"Trip from Hell"?.. "AGainsT All Odds"?.. 

The Maid of Honor named it...

"All my bags are packed.."

The story starts around May of 1999.  My oldest son, Jason, came to my husband, Paul, and I and told us that he was getting married to his girlfriend of 4 years, Lisa.  We were thrilled!  She was not only beautiful, but one of the nicest people you will ever meet.  Their plan was to marry in June of 2000.

Everything started out great!  Lisa got all the information she needed from friends and relatives.  The wedding was to be held in Ipswich, Massachusetts at a small inn.  It would be an outside wedding in the garden of the inn, with a reception to follow.  She would have six bridesmaids and six ushers.  Everything was coming together.  She had a wedding consultant handling all the details.  She had picked out the dress, the invitations, and even the menu.  I could not have been happier.

At the time, the bride, groom, and best man live in Colorado. My husband and I live in Ohio.  The bride’s parents and some of the wedding party live in and around Boston.  Two of the bridesmaids and an usher live in California and two more bridesmaids live in New York.  There would be guests coming from New York, California, and Italy.  The bride and her family are originally from Italy.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t anyone involved or not involved with the planning of the wedding that didn’t have an opinion on the wedding.  It got so bad that the bride and groom made a drastic decision.  The groom, as all grooms, just wanted to get married.  He didn’t care when or where.  The bride wanted small and intimate but was going big for the parents.  After many, many phone calls of complaints and opinions they decided to change the entire wedding.  They thought if it was their wedding and they were paying for it, then it was going to happen their way.

The change of plans:  The wedding will be held in Nassau in the Bahamas.  The bride and groom will pay for the two sets of parents for three days and if anyone else wants to be there they would be thrilled to have them, but they would have to pay their own way.  They also decided to have a reception in Boston, Massachusetts the following weekend.  With most of the grooms relatives, and half of the brides relatives living in Massachusetts it made the reception easy.  Everything seemed perfect for them. 

It wasn’t so perfect when they first told the parents.  When you are a parent and your first child comes to you and says that they are getting married you can’t wait to show them off to all the relatives.  It’s like your shinning moment.  So it took a couple of phone calls to convince us.  In the end it was a matter of going anywhere your children are to see them get married.  When we thought about it, it would be very nice to have our children to ourselves for a couple of days.

On March 16, 1999, we were given an 800 number for Jason and Lisa’s travel agent.  We were told to call by that Friday and purchase our airline tickets.  We needed to do it by then to take advantage of the low-ticket rate.  It is important to know the name of the travel agency, because they are the reason for this story.  They are the “Far and Away Travel Agency” of Lakewood Colorado, or better known as the travel agents from hell.  I called that day and purchased two tickets with two credit cards.  I worry about everything, so I called Nancy at the agency to make sure everything had gone through and I had secured the low priced ticket.  It was the first of many, many phone calls that Nancy was too busy to take and never returned.  The first time I did get in touch with her, when I called her, she said that she hadn’t called the cards in yet and she was way to busy with other things right now.  I couldn’t understand that.  If a customer is spending almost $20,000.00 with you, I think you should make time for them.  That apparently wasn’t Nancy’s concern.  When she finally put my credit cards through she put one card through multiple times, and the credit card company wouldn’t accept it.  I spent weeks trying to straighten my credit cards out.  I ended up calling Globetrotters, which is the company “Far and Away” used to purchase airline tickets.  I then called Nancy back to see when I would be getting my itinerary.  She promised by the end of the following week.  Needless to say it never came.  When I called Nancy back again, she said that they never sent that information out until the week before.

I have never been out of the country so I asked Nancy if I needed a passport, because I didn’t have one.  She said that if I had my birth certificate that would do.  I never received anything until three days before we were to leave.

"Get me to the church on time..."

OK, so now it’s the big day for our trip.  The bags are packed. We have our traveler’s checks, airline tickets, and birth certificates. We were up at 4:00a.m.and at the airport by 6:00a.m.  The plane is leaving at 7:00a.m.and we are excited, until we reached the check-in counter.  The minute we showed them our birth certificates we were in trouble. They said that they had to be state certificates with a raised seal. They said that it was a new law and that the travel agent knew it and should have informed us.  The birth certificates with the feet on it are not legal.  We live in Ohio now but we were both born in Massachusetts.  They would fly us to Miami and maybe in the meantime someone in Massachusetts could get a copy to us. 

