Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Lurrve Boat, Part 2: Mom the Inadvertent Haggler, and the Angel of American Airlines

Okay, where were we?

Oh, snubaing. After snuba, Mom, Guy, and I went back to the cruise ship and dried off, changed clothes, and got lunch. Guy wandered around solo while Mom and I went back to shore to do a little duty-free shopping. Our first stop was the jewelry markets, where we thought we might find some nice silver, for which Cozumel is known. Despite the downpours soaking Cozumel on Saturday, the vendors were out and about, beckoning us into their shops with heavily accented, "Come see, Miss! Have a look, Senora! Welcome!" Mom and I wandered into a store loaded with silver jewelry glittering in its windows. I'm a sucker for silver, and Mom's always been drawn to prehistoric and ancient symbols and mythology, so we knew we were in the right place when we found silver pendants with images of Mayan gods on them.

"This one," said the store manager as he held up a malachite and silver pendant a little smaller than a half-dollar, "is the Mayan god of rain."

"We're in a bad drought in Georgia," replied Mom. "I'll take it!"

She went to the counter only briefly, then returned to the shelf from whence she got it. She leaned into my ear and whispered, "No can do. He wanted $165 for it. That's way out of my price range."

"Oh well," I whispered back. "We might be able to find you something a little more affordable in another store." I continued to look around a bit, and it took a few minutes to realize that my mother and the manager were still chatting back and forth, his voice having taken on a hopeful tone. I had made a lap around the store to find Mom back at the counter with the man, who was shining the pendant and holding it up eagerly.

"Forty dollars?" offered the man.

Mom looked at me, eyebrows arched. "What do you think?" she asked. Her face was a bit pinched, like she wasn't sure if she was being robbed or not.

"It's a nice pendant, Mom," I replied, cool as a margarita. "And that's a good price for malachite."

"Okay, I think I can do $40," Mom said.

"Excellent!" the manager replied. "I wrap for you!"

Now, I might have been cool on the outside, but inside I was going WTF? My mom just bargained El Jefe down to 24% of his asking price? Damn, I gotta take her shopping more often! The fellow then proceeded to sell me a lapis lazuli pendant and earrings for a little less than half price, though I wish I bargained him down a little more. I think Mom put me to shame on that one. As we left the store, Mom explained to me that she just really couldn't afford to pay a lot for jewelry, since only El Seebeno is working and they had to fix their car recently, so she wasn't trying to be rude, just honest. Suddenly she stopped and turned to me, a little surprised. "Did I just haggle?" she asked.
"You didn't just haggle, Mom," I laughed. "You kicked ass."

We sailed out of Cozumel late that afternoon and spent a day at sea, arriving back into Mobile, AL on our birthday, which was Monday. After finally getting through customs, Mom and El Seebeno drove us to the Pensacola airport and dropped us off. We waited around for our flight, which was to take off at 5pm sharp. At 4:30pm, the gate agent for American Airlines informed us over the loudspeaker that the plane was finally pulling in, so they'd clean it really quickly and get us loaded. Five minutes later, a new announcement: the plane that would take us to Dallas (where Guy and I would then return to Denver) was hit by lightning on its way to Pensacola, so there was no chance it was getting back off the ground until it had been worked on. They were very sorry, blah blah blah, they were going to start moving folks onto other flights, wait until your name is called, blah blah blah.

"Whatever," said Guy. "You stand in line; I'm gonna run back to the terminal to see if we can get on another airline."

Guy retruned about ten minutes later with no good news. One AA guy read him the riot act for not being at the gate, while the other one said that yes, if he found a flight on another airline, he'd transfer the tickets for us. AirTran had no good news; any flight they got us on wouldn't get us to Denver until the next day, as we'd miss all their connecting flights out of Atlanta. Guy, however, was undaunted.

"Stay here," he huffed, out of breath from running all over the wee Pensacola Airport/Hair Salon/Tire Center. "I'm gonna run down to the gates below us and check Continental."

Guy returned less than five minutes later. "Come on; we're going to Chicago."

We ran downstairs from our present gate to see a small, blond woman typing furiously on a computer, muttering, "Come on, gimme that screen, come, not that one, this we go...back up back up back up dadgummit...." After about five minutes of her solid typing, she pointed at me, then Guy. "You're in 6B, you're in 5A. Go run get on the plane, and I'll bring you your boarding passes for your connecting flight."

"Thank you!" we practically prayed to her as we ran across the tarmac to hop on a flight to Chicago that should have been gone twenty minutes before. After several more minutes, the flight attendant was about to shut the door when we all heard a small shout of "WAIT!" outside the plane. Out our western windows, here comes our American Airlines angel, running hellbent for leather across the tarmac screaming "Give these to 6B and 5A!"

With our connecting flight boarding passes in hand, Guy and I took off for the Windy City with a sigh of relief. It was not until we got to Chicago that we realized that our angel had booked us on FIRST CLASS on the flight to Denver. We curled up in our oversized seats with nice fuzzy blankets and snoozed the entire two hours home from Chicago. Our luggage didn't make it home to us until Tuesday afternoon, but who gives a damn? It's extremely rare that I use real names on this blog, but Patricia Gifford of American Airlines at the Pensacola Regional Airport performed a minor miracle for us on Monday. Happy birthday to us!

All in all, the trip was marvelous and a welcome escape from the everyday. Hopefully we can go on a cruise again in the next few years, perhaps on a bigger boat with a bowling alley. Or more shuffleboards, so we can have a rematch against Mom and El Seebeno. It was a delight to hang out with my mom, whom I love dearly, and my stepdad, who always makes me laugh, and my Guy, who may be the best birthday gift ever.

And who, hopefully, will now stop singing "The Love Boat" theme.

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