Does Spirit have a sense of humour? Some people certainly think so. The way I look at it, if we have the ability to laugh at life, and laugh at ourselves and even at others, then it is part of "Spirit". Here's a little story which leads me think that maybe someone or something up there does have a sense of humour. For those offended by the "F" word, turn away now!
A couple of days ago a friend of mine, Joe, called and invited me for a weekend trip to Macau with two other male friends. It was to be a boys' weekend! Macau is the former Portuguese territory not far from Hong Kong. I had nothing else planned for the weekend, so I said "Why not?" This was not the first time I have been away with Joe. About eight months previously we went for a night away to Zhuhai, another nearby town. On that occasion my friend booked two rooms at a local hotel for us, using his credit card. On this occasion he told me the name of the hotel, and mentioned the price. I said that was all OK for me.
So it was that yesterday afternoon I found myself with my three friends sailing aboard the hovercraft ferry heading towards Macau. The trip is just over an hour, so we all took the time to have a little nap in our seats.
I am blessed - or cursed, perhaps - to have a lot of visionary experience, and as is nearly always the case, as soon as I became drowsy a simple image came into my mind. It was of two words typed into a computer screen: "Fuck up". It was a very clear image, and so unexpected that I dismissed it as some random projection emerging from my psyche. So I just let it go.
We arrived at Macau port, and made our way to the hotel via bus and taxi. We rocked up to the hotel reception in high spirits. Macau is quite a party town and has a vibrant nightlife, so 'the boys' were pumped. Sadly, a couple of egos were about to be deflated.
When my friend presented his credit card at the counter, I asked him if they needed my ID too. He looked at me wide eyed.
"You booked your own room online, didn't you?"
I hadn't! I had just assumed my friend had booked two rooms, just as he had on our previous 'road trip'.
I couldn't believe it. We were in Macau on a weekend, one of the busiest places on the planet, and rooms would be difficult to find. But things were about to get worse. The receptionist then informed Joe that his booking was for the following weekend, not that night! Since he went through an online booking agency, the hotel was powerless to change the booking.
Joe turned back to the rest of us.
"What a fuck up!"
As soon as Joe said the words, I recalled the vision I'd had on the ferry. I couldn't help but laugh, even though it was a frustrating situation to find ourselves in.
Joe cursed a few more times, but there was nothing we could do. He was adamant he had chosen the right date when he had booked, but that was useless to us now. An over-the-counter booking was three tims the online booking fee.
My other two friends had made their bookings without problem. So they were set for the evening.
The hotel was kind enough to let us use a computer to go online to look for another room. Unfortunately the booking web site (the same one) showed all rooms at that hotel booked, so we had to make a desperate search for another hotel that wouldn't cost the earth (late bookings are usually more expensive, as cheap rooms go first). Luckily we did find two rooms at reasonable price at a hotel very close by. Joe used his credit card to make the booking. We made absolutely certain the date was correct. We breathed a sigh of relief when the confirmation booking came through.
Joe and I made our way to the next hotel, our two colleagues tagging along. It was only two hundred metres away! Again we found ourselves rocking up the the counter. My friend produced the booking number, ID and some money. The young attendant went to her computer to confirm the booking.
"Sorry, your booking is for next weekend, sir," she said flatly.
"What? That's impossible!" Joe said. "We made absolutely sure the date was correct! Can we just change the date and stay tonight?
"Sorry, we have no rooms tonight, sir!"
Several more curses echoed around the room. Clearly the problem was something to do with the web site we had used, but it didn't help our cause. The receptionist was less than helpful, and refused to let us use the hotel computer, so we made our way back towards the first hotel. Joe had just made two useless credit card bookings through a less-than-reputable Chinese web site, his credit card having already been debited $US600 for services he would never be able to use - and with the possibility of a refund being minimal.
As we walked Joe kept making clipped references to the Michael Douglas movie Falling Down, where the main character snaps and starts blowing people away with a shotgun.
One of the other guys laughed. "Oh, what a total fuck up! I wish I had my video camera here!"
The first hotel kindly let us use their business room computer again. This time I used my credit card and a different booking site. This site showed that we could book a room the very hotel we were in, so I booked two rooms, triple checking the date. Moments later I got a confirmation email. We had to pay about 20% more than our two friends, but we were just happy to get a bed.
We'd wasted about two hours of our day, but we didn't let it spoil our evening. We went out on the town and had a great time eating, drinking, and behaving badly. And laughing lots. Fortunately, there were no more fuck ups.