While we were on the plane to Miami, I was on the phone to my sister in Massachusetts to see if she could get us a copy of our birth certificates.  She is what is known as a true sister.  She spent the next six hours running around Massachusetts getting the right birth certificates, while we spent the next six hours hanging around the Miami airport.  Now the problem was to get it to us.   She had to then go to the airport and have it flown down to Miami to us.  The package wouldn’t get to us until 10:15p.m.  The last flight out of Miami to Nassau was 10:30p.m.  We couldn’t get on that flight because you had to check-in at least 45 minutes before the flight. This meant that we had to find a hotel room for the night.

(( Paul's 2 cents:

Little things Carol doesn't mention are the 3 phones that probably don't work anymore because she slammed them down in frustration, the arrogant American Airlines flight attendant who couldn't be bothered helping us get the phone on the plane unstuck from the seat cradle, the unfunny fact that both City Hall's that Pat had to go to get our birth certificates closed at noon on Friday's, and that one was hosting a high school graduation, the unwillingness of American Airlines in Boston to ask a flight attendant to hand carry the little envelope with our birth certificates on a regular flight to Miami,  the $150 we spent in long distance phone calls and a $20 international phone card that we're still trying to figure out how to make work. Phone Card guy quote:" Sometimes Nassau is another country, sometimes it isn't.. "))

While we were in the Miami airport all day we had no idea about the status of anyone else that was going to Nassau.  Jeremy, the best man, the groom’s brother, and my youngest son, was having problems of his own.  The problem had started from day one with Nancy “Far and Away” for him also.  He had called and given her the dates for his trip.  When he received his tickets they were for the wrong dates!  He immediately called her and told her and she said that she would send him the right tickets.  The airlines at Denver International Airport would not even let him leave Denver.  He had the same kind of birth certificates as we did, and had the same experience with Far and Away travel agency as we did.  The difference was, he was alone in Denver and couldn’t get to his brothers wedding.  He called his brother in Nassau and tried to explain his problem.  He found out that his brother was also in contact with their Aunt Pat and he filled him in on our problems.  I felt bad for Jason and Lisa.  They did not need problems like this the day before their wedding.   They ended up calling the department of immigration to see if they could get Jeremy down there.  After a lot of convincing Jeremy was able to make a flight down.  Because of the delay he had to take another flight, which meant he had a layover in Dallas.  While waiting in Dallas for the flight he sat down to have a cup of coffee and while there someone stole his airline ticket.  Now he had to buy another ticket.  The airline couldn’t be bothered tracking down the stolen ticket. Things just kept getting better.  He finally got into Nassau around midnight.

Back to Miami:  We booked a flight for the next morning at 7:30a.m.  The next morning we picked up the birth certificates that were flown down the night before.  This was the day of the wedding.  We got to the hotel at around 9:00a.m. and Jason was in the lobby waiting for us.  

((Paul's 2 cents- 

Amazingly, all this pivots from the American Airlines counter person in Cleveland, who made the decision to reject our birth certificates (which have raised seals from the hospitals, signatures etc). The really aggravating part is that once the 'certified' birth certificates were in our hand, and we showed them to the American Airlines counter person in Miami, (who all but fanned her face with them), they never left the envelope they were in for the remainder of the trip. I even asked Nassau customs if they'd like to inspect them and they waived me off.  ))

We went into the hotel thinking, “We made it”.  The hotel clerk said that they didn’t have a room for us at the moment. The room was in a package deal that started the day before. They had no answer for me.  They said that we could check in after 3:00p.m. The wedding was at 1:00p.m.  I was so angry that I asked if she thought that I should change in the lobby for my sons wedding.  She said that I could change in one of their temporary rooms after 11:00a.m.  That still didn’t make me happy.  I needed to take a shower and have something to eat.  We ended up changing in Jeremy’s room.  You really had to be there.  The groom, the best man, and the parent changing in the same room. It was complete chaos.

