour myself a second drink.

I can't make up my mind. Is riding a Greyhound for five hours, by myself, and flying back worth saving approximately $30? Should I just bite the bullet and buy the more expensive flight out of Syracuse so I can get to NYC during daylight hours? Should I just stay in Syracuse, use the money to buy a new identity, and try to craft a better life than the rancid shit-brick that's currently known as Floyd Masterson?

I make a third drink. Oh, and I'm chain-smoking. The killer combo.

Just as I'm considering running out into traffic to end the pain, I realize that it doesn't matter which travel package I decide on, as I can't use my credit card to buy anything tonight anyways. My payment doesn't go through until tomorrow.

I pour a fourth drink, and step outside to smoke.

Addendum: It turns out that the bus the others are riding is not, in fact, booked full. In fact, due to my checking the wrong schedule (see: "9:45 from ITHACA", not Syracuse), I can still buy a ticket for the 9:45. In fact, I can buy a ticket for any of the TEN 9:45 departures.

Fuck my ass with a cactus.

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