Escape Room: Bathroom Edition

Thanks to my last trip of the year delivering on the story front, here’s an early Christmas gift for all of you.

Last night I was in Sioux Falls to close out one part of the projects we have been working on there. To celebrate we went out for a team dinner and a little pre-holiday cheer.

One of our team mates found a super cool, rehabbed warehouse with a craft fair/market type decor for us to patron.
Since we were a larger group, they sat us in their basement area with one other larger group.

Shortly after we sat down, I decided to visit the lady’s room before we got too far into the wine drinking and noshing. I scoped out the downstairs dining room, and in the back corner I spied a heavy-duty metal door, that looked like an outdoor exit door, but that clearly had a “restroom” sign over it.

So off to the far back corner I headed.

I pushed open the door and found myself in another industrial type area that was like a cross of a church basement and outside alleyway on the inside.

Interesting.

I immediately found the men’s room just to the right, but didn’t see a women’s room anywhere in the vicinity. There was an open area just past the men’s room, and several hallways going in multiple directions. I walked around the open area, peeked down the closest hallways, and tried a couple of doors, but didn’t find anything that appeared to be a women’s room.

Since there didn’t seem to be any other human being in sight, and the men’s room was a single-seater, I decided that bathroom had just become unisex, and would do just fine for what I needed.

So I locked myself in, completed my to-do’s, and prepared to head back to join my group.

Except when I pulled on the door I came through, it didn’t move.

Huh.

I did a quick look around to make sure this was the door I came through, and there wasn’t another twin somewhere nearby.

Nope. This was the door.

I pulled again, thinking maybe I just needed to apply a little more muscle.

Nothing. This door was clearly locked.

Did this fun, funky, warehouse/market restaurant throw in a free escape room experience to the first lucky guest who decided to use the restroom?

I mean, I guess that could be cool, but having not been prepared for this, I wasn’t sure that was how I wanted to spend my evening.

I quickly considered calling my crew and asking someone to rescue me. But contrary to current culture of having your phone permanently affixed to one of your appendages, I actually don’t bring my phone to the bathroom with me on a regular basis. One, because I don’t think any restroom activity needs to be recorded for posterity or social media sharing. And two, I don’t feel the need to discuss holiday plans, dinner recipes or any other vital life matters in the echoing confines of a bathroom stall.

So I had no way to contact anyone on the other side of that door.

Then I spent a few minutes wondering how long it would take for my group to realize I was gone and come looking for me. As much as I like to think I am an essential component of any party or good time, and that my incredible wit and captivating conversational skills are key to any get together, I quickly realized that the entire meal could be completed and it may not be until everyone was looking to depart back to the hotel that they realized their driver was missing.

Well. I guess it was up to me to find a way out of this unexpected situation.

Luckily, I had just watched the new Lara Croft, Tomb Raider on the plane the week before, so I felt well prepared to tackle this challenge!

First, I gave the door one more good shake, jiggling it on its hinges as much as possible. You know, just in case the industrial lock on it was defective and I could pop it by sheer force.

I know you are as shocked as I was that that didn’t work.

So I turned to survey my surroundings.

I know this building used to be some sort of warehouse, and we are in the basement, so I decide, logically, that there may at least be some sort of outside exit down here somewhere. If I could at least get outside, I was sure I could find my way back to the front entrance.

I also know that the staircase we came down, and the front entrance, were to the right of where I was standing now.

So I decide to start with the hallway furthest to the right.

At the very least I’m hoping I’ll find a fire alarm I can pull and invite lots of people to my little escape adventure.

I walk past the men’s room, into that open, rec room type area, and head towards the hall on the right.

Just a couple of steps down the hall, there is a door labeled “Public Staircase” on the left. I pause in front of the door to consider this option. At the very least it looks like it could lead outside. Provided it isn’t locked.

I am just about to test it, when I clearly hear the sounds of people dining and restaurant white noise coming from further down the hall.

I decide to go a little further, on the off-chance there is access back to the restaurant.

I walk literally about 5 more steps, where the hall takes another little jog to the right, and sure enough, a pair of swinging double doors appear in front of me.

The door on the right is propped open, through which I can clearly see wait staff trekking back and forth and further in the distance, a table full of diners.

Wait. What?

How did I miss the part where I got to use my shirt as a makeshift tourniquet? Or use my hair pin to secure a jungle vine so I could swing across the big ravine? Or where I cling by my fingernails to a sheer cliff while the ground beneath me tilts and disintegrates?

Did I really watch the Lara Croft training video for nothing??

Because here I was at an exit, less than 50 feet and one right turn from where I started.

I let the restaurant know in my Yelp review that their escape room experience could use some work. But the food got rave reviews.

 

 

 

Flight of the Bumble-Hornet

I know I have been remiss in writing in a while. I could offer you up a bunch of excuses, but I hope this story will be enough for you to forgive me.

Most of you know that I live in an area where up close encounters with our wildlife  can happen often. I’m sure we will all remember what happened when a bat decided to come and pay a visit.

