Yesterday (Monday) Michael decided he was going back to Ireland asap as it’s a distant cousin’s birthday tomorrow and he didn’t want to miss out on a really good ‘do’, so off he went into town to book himself on the Holyhead/Dublin night ferry with the relevant coach connections at each end, only to find that the coach places at this end were fully booked and he couldn’t go. Now under normal circumstances he could have got himself to Holyhead by train and got on the ferry as a foot passenger but as from last Saturday our local station is closed for two weeks while the main Manchester/Preston line is being electrified; although alternative bus services to Manchester are being provided it would have been far too much hassle to do it that way, certainly on the last minute, so he decided he would fly instead. At least that way he would be in Roscrea in just a few short hours and on the same day.
Checking the flight availability online showed there was no way he could have gone that day as even a late evening flight cost almost £200 one way and he certainly didn’t want to pay that much, however I managed to find a flight leaving Manchester at 3.15pm today for a more reasonable £84 and a return flight next Tuesday evening for £79. As all his details are saved in his online Ryanair account/journey planner the booking procedure and payment was straightforward and within a few minutes I got a confirmation email with a flight reservation number. Thinking that I may as well check him in and print out the boarding passes straight away I clicked on the ‘check in now’ link in the email – and that’s where the fun began.
Although the return journey was showing up and I was able to print out the boarding pass for it there was no boarding pass showing up for the outward journey and it actually said ‘this flight departed on August 15th’. So I’m now thinking I’ve somehow got the wrong date but checks on three calendars, my phone and the pc told me that it was still only the 14th so why the strange message? Three separate attempts to check in and get the boarding pass resulted in the same message each time so eventually I found a number for Ryanair customer services and phoned them – and that’s when I almost lost the will to live.
Having explained the problem to the woman at the other end of the phone (who’s first language obviously wasn’t English) she asked me for a few of Michael’s details – and this was the conversation
Her – “Madam, I can see you have checked in for the return flight but you must first check in for the outbound flight before you can get the boarding pass”
Me – “I know that but the system isn’t allowing me to check in, it keeps saying the flight has already departed even though it’s not until tomorrow”
Her – I’m sorry madam, I don’t understand what you are saying. You must check in for your flight before you can get the boarding pass”
Me – “But it isn’t allowing me to check in, even the ‘check in’ button is blanked out”
Her – “I don’t understand what you are telling me. What is your flight reservation number madam?”
Me – “It’s 14**GR”
Her – “I’m sorry madam, that is not the correct number”
Me – “Well that’s the number in the confirmation email”
Her – “That is not the correct number. The number should begin with a letter”
Me – “Well that’s the only number I’ve got”
Her – “Madam, that is not the correct number. You must first put in the correct reservation number then check in before you can get the boarding pass”
Me – “Look, that’s the only reservation number in the confirmation email. It must be right as I’ve checked in and printed out the boarding pass for the return flight but there is no boarding pass showing up for the outward flight”
Her – “Madam, you will not be able to get the boarding pass until you check in first”
And so it went on….
Now it takes a lot to get me angry but this conversation was just going round and round in circles and I was getting more and more frustrated by the woman’s lack of understanding and a solution to the problem, so I cut the call before I said something nasty to her. Even Michael was getting annoyed just listening to my side of the conversation. The only way round it that I could see would be for Michael to get to the airport well ahead of his flight time and check in at the normal check in desk although this would incur a €50 check in fee, but then he was taking a risk that if the reservation number really was incorrect he may be refused on the flight. By the time my scrambled brain had returned to something like normal it was time for me to go to work so I said I would have one last ditch attempt at customer services when I got back home, and if that failed then I would print out all my information and purposely drive to the airport and hopefully sort it out there.
The second attempt at going through customer services couldn’t have been more different. This time I got a really helpful guy with a softly spoken Irish accent, and within seconds of explaining the problem and giving him all Michael’s details he was telling me that the flight was now checked in and if I logged out of Michael’s account then logged back in again I would find the boarding pass ready for printing. So that’s what I did and sure enough there was the boarding pass – I don’t know what the guy did at his end but it certainly worked. Needless to say Michael was very much relieved when I went in his room and presented him with both boarding passes – and I’ve printed out extra copies just in case. I’m taking him to the airport later on today and all being well he’ll be on the 3.15 flight to Dublin – and I just hope that next time he goes over there, whenever that may be, the online booking system runs with no more problems.
