Apr 27, 2009
True or Not True? Travel Day in Hades
[Note: “True or Not True” is a blog post where I tell a story about something that has (or maybe hasn’t) happened to our family. The fun is that you get to decide whether it is all true, all false, or partially true. Nobody believes half the crazy stuff that happens to us anyway, so we thought we should at least get to enjoy it! ~ Brent]
Last week, I (Brent) had to travel to Charleston on business. I’ve traveled a thousand times but nothing would prepare me for what I was about to experience.
To set the mood for the trip, on my departing flight I walk up to the ticket counter, “hi sir, do you have any bags to check?”
As a matter of fact, I did. But I didn’t have them with me. I had parked, waited for a shuttle, got on the shuttle, made the trip to the terminal, walked in the terminal, waited in line, got to the counter only to realize I had left my bag in the car. Now I was looking at being late for my flight too. So I ran back out, caught a shuttle and did the whole thing again. Fortunately, I was able to get through ticketing and security quickly and I made my flight.
Whew! At least I had all the bad stuff over with and the rest of my trip would be routine, right? Wrong.
I get to Charleston. I get off the plane. I go get my rental car. I drive over to the hotel. I check in. I go to my room. See anything missing in that sentence? Yep! I forgot my bag AGAIN!
So I hustle back to the airport and have to park my car at the curb hoping it won’t get towed as I sprinted into the Terminal praying my bag would still be there. I found it sitting out all alone with two other bags that were obviously unclaimed too. I snatched it up and ran back to the car which was of course… gone. AAAAAAHHHHHHHH! With ten minutes it had been towed because I was parked in one of the places where you are not allowed to leave the car unattended.
With bag in hand (I wasn’t going to forget it again), I trekked over to the car rental counter to discover that they tow rentals back to the company who owns them, so I just had to pay a big fine and I could get another car. I pulled out my wallet… my wallet… oh, crud… my wallet was in my briefcase in my hotel room. In my haste to get back to the airport, I had run out and forgot it. (I keep my wallet in my briefcase when I fly so that I can go through the metal detectors with no problems). This was getting almost comical now. I go out and BEG a cabbie to give me ride back to the hotel, promising to pay him when I get my wallet from my room. I think the only reason he believed me was because no one could possibly make up a story that good.
Fast forward a few days on the day I returned…
I pull up to turn in my car rental return and the only parking spot is THE LAST space in the last parking lot furthest from the terminal. Oh well, I need the exercise so I grabbed my briefcase AND MY BAG and march up the lot. I get inside the terminal to find that Delta is the VERY LAST ticket counter on the opposite side of airport. You notice a pattern starting to form here? Walk, walk, walk… I get to the counter and check my bags and head for security only to find out it is back on the OTHER FAR SIDE of the terminal where I originally entered. Hey, I wanted to start getting in shape, so here’s a jumpstart, right? No big deal.
I make my way through the predictably slow moving security line, and guess where my gate is located? You guessed it… the LAST gate in the terminal. I’m working up a good sweat by now and feeling sorry for whoever has to sit next to me on a trip I was already dreading: two long layovers on a flight that usually had one layover and took about 4 hours. This flight had two stops, and would take almost 11 hours. Fun.
We take off and land in Atlanta. Do we taxi right up to the gate and get off? Of course not. We sit on the runway for 30-40 minutes. Do we then proceed to a convenient gate location? Of course not. We pull up to the ________ gate in the terminal. Go ahead, fill in the blank. I’ll give you ONE guess. The LAST gate.
Now, if you’ve ever been to Atlanta, you know it’s a LONG walk from one concourse to the train, to another concourse. I’m now in danger of not getting to my other flight on time. I’m in concourse D and the next flight is in concourse E. My legs are aching about the time I reach the train but I make it - glad that I only had to go to the NEXT concourse. Wrong again. The train was traveling in descending order, so I had to go to C, B, A and all the way around back to E.