This story involves yet another winged critter.

A few weeks ago, I decided to enjoy one of our few and last beautiful fall days, and spend some time reading on my deck.

(What happened to fall BTW?? Did it forget it is supposed to make an appearance between summer and winter??)

Anyway, back to the deck.

I am an avid reader. And like any avid reader of the 21st century, especially one who travels frequently, my library is conveniently stored on my easily packable iPad.

So I am sitting on my deck, reading my book, on my iPad.

When a hornet decides it really likes something about my hair in this particular moment, and takes up doing laps around my ears.

I absent-mindedly try to flick him away a few times, but he is having none of it, and quickly resumes his laps.

We have a special name in our house for hornets, thanks to my dog, who loves gobbling them up in mid-air, like they are the tastiest snacks ever offered.

So we call them Scooby Snacks.

However, on this particular day, my trusty canine companion is more interested in working on her tan, then feasting on Scooby Snacks. Despite my cries for help, she refuses to come to my rescue, so I am left to fight on my own.

I make a few more vigorous attempts to encourage this pesky winged bugger to find another arena to continue his workout, but he refuses to leave.

So I put my iPad on the arm of my chair, and jump up to confront my foe face to face.

And give my iPad just enough of nudge with my thigh as I get up to knock it off the chair to the floor.

Where it slides under the deck rail. And falls the 10 feet to the walk below.

I had been considerate enough to leave my case open, and it was considerate enough to fall face up, so I could watch my screen shatter on impact from my perch 10 ft above.

Sigh.

I go down and rescue my iPad- which is miraculously still working- not that it matters much, since I can’t see anything through the millions of fine lines criss-crossing my screen.

Immediately my thoughts go to the fact that I am leaving the next day for a 2 day work trip, followed immediately by a trip to California to meet a friend for the weekend. Which meant a lot of plane time. And a lot of reading time. Which was going to be hard to do with my shattered library.

Luckily, I had purchased the protection plan when I bought this iPad a mere 5 months prior, because I have lived with myself long enough to know this protection would come in handy, with or without the help of hornets.

So I head out to the big box store that supposedly offers the Best place to Buy electronics and the like, and where I had purchased my iPad and this protection plan.

After waiting in line to talk to one of the Geeks behind the counter, I am informed that even though they sell iPads and the protection plans, they actually do not honor or provide any service when this protection is actually needed. They don’t even offer replacement on these insured products.

To take advantage of this protection, I would actually have to go to our local Apple store.

Now, I don’t know what it is like at your local Apple store, but I have been to ours enough times to know that this is never an “in and out” excursion. In fact you can pretty much plan on sacrificing hours and hours of your life that you will never get back, waiting for assistance at the big store of the Fruit.

I am not happy about this change to my afternoon plans.

I log onto my handy-dandy Apple app, in the hopes of making an appointment and minimizing my wasted time.

Only to find that the next available appointment is Friday afternoon.

It is currently Saturday afternoon. I will be in California by Friday.

This is less than ideal.

I call the Apple store, in the hopes they will take pity on me with my sad tale and find a way to work me in.

Not only does the phone ring endlessly, until I am finally punted over to the national Apple hotline, when this agent attempts to call the local store for me, even she has to wait approximately 30 minutes to get through.
And the manager she speaks with basically laughs at her when she asks about the possibility of getting me in that day.

It is about 4:30 in the afternoon. The store is open until 9. Yet the manager tells us they are basically sending people away because they are on a 5 hour wait for a service appointment.

I guess I’m glad I called before I drove all the way up there.

I am told my “best” option is to show up 30 min prior to store opening the following day, wait in line until they open, and hope that I am one of the first ones there so I can be first on their walk in list.

All for them to literally take my busted iPad and hand me a new one.

What happened to the good old days when you could walk in, grab the product off the shelves and walk up to the counter to complete the transaction??

While I begged to disagree about this being any sort of “best” option, I realized my options were greatly limited if I wanted my mobile library to accompany me on my trip.

So guess where I found myself at 10:30 the next morning?

That’s right.

Standing in line outside the Fruit store.

Luckily, I was the second one in line. The guy in front of me had longer legs and walked from his car one step faster than I walked from mine. He may not have known we were racing, but I did.

I was amazed that in that 30 minutes, the line grew to 50+ people behind me.

I guess I’m not the only one who needs to purchase those protection plans.

I will say that the Fruit vendors were very efficient and I was in the door and with a tech at 11 sharp and out the door with my new iPad at 11:30.

So when I headed out later that day, I did so with my library on my back. Despite the Scooby Snacks best efforts.

Lost In Paradise

We just got back from an amazing week on the beaches in Belize. One of those vacations that you don’t want to end. Sun, sand and sea. Can’t think of a much better combo.

But of course, even Paradise has stories.

On our first full day, after spending the morning soaking up as many sun rays as possible, we decided to take the paddle boards out for a spin. We get the paddle boards in the water, get on our feet and start slowly paddling out to sea. We had just cleared the end of the pier, enjoying the starfish the size of dinner plates hanging out on the bottom of the ocean, when yours truly tries to adjust her footing…. and promptly loses her balance and finds herself swimming with the starfish.

