Monday, April 28, 2008

Deja Vu, all over again

Okay, in my last post I told you I was leaving in an hour to Myrtle Beach.
If you are new to this blog, I was giving a lecture for the South Carolina Dental Association at 9am the next morning.

Now my wife is my administrative assistant when it comes to plane reservations. For the first time in all my lectures she was going with me. Because of this, I really checked out when it came to getting on a plane. When I don't have to make a decision I don't force an issue. I ask, "When do you need me ready?"
So I have done absolutely nothing to get ready for the trip. My wife even asked me what I needed in my suitcase because she packs for me. (Yeah, I know, "must be nice", it is).
So we are hanging out about 4:30 on Friday waiting for my sister (who was watching the kids for the weekend). When I asked again, "What time EXACTLY is the flight?"
I was outside water some plants and my wife yells out that the flight is at 6:05 not 7:05.
It is 4:30 and the airport is 25 miles away and it is the dead of rush hour on FRIDAY.
We put it into high gear, it was worth a try. We HAD to go and I HAVE to get to Myrtle Beach, we have to do something, so lets give this a go.
We were moving as fast as someone can move, and we made it to the highway. Traffic was terrible on the other side of the highway but moving pretty good on our side. It is a three road trip and the first two went pretty fast (they were both highways). The last leg of the trip is this 8 mile road with a traffic light about every 400 yards (it could be real bad) and it went pretty good.
Then I had to make a decision to take a park and ride or the airport parking. The benefit to the park and ride is that they drop you off right at the ticket counter but you run the risk of the bus waiting to fill up with people so it is not bringing only one couple on this trip or if the bus is already full you run the risk of being the last one dropped off.
But at the airport parking you run the risk of taking 15 minutes trying to find a space and then it being a mile from the terminal.
I decided to do the airport parking. We found a spot as soon as we got in the garage, then we started to RUN. Then there was a man in a golf cart that said, "get on, I will drive you", (Was this an angel from God. Was he telling us that we needed to rely on Him and He would take care of us. I was going with this) . I was feeling good. We were flying to the airport. We had too check in. We did it with little problem, except the computer would not give us seats. This was not a good sign. But we were still hopeful because it 5:35. If we get through security and get to the gate I think we have a chance.
In the Orlando airport after you leave the check-in area the airport opens up to this huge atrium area. There are shops, eateries, a hotel and a huge board with all the flights and times on it.
There was a sea of people, but we were moving to the security area when we realized that the sea of people were all waiting in line for the security check in.
There was at least (and I am not exaggerating) 800 people in the security line. There were about 12 lines and they were all long.
My wife is a basket case. At this point we are holding it together alright.
It took almost 30 minutes to get through the line (what a zoo).

On an aside, there are security lines and they are labeled. One line is for expert traveler, the next line is for casual traveler, the next line is for families and the next is for people who are in need of assistance.
So we get in the expert line and think this is really going to move. The problem was two fold...the sign designating the lines were about 20 yards from the TSA dude who checks your ticket, the problem being the lines were 50 yards long.
Then there was a TSA person walking up and down the line and we told her there were families in the wrong line. She said she was not allowed to tell people they were in the wrong line.
Things that make you go hmmm.

After we made it through security we started to RUN. I am not kidding. I felt like OJ Simpson hauling a@#!%s through the terminal. We got there 6:07 and much to my dismay, the person at the desk is handing the person in the shoot a passenger list (and after this happens, that is it).

Okay we had to get it together here because there was no stopping. Couldn't cry over spilled milk. At least we didn't have time to.
Our flight was suppose to take us to Atlanta where were to hop on a plane (after an hour and fifteen minute layover) and take it to Myrtle Beach.
There was another flight to Atlanta in one hour. The wheels started to churn. If we get on this flight there is still an outside chance we could still make our connecting flight.
At this point I called my assistant. I started to work on PLAN B.
I asked her to go online (there is no wireless Internet in this terminal) and rent us a car, with a GPS, in Atlanta. I figured if we missed the flight we would jump in a car and drive there. She informed me it was a 6 hour drive. That would mean we would get in at 2:30am.
Not a good option but still an option.

We were 3rd on the waiting list. And as it turns out we made it on this flight. Where things starting to turn our way?
The plane left on time and went pretty smoothly. I flight attendant was unbelievably nice. She knelt down next to us and mapped out everything we could do. If you can't make your connecting flight you still have a chance to fly into Wilmington and this is only about 80 miles from Myrtle Beach. If you can't get that, you can fly into Charleston and drive from there.
When we touched down in Atlanta things were looking pretty good. The attendant said, "Oh yeah it looks like you are going to make it. Hurry to the gate because they know you are coming. Their computer tells them you missed your first flight and it also tells them you are on this flight."
I asked her is there any way you can call the gate and tell them we are coming. She said, "NO, they don't allow us to do this. But it is the last flight of the night, they know you are coming, they usually will hold the door for you."
We were encouraged. Which made us run faster.
So the plane light came on and we were out the door in a hurry. We started to run, as everyone was yelling, "Good luck".
My wife is yelling, "Go on ahead", so I take off in a full gallop. I am yelling "excuse me" for what felt like a half a mile.
We got there at the EXACT time of the flight. Which apparently meant we missed it. I saw the tarmac pulling away from our plane.


When my wife finally makes it up to the gate and I make her aware we missed this flight her eyes start to glaze over. She is sweating profusely and now apparently about to full on loose it.

This is where I am going to stop for the night.
This story is about half over because, lucky you, things did not get any better after this.

I am not making this stuff up.
Can you believe this?
It is funny to look back on this but when you are in it, not so funny.

I can't wait to tell you the rest of it.
See you Wednesday,

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