Thanks, COVID-19

I was scheduled to travel to Hong Kong in April to watch the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament.  It’s a “bucket list” trip for me and I was looking forward to visiting Hong Kong for the first time.  I also purchased the trip as a gift to myself for my fiftieth birthday, so I splurged and chose the swankiest ticket package available short of renting out a suite.  I’m staying at a fancy hotel nearby, too.  I enjoy traveling and try not to get too excited for visiting new places, but I have to admit I was starting to become giddy with excitement for this trip.

After the beginning of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it is now officially named, I scoured the news for any indication it would impact my trip.  I was nervous when U.S. airlines stopped servicing mainland China, and when Untied Airlines announced they were reducing flights to Hong Kong to once daily I was even more concerned.  The director of the Hong Kong Rugby Union adamantly announced two weeks ago that they were holding the tournament as planned in April despite the outbreak, noting the tournament went ahead in 2003 during the SARS outbreak.

This past Wednesday evening I was browsing through my Instagram feed when I came across a post from the Dubai Rugby Sevens account consoling the Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens tournaments regarding the postponement of their respective tournaments.

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I could not find any information regarding the postponement on any of the sites I expected (Hong Kong Sevens or World Rugby) to corroborate this information.  Interestingly, that Instagram post was subsequently deleted by Dubai Sevens —  probably because the decision had not been officially released at that point.  I did come across a New York Times article suggesting the tournament would be postponed, though.

It wasn’t until the next morning (in the U.S.) that the official announcement was released by World Rugby and the Hong Kong Rugby Union that the tournament was being postponed until 16-18 October.  This was disappointing news for sure but definitely necessary to preserve the health of the players, staff and the fans.

I had to begin the process of shifting my travel reservations to the new dates.  I purchased my tournament tickets and accommodation package via Keith Prowse Travel out of Australia.  I have greatly enjoyed working with my agent Dave there and was planning to reach out to him regarding the process of rescheduling… when he called me and confirmed everything was going to be handled appropriately. Since my package did not include airfare I still needed to change my flights with United.  I decided to call UA on the phone to speak with someone in person.  UA posted flight waivers for existing booked flights but those waivers only accommodated rebooking into June.  I wasn’t really in the mood to pay a change fee for my fare because the HKRU moved the tournament to October. When I first contacted a representative at United I was informed that because the changed flight date was outside the wavier period it would potentially cost me US $200 to change the dates, but the rep did “get permission” to waive that fee due to the special circumstances.  I am unsure who gave him this permission but I won’t complain.  In the end I was informed the change would cost about US $5 to process… but I have not  yet seen that transaction come across on my AMEX account.

I still look forward to visiting Hong Kong in October and hope that I can contain my excitement until then.  I also hope that there are not many more deaths from people suffering in the region where COVID-19 is running rampant.  This outbreak will have a major impact on travel to the region.

Sharing the back seat

The dogs in the back seat of the truck
It only took nine years for them to learn how to share the back seat of the truck.

We headed back to Oklahoma this week for my niece’s wedding in Tulsa. It was hot in central Kansas so I decided to put the girls in the back seat of the truck. For once, Fabi did not pace back and forth from window to window while Lucy laid smack-dab in the middle of the seat. It was wonderful!

Won’t you be my neighbor

My elderly neighbor Betty does not drive. She depends on her family, church friends and taxis to get around town to do shopping, visit the doctor and run other errands. She called a cab this morning to take her to a medical appointment. I happened to be upstairs when the cab arrived, a mini-van taxi where the passenger enters the vehicle through the sliding door on the side.

My neighbor has mobility issues and is unable to step up very high. I happened to notice she was taking a long time to get into the vehicle while I was looking out the window, but I didn’t think anything of it. I headed back down stairs to my office to grab my water bottle for a refill. 

When I came back up, my neighbor was sitting on the ground next to curb. The cab driver was talking to her, then making calls on his mobile phone, getting back in the driver seat… all while looking annoyed with Betty. I watched for a bit, trying to determine what had happened. I assumed he had called 911 to get an ambulance. Nope. He apparently called another taxi with a lower entry threshold for her… and then left. WITH MY ELDERY NEIGHBOR SITTING IN THE GUTTER. 

I went out to ask her what had happened and find out if she was injured. She said she had fallen after trying unsuccessfully to step up into the taxi. After a few minutes I asked her if she wanted some help up off the ground. She let me attempt to help her up but was unable to stand. Eventually she mentioned she had hit her head when she fell. I decided not to try to lift her up after she told me about the potential head injury.

Luckily, another neighbor came home and came over when I asked for his assistance. Although my elderly neighbor appeared lucid we were hesitant try to move her again. We discussed calling an ambulance for her when another neighbor walked by and asked what had happened. It turns out this neighbor was a nurse so she started asking questions to determine if Betty had a concussion or had broken a hip. The nurse was happy that it did not appear she was injured badly or concussed, so we decided to help her into my other neighbor’s car so he could take her to her medical appointment to let them assess her condition further, and probably get her an ambulance. She would never been able to get into the high front seat of my truck so I was happy the neighbor with a Subaru showed up when he did. I am also thankful that the young lady nurse was walking her dog on our block, too. It really does take a village.

What has me annoyed and angry is that the taxi driver decided it was acceptable to leave Betty sitting in the gutter to await another cab’s arrival. WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? Was he so self-centered and lacking in common sense that he thought this was okay? 

I don’t use taxis anymore in lieu of ride share services, but I want to put it out there that Denver Yellow Cab employs this despicable piece of filth. He left a potentially injured elderly woman sitting on the ground, alone. Betty is somebody’s mother and grandmother. She deserved to be treated better than garbage in the street.

Halloween 2018

Rastifarian Fabi
Rastifarian Fabi

Lucy Borrowed Millie's Unicorn Horn
Lucy Borrowed Millie’s Unicorn Horn

Lucy the Witch
Lucy the Witch

Lindsay And Butters
Lindsay And Butters On Halloween

The Brew On Broadway (The BoB) threw an impromptu doggie Halloween costume contest. I originally was going to dress Lucy as a Pirate with a peg leg but when I went to spray paint the styrofoam leg I forgot that spray paint withers styrofoam away to nearly nothing. She went as a witch instead while Fabi was a Rastifarian. Neither of them were happy about wearing costumes even if Fabi did win second place (somehow).