I break the surface, flailing like a fish out of water, recover my paddle board, finish hacking half the Pacific out of lungs and start towing my board back in so I can get back on top of it, since the view was better than from underneath.

I go a couple feet when I realize my sunglasses, that I had just pushed up on my head prior to deciding to take a swim, are no longer there.

Of course.

I do a quick look around to see if any of those starfish are sporting a new pair of shades, but no luck.

J-man, who was still comfortably on his board starts paddling around in circles close to where I tumbled to see if he can locate them. Even with the crystal clear water he wasn’t having much luck, so I towed my board back to shore,  grabbed a snorkel mask instead and decided to extend my swim and see if I could enjoy some tropical fish who hopefully had found my glasses.

Finally, after about 10 minutes, of J-man scouting from his perch, and me swimming around with my face in the water, he finally located them.

And patiently paddled in place until I decided to come up from below and could actually hear him trying to tell me that I was heading in the wrong direction and the sunglasses were right in front of him.

The important thing is the sunglasses were rescued.

Fast forward to our last evening on the island. We walked back to our cabana after dinner, which was the very last one on the end of the island.

Believe me when I tell you that it gets dark on the island at night. Which is great for watching the stars from the hammock. But not so great for what was coming next.

The wind had been picking up through dinner and we were watching lightening over the water on our walk back, so I decided I would collect all our various swim gear and towels we had hanging out on the deck to dry.

I collect everything hanging in various places, and realize half of one of my bathing suits was missing.

Luckily, using the flashlight on my phone, I quickly find it. Bobbing in place in the water, about 10 feet from our cabana.

We have an overwater cabana, with a ladder directly into the water.

Except the bathing suit is bobbing on the “bad side” of the cabana. Remember I said we were on the end? One side was clearer and swimmable.

The other side was seaweed laden and not so clear.

And it is dark.

But the suit is bobbing not too far from shore, and J-man is like “you can totally just wade out and get it.”

But I can’t see without my flashlight.

So I decide to wade out with my phone in my hand and try to reach it.

I make my way down to the edge of the water, where there is a water break I have to climb over with lots of seaweed jammed up against it.

I take one step over the water break and into the water,

And sink up to my knees in muck.

It literally sucked one of my flip flops off my foot (thank goodness I hadn’t taken those off) and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to extract the other from the salty quicksand.

As I’m trying to extract my one foot without putting my other back in the muck and not losing my balance and dropping my phone in, my child is laughing from the deck.

Very helpful.

I finally get free of the sink hole and safely back on shore.

Justin says “Just go around the other side and wade under the cabana to it”

Except it’s dark. And I’m definitely not doing that with my phone in hand. I’m not real keen on going for a night swim and  running into one of the stingrays, nurse sharks or barracuda’s  we’ve been sharing the water with, when I can’t see a thing.

I didn’t like that bathing suit that much anyway.

And now I am covered from toe to hip in nasty, black muck.

So much for bed, I need a decontaminator.

I finally go to bed, assuming my bathing suit bottom with peacefully float out to sea over night to it’s forever resting place.

Except it doesn’t.

It’s still bobbing there in the morning.

I can’t just leave it there to be the welcoming sight to the next guest walking up the ramp to their cabana.

And if I don’t retrieve it, that means one of the workers is going to have to.

And although they are probably much better equipped with long poles and the such, my conscience gets the better of me and I find myself ready to wade back in.

The good news is, Justin was right. It was relatively easy going in from the other side and wading under the cabana.

Especially in the daylight, when I could watch for predators.

The good news is the bathing suit bottom was rescued.

And I leave the island with everything I arrived with.

And a great tan.

 

Shrimp on the Barbie?

Is there a better summer tradition than cooking outside on a beautiful summer day and enjoying your dinner in the open air?

This lovely summer tradition becomes even more lovely when it’s 90+ degrees outside, and turning on your oven turns your kitchen into a sauna.

My tank of a grill started dying at the end of last year, after many years of loyal service, and a couple of weekends ago, it became evident that it was time to trade up to that shiny new model.

However, for those of you who know where I live, I had two strict requirements in buying this new model:

  1. It must be delivered. I live on a hill and have 28 steps and probably 100 ft up from the street to my front door.
  2. It needed to include assembly. Ok, that one is really just because I’m lazy and would rather be drinking wine then spending 4+ hours putting a grill together.

So after shopping around, I found a grill that met both criteria. They would ship it to my house, and were running a special that included FREE assembly.

SCORE!

The order was placed, the grill was en route and the assembly crew were standing by to get to work.

Time for me to kick back with that wine.

Except. Of course it can’t be that easy.

It starts with the assembly crew texting and asking if there is anyway they can come a day earlier because they are already here, and don’t want to drive back down from Denver again the next day.

Fair enough.

