Setting the Scene
It was dusk as Married Explorers arrived at Hot Springs, MT after the most lovely day in Coeur D’Alene. As they drove to the airbnb it appeared most of the town of 558 people were retired for the evening. There was little cell phone service but the couple located the airbnb and started unpacking the car. Out go the suitcases. Out go the computer bags. Out goes the food. Out goes everything else that was stuffed in the car for a 29 day road trip. Last to bring up were the camping chairs for the patio. Kara went to meet Tim at the car but not before closing the airbnb door. A flash of dread jolts through her body but she can’t register why. At the car she grabs the chairs and Tim closes the trunk. They walk up to the apartment to make some dinner and rest before the work week begins.
Only they can’t get in. The door had auto locked and needed a security key code to open. Kara can’t remember the code that was punched in so effortlessly 25 minutes before. And Tim doesn’t remember the combination of numbers she quickly said out loud. Launching into problem solving mode, Kara’s brain jumps around to various solutions:
- Check our phones for the code…. No good, the phones are in the airbnb.
- Oh we could maybe log into the wifi from our computers….I don’t know the wifi password though….Oh but we do have our hotspot we can use…. But the personal laptop and Kara’s work laptop are locked inside…. But Tim has his work computer! Yay!…. But he can’t do anything on his computer without first doing a duo/remote identity confirmation that goes through his cell phone….
- Man, I’m hungry and mosquitos are starting to come out. Maybe we can sit in the car to think. Reset and come up with a plan. Maybe go out to eat dinner….except the car ALSO autolocked and we don’t have the keys.
Now Kara is running out of ideas and the hunger is distracting her. Meanwhile Tim was not in the same problem solving mode as Kara, because he had shifted to catastrophizing mode.
Kara needs food. She remembers how to walk to the main area of the town, which is two blocks worth of businesses. The first restaurant she passes is closed. Not that it would matter, because at this point she realizes all the money is in the airbnb along with everything else. Talk about being instantly transported to the pre-digital age. Minus the fact that being in the digital age is what has them locked out of the car and the apartment.
The lone business open on the block is a restaurant – or I suppose more appropriately a bar. Kara bursts out her story to the bartender and asks if they have a computer she can use to log into her email to get the passcode from airbnb to get into the apartment. They are hesitant to agree but can most likely see the desperation. Kara goes to airbnb.com. Logs in – but once again thwarted by the digital age as it’s a new device and needs 2-step authentication. The 2nd part of authentication is entering a code that is texted to her phone or emailed. Ok phone’s out, so I’ll just log into email for the code. This is when Kara discovered it is IMPOSSIBLE to log into gmail from a random computer if you don’t have your phone, Despite following many instructions and routes that claim you can.
Ok she will call Google. It is also IMPOSSIBLE to get a phone number to get a hold of any customer service agents at Google. No numbers and no chat options. Google just doesn’t provide that service. Ok, then maybe she can find a phone number for airbnb instead. Finally, a glimmer of hope.
By now the locals are giving her dirty looks and the bartender is losing patience (if there was any to begin with). Now Kara has a phone number, but she needed to beg to use the phone. Begrudgingly the staff member agrees. The phone number she found isn’t a local number and the phone won’t call it. AHHH. Ok, maybe there’s another number. After a couple moments of searching Kara finds a 1-800 number. While she dialed she thought, “ok I guess the staff member has a reason to be short with me after I’ve commandeered the computer and now the phone. Guess small town hospitality isn’t a thing at this establishment.” Because now she can audibly hear the customers asking about her tying up the phone line now and how it’s impeding their business and how it’s gone too far and she’s being a nuisance.
At this point Tim makes his way into the bar. He had been waiting outside because this was during mask mandates for COVID and he didn’t have a mask to wear (you know where they were). He was very anxious at this point and wondering what was taking so long. Kara is desperately hoping someone picks up this 1-800 number because she is out of time and out of options. If this doesn’t pan out, it’s time to break a window. And RELIEF. A live agent! Who quickly walks her through the identity verification process. Initially only wanting to verify by sending a code to her phone number or email….. “Well that won’t work”, Kara explained, “That’s actually the entire issue. Well one of many issues at this point.” But luckily, airbnb does have a backup option when you speak with someone and that wonderful, helpful, patient, godsend of a customer service agent read Kara the code to the door to unlock the door.
The evening was ruined but the problem was resolved and it was time for food! And not food from the restaurant/bar like Kara originally planned. With that experience, it was worth the sacrifice of a full meal to quickly chow down on the mac n cheese at the airbnb.