I get off on concourse E just KNOWING that my gate could not possibly be the LAST one in the terminal AGAIN. What do you think I’m going to say next? I know you think I’m lying. I was at the VERY LAST gate in the concourse. Holy cow… I was about to cramp out already. Nonetheless, I endured and made it to my gate only to find my flight had been delayed over an hour and I could have taken my sweet time getting there if only I had checked the Departures board first. I was still feeling triumphant that I got my bag checked, and now I had some good exercise too. All was well as I tried to humor myself with the thought of having some great blog material to write about.
Once we begin to board I hear the announcement, “now boarding Zone One”. I checked my ticket to see that I was in Zone Nine. Guess how many zones there were? No matter, I was getting on the flight even if I was last and except for a stop in St. Louis, was headed home.
We land in St. Louis. You think I’m going to say we were at the last gate again, don’t you? Well, I’m not. We were in the NEXT TO LAST gate! No problem. St. Louis is not that big of an airport, unless you land in Terminal “A” and leave from another terminal which of course I was. I had to go to “D” terminal but couldn’t figure out how to get there until a Delta employee informed me “oh, when you come into ‘A’ and fly out another terminal, you have to leave security, walk to the other side of the airport, and go back through security all over again.” Arrrrggghhhh!!!!! It’s true… look it up.
I’m already less than :30 minutes from missing this flight so I’m facing cardiac arrest to make this happen. But I did. I got out, then back in through security, and got to my gate (not quite the LAST gate, but close) hustling up to it expecting to run on to the plane as the door was shutting. Delayed. They had just determined some “security thing” needed to be finished and decided to delay almost an hour. At least I could go to the bathroom and catch my breath.
Well, I finally land in Oklahoma City. Home sweet home… close to it anyway, I still had a :45 minute drive. I did NOT forget my bag this time and it was going to be smooth sailing to hugs and a warm, soft bed. Wrong again... as it turns out, my day had only begun.
I’m driving home down I-35. It’s dark and raining. A thunderstorm had passed through and another appeared to be on the way. There are sections of the highway that are pretty well lit and it was one of these stretches where I saw a woman, in the rain, trying to change a tire. No matter what is going on, that is just not something I can drive by and ignore. I didn’t care about getting wet, I was already sweaty, stinky and tired, so what’s a little rain going to hurt? I pulled over, and backed up towards her.
She had stopped on the upslope of an over pass, and you had to park your car with one set of wheels off in the grass pretty close to where a steep hill started. I get out, walk around my car and toward hers. About this time an 18 wheeler comes blowing by and the gust of wind knocks her car off the jack. Either she had put the jack under the wrong spot on the car, or had placed it on soft ground instead of the road. Either way, her car kind of teeters for a second, then the jack tips over. The woman immediately runs towards me screaming as the back end of her car starts sliding towards and slipping down this wet overpass hill. Like a slow motion movie, the car begins to gain momentum and then just “whoosh!” down the hill it goes about 30-40 yards I estimated. I kept expecting it to turn and roll over but it stayed straight and ends up butt first in a heavy stream of water that had formed from the storm.
Meanwhile, the poor lady is screaming bloody murder because apparently her three year old is still in the car. At least the car didn’t flip, and hopefully the kid was in a car seat. I take off down the hill, wade into the knee deep water and get the door open. Yes, the kid was in a car seat, thank heavens. It was almost cartoonish to see water and mud pour into her car when I opened the door. It was like something you’d see in a movie, not experience in real life. I got the child from the car seat, who seemed amazingly oblivious to the whole situation, and had the presence of mind to notice her purse and diaper bag. I grabbed all that and slogged my way back up the hill. By this time, the poor woman didn’t care a thing about her car and was, understandably, only concerned to see her child was safe.
As it turned out, she lived in the same direction I was going, so I waited around for the tow truck to pull her car out and take it off wherever they take flooded cars, and gave her a ride home. She found the whole thing pretty funny (given that her child was safe) which was remarkable to me, and we both agreed it would definitely be a great story to tell the next day.
Believe it or not, I made it home with no further adventure or delay. It’s been pretty boring since then.
That’s my travel story and it happened just last week. What do you think? All true? None true? Some true? Leave a comment and let us know.