But I don’t actually have the grill yet. It is due to be delivered that day. And I am usually on the end of the delivery route (probably because of those 28 steps) and often don’t see the delivery guys until 8pm or later.

The assembly crew says they’ll “kill some time” until about 7:30 in the hopes that it will show up prior to that.

Ok. I’m not going to complain about having my grill assembled 12 hours early.

7:15, and the crew are texting again. Any sign of the grill?  They are going to run out of daylight.

Nope. Nada.

7:28 and the big brown truck rounds the corner and starts up the hill.

How’s that for timing?! I text the crew and let them know we came in just under the deadline, and they are on the road, heading my way, before the text has time to finish loading.

Now. I have lived on my hill for over a year now. And I do a lot of online shopping. So I have had lots of experience with these delivery guys getting very creative in finding any excuse to not carry even a 5 pound package up to my front door.

And this grill is slightly more than 5 pounds.

So I venture out to my deck, just in case my fill in delivery guy decides he really would rather not get his workout in for the day.

Sure enough, he’s backing his truck right up to my garage. Clearly with the idea of dumping the box there and hightailing it home to his couch and his (I’m sure) well deserved beer.

He throws open the back door and looks up to see me watching from the deck.

Let me just segue for a second here, to say that I MAY  have had a conversation or two with the Boys in Brown and their supervisors about the need to actually deliver my packages to my front door.

So I am fairly well known around the Big Brown House.

I am quite sure they have a large picture of my smiling face in their break room .

Whether or not it has a dart or several hanging from it, is still up to debate.

Regardless, this particular driver was ready with his excuse as soon as he saw me.

“This is a big box! There’s no way I’m going to be able to get that up to you!”

Smile. “I thought that might be the case, so I came out to see if you needed help getting up here”

He blinks up at me. He obviously wasn’t prepared for that.

“Do you have someone up there that can help me carry it up?”

Now it’s my turn to blink at him, while I decide how best to respond to that one.

I decide to stick with the “catch more flies with honey” approach:

Smile. “Yeah.can help you.”

The blinking lasts several more seconds this time. Obviously this option had never occurred to him.

“Um. This thing weighs 130 pounds. That’s as much as I weigh. I’m not sure we’ll be able to manage that,” as he glances back and forth from the box to me.

That honey is getting thicker by the minute and the smile is frozen on my face.

“Let me get my shoes on. I think we can handle it. I’ll be right down”

I meet him at the back of the truck where he seems slightly less than excited to see me.

And on top of that, the box literally looks like it has survived a game of Russian Roulette. Barely.  The top is literally flapping open, one whole corner is missing, and the rest of it is barely holding together.

“What on earth happened to the box?”

“Yeah, I’m not sure. I didn’t load it on the truck this morning. It has been riding around in the back all day… ” He fades off in trying to find an explanation as he tries to worry the start to a roll of packing tape. Obviously in the hopes of binding it up enough to survive the trek up the hill .

In hind sight, that would probably have been the time to inspect the innards of the box.

But I was still stuck in his lack of confidence, so I overlooked that obvious option.

He gets it bound up, pushes it to the edge of truck, where I balance it while he jumps out.

He gives it one last try; “Are you sure about this?”

“Yup. We’ve got this. I’m tougher than I look”  (who knew I’d have a career in cheerleading after all?)

We grab the box between us and head toward the stairs.

Guess who gets stuck going backwards, up the stairs?

Yup. Your’s truly. Balancing my half of the 130 pounds, while I am looking down and behind me to make sure I hit all 28 of the steps. Which, by the way, aren’t all just up in a straight line.

But we make it.

Piece of cake.

At least he had the decency to be a little impressed.

“You’re stronger than I thought”

Smile. “Well why else go to the gym but for moments like these…”

So we drop the box at the front door, and 10 minutes later, the assembly crew join it there. Smooth sailing from here on out…

If only.

They  tell me it should take them about 30 min, and start unpacking the box.

2 minutes later they are knocking on the door.

I go out to have them holding up the base of the grill with one very large dent along the back edge.

“We can go ahead and put it together if you want, and you can call the company to send you a replacement part, then we can came back and swap it out at no charge. Up to you”

I just had my weeks workout in 10 min. Wine is calling my name.

“Sure. Just go ahead. I’ll call them.”

Great.

No sooner had I closed the door, than they were knocking again.

This time they had several bent and dented pieces to show me. Along with a completely broken off hinge on the lid.

“We can’t even put this together like this”

I mean. I only have myself to blame. What did I expect from a box like that?

So there sits my grill. In front of my front door. In it’s broken and taped up box.

Waiting for the Boys in Brown to return and make the trek back down the hill. With me balancing my half of the 130 pounds, I’m sure…

 

 

 

 

 

The Old Woman who Lived Without a Shoe

This week was a 3 day trip to a couple of our countries fair cities, which included a day of 3 time zones, 2 flights and 5 hours in a car. And that was just Day 3.

With all my flights this week, I got to experience TSA at a super small airport with no Pre-Check. So of course my bag was selected for special screening.