((Paul's 2 cents-

If Jason and Lisa paid for the ocean view room in the wedding package, how did we eventually end up overlooking the scenic generator and trash dump??))

Now we’re all ready.  The women are in the lobby and the men are outside.  It’s 1:00p.m. And time to start the big event, which is outside in the gazebo.  The sky opened up.  Raining like crazy.  It’s also 95 degrees and 100% humidity.  Now we have to wait.  It’s 1:30p.m. And the rain finally stops.  Are we ready now?  Well, it seems that the videographer got into a car accident.  The bride needs a video for the reception to be held in Boston next weekend.  We now have to wait until they can send another videographer over.  The video person gets there around 2:30p.m. And for a brief moment we think we can finally start.  Suddenly it’s raining again.  When 3:00p.m. came around and the rain had not stopped the bride finally decided that she did not want to wait any longer.  We have 16 people gathered in a gazebo witnessing the most beautiful moment a person can witness.  With all the obstacles in our way I’m glad I didn’t miss that moment it was probably the only redeeming quality to this trip.   

(( Paul's 2 cents-

After 29 years of marriage, this was the very first time Carol and I ever flew together on a plane. I'm not a good flyer. I think when a plane lands, and the passengers start clapping, that's a bad sign. When we were landing back in Cleveland, the plane almost made a full decent only to power up, gain altitude, circle and finally land. I don't know what that was all about but I did say "Thanks for not killing us" to the pilot as we "de-planed". All in all, the problem started with American Airlines and almost ended there.))

 The Reception:

We left Nassau on Monday the 5th of June and on the 7th of June I was on another plane to Boston for the reception.  The reception was in Winchester, Massachusetts.  It went beautifully.  The restaurant was 100% Italian, right down to the décor.  It was just beautiful and everything went according to plans.  The following day was a 60th birthday party for Pat’s husband Jim and his twin brother Dan.  Jeremy came to his uncle’s party but had to catch a plane during the party to get home, to get back to school in Colorado the next morning.  It was a wonderful party.  I had forgotten to take my camera in and Jeremy offered to get it out of my car.  The party was great and I got some really good pictures.  Jeremy said his good-byes and left to take his rental car back before catching his plane.  As I went to open the trunk of the rental car, I realized my keys were somewhere over America in Jeremy’s pocket.  Once again my sister Pat came through for me.  We called the car rental office and they told me that they will charge me $60.00 for another set of keys and I can pick them up in Somerville, Massachusetts, which is an hour from where we are.  We drive there, pick up the keys, drive back to the restaurant and pick up the rental.  Now you may be sitting there wondering when is this story going to end.  We’re almost there.

The next day I returned the car and was told that when I returned the missing set of car keys I would get a credit on my charge.  That worked for me.

On the way to the airport I stopped at the fresh fish store and had them pack for flight, 5 pounds of haddock and one live lobster. I’m on my way home and I’m so happy.  I arrived at the airport at 3:30p.m. For a 5:20p.m flight.  I was told that my flight had been cancelled.   I waited in line for an hour and was told that I could be booked on Delta airlines at 5:30p.m. With a stop over in Cincinnati.  I just wanted to go home so I took it.  We landed in Cincinnati around 7:00p.m.  The change over flight was at the other end of the airport.  I carried my fish and all my breakables to the other end of the airport and waited.  They said that the plane had been delayed and wouldn’t take off until 11:30p.m. The gate for that tale off was at the other end of the airport, which just happened to be the end of the airport that I started at.  Lucky me.  I finally arrived in Cleveland at 12:30a.m.  Now I just have to get my luggage and go home.  No such luck.  My luggage was still in Boston.  They told me that it would arrive late tomorrow and that they would deliver it to me by 6:00p.m.   At 9:00p.m. My luggage was delivered by a nice lady from somewhere in my complex.  The delivery person transposed the building number and had delivered my luggage to a stranger.  What an end to a wonderful trip.

Well the trip is finally over and at this point I may never go on vacation again.  I love my children very much but I think I would like the next wedding to be in my house.

 

THE END

Carol Canney 08/2000

(proud mother of the Groom)

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