Thanksgiving Mission Impossible
Posted on November 26 2015
TL;DR This is mostly a personal blog about my surprise trip back to the US for Thanksgiving. I'm here in the states for the Black Friday sale, so expect normal response times on emails.
Hello Wink Fam!
I hope all of you enjoyed your Thanksgiving day as much as I enjoyed mine. We all have a lot to be thankful for: our family, our country, our lashes and brows.. (and a whole lot more if lashes and brows made that list).
I wanted to share with you something mostly non-Wink related today: my secret Thanksgiving day mission.
For this mission we need:
- A sneaky brother
- 2 plane tickets
- an iron will
My goal: to surprise my mother and grandmother for Thanksgiving, by coming home from China. Fun fact: my grandmother's birthday is on Black Friday and she's turning 92 this year.
Some back story: every year, my mom's entire family gets together for Thanksgiving--just once a year. About 30 of us come together from all over the country just for these 2 or 3 days, and very rarely does any family member miss this get-together. I, however, am in the middle of bottle production for Wink and was 100% sure I was missing this holiday.
About 3 weeks ago, I was perusing through plane tickets on Google Flights, as I tend to do when I feel itchy, and saw that last minute flights from Hong Kong to Chicago were really, really cheap this month. Why? I'm not sure, but it might be because not much business travel happens during Thanksgiving week. In any case, I decided that I wanted to come home and visit my family.
I asked my brother if he could pick me up at the airport (he lives in Chicago) and drive me down with him. He said no problem and was quick to agree that this was the best surprise ever for my family. 3 weeks until Thanksgiving and I am good to go. I'm on a direct flight, so it's very short (14.5 hours); no foreseeable issues.
The day before my flight, I checked into a hotel nearby the port (I choose to take a boat from China to the Hong Kong airport to avoid going through 2 country's customs). When I'm looking for my reservation on my phone to show the front desk, I see an email titled "Your flight has been canceled due to weather"
Are you kidding me.
I didn't even bother finding the hotel confirmation email. I called the airline immediately, and began searching for flights on their website to suggest for a re-route. After an hour and being disconnected once, I finally (politely) pushed them to putting me onto a flight that left at midnight that same night, going from Hong Kong to Zurich to New York to Indianapolis. The price tag on that flight was over $5,000 (not exactly the same to my $890 ticket), but they got me on it. My 14.5 hour itinerary was traded in for a 32 hour one. But did I really have a choice? I wanted to see my family.
By the way, I sound grateful now, but at the time I was not pleased. The cheapest flights were a solid $300 cheaper than the direct flight I chose, and getting stuck with a 30+ hour route instead--going literally the other way around the world--without any type of compensation, voucher, upgrade, or even heartfelt apology just rubbed me the wrong way. I never fly with this airline, they aren't the cheapest and they don't have the best experience, but I chose them because of the route. Now the route wasn't available and I wasn't sure why. It was especially strange because they kept trying to reroute me to Chicago on flights that arrived late that same night.. but wasn't my flight canceled because of weather?
Anyway--I left the hotel without even checking into my hotel and headed to the port. Screw it; I'm going to the US now!
The time is 3am EST on Sunday.
The Hong Kong skyline at sunset, taken from inside the ferry
I should, at this point, mention that I brought along my travel companion 林伟灏, who I honestly could not have survived this without. He was awesome.
We checked into the lounge at the Hong Kong and ate/relaxed for several hours. There was no way I was going to miss my flight.
About midnight, we hopped on our plane. 13 hours and 10 excruciating minutes. I tried to sleep the whole time, but there was so much turbulence it was nearly impossible.
At 6am we arrived in Zurich. Stuck with a 4 hour layover, we went to the lounge (which is ridiculously nice), and ate breakfast--croissants, yogurt, and mimosas--and hopped in the showers before our next flight. We also stopped by Sprügli and picked up some Tahitian Vanilla truffles to take back.
9 hours and 4 movies later, we arrived in New York. By now we were both nauseous and almost delirious and--oh goody! We had to go through customs.
Thankfully the customs line was short today, so it wasn't much of an issue. The nauseous, however, didn't subside. I had no stomach for American food (still don't really; long live noodles!), and wasn't really digging the crazy prices on staples, such as bottled water ($4? Really!?). I went to the bathroom and did a wardrobe change and my makeup, so I wouldn't look like the crazy person I felt when I arrived. I wanted the surprise to be good!
Our last flight was just 2 hours on a really small plane--maybe 20 people aboard--to Indy. Thankfully we both slept for that entire flight, so it felt quick.
At 6pm EST on Monday--39 hours later--we finally arrived in the Indianapolis Airport. It felt like home. After a short wait, we were on our way to my house in Bedford.
We got home at 8:30pm EST. Make that 41 hours.
I wish I had a video to capture my mom's expression when we walked in the door, but unlike the rest of the trip, I didn't really worry about preserving this moment. I wanted to be in it. This was the best (and maybe only) surprise I've ever really given her.
My grandma was already asleep, so I waited until the next morning to surprise her. I woke up really early and snuck into her bedroom to wake her up. After she got over the initial shock, she wouldn't let go of my hand, but she didn't really have any words. She just kept asking me over and over again, "Did your mother know? How'd you get here? I didn't know you were coming."
It was all worth it.
Okay, that's all fam! I hope you enjoyed.
If you were waiting for Wink-related tidbits, there's not much. Here it is:
I'm doing the final door closing on the Wink store tomorrow. It was a great idea in theory, and still cheaper as a fulfillment center than contracting with one, but we weren't ready for it yet. Next time we do it, we'll do it right.
The Black Friday sale starts today and ends Saturday night. It will be the last time you can buy Wink in 2015.
I'm here for the Black Friday sale--I don't head back to China until next Wednesday--so expect normal response times on calls and emails. You can call me at 812-606-1202 with any issues or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll be fulfilling the gift orders by hand here, and can address any issues that may arise. If you plan to order, PLEASE read the Black Friday sale blog to catch all the details!
Happy shopping and happy holidays!