Three days in Minneapolis – where I lived for 10 years in the 1970s and 1980s – was supposed to be mostly about visiting old friends and wandering around my old haunts. There was a bit of that, but mostly it was about trying to find my luggage.
Sigh. Just three months after Air France lost my luggage flying from Buenos Aires to Paris, Delta lost my luggage flying from Paris to Minneapolis. And as this was a direct flight, no connections to complicate things, it made no sense that my luggage didn’t make it to Minneapolis with me. But what a comedy of errors it turned out to me.The first challenge was filing the report. We were staying at the W Hotel right downtown, but the woman filling out the form needed the address and couldn’t find the hotel in the list she was looking at. After a few minutes I asked if I could see the list … and it only went up to the S’s. Maybe that’s why you couldn’t find the W Hotel. So she got another binder and found the hotel.
I fully expected the luggage to be delivered that night and the next morning the online tracking system indicated it had been delivered right after midnight. So I went to the lobby, but there was no bag. The guy at the desk said he’d been on duty since 11:00 PM and he insisted that no one had delivered anything. I called Delta and they said yes, it had been delivered at 8 Marquette Ave. Except the hotel was at 821 Marquette Ave. The woman who didn’t know that W comes after S also couldn’t get the address right.
So then hours and multiple calls trying to get someone at Delta to find my bag, wherever they’d delivered it, and bring it to our hotel. Not having much luck. Eventually the hotel reported that the delivery company had showed up asking to pick up a bag for a Mr. St. George. Didn’t exactly increase my confidence level.
Finally the next night, our last night in Minneapolis, they delivered my bag. Or at least they delivered a bag. Someone at the airport had hand written my name and file number on a tag, but it wasn’t my bag; the computer generated baggage tag attached when the guy had checked in indicated it belonged to a Mohammed somebody-or-other. Definitely not feeling confident.
So we left Minneapolis without my bag, stopping at a mall to buy enough clothes to get me through a week with my family on a lake way, way up north. Instead of all the fun I’d been expecting in my old home town I ended up spending hours on the phone and shopping for essentials. To finish the story, much to my surprise they delivered my bag a few days later up at the lodge on Lake Vermilion. At one point I checked online and they said my bag was on a flight from Portland to Seattle – really? – but then it flew to Minneapolis, on to Hibbing, and someone drove it to our lodge.
That was the memorable story of Minneapolis. We’ll see how much Delta will reimburse me for the stuff I needed to buy to get through the six days without any luggage, along with a not unreasonable expectation that I would not get the bag while we were up north.
Meanwhile, we had a great time on our first stop in the U.S. It’s a little weird being back here. They serve big glasses of cold water in restaurants. For free! You have to think of the ground floor as the first floor, when in much of the world the first floor is the floor above the ground floor. You can take a shower in the hotel expecting that water won’t leak everywhere. You can order cocktails and they’re big, good, and quick. (One of the things that always surprises me when we order drinks outside the U.S. is how crazy long it takes them to make them.) You look at a menu and, when you try to calculate an exchange rate, you realize you don’t have to. When Mark & I are done eating, the wait staff often asks if we want separate checks. Never happens outside the country. And then there’s the CVS, a store for all your essentials that just doesn’t exist in other countries.One great story. We rented a car for our time in Minnesota, since from here we’re driving north for a week. We parked in a garage directly across from the hotel, where a sign indicated it was $23 for 24 hours. We left it there for just under 48 hours when we needed it and the bill at a kiosk outside the garage was for $67. How could that be? We expected to pay $46, but where did the other $21 come from? There was a phone there in case of problems, and the woman on duty explained that we’d been there for parts of three days, so they charged us for three days, not two. We argued, but she was adamant: it was a $67 charge.
We were beside ourselves with frustration, when I noticed in small print on the kiosk that the charge for a lost card was $23, the full one-day charge. So we pushed the button saying we’d lost our card and got charged $23, instead of the $46 we were willing and prepared to pay. I believe in paying what I owe, but if they’re going to try to screw with us by charging us extra I didn’t really feel too guilty about getting a free day of parking. In fact, I feel pretty good about it!
So that was Minneapolis. We had a great time with old friends: lunch with an old college roommate, dinner with a favorite VAN staff person who now works remotely from Minneapolis, dinner with some of my best friends from college, breakfast with old friends from Minneapolis campaigns. Then it was off to the Great Northland, in case you thought Minneapolis wasn’t far enough north.