The supervisor who opened my bag to look for the dangers lurking within, rifled through all my stuff and commented that I had “numerous” toiletries, (all under the requisite 3.6 oz, might I point out) but that she would let it fly (yes, that is a pun), but she wanted to give me a heads up as “other airports may not be as accommodating”

Since she was being nice, and didn’t make me go back and check my bag, I decided not to point out that I have flown through many, many, many airports, and that I pack the same way every week, and have never had an issue elsewhere. Instead I just said “thanks for the tip” and moved on.

Speaking of packing, I know I dispelled the myth a few months back, that just because I am a frequent traveler does not mean that I am a great or efficient packer. However, I may have had the ultimate example of the lack of my packing expertise a few weeks back.

It was just a quick overnight trip, and I was scheduled on the last flight out that night. And that flight was delayed for 3 hours out of Denver.

I know, I know. You’ve heard this story before. Bear with me. There’s a twist you aren’t expecting coming, I promise.

I have a routine when I pack, and I found I really can’t vary from that routine, without there being a negative consequence. I pack for each day individually, and make sure I have everything I need for that day before moving on to the next.

Since this was just a one day trip, I’m not sure how I managed to mess it up as royally as I did, but it happened.

As the meme I found earlier this week said, my brain browser often has multiple tabs open, and frequently one or more of those tabs may freeze up and stop responding.
That is what must have happened to my packing tab on this particular day. I just didn’t realize it was frozen until it was too late.

I finally arrive at my hotel, 3 hours late, and as I always do,  proceed to open my suitcase, and take out my clothes for the next morning, to allow for as much “de-rumpling” time as possible. I hang my dress and jacket up and then pull out one shoe, and …..

Wait a minute. Why is there only one shoe?

Indeed. Upon further inspection of my bag, it held only one shoe.

Please don’t ask me how this happened. I still can’t tell you. I would have actually felt better if there had been no shoes in the bag, and I had forgotten them altogether. But how I managed to pack one shoe and not the other remains a mystery.

So now I am faced with the dilemma of how I am going to resolve this shoe problem before my meeting at 8am the next morning. It is now almost midnight, so there is no way anything is going to be open now.

As much as I could use the exercise, I know there is no way I have the stamina to hop around on one foot all day.

I consider going barefoot and saying I’ve embraced a simpler lifestyle, want to be in tune with the earth and all that, but I’m not sure I can pull that off in a suit jacket.

And there is no way the boots I wore on the plane are going to work with my dress and fall into the business dress code.

But what shoe store is going to be open before 8am in the morning?

I’m a little afraid I’m going to have to get two cast shoes from the 24-hour Walgreens and try to pass them off as the latest fashion trend. (C’mon, I know you already want a pair)

So this is how I find myself googling for “shoe stores” at almost midnight, to see if there is anything that might open early.

Luckily I find that the local Target is open at 7am!

So, instead of sleeping in an extra 30 min or so to make up for not getting to bed until midnight, I find myself setting my alarm even earlier, so I can be waiting at the Target when they open their doors at 7am.

I manage to find a pair of shoes that are actually presentable (I’ve even worn them again since!), check out (they were literally still turning on the self checkout scanners) and make it back to pick up my co-worker, to get to our meeting on time.

Mission accomplished!

I will, however, be sure that I am refreshing that packing tab to make sure it is fully loaded prior to zipping up my suitcase moving forward.

 

Cloudy with a chance of Candy Canes

**Warning**: I am about to leak an international secret that may not be suitable for small children and more than a few adults.

Santa Claus summers in Sioux Falls, SD.

I know this because I saw him at the airport today.

Oh, he thought he was being clever in his cargo shorts and Hawaiian shirt. But there is no camouflaging that snow-white hair, that beard and those rosy cheeks.

I suppose, from the North Pole, Sioux Falls is a reasonable southern destination. Maybe he’s a fisherman.

I should have risked making the naughty list and blowing his cover to try to get some of his Christmas luck before embarking on my trip back to Denver.

Now, I will admit. I may have incured some bad travel karma earlier in the day, when I was listening to my team mates tell their travel woes while trying to connect through Minneapolis last night. Evidently there were thunderstorms in the area that caused them to suffer long delays and resulted in them not arriving until the wee hours of the morning. I may have been silently gloating about my hour long direct flight from Denver to Sioux Falls and back.

I won’t be doing that again.

It was, indeed, slightly over an hour for us to reach the DIA air space this afternoon. The flight crew came on to announce we were making our final approach and would be at our gate in 10 short minutes.

And then, 5 min later, we are suddenly banking sharply right and ascending towards the clouds again.

Our pilot comes on to let us know we are needing to circle around and approach from the other direction, due to a “weather anomaly”.

Hmmm.

Ok, so I may have been craning to look out my window for Santa’s sleigh….

Our circling around, became at least 3 circles and about an extra 45 min in the air watching DIA from every direction down below us.

