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Wanted: A travel agent all the time | Ann Oxrieder | Still Life
A month ago, a friend of mine who is an experienced traveler, sounded disappointed when I told her my husband and I had turned to a travel agent to help us plan a trip to Europe. However, recently she changed her tune when she realized that things can go wrong when I’m traveling even a few miles from home.
She’s a freelance writer who had an assignment to describe a walking tour in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District. I decided to tag along. She could take notes and photos and I could shop and eat. We set a date to take the bus to Seattle together.
She would hop on the bus near her house and I would climb aboard the same vehicle at a Park & Ride. A closed road in my neighborhood led to a long detour to reach the Park & Ride. When I arrived late and in a panic, the bus was pulling away. The driver reluctantly let me board.
I found a seat on the bus, easy to do since there were only about six other passengers. None was my friend. I texted her. “I’m on the bus. Where are you?” I added a lengthy description of where we could meet in Seattle. Since I’m not a proficient texter – my thumb hits the wrong letter or number as often as it lands on the right one — five minutes passed with my head bent over. Finally I pushed “send” and looked up.
No. This can’t be, I said to myself. We’re traveling away from Seattle. The number on the bus is right, but it’s going the wrong direction. I pulled the cord for the next stop and slunk out the back door so the driver wouldn’t notice that after begging to be the last on his bus, I was now requesting to be the first off.
The story had a happy ending. Eventually I found a bus headed in the right direction, caught it back to the International District and my friend and I met.
We learned a little history of the area, saw several sights new to us, including the community garden and the Panama Hotel (made famous to readers in “Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”) and worked off a few calories climbing hills. She agreed that I had made a sound decision in seeking help from a travel agent. Her exact words were, “If yours doesn’t work out, I’ll find you one.”
Ann Oxrieder has lived in Bellevue for 35 years.She retired after 25 years as an administrator in the Bellevue School District and now blogs about retirement at http://stillalife.wordpress.com/.