Monday, June 25, 2007

Science Trip: Saturday

I knew from the beginning that day one of the trip was always going to be the worst for me. See, back in, oh, August of 2006, we were asked to sing at the wedding of Scott, Kow Superfan, and his lovely then-fiancée Jessica. Of course, we said yes; the guy comes to nearly every show we have at the Fringe, which is a loyalty that not even our most devoted friends and family memembers have. Later on we got confirmation of the date, June 9th, and everything was fine. A few months ago, my supervisor asked me to present at a conference in Calgary, which she thought was July 16th to July 18th. And foolish me, I didn't double-check. I said, "Yes of course!" because a) someone needed to go and she would have been out of town, and b) I'd never been to a conference before and I thought it'd be fun. Two weeks before the wedding, I finally registered for the conference. And found out it was on the 9th throuth 11th. Panic set in. I had committed to two absolutely mandatory events on the same day in two separate cities. I'm not The Flash. I'm not even Madrox*. I was worried that it couldn't be done, but after doing some wiggling, I figured I could pull it off. If I arrived in Calgary at exactly 1:00 and set up my poster, and if I checked in to my hotel room by 3:00, and if traffic on Highway Two was good, there should be no problem. I'd drive back to Edmonton for 6:00, sing at the wedding, leave Edmonton at 9:30, and get back to my hotel for 12:30. Everything would be just fine!

On the leisurely drive to Calgary, I caught up on a few episodes of Comic Geek Speak and pulled out albums from Count Zero (Little Minds) and The Arcade Fire (Neon Bible). Count Zero is a band I discovered while playing Guitar Hero; I think the songs that they put on Guitar Hero One (Sail Your Ship By) and Two (Radium Eyes) are two of the best unlockable songs available. Little Minds is an okay pop-rock album, with a few really good songs, but the rest range from acceptable-to-fair. Neon Bible, however, is great. I held off listening to it because I kept hearing that it was a disappointment when compared to Funeral, but I didn't find that at all. It's not quite as good as the debut, but the difference is negligible, and I liked it so much I repeated a few songs. The Geeks talked about Daredevil, miniseries, and Grant Morrison. It was awesome.

I pulled into Calgary at 12:30, and thanks to a combination of Google Maps and a sudden realization as to how Calgary is laid out (seriously, though, that city has a ridiculous street labelling system) I made it to the Calgary Westin at 12:55, just in time to put up my poster. When I got to the conference table, I was told that due to "technical difficulties" in the room, poster set-up had been delayed, and that I should check back again at 3:00. "Uh, that's going to be a little difficult," I said. "You see, I need to be gone by 3:00." After explaining the trek I had to make later in the day, the woman behind the table empathized with me and said she'd happily put the poster up for me. I thanked her profusely, checked in and registered, then went out to the front desk.

The girls at the front desk greeted me warmly. One of them was a young brunette with a cheerful demeanor and braces, the other was a short blonde with indie-rock looking glasses . They took my company credit card and tried to ring it through. "Oh, I'm sorry," said the bruntette, "I'm going to need verbal authorization of this card." She went to the phone and I chatted with the blonde, who complimented me on my Music + Science = Sexy t-shirt, as she was taking a double-major in Math and Music at the U of C. The brunette came back. "Sorry," she said again, "but I can't seem to get authorization. Maybe you can call the number on the back of the card?"

She gave me a courtesy phone, and I dialed the 1-800 number. "For business transactions, authorization, and bla bla bla, press one. If you are enquiring about your account balance, press two. If you are a corporate card holder, press three." I pressed one, and was quickly put on hold without explanation. After 20 minutes of instrumental piano and string music, which didn't soothe me so much as fire the flames of my impatience the longer I waited, I hung up the phone. "I'm not getting anything," I said, "do you know of another number I can call?" They got me the Mastercard 24 hour emergency number, and suggested that I could head over to the payphones if I wanted to sit down while I was making the calls.

I sat on one of the benches and dialed the number. After about 10 minutes of waiting, the gentleman on the other end of the line told me there was nothing he could do because it wasn't a Mastercard problem, but rather the problem of the issuing bank. He gave me the bank's number, and I called it, getting the same push-button menu and the same instrumental crap. After another 20 minutes on hold, I picked up another phone and called the number again; this time, however, I pressed 3 instead of 1. Immediately I hear the following message. "Thank you for calling (BANK NAME). Our business hours are 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Please call back later." Oh crap.