Now, I have flown A LOT, and have never once even come close to getting air sick. But whatever that “weather anomaly” was, made me think I may lose the lunch I didn’t have at least a couple times in those endless circles.

We finally land, pretty close to the Colorado/Kansas line, and drive approximately another 4 hours on the runway, just to come within view of the terminal.

Which is as close as we got. The pilot comes on to inform us that all airport traffic is on “hold” due to the weather in the area. Even the ground crews have been pulled off the tarmac.

Fantastic. I, for one, am a big fan of being delayed when you can actually see your gate right in front of you.

We finally are cleared to approach…  and are told we will be deplaning via jet bridge.  Onto the tarmac that 10 minutes earlier, it wasn’t safe for the ground crew to be on.

Oh. And by the way. Would those of you who checked your bags at the gate (because our plane was too small to have overhead bins larger than the average glove box), just stand to one side, on this tarmac, to wait for your bags.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t mind acting as an additional human lightening rod for the Denver airport. It’s not like my hair was frizzy enough today already.

I will say this, though. Lightening and stormy weather do make the ground crew move a lot faster in retrieving and delivering our bags!

I really think I deserved for it to rain at least one candy cane after all that.

 

 

Email 101

I was glad to discover, this past week, that story collection seems to run in the family! The following story was courtesy of my kiddo, who was nice enough to illustrate the importance of passing Email 101 early in your college career….

I had been out running a few errands over my lunch, and was just climbing the steps back to the house, when my child comes rushing out the front door and down the steps to his car.

“Hi! Bye! Wish me luck!” he yells back over his shoulder as he runs past me.

“Are we running a little late?” (Hey, I’m a mom. It’s what we do)

“Just want to have 10 minutes to look over my notes again when I get there.” Last minute cramming is such a beautiful thing.

“Good luck!”

Less than an hour later, I am at my desk doing some work, when the front door opens and my child walks back in. Since it’s 20 min to school and back, the math isn’t really adding up to have squeezed a whole test in there too.

“That was an awful quick test!” I say.

“Easiest test I ever took!” with a laugh.

I give him my puzzled, “what’s up?” face.

“Picture the scene” he says, with a swoop of his arms, in true dramatic fashion. (He’s my kid, what can I say?)

“So, I show up about 10 min early, and open the door to the classroom. It’s dead quiet, so I think,

oh good! He must have let everyone start early.’

I turn the corner, and see the room is empty. Not a single person there. So now I’m panicked!

oh crap, oh crap, oh crap! He changed the room!’

I pull out my phone and quickly check my email for where they moved the test.

And see this email from my instructor:

TEST MOVED TO TUESDAY AFTER SPRING BREAK

I look at him and hold back my laugh to say,

“Huh. And when did he send that email?”

“Yesterday afternoon”

“Guess it might be helpful to check your email more often, huh?”

“I check it like twice a week” Like, duh.

I just smile at him.

“And now I just wasted the whole morning studying!”

I do laugh this time.

But deep down inside, my heart is warm with the knowledge that I have passed on the important trait of collecting stories, and he is well on his way to carrying the torch of keeping the stories alive, long after I am gone!

 

The Wheels on the Bus and other stories

I knew it was a trip destined for stories before it started. I had a last minute meeting tacked on top of another that I couldn’t move, which meant I was going to have to fly from home to Boise, to Orlando over the course of 3 days. It had fun written all over it!

Because of other meetings and commitments, I booked the last flight out to Boise for the night. Which meant I left my house just before 4pm. I climbed in my car and backed out of my garage, only to hear the ding of an alert popping up on my dash.
I looked down to see my low tire pressure alert illuminated.

This wasn’t really surprising. With the crazy temperature swings we had been having, I had had to go in a couple times over the past couple months to have them top up one tire or another. I checked my tire pressure monitor, only to have it tell me that my back left tire had a tire pressure of zero.

Hmmm. That’s a little more than low. My car wasn’t driving like it had a completely flat tire, though. Just to be safe, I pulled over at the bottom of my hill to check.

It was pretty low. But it wasn’t completely flat. It wasn’t riding on the rim or anything like that, so I decided it was safe to drive it to the dealership and have them top me up. (All you car enthusiasts can message me later to explain why this was a horrendous idea) And yes, I was still telling myself a little air in the tire would solve my problem.

I get to the dealership, and say I hate to be one of “those people”, but I was on my way to the airport and didn’t have much time, and could they please just add some air to my tire so I could be on my way. The tech was very gracious and said he’d go right out and take a look.

Which he did. And then came right back in.

To tell me that I had a piece of metal in my tire, and that adding air was not going to do me much good. I was going to need a whole new tire. He went on to explain that if they had it in stock (they did) they could have it replaced within an hour.

Except I didn’t have an hour to wait. If I hadn’t left my house 20 min early to give myself time to grab something to eat, I would already be borderline on making my flight. And I was already on the last flight out.

Luckily, I have really good friends. As soon as I called my friend Jane and explained the situation, she offered to switch cars with me for the week and was on her way. By the time we had finished the paperwork, she was there, and I threw my suitcase in the back of her car and was on my way.

