Drunk Jerry seems like a character in a book, and yet he is a character in our lives. I just got back from the bank where I had to withdraw $500 in cash, because Jerry, being the sketchy character that he is, wants to be paid in cash. I didn’t ask why. And what is this $500 for? For Jerry to book the reservation (because Lufthansa requires a freight forwarder to book it, even though we selected the flight and gave him all the information for booking), for Jerry to drive us to the airport, and apparently, for Jerry to spend the night at the Red Roof Inn. I hope he has a good time.
We finally finished building the monster crate for Fay, and bought the largest available commercial crate for the two small dogs to fly in. A wonderful friend of mine who lives in Stuttgart offered to let us use her phone number as the Lufthansa contact, since they require a German phone number on the airway bill. We knew the flight information, had a shipping estimate, and the funds to pay for it. The dogs had their vet appointments and the health certificates are due to be issued today. What else could go wrong?
I got home a couple of days ago from running errands, and found Dominik looking uncharacteristically grim. He said that he had been on the phone with Jerry for an hour and a half, and he didn’t have good news. Now, we don’t use this phrase lightly. “Bad news” is reserved for the most dire circumstances, because life consists these days of a series of unsolvable problems, all of which must be solved by May 1. Dominik is the single most optimistic person that I have ever known, and as a lawyer I have spent a large part of my career problem solving, so I am pretty hard to deter as well. Together, we seem to find our way through everything. At least we have so far.
I should say first that due to a typo, we had originally given the wrong German phone number to Lufthansa, but this had already been corrected. But Jerry now said that Lufthansa believed that the number was still incorrect and that they needed to talk to my friend. I had a minor meltdown, after which I managed to say, it’s time to talk directly to Lufthansa. My friend knows nothing about Fay and is in no position to give information about her, authorize anything, or otherwise do anything with Lufthansa regarding her, plus we know the number is right. I was not willing to put her in the middle of us and Drunk Jerry and Lufthansa.
So Dominik called Lufthansa Cargo directly, which turned out to be easier than I thought it would be since at this point we had an airway bill number. Jerry had told Dominik that our friend’s name had to be on the airway bill as the consignor, which I didn’t know, because that is a real problem. That would have put her in the position of being legally responsible for Fay and the shipment, and as sweet as she is, that’s not what she offered to do. Jerry had apparently said that the shipment would be booked in my friend’s name and that when we showed up at the cargo center at Dulles with Fay, we could change the name on the airway bill. This is fishy for many reasons, and also doesn’t pass the logic test — if we can be on the airway bill the day of shipment, why can’t we be on the airway bill a week before? It made no sense.
We lucked out and got a wonderful person on the other end of the line at Lufthansa. We explained the situation, and she said that essentially everything Jerry had told us was wrong. She said that we were required to be on the airway bill, and if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be authorized to pick up Fay on the other side. She also said that it wasn’t an option to change the airway bill the day of the flight. She took all of our information and almost as soon as we got off the phone, we had an email from Lufthansa in Frankfurt confirming us as the consignors and the parties authorized to receive delivery and clear her through customs. I think she could hear the note of desperation in Dominik’s voice and took pity on us. She said she had two dogs and couldn’t imagine flying them overseas (maybe not the best vote of confidence, speaking as someone whose job it is to ship dogs overseas).
Lufthansa Frankfurt still called my friend the next day and gave her the flight information. This is a little concerning to me, since after our conversation with them, they shouldn’t have been calling her. But I think I’ll throw that in the bucket of seemingly harmless things not to worry about.
I suggested to Dominik that we not tell Jerry about our conversation with Lufthansa so that he wouldn’t talk to them again and mess it up. We’re at T-5 days to take off and we’re running out of time to sort things out, so we only told him that we had straightened out the phone number with Lufthansa. Hopefully there’s nothing left between now and then for him to do, except rent the commercial van and pick up Dominik and me, three dogs, two crates, and five suitcases on Tuesday to go to the airport. I think waiting to see if he shows up will be the most nerve wracking thing left on the list, because there is no Plan B.
Copyright Rachel Howard, 2018.