I walked back to the front desk. "Any luck?" asked the brunette? I shook my head, looking dejected. "Well, I'll see what Sean can do for you." Sean, who I assumed was a higher-ranked employee, came over and asked me a bunch of questions. "Did you call the number on the back of the card?" Yes. "Did you call the MasterCard emergency number?" Yes. "Well, there's not much we can do. Do you have an alternate form of payment?" Well, I said, I suppose if I cleaned out my bank account I could stay at your hotel for one night, but I wouldn't be able to afford gas back to Edmonton. "I'm sorry, sir," he said, "but there's nothing else I can do for you."

"You don't understand," I said frantically. "I have to be at this conference this weekend."

"You're part of the conference?" he said. And the heavens parted.

Five minutes later everything was settled. It was now 2:45; I checked in to my room on the 15th floor, ran back down to the car, and started driving back to Edmonton. More driving, more CGS, as well as some NoMeansNo for adrenaline, and I was back in town at 5:45. Plenty of time to change into my wedding clothes, brush my teeth, and head to the wedding! Plus, The Peach had made me cookies for my trip as well as a mix cd to drive to! Hooray for everything!

I got changed and checked my desk for the address of the hotel. I couldn't find it. Hmm, that's weird. Oh well, I'm sure the e-mail's still in my account. Ten minutes later, no e-mail. I called Ninja's house: nobody there knew where the wedding was. I called Astro's house: nobody answered. I checked my e-mail again, the junk mail and the deleted files: nothing. I called ten downtown hotels at random: none of them knew where the wedding was. I was back in town early and was going to miss the wedding. I nearly started to cry.

But then! I made one last-ditch phone call to the Barber's apartment. "Hello?" his lady answered. "Oh, thank GOD!" I said. I explained the ridiculousness of the situation, nearly out of breath. "Oh, don't worry," she said, "I know where it is!" SUCCESS!

I peeled out of my parking lot (now late) and drove to the reception, where I paid $3.45 for a $2.50 parking meter because it wouldn't recognize my last nickel, and ran to the elevator. When the doore opened at the top floor, it was 6:30, and dinner was winding down. I got a big plate of salad and potatoes, and Astro and Jago gave me some pity roast beef from their plate of seconds. Jessica even set me up a spot at Kow's table, which was amazingly nice of her to do at her own wedding.

The next few hours are kind of a blur. I had some good food, we sang (a little late, but that's okay) and people seemed to think we were decent, and we took photos with the bride and room before I went back to my place, changed, and drove back down again. I listened to some more CGS, but by 12:30 I was feeling the tiredness, so I switched to Patton Oswalt and screamed his punchlines out to the darkness in order to keep myself awake until 1:30, when I finally got to the hotel. By the time I got up to my room, called The Peach so she knew I got in safe, and washed the road off of my face, it was 2:00. I groggily set the alarm for 6:45 and drifted peacefully to sleep, knowing that the next day was going to hurt, but it was worth it.

To be continued.

* - Anyone know why this would help me? THREE POINTS!


Andronika said...

Just don't get multiple personality disorder.

I sure don't wait for your updates so that I can bust out my geekiness.

Not at all.

sideshow bob said...

Damn, that was exciting...I'm out of breath just reading it.

It's funny how any stressful times (such as the one you just had) often seem so fun and adventurous in hindsight.

Natalie said...

That sounds utterly terrifying. Isn't it strange how there seem to be little magic words you can mention when problems happen that save everything? They usually involve corporations and money.

Scott: Kow Superfan said...

There's proof right there that members of Kow have super powers.

I should mention that, by the end of the reception, it seemed like everyone was talking more about Kow than the wedding -- you guys were fabulous!!!

Andronika said...

you have to youtube the performance.

youtube it!

The Doc said...

Jeans, can I just say that your enthusiasm makes me very happy? Also: did you read the Madrox limited series? If you did: wasn't it awesome? If you didn't: WHY NOT?

SSB, all my best stories come from times of stress. Like the time I got run over by a ride-em lawnmower.

Natalie, it was great to have them jump to when I said the word "conference". But to be fair to the staff, they were being really nice and as helpful as they possibly could be until then. It was my own fault for not mentioning the conference sooner.

Scott, I'm not a superman. I'm just a guy who cares. And as far as Jeans's second comment: do you even have videos of it to YouTube? I don't think we even have it...