While she sat to wait for them to finish my tire. Like I said. I have good friends.

Her husband, Scott, did mention, as he handed me the keys, that the car was a little low on gas (as they hadn’t anticipated a last minute trip to DIA), but I shouldn’t worry about it and just go. I had plenty of gas to make it.

So off I went.

I got all the way to the airport exit when the gas light came on.

I checked the “distance to empty” meter and it told me I had 7 miles to go.

The airport was 10 miles away. Plus the miles back to the gas station upon my return.

I spent the next 5 miles debating whether I should stop and risk missing my flight.

I decided I had no choice and pulled into the gas station about 2 miles outside the airport.

Somehow, I topped up, found parking and made it to my flight on time.

Crisis averted!

The rest of my trip to Boise was uneventful.

However, due to the late hour of my meeting in Boise the following day, I could not make any flights out to Orlando that night. So I found myself up at 5am to catch the first flight out in the morning.

Because, believe it or not, there is no easy way to get from Boise to Orlando. How do these people get to The Happiest Place on Earth?? It involves an entire day of traveling, which does not seem right when one wants to pay a visit to Mickey and Minnie.

I make it to my Orlando hotel just in time to check-in, drop my bag and head to dinner with my team. It was not as warm as Orlando should be, but we had a great dinner, even if it wasn’t on a patio.

I dropped one of my teammates at her hotel around the corner from mine and head back to mine.

I am sitting at the light on the backside of my hotel, when 4 firetrucks, and ambulance and a police car come flying through the light and make the turn towards the entrance to my hotel.

I don’t think much of it, besides the typical “wonder what’s going on?” sirens always elicit, since the entrance to the highway was just past my hotel, so I just assume they are headed there.

Until my light turns green and I make the turn to my hotel myself.

And see all the EMS vehicles stopped in the road, blocking the entrance to my hotel with the police car pulled around blocking the road, about halfway down the block.

The policeman sees me coming and climbs out of his vehicle and gestures for me to go back.

I roll down my window and explain that I am staying at the hotel.

He shakes his head, and simply says again “I need you to turn around”

We are on a one way street and there are cars lining both sides.

“I’m not sure where I’m supposed to go”

“Not my problem. I need you to turn around” is the response.

Thank you. That is very helpful. (But I only think this) as I put the car in reverse and reverse back to the end of the block where there is finally a hole that allows me to turn around before I’m forced to back into two way traffic.

I manage to find another entrance to the parking garage, explain to the attendant on duty, that while I am staying at the hotel, I had used valet when I checked in, so I had no ticket to enter the garage, and he nicely showed me how to drive through and get to valet and the front entrance the back way.

I pull up to valet and see that now all the guests from the hotel are standing in and along the street, and the valet comes up to tell me, that indeed, they are evacuating the hotel. They are unable to tell me what is going on, but the let me just sit in my car there until either the building explodes or they let us all back in.

Luckily, after 10 or so minutes, the building is still intact and they are allowing people to return inside.

As I make my way to the elevators, however, there are hotel employees blocking access to them and letting folks know, the elevators are still out of service and we will need to use the stairs to get back to our rooms.

I again take the opportunity to ask what is causing all the excitement, but am again told they don’t know.

So I ask if they are actually letting people back onto the floors. I am on the 13th floor (yes, the irony is not lost on me), and while I am not above a good jaunt up the stairs, I didn’t relish climbing 13 stories only to be told we couldn’t get on the floor to our rooms.

I was again told they didn’t know.

So I opt for waiting in the lobby until someone who might know something might appear and at least verify that it was safe to make the trek.

After awhile two of the elevators start moving, and out pour fireman and all their equipment when they hit the lobby.

They let us all know that everyone may return to their rooms, with the exception of anyone whose room was on the 5th floor.

I do wonder what is still going on on the 5th floor as I make my way back to my room, and for the briefest of moments wonder what the poor souls on the 5th floor are going to do, but by this point it is 10:30, I have been up since 5am, and all I care about is getting into bed. If the 5th floor collapses and all the floors above it by default, I plan to be sound asleep while I plummet to my demise.

Luckily, I wake up the following morning, still in my bed, which is still on the 13th floor, and the hotel seems no worse for the wear and much calmer than the night before.

I take one last stab at trying to get to the bottom of the prior nights excitement as I check out, but the clerk only says “oh yes. I read about it in our shift report. But I’m not really sure what happened”

Hmmm. Curiouser and Curiouser. I’m afraid I will be unable to solve the mystery for you in this post.

The good news is: By the time I got home, all four of my tires were inflated and rotating as needed.

 

When Murphy’s Law kicks your butt….

It all started with static cling.

I should have known when my dress was clinging to my tights before I even left the hotel room- despite a vigorous application of Static Guard- what kind of day this was going to be .

I probably should have just curled back up in the hotel bed and  decided to skip the day.

But I didn’t.

