Journey of a thousand miles

Actually, according to American Airlines, it’s a journey of 3953 miles. I’m intimately familiar with it this week because we were up for a “free” ticket based on our miles in their affinity program. Unfortunately, when I went in to check miles last week in anticipation of some kind of match this weekend, I noticed that I was short of three legs of credit that I’d traveled. My husband was one leg short. American is changing their affinity program soon so it would have been great to use the miles for this trip before we’d have to accumulate many more for a trip. We’ve been counting on those miles to keep this year in some kind of a budget.

I laughed after typing that line because I have access to an app through work called Hello Wallet. Hello Wallet uses a data aggregator called Yodlee to track all my withdrawals and deposits into my accounts. Part of the point of the app is to encourage good financial behavior. For example, if it notices that you’ve used an ATM and incurred a charge, it will remind you about how much that costs over time.  Not to worry: my husband long ago insisted that I avoid ATMs that will charge a fee, and every time I have failed in the past 20 years, he has noticed it with Hello Wallet-like rigor. The reason I know Hello Wallet has that function is that it becomes confused when I top off my Oyster card in London. It thinks that’s a bank charge.

Hello Wallet also has a budgeting function. I’ve never set up an official budget, but one day I clicked on the budgeting function to have a look at it. Then I must have accidentally clicked on something else, because Hello Wallet set up a sample budget using typical spending. Obviously, this year, my spending is weird. Hello Wallet has not reckoned on the budget required for traveling to London three times in a six-week period, and what must be done elsewhere with spending to not create massive debt. So, as you might imagine, Hello Wallet has been delivering “over budget” alerts on travel to my email with great regularity.  Although I have learned not to induce my spouse’s ire with foreign ATM charges, I blithely ignore Hello Wallet’s insistence that my travel budget be heeded. (Goodbye, Wallet!)

helloBut back to the miles. We’d travelled a few times on a partner airline over some legs, and they hadn’t made it in the system. I was hit harder than my husband because I had three legs on that partner, and he only had one. So, although we managed to straighten out the miles yesterday, we needed to buy tickets on Tuesday. I transferred a few to my husband and he could get a free ticket this time, and then he’ll transfer a few to me for our very last trip in May so I can get a free trip.  There is a small cost for the transfer, but it’s well worth it.

But freedom isn’t free, as the song goes, so he had to fly out this morning. I am working today and will fly out tonight.

A week ago, I posted a flowchart for what needed to happen for us to attend a match this weekend, which could be Saturday (a Premier League match) or Sunday (an FA Cup match), and also included options around what would happen if my son finished in the top four of his sectional wrestling tournament.  (He did not, and came home from the tournament ravenously hungry on Sunday and ready to put on all of the weight he had meticulously kept off through regionals and sectionals.)

Flow after

In addition to the items documented in the flowchart, I needed to finish up my project at work and my husband and I jointly attended our kids’ orchestra concert, organized rides and beds and such for our kids for the weekend, gassed up cars, made sure everyone had cash. We organized air tickets, hotel.  Dealt with the airline miles situation, as previously described. Did laundry and packed.

We also needed to deal with tickets for the match. Because it was so up in the air, the match wasn’t sold out so the representative couldn’t transfer the tickets electronically. We started working out a scheme by which passes could be handed off once we got to London, a bit complicated because we don’t arrive until the weekend and also need to get them back in the representative’s hands after the match.  But yesterday I saw on Arsenal’s website that transfer could happen anyway, even though the match hadn’t sold out. I contacted the representative late yesterday by email (well after London bedtime) and asked him to give it a try today.

I was so busy during the week I hadn’t had a chance to blog this week, so when I got on the train with my suitcase to head into the city for work, I decided I would write, and not look at my phone/internet at all. That’s right. No Arseblog today. But then I had second thoughts and decided to at least check my email. It was a very good thing that I did, because I had a message from the season ticketholder’s representative marked “high importance.” It said that when he requested the ticket transfer, he received notification that I had to login to Arsenal’s website to receive the ticket no later than 9 a.m. Chicago time.

I’ve recorded before the drama that is produced by the Arsenal website for ticket transfer.  I remind you that although I am a middle-ager, I work in tech, so I’m not a complete moron in front of a computer. Still, this Arsenal website always seems to throw something different at me, and it always takes longer than I expect to finally have the tickets in hand. It always puts me through at least a few moments of discomfort about whether it worked, and whether the tickets will ultimately arrive by email.

So on the train I tried to gather together enough zen to get through the ticket transfer process by 9 a.m. Technically, it needed to happen by 8:30, because I had a meeting at that time. And one at 8:50. And one at 9 a.m.

I arrived in my desk at 8:17 with a full bladder that was just going to have to wait. I docked my computer, logged in, opened my email, clicked into the Arsenal website, agreed to receive the transferred tickets, checked the agreement and clicked to complete the process, all with the efficiency and competence of a surgeon.

I went to the restroom. I got a cup of tea.

I returned and checked my email. There were the tickets. I printed them out and put them in my backpack. I looked at the clock. It was 8:30. I dialed in for my meeting.  We had met every challenge of the week. At that moment of realization, I had the very mother of all hot flashes. Mother of the devil of all hot flashes.

But, looking again at the flowchart, I realize there is something I forgot to mention about my week. This journey of a thousand miles (well, really 3953 miles) most importantly included Arsenal beating Hull City in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday.  I listened on Arsenal player while working on my project. It sounded like we weren’t looking all that hot….until suddenly we were quite hot.  0-4.

And so we face Watford on Sunday in the FA Cup quarter finals.

I will be there.

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