Wednesday, April 12, 2006


It's 3:10 pm and I'm in London.

Never mind the fact that my flight, the last one of the day to San Francisco, was at 1:50 pm.

You want to know the story, don't you?

After we came back from our mini pubcrawl last night, I packed all my stuff laid out everything I needed for a morning departure, and tucked myself in for a few hours of sleep.

A piping hot shower at dawn, a few chugs of bottled water, and a quick collection of my belongings, and I was good to go. Except for one thing. I no longer had my wallet.

I hit panic mode, scouring the room, the bathroom, the kitchen - everywhere. Nothing. I searched the locker that I'd been using. Gone. I looked in the office where the free internet terminals are, asked the staff, and searched the whole living area again. Fuck.

I mentally retraced my steps from the previous night: Paid for the last round at the bar, put my wallet and camera away in my pockets, walked home, changed for bed, put everything in my locker, went down to the common area in my jammies, went to sleep.

I specifically put my wallet in my locker every night when I take my jeans off, so that's where it should be, right?

Wrong. I remembered that I'd already put everything away before changing for bed, and realized I never had my wallet since entering the hostel. It's a big, white, hulking affair, perfect for carrying enormous foreign currencies, and it hit me that I didn't have it in my back pocket upon returning to the hostel.

What kills me about it isn't the money. I had maybe a couple hundred crowns left, tops, which isn't more than $8. My bank card is useless since I'm broke, nor does my PIN appear anywhere in the wallet, and no Czech business accepts foreign credit cards without scrutinizing the signature, and more often than not, checking ID. So really, aside from the pain of replacing my driver's license, cards, etc., I have little to worry about.

I went downstairs to meet the driver of my 6:15am taxi service to the airport. 6:20 rolled around. Then 6:25. Then 6:30. The receptionist at the hostel called them and demanded to know what was going on - after all, this was a pre-arranged service that I paid for. Apparently, the driver got confused because there was another call to the Golden Sickle for 7:15. Well, 7:15 wasn't going to work for a 7:35 flight. I needed a ride NOW. He demanded that a driver come right away, and so I waited. At 6:45, my Skoda chariot still hadn't arrived. The receptionist called again and the taxi service said they thought he was reiterating the demand for a cab at 7:15. Fuck this, I need to go outside and catch a cab.

Three taxis went by and completely ignored me. One finally stopped and picked me up, and realizing I was in a rush, put the pedal to the metal. Luckily, the hostel had refunded me for the cancelled ride and given me my key deposit back, so I had a little cash to pay the driver. Unluckily, British Airways had closed check-in for my flight.

Jiri, the BA ticket agent, offered to put me on another flight. However, with change fees, upgrade in class, etc. it worked out to 4800 Czech Crowns. Or, in his typically Eastern Bloc style of bilking, US$476. Never mind that that was double the current exchange rate. I need to get home, and I'd have him charge me in Crowns.

Only I didn't have my wallet. And they couldn't just bill me through the card on file for my initial itinerary. He told me to go have a coffee and come back in 15-20 minutes and he'd see what he can do. And so I did. 15 minutes later, he was ready to book me on the next BA flight out of Prague, squarely in time to Heathrow to miss my flight home. Fat lot of good that does!

I went and looked at the departure board. The only flight to London was with EasyJet, and that's just to Stansted. Luckily, they accepted my credit card photocopy as long as I had a passport.

I made it to Stansted and just barely made the bus that would get me to Heathrow on time... Except traffic on the M25 fucked me and I missed check-in for the SFO flight by 10 minutes, even though I'd called BA to have the gate agents ready for my rush through the terminal.

Now I'm running out of internet time, so I'll summarize by saying I'm flying to LA, and then paying a shitload for a United flight to San Jose sometime around 11 pm.

Time to go - the internet terminal's blinking. Time's up. This day is fucked.

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