Everything began on a boring weekend afternoon, when we were still killing ourselves preparing for the Taiwanese Medical Licensing Examination, Step 1. As per my usual self I took a very long afternoon break - surfing the net in the library packed with 'holiday makers' during summer break - and just by chance I decided to check out Malaysia Airlines' website to see if there's anything new.
"Wow, how come my name is up there?" was my first thought upon seeing my name on the winner's list. It took 5 seconds for reality to wash ashore my stalled mind - I'm on the winner's list! And what's more, I won first prize!
Call me pessimistic but I've never had any luck at any such stuff - at lucky draws I usually end up with the table gift, I never ever once won in anything related to luck - not even when I called in RedFM to talk to a Malaysian writer when they promised a book - "You've read the book Mr. Sim? Then we'll leave it to the next caller! Bye!"
So I was skeptical about this for the rest of the day. It's also partly Malaysia Airlines' fault because I haven't received any notification whatsoever. Usually the winners are notified first before their names get published isn't it?
Luckily there's something called Twitter where I can easily chirp to anyone anytime. I tweeted MAS and got a reply almost instantly. Telling me they'll deal with me on Monday when everyone's at work. And I spend that night daydreaming how I would spend my free ticket at some country I don't even know how to pronounce - is it "Jho-hannes-burg" or "Yo-hannes-burg" by the way?
Anyway Monday came, and by lunch time I got an e-mail from someone called Jaime confirming my win and telling me to hang on till Wednesday. In the meantime I gathered what I had to learn about the South African capital - its sister cities encompasses London and New York, so I was impressed. Whenever I mentioned I won a ticket there to my Taiwanese friends they're either very excited because they think it's in Europe (let's face it, Johannesburg does sound European), or they'll shrug and ask where's that?
Nobody really shares my excitement, but I am not THAT excited to begin with. Mum says crime is rampant there while Dad asks if they can change the destination to somewhere nicer. SleeplessInKL suggested a side trip to Cape Town, while Dad's Taiwanese friend started describing how her experience was a decade ago. My already wavering excitement is quickly extinguished by lack of money and fear of losing my life.
Wednesday came and I received a soft copy of the letter attached above. Then another wave of reality washes up the shores of my mind - ticket validity is only 6 months, and the date they issued this letter was 26 July 2010. Which means the last day I can use my ticket will be on the 26 of January 2011.
This won't work for me because my winter vacation starts on 24 January and I'll be back in Malaysia on the 25th, which translates to only one day of me flying to Johannesburg if at all. Then there's another rule which states that any portion of the unused ticket lapses after 26 January - which means if I really do fly to JoBurg I'll have to swim back or hitchhike on the human trafficking boat.
Traveling this summer is a no-no for me because I've my Shanghai trip lined up, and all cash milked for the New York of the East. I obviously can't go to both New Yorks (East and African) in one summer - Dad would mortgage me away for the house loan. And I will have to ride on a human trafficking boat to Papua and sold as child labor.
Back to the point, I wrote up to Mr. Jaime Wong (self assumed to be masculine, how silly) and asked about the possibility of extending the validity. Jaime turned out to be a she, so I got rejected - non-negotiable, non-transferable, and non-exchangeable for cash. I guess my fate hasn't changed after all - still no luck at luck after all these years.
I'm keeping the letter as a momento of how luck brushed past me, by hair's breadth. In the meantime I pray for some winds of change, either on MAS' side or mine, that would allow me to board the flight bound for Johannesburg!
Seeing Red Over “Green”
1 month ago