Sometimes Things Go Wrong

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Dublin, Ireland – May 2012

It is Sunday and Grafton Street is swarming. I hurry down the street, pausing for a few seconds to watch a traditional music group. After the events of last night, I had to force myself out of my room. I have no desire to be around people. However, the next couple of days will be spent in the Irish countryside, so this is my only full day to wander around Dublin.

I spent the entire night awake, unable to shake the distress of what had transpired on my arrival in Dublin. What happened was this: the driver of the Aircoach unloaded all of the luggage for a large group of women. Including my small carry on suitcase. The women were bewildered. They asked the driver where their hotel was. He gave them directions. I had an uneasy feeling that one of their suitcases looked like mine, but it was dark out. And surely the driver would have asked them to verify that they had the right luggage. Because that is his job.

When we got to my stop, my fears were confirmed. I asked the driver what he was going to do about it. He shrugged and said with a smirk, “We’re not responsible for lost or stolen luggage.”

We knew the name of their hotel. He had a smart phone. He would not call. Only when I caused a huge scene, did he call the manager on duty. The manager refused to call the hotel. He said that I would have to “wait and see if they give it back.”

I looked around at the faces of those who had gathered to watch my dismay. I saw smugness, glee, and disgust. Not one face regarded me with empathy. I took off running towards my B&B, which was staying open late for my arrival. I had a very strong feeling that those women would not give it back, either out of dishonesty or just plain cluelessness. The more time that passed, the less chance I had of getting it back.

The intern at the B&B found the hotel for me online. The manager at the hotel said that he’d call the women and ask them to leave the suitcase with him. The intern called a taxi for me, and off I went.

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The further I get away from Grafton Street, the quieter the streets become. I find myself at Fleet Street. It’s much more welcoming in the daylight. This is where the taxi driver left me off last night, because he didn’t know where the corner of Dame and George Streets was. He didn’t tell me this, of course. He took my money, pointed to a building, and took off. It was midnight on Saturday. I had never been to Dublin and I had no map. The streets were full of drunken revelers. At that point I knew better than to ask anyone for help.

I finally found a taxi driver who knew where Dame and George Streets were. I burst in through the front door of the hotel. I asked the night watchman if the women had brought down a suitcase. He shook his head. “But maybe you mean this,” he said. “I found this abandoned out by the front door.” He pulled my suitcase from behind the front desk. He shook his head. “It’s a real miracle that you’ve got it back, dear.”

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I lift my head and find that I’m now walking alongside the River Liffey. I quicken my pace in hopes of burning off some of the tension. I sweep my eyes over the buildings and streets. Dublin has a lot of personality. It’s too bad that I’m viewing it through tarnished eyes.

Sometimes things go wrong. After working for much of my adult life in the realm of travel/tourism customer service, I know that. Mistakes are made and sometimes employees have bad days. However, it used to be that the person at fault apologized and made an effort to fix the problem. In this case it would have taken so little time to do the right thing. Five minutes for the Aircoach manager to look up the number and call the hotel. The women could have uttered two sentences to the hotel reception: “We’ve taken this bag by mistake. Could you please call Aircoach?” But no one could be bothered.

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I shut off the dialogue in my brain and walk. I make a lap around Christ Church Cathedral and then head back towards Trinity College. Maybe if I do nothing but walk all day, I’ll finally be able to sleep.

The tension begins to ebb away as I cut through the grounds of Trinity College and make my way towards Merrion Square. Dark clouds have gathered. The streets are deserted. I pause to admire the clean lines of the Georgian architecture. Sometimes conformity can be soothing.

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I turn now to peer into Merrion Square. The cool, but balmy breeze has picked up. The path before me is overgrown. The air glows with the eerie green phosphorescence of late spring. A pleasant drowsiness takes hold. I want to step inside, but I hesitate. I know, from experience, of the dangers that can lurk in such verdant corners. And now I know that if such a danger is encountered, no one will come to my aid.

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32 thoughts on “Sometimes Things Go Wrong

    • Taxi drivers are scum no matter where you go. If it had been only that, i could have shrugged it off. But it was everyone – Aircoach driver and manager, the other passengers and onlookers, and the women who took my suitcase. Sadly, it did put me off Dublin, but as I was walking around I was thinking what a shame, because it does seem like a great place.

  1. That sucks! I can’t imagine being those women travelers though, I mean if i found an unknown bag, I would at least bring it into my hotel and get the reception to call the coach company to find out if anyone lost their suitcase. Not leave it out on the streets!

    • Yeah, that really blew my mind. It’s not like they just found it somewhere, they TOOK it! I’m really glad I followed my hunch and tracked it down rather than do what the manager said and just “wait and see if they give it back.”

  2. I’m sorry to hear of your experience and I am glad that you got your bag back. Hopefully your trip will improve from here on, and you will come to realise that not all Dubliners are like that.

    • Thank you. The trip got a little better after that. The B&B owners and tour guides were good and Ireland is beautiful. I should probably mention, though, that all of the people from the first night (except maybe some of the gawkers) were not originally from Dublin.

  3. I’d say, all things considered, you got more lucky yhan unlucky. But i’m afraid i have to contrdadict many of your other followers: taxi drivers, the world over, are people. Not intrinsically bad or good.Just people.

  4. The one with the gleeful reaction is the culprit! heheheh… Yes, sometimes things happen and can really get into us – our thoughts and emotions.

  5. Doesn’t surprise me at all. Paris used to have the reputation as the ‘rudest’ city in Europe – sounds like Dublin has surpassed it. Somewhere after the Celtic Tiger, people got greedy – take the money and run! The only advice I can give you, is always start a hol in Ireland in the West – fly into Shannon or Galway or even little Knock airport – I think you’d have a very different experience. I survive when travelling to unknown cities by reciting the mantra: ‘Trust no-one and watch your bags like a hawk.’ Sad, but necessary in today’s world. Looking forward to reading more of your travel adventures and glad to be following you (thank Freshly Pressed!).

    • I usually travel to off-the-beaten path places, some of which have a stigma (like Serbia) so I’m naturally paranoid. But sometimes things happen anyway. The funny thing is that I have problems in the so-called modern countries like Ireland or Belgium, while “scary” Serbia was an absolute pleasure.

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  7. Ok, I just developed a theory while reading the comments and that is when country develops a long standing reputation as “the most friendly place in the world”, after a while it seems to turns sour and locals start to resent the pressure they feel to be nice. While nothing in particular went wrong, my trip to Newfoundland was flat and I couldn’t seem to connect to anyone, which was in direct opposition from the endless promos declaring how everyone in NFL will be your new bff.
    I empathize with how vulnerable you must have felt and glad that you were able to shake it off and enjoy the rest of your trip.

    • I see your point and can agree in most cases. However, I have to say that ALL of the people who were crappy to me in this incident were not originally from Ireland. I know that it’s not politically correct to specify this, but oh well. The taxi driver who helped me and the night security guard at the hotel where I found the suitcase were Irish. Other Irish people that I told (the B&B owner & the tour guides) were appalled and went out of their way to make up for it. Nowadays, I don’t expect a whole country to be friendly. It’s unrealistic. Thanks, as always, for adding your thoughts!!

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