Back towards the end of January Michael came back to stay for a few days, but due to certain circumstances the few days turned into several weeks and he’s still here. Then one evening last week, while he was at work and not long after I’d arrived home from my own work, four large boxes and several black bags of his stuff were dumped in my front garden – it looked like his temporary stay here had become permanent. Of course I couldn’t leave everything in the garden so it was all stacked in my living room until he had time to deal with it all.
Now I don’t know about anyone else but when you live mainly alone for eight years in a 3-bedroom house your own stuff tends to breed and accumulate in various places, and the wardrobe in Michael’s room was full my ‘I probably won’t wear it again but it’s too good to throw away and I still like it’ stuff, including all my old dancing gear – leotards, glittery costumes, Latin American dresses, ballroom shoes, ballet shoes, tap shoes, various exotic (and even erotic) outfits from my nightclub dancing days in the 90s, and other accessories I couldn’t house elsewhere, plus access to the wardrobe itself was blocked by my large gym-spec treadmill. So far Michael hadn’t needed or wanted to use the wardrobe but with the arrival of all his stuff it looked like things would have to be re-arranged to make room for everything else.
I started the major sort out last Sunday afternoon, and what an afternoon it turned out to be. Michael’s room isn’t exactly the biggest, it’s an odd shape and there isn’t a lot of floor space, so the sort out wasn’t particularly straightforward. First I had to move a bookcase-sized cabinet to gain enough room to get the treadmill through the door; the cabinet was dragged onto the landing and left outside my own bedroom door, then the treadmill was pulled out. That wasn’t without its problems though; as I pulled the machine through the bedroom doorway I also had to negotiate an awkward corner and at one point it was completely stuck, tilted to one side and with one of its legs part way up the wall. I freed it eventually though and it was put in its new home in a corner of the landing near the bathroom – thank goodness I have a large landing in a square U shape otherwise I don’t know where I would have put it. Next I pulled all my dancing gear out of the wardrobe; there was so much of it that it took ages to sort it all out but finally the wardrobe was empty. With the carpet vacuumed I dragged the cabinet from the landing and put it back in its place in the bedroom then brought the bags of Michael’s stuff from downstairs and dumped them on, and at the side of, his bed for him to sort out later.
Once I’d finished my afternoon’s efforts I sent Michael a text – “The good news is, you can get into your room and the wardrobe is now empty, the bad news is, you can’t get into your bed!” Back came the text – “Not a problem, I can sleep on the floor!” He was actually only joking when he sent that text, but as it turned out that’s exactly what he did. I met him from work at 6pm and we went out for a meal, then when we got back he made a start on sorting out and finding a home for all his stuff, but it wasn’t exactly a simple task. Because everything had obviously been packed very haphazardly he had to open all the bags to find things, and he ended up with so many clothes, shoes and dvds on his bed that it looked like an explosion in an Oxfam shop. He hadn’t a hope in hell of getting everything put away by the time he went to bed so he had a choice – dump it all on the floor and get into his bed (and the following morning risk standing on, and possibly breaking, something that mattered) or leave it all where it was and sleep on the floor. He chose the second option, which seemed to be the easiest, so I found him a very thick king size duvet which he could double over and use as a mattress, a couple of pillows and a warm fleece blanket, and he bedded down in the space between the side of his bed and the chest of drawers.
Believe it or not he slept like that for three nights. After working a full 12-hour shift he’s understandably fairly tired when he gets home so sorting out all his stuff has been a slow process, though it’s finished now and he’s back to sleeping in his bed again. It’s good to have him back home again permanently though, even if I did turn half my life and my house upside down to accommodate him; he may be a bit of a pain sometimes even though he’s an adult, but at the end of the day he’s still my son and I love him to bits.