October 7, 2016
The Ontario Airport Hotel - Your Card Was Declined
So, today, I get up and catch a flight to Oakland. Like, in the morning, I'm just sitting around the hotel. Not sure what to do.
And, I wake up and, I think about what I should do. What would make sense to do. Like...not that anyone would know. It's so hard to know.
I'm in a hotel, the Ontario Airport Hotel, that was paid for by SouthWest airlines. They say it used to be Hilton. Or a Hyatt. I forget.
Like....I'm pulled so thin here. Like a piece of straw. I need to go to San Francisco and retrieve my KTM. Lawrence, the guy from LG Motorsports in El Cerrito, called me yesterday (Thursday). And, he told me that the bike would be ready on Friday. And I'm like..."Do you mean tomorrow?" Like...my life is confusing enough already. When you talk about tomorrow, let's call it "tomorrow", not "Friday".
So, he's saying that the bike will be ready..."today". (Today is Friday). And now, I'm trying to decide what makes sense. In the morning, I work on converting some data for work. I'm online, working from the hotel. Swinging for the fences. And, the boss asks me a question in an email. I reply immediately. That looks good. To show that you're not sleepwalking through the project. That you're actually working remote when you say you're working remote.
The hotel staff keeps knocking on the door, and I don't really have a plan. Finally, I call the front desk.
"I need to get a late checkout."
"OK. I'll set your checkout for 1:00 p.m."
I beg and plead for 2:00 p.m., but to no avail.
I'm not sure what to do, so I buy a plane ticket to fly from Ontario to Oakland at 2:00 p.m., getting in at 3:00 p.m.
At some point, Lawrence calls me and says the bike is ready. That's it. I'm off. I check out of the hotel, and tell the driver that I can't wait for the shuttle if it runs every half hour. I have to get to the airport right away, if not sooner.
So, he takes me to the Ontario airport. When I get to the airport, all of the faggots at the TSA are on their lunch break and the lines are out to the curb. When lunch is over, they come back, and this time I remember to take my laptop out of my little hand bag, and the bastards in the TSA don't rape me like they normally do.
As I'm walking out to my gate, I see that there's an earlier flight leaving for Oakland, so I stop by and check with that guy.
"Dude...can I get on this flight?," I ask the gate agent.
"Yeah. Check with the people at the ticket counter...back there across from the sandwich bar."
So, I backtrack about a half a football field. Sure. No problem. They print me a boarding pass for the flight.
Now, just so we're clear, I have now bought 4 different plane tickets for this weekend, and used none of them.
And, even though I'm the last person to board the plane, it's not completely full, and I manage to swing an aisle seat (as opposed to a middle). Now, there are so many problems with the aisle seat that I won't go into them. But, getting into Oakland an hour earlier seems like a good idea.
We land in Oakland and nearly blow the tires off the plane. Now, I catch BART to the first El Cerrito station. Now LYFT to LG Motors.
Lawrence has my bike all ready to go and, really, if you want to know the truth, I can't stand not riding my bike. It's really the only thing that makes life worth living. I pay him for the work with my debit card, but it's declined So, I give him my other debit card, and it's declined also. OK. No problem. I pay him in cash. But now, I'm out of cash. And I'm in San Francisco, the most expensive city on earth. And all of my debit cards aren't working.
Now, I'm staring to get slightly worried. If my debit cards aren't working, I'm screwed. As in "royally screwed".
My next stop is at the new Apple store on Union Square. Like, my iPhone is such a pain in the ass there are no words. 40 times a minute,it wants me to enter the password and shows me my gmail account id. Of course, it looks like it wants your gmail account id, but it really wants your applied account password. However, if you put in an Apple password, there are a lot of restrictions around what the password can be, and you can't reuse one that you've used within the last year. So, basically, it means you're hosed.
So, I take my macbook air and my iPhone into the new Apple Store on Union Square and just set them down and say "I'm not leaving until you make these fucking things work," or words to that effect.
So, finally, they get the passwords reset, and I tell them that I'm going to write the password with a Sharpie on both devices just to piss them off.
Now, I have my laptop and cell phone working properly, but I have no access to my money.
Now, I wander over to Union Square, and start trying to figure out why I can't access any of my capital.
