Saturday, June 30, 2012

Further Proof of the Decline of Western Civilization

My week in bullet points.

Tuesday June 26th morning in Riga, Latvia
  •  I arrive at the airport at 5am for my 6:35 am flight to Brussels. Drop off the rental car, scan the screens in the terminal, but don't see my flight listed. Take a chance, wait in line at the baggage check in. Get to the front of the line. The slightly bored but polite agent checks and informs me that my flight has been cancelled. Momentary panic, but figure I'll track down and talk to the Air Brussels agent.
  • Go to the Information Desk and talk to the slightly bored but polite person there. Sorry. There is no Air Brussels agent, or office for that matter, at Riga Airport. Major panic.
  • Pull out IPhone, call friend in the US and ask her to contact Orbitz (they're who I booked the flights with) and find out what's going on.
  • Friend tries, twice, but long and the short of it is that Orbitz says I need to talk to Air Brussels which, if you've been paying attention, we already established has no presence at the Riga airport.
  • Break out in cold sweat. Pull back out IPhone and google Orbitz website to check my itinerary to see if there is maybe something there. All flight segments to and fro (4 in total) seem to be there except from my flight from Riga to Brussels. At least my Brussels to Chicago flight is still there. The problem is that I have no way of getting to Brussels.
  • Decide to call Orbitz myself. Notice that the international assistance number for Orbitz has a 312 area code which ironically is located in Chicago which is my ultimate destiny. Its pretty short conversion the gist of which is the same as before and that I need to talk to Air Brussels, which as we established earlier has no presence in the place I am at present. Hang up abruptly, but not without first thanking the person on the other side of the line with more than just a slight trace of sarcasm. Not their fault, they're just following a script from corporate, but I am more than just a little on edge at the moment.
  • Walk around the airport some more and then decide to take another look at the printed copy of my itinerary and notice that Air Baltic is listed on it. Figure Air Baltic is code sharing with Air Brussels. Worth a shot. Only one I have at the moment.
  • Talk to the agents at Air Baltic. They do their best, but after many side conversations, consultations and calls, the end result is not much they can do. I need to talk to Orbitz. Turns out Air Brussels cancelled the flight on June 6th. Its a mystery to all involved how or why Orbitz did not rebook a different flight or notified me.
  • Pull out IPhone again. Call Orbitz. The person on the other side is exceptionally polite and attentive. I must have finally registered on their radar after my friend calling three times and me calling twice. Watch the minutes tick away on the call. All of these calls and googling are costing me the international rate. Eventually wrap up the call around the 50 minute mark. My phone bill will be something to behold. The good news is that at least now I have a flight via United to Frankfurt at 2pm and then Chicago.
  • Eventually get to Chicago around 10pm. In bed by 11:30am. Asleep by 12:30am.
  • So ends Tuesday.
Wednesday June 27th
  • Arrive to work to the usual work chaos. We are all waiting on the Supreme Court to issue its decision on Health Care and its impact on our version of the Internal Revenue Code. Much stress, much contingency planning, much prep work and anticipating the various outcomes.
  • Put in my 10 hours. Get home around 8, in bed by 10pm. Asleep by 12:30am.
  • So ends Wednesday.
Thursday June 28th
  • The Supreme Court decided to uphold health care.
  • Much rejoicing since nothing needs to be done to our version of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Rejoicing is short lived because out of left field the do nothing Congress has decided to do something and a transportation bill, HR 4348, somehow makes it out of conference which will have direct impact on our version of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Much stress, much contingency planning, much prep work and anticipating the various outcomes.
  • Put in my twelve hours, get home ...
  • So ends Thursday.
Friday June 29th
  • According to news reports (ours included) Congress passes HR 4348.
  • Much rejoicing. We have a ton of work to do, but at least no more contingency planning, prep work and anticipating the various outcomes. Much stress, but at least its constructive and tangible stress.
  • Much hard work by myself and countless others, but we pull it off.
  • Still one step left and that is the production of the two volume version of the Internal Revenue Code and we are against a hard deadline of July 3rd when it has to go to the printer. Plan is to work through the weekend and get it done.
  • Put in my twelve hours, get home, make the mistake of checking AOL mail and see an e-mail from Hertz (the rental agency I used in Latvia to rent the car). The header for the e-mail reads: Hertz LV vehicle damages - Payment Request!
  • Note the exclamation point. Never a good thing. 
  • Brain still pretty fuzzy considering the week and lack of sleep and decompression, and then there's the jet lag. But the gist of the e-mail is that Riga Hertz wants 700 dollars from me. Or else.
  • Take a look at the attached photos. Car is certainly dirty (long story as to why, but mainly having to do with having to drive down country dirt roads in a torrential downpour while lost with my mother) but nothing that would justify 700 dollars.
  • Decide not to reply to e-mail just then since the ability to reply in a sane and rational manner is highly unlikely.
  • Sleep does not come easy, but so ends Friday.
Saturday June 30th
  • Arrive at work to start working on the Bound Volumes.
  • Look for enrolled bill of HR4348 on Thomas. None to be found. Google the news to see what's going on.
  • Stumble across a blog post. Looks like Congress actually passed HR6064 which is a temporary extension of transportation. HR 4348 will not actually happen until some time next week. July 6th most likely.
  • I hit borderline psychotic stage at this point. Will not go into too much detail since other than a handful policy wonks or tax lawyers and the production folks at my company would care or understand, but this is a very very bad thing. Pretty much the worst possible outcome of all possible worst outcomes.
  • Send off e-mails to the powers that be. Many e-mails are exchanged, different scenarios discussed and long story short now we wait for someone to make the call which way we go.
  • In the meantime I type up this blog post.
  • Feeling better thanks, but wondering what will go wrong next?
And how was your week?

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