I foolishly ignored the signs and ventured out into the world.

And Murphy laughed and said “Game on!”

I got as far as the parking lot before he fired his first shot.

I popped the trunk on my rental car, threw my bags in, and closed the trunk.

Only to hear those 3 little horn honks that say “you just did something really dumb”

As soon as I heard them, I knew exactly what that dumb thing was. I had just shut my car key in the trunk. I tried the trunk release button over the license plate, only to hear the same 3 honks letting me know that wasn’t going to work with the key inside.

No big deal. At least I had been smart enough to unlock the car before I did that. So I just had to go inside and pop the trunk with the release button.

But here’s a fun fact!  The new Chevy Malibu does not have a trunk release button on the interior of it’s vehicle. For some unknown reason, the designers of the new Malibu-quite likely in the hopes of being perceived as innovative and cutting edge- decided there was no need for an interior trunk release button.

I know this because after I spent many minutes searching for one ( and fearing that I may not be as smart as I thought), I actually googled “where to find the trunk release in a Chevy Malibu”.  Only to have Google tell me there isn’t one.

Huh.

Well, that’s fine. I’ll just climb in the back and pull down one of the seats, or at the very least, the cup holder arm rest in the center. There is always at least a hole to the trunk there, and I can just reach in and grab my bag and rescue my key.

I know you can see where this is going.

Evidently, the Malibu engineers felt there was absolutely no reason anyone would ever need access to the trunk from inside the vehicle. And Google confirmed, that indeed, the only access to the trunk was through the key fob.

Which can’t be accessed if it is in the trunk.

Google does have some stories of other unfortunate souls, who obviously had also challenged good old Murphy to a duel, and they had been successful in retrieving their keys by contacting OnStar.

So I climbed back into the car and pushed the handy OnStar button.

But of course I do not own the vehicle I am sitting in, so my friendly OnStar tech had no way of knowing that I was actually the owner of the bag I say I am trying to access in the trunk and not some nefarious character trying to purloin someone else’s wallet.

So they have to contact the car rental agency, which takes a very long time to accomplish.

We finally have three people on the phone trying to work this out, and the car rental person is telling me that the only option we have is for them to send a tow truck, since the keys are locked in the car and we can’t get in: I am explaining that key is actually locked in the trunk, and that I am actually in the car at that moment: and then she is saying there is no way to pop the trunk: when all of a sudden I hear the trunk pop.

I think the OnStar tech took pity on me.

I quickly thank the rental car rep, tell her I’m good to go, and jump out and rescue my key.

The day can go on!! Take that Murphy!

I’m only a few minutes late for my meeting, the meeting goes off without a hitch as does my two hour drive back to the airport.

I’m thinking Murphy was so impressed with my ingenuity that he has moved on.

Then I get to the airport.

I go up to the desk to check in and inquire if there is any way to get on the earlier connecting flight out of Chicago. The ticket agent actually laughs and says everything is completely sold out due to fog in Chicago earlier that morning that has wreaked havoc on the flight schedules.

No big deal. I check in for my original flight, check my bag and head to security.

I make it through security and head into the gift shop to get a water and a snack. I’m just checking out, when my phone dings with an alert.

My flight to Chicago has just been cancelled.

Since I already know that all the other flights are already sold out, I jump on the phone with our company travel agents and they scour every airline for any available seats.

They find only one seat that will get me home before Sunday. And it costs roughly as much as a semester of college.

But I have no choice, as I HAVE to be home the next morning to continue my fight with the insurance company from having been hit by a car on my bike nearly two years ago.

(Oh, have I not told you that story yet??)

They book the seat, and I go back out to check in to have them retrieve my bag (because of course this is one of those times I had checked a bag). There are lines a mile long at every customer service counter, the baggage claim office and the check in counter, and as I join this line I am seriously concerned that by the time my bag is radioed for and retrieved, I will miss my other flight.

After nearly 30 min, I get within one person of the front and take a chance. I tell the guy in front of me, that I have already been re-booked on another flight, and I promised not to steal his seat, but that I just needed them to get my bag back so I could make my new flight.

Luckily he was a kind individual and let me go first.

They radio for my bag, and unbelievably my bag appears at baggage claim in a record 10 min.

I am rechecked in, back through security and at my new gate with time to spare.

I never thought I would say United saved the day.

I make it to Houston, change terminals and board my plane to Denver without further incident.

I land in Denver 3 hours later than planned, but it looks like I’ll make it home without further incident.

Until I look at my phone.

I have a little weather alert that notifies me there are currently “light snow showers” in Denver.

Huh. I had been looking at the weather and it was 60 degrees earlier in the day without even the slightest hint of snow mentioned in the forecast.

Like any good Coloradan, however, I know we can go from summer to winter in 3 hours or less without any warning, and I am not too worried about “snow showers”, so I think nothing of it.

I collect my bag (which despite the bright orange “Star Priority” tag on it, and the small fortune I paid for my seat, which should have ensured it was one of the first bags off the plane, is nearly the last- of course!), get