Thursday, 9 January 2014

The tales of Younger-Brother-Daniel and I: Our trip to Ireland

I'm usually a fairly chipper and optimistic lady nowadays, not to the point where you want to throw things at me, but more that I don't fall into a pit of despair anytime any bad things come my way. I like to think that this is the impression I give off to most people, and for the most part, I would say that others agree with this opinion.

There is one exception to this however, and that is in the form of Younger-Brother-Daniel.

Case and point: Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve, myself and Younger-Brother-Daniel had to get a plane to Belfast, as Father and Marmie had moved there from Scotland, where they had previously lived.

I don't know why Younger-Brother-Daniel brings out the pessimistic in me. I don't think he's overly chipper himself, more like just in a constant state of "I can't be bothered to be bothered about stuff." He doesn't get angry often, in fact I'm struggling to remember the last time, outside of our teens, that I've actually seen him angry. He just tends to go with the flow... as such, any worry I might have about things, tends to be turned into a complaint from his end that I am far too pessimistic for his liking.

Of course, this leaves me confused as I'm not usually interpreted this way. But then, instead of arguing this, I find myself thinking it would be far more fun to play to this and irritate him... we've grown up and moved on with our lives, but the sibling desire to mildly annoy each other is still so deeply engraved in us that we sometimes just can't help ourselves.

Anywho, Christmas Eve was when this familiar correspondence seemed to appear again. You see, we had to get on a plane to Ireland. I was already in a state of panic regarding this, as my passport had expired and, although I didn't need a passport to get to Ireland, I needed some form of ID to get there. I didn't drive so I had no driver's license to speak of and nothing else to use. As such, I had applied for a Citizencard, which would apparently work as a form of ID. However, due to being slightly fond of the procrastination and thinking I had more time than I actually had, I had been late with applying for this card. This, coupled with the fact that my lovely friend, who had agreed to be my verifier (proof that I was who I said I was and not someone pretending to be me...) was on maternity leave so couldn't prove she was who she said she was, I was approaching the Thursday before Christmas Eve with no ID to speak of and a series of emails coming my way from the Citizencard people, telling me that I would have to restart the process again with a new verifier, in order to get the card I needed.

I kept my calm in this. In fact, I was pretty impressed with how I dealt with the whole thing on this day. As the Citizencard people refused to have a way of being contactable via phone (they said it was to "improve customer service by not wasting money on a call service"(??????!!!!!)), I had to resort to conversing with them by email. To say they were sparse with details in these emails would be a slight understatement. The overall gist of our correspondence was:

Me: I have a few questions for you; Is there any other way you can contact my verifier outside of her workplace? Can you contact her HR and verify it with them instead? Once verified, how long will it take for the card to get to me? Will I be able to get it by Christmas Eve? Is there any extra charge I can pay to ensure it gets to me in time? What other way can we go about ensuring you get the information you need?

Them: No.

Me: ???? What are you answering to?

Them: We need confirmation from your verifier.

Me: And how can we do that, if she's on maternity leave?

Them: We need confirmation from your verifier from her workplace.


And so on and so forth.

It was a very frustrating afternoon sorting this out. But amazingly, I got through it without freaking out! And, as luck would have it, my Lovely-Friend/Verifier was going into work the following day and so said she would confirm what needed to be done then.

Anywho, after a long and particularly bitchy email from me, clearly pointing out every single fault in their email responses and demanding that they actually answer the questions being set out to them, instead of the ones they were making up in their heads, I managed to get a coherent response out of them in terms of ensuring that they would fast track the card (after I'd paid extra of course) and get it to me by Christmas Eve. In order to do this, I was expecting a phone call from them the following day, to announce that everything was in place and to take my card details for the additional charge.

Friday came, My-Lovely-Friend/Verifier confirmed that I was a real person and informed me of this fact. I waited for a phone call... and waited... and waited. I thought of calling them to chase this, then remembered that they didn't believe in having phone numbers, you know, to improve customer service. So I sent an email to remind them instead. I waited... and waited... and nothing.

It was at this point that Younger-Brother-Daniel thought it would be awesome to give me a call and ask if I had the tickets for the plane journey ready. He asked the question and it was like a damn broke in my eyes. I burst into stupid amount of tears and made the wild and dramatic statement of "I'm not coming home for Christmas, I don't have any way of getting there. I'm stuck in England. You're going on your own."

There was silence for a moment as Younger-Brother-Daniel realised the mess he had just created in asking this question. Now, Younger-Brother-Daniel and I are pretty close, especially since he moved to London a few months ago. We meet up regularly and are no strangers to the post-Doctor Who/Sherlock episode phone conversation, where we disect what we have seen for hours afterwards. However, there have only been two occasions on which he has ever had to deal with me in this state, this being the second one. I will say this now, both times, he has held his own and dealt with this amazingly. His way of doing it this time was as follows:

Younger-Brother-Daniel has been shortened to YBD

YBD: Oookay. Well, I see you're dealing with things right now. What's happened?
Me: Citizencard people are being horrible people who won't help me and now I'm stuck in England with no way out.
YBD: Well, that's ridiculous and not going to happen. Don't be silly, of course you're coming to Ireland with me.
Me: But how?

There was a pause, before Younger-Brother-Daniel said the most awesome thing that felt like we had both just jumped back in time about 15 years.

YBD: ... I'll ask Mum.
Me: I didn't want to worry her until I knew for certain that I couldn't come.
YBD: Don't be silly, I'll call her now, let her know and she'll know what to do.
Me: ... Okay.

Yup, that's right ladies and gents; two adults at 25 and 28 years old and we still run to Mummy when we don't know what to do... I hold my head high with pride on that fact, she is pretty awesome, after all.

I got off the phone and waiting impatiently for the next call, trying to stop the stupid amount of tears that continued to pour down my face in what was turning into a mini stress out panic attack.

Twenty minutes later, Marmie called me and informed me that she'd been on the phone to the airlines and they were prepared to accept my expired passport, as it only expired a couple of months previously. I thanked Marmie, got off the phone and took a long hard look at myself in the mirror, amazed that I still required both sibling and parent to fight my battles...

Anywho, as it turned out, I finally got a phone call from Citizencard on Monday (from a with-held number, of course) reassuring me that they would get the card to me the following morning. And, let me tell you, when that postman turned up at my door on Christmas Eve, there is a chance that I may have threatened to kiss him... he didn't look too impressed with this... *sighs* ...another non-starter.

So, you can imagine, by the time we arrived at the airport on Christmas Eve, with all that having happened, coupled with the fact that the News hadn't stopped warning us that all trains and planes were going to be delayed on Christmas Eve due to the strong winds, I was not exactly in the best frame of mind in believing that this plane was going to leave the airport.

So my slight comment that we will be spending Christmas in Gatwick Airport, in context, makes perfect sense. And that was how it had started, I made one little comment about how we weren't going to make it to Ireland for Christmas and Younger-Brother-Daniel goes off on this tirade about how pessimistic I was and made some form of comparison between me and Scrooge/the Grinch, that I felt was highly uncalled for. But, as we had nothing left to do but converse with each other on this topic, in the light of getting there really early/the monstrous delays being predicted, I thought I might as well play the part.

This led to my making plans within the airport for where we would sleep, the material we would use to form makeshift beds, and the games that we could play to keep us occupied. The games topic may have got a little out of hand, especially when we talked about the game Munchkin, which is a card role playing game based loosely on the Dungeons and Dragons type of game:...

Me: You've got the game Munchkin with you, haven't you?
YBD: That's a really long game, when are we going to have time to play that?
Me: We're here for the next 3 days, so we might as well.
YBD: We are not here for-
Me: If we set it up in the main waiting area, we can see if we can get others involved in playing.
YBD: We're just going to ask random people to play with us?
Me: We won't need to, people will be asking us to play once they see how much fun we're having.
YBD: I'm not too sure of the logistics of that, I don't even know what the maximum amount of people are, in this game.
Me: The more the merrier, I say. It could be like one of those flash mob things, we could film it as more people join in around the room.

Slight pause and Younger-Brother-Daniel lets that idea sink in.

YBD: That has to be the most boring version of a flash mob I have ever heard of. Who would watch that?
Me: No one, because they'd all be too busy playing the game and having the time of their lives.

There is a reason why I have hyped the lead up to our flight so much... mainly because we had a half hour delay and then took off without any problem, which pretty much makes this the most anti-climactic ending to a story in the world, but didn't you enjoy the journey it took to get us there??


Okay, sorry. I'll try to be more entertaining next time.

Peace out my lovelies.

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