Essentially, I've got less than $500 in my personal checking account, and I've got $50K in my corporate checking account. So, what's happened is that I've slowly drained my personal checking account by flying back and forth between Denver and Ontario. Meanwhile, my corporate account has steadily increased, but, so far as I know, the card hasn't worked in years. I was surprised to even find it in my wallet.
So, I make an online transfer from my corporate account to my personal account of $10,000. But, who knows when it will go through? I date the transaction today (10/7/2016), but who knows when it will post? Today? Tomorrow? Monday? Who can tell?
I check my wallet. I have a grand total of about $86 in my wallet.
I call the credit union. I call the phone numbers on my VISA card. No one will help me. Only, I could report it stolen, if I chose to. But, as far is "why doesn't my card work when I have $500 in one account and $50,000 on the other one?", no one will even answer the phone.
So, I'm screwed. Royally screwed. I'm in the most expensive city on earth, and the sun is sinking fast, and I've got no place to stay. Now, I'm looking for a place to stay that's really, really cheap.
I find a youth hostel that, by chance, is only a few blocks away. For some reason, that makes me think that it was "meant to be". And, it's only like $55 a night. Now, granted, I'll be in a room with 5 other people, but I have enough cash in my pocket to cover it. Also, I can try to use both of my debit cards. It will be a good test.
I never stayed in a hostel until the 2nd time I drove to Alaska (on my KTM). Like, I think it's much more common/popular in Europe, than in the United States, for whatever reason. I just thought it was essentially something that meth dealers and convicts did. It never occurred to me that a) it was cheaper and b) it was acceptable and c) it was easier to meet people in hostels. But now that I find myself without any funds, I don't hesitate to consider staying in a hostel.
(The alternative is to drive all night in the dark and hope that I make it to LA on $68 in gas, and that seems like a very bad idea.)
So, I make a reservation at the youth hostel, and then go try to check in. But both credit cards are declined. Then, I try them at the ATM. Same deal. No dice.
Finally, I pay her in cash. Now, I have $24 left to my name.
I'm so screwed. So royally screwed. I've messaged everyone I know in San Francisco, and they all tell me that they're busy or out of town, except for David.
David tells me that he might can meet me for drinks later.
So, I'm driving around San Francisco, telling myself that everything will work out for the best, when really, I'm not clear that it will. I'm not clear that I'll make it back down to Los Angeles. Ever.
I drive north across the Golden Gate bridge, expecting it to be all lit up, but really it isn't lit up. At all. It has some flashing red lights on it so planes won't hit it. Other than that, it has no lights.
I'm so hungry there just aren't words, so I drive up to Fisherman's Wharf to the In and Out burger place there. I don't normally go to fisherman's wharf, as it's just an overrun tourist mecca.
But now, it seems like a cheap place to get a meal, so I roll up there, park the KTM on the street.
I place my order, and now I need the $20 bill to pay for my meal, and I'm rooting around in my wallet, looking for it. I swear I had a $20 in here. All I see are a few ones. Like...this really sucks. How is it that a grown man doesn't have enough money in his wallet to buy a meal at In and Out? Finally, I see the $20, and with a big sigh of relief, I pay for my meal. Like, this may be the last meal I ever eat. So, I scarf it all down, fries and all.
After I eat at In and Out Burger, the police suddenly fill the street. They're everywhere. Dozens of them. Apparently, a guy was spotted walking around with a gun. Great. Just my luck. Of course, he would be strolling through Fisherman's Wharf when I was there. Just my luck.
David messages me and says that they're out for drinks in the Mission. So, I roll down there and meet them in the Mission. Two couples.
"Dude...you have to buy me a beer. I..uh...don't have any money. I'll explain later..."
So, David buys me several drinks. At some point, I explain to him that I'm basically flat broke. That I only have a few dollars to my name, even though I have $50K in my checking account.
"How much money do you need to get to Los Angeles?" he asks.
"I figure....$300 at the outside..." I reply. Like, that covers my gas, food, and one night stay in San Luis Obispo.
After a few drinks, we leave and go to an ATM. David takes out $300 in cash and hands it to me.
Lord, God I needed that. It looks like things are looking up. :)
Like, I should be able to make it back to Riverside, and, on Monday, at the latest, I should be able to call my bank and tell them that I'm closing my fucking accounts if they won't give me access to my goddamned money.
Posted by Rob Kiser on October 7, 2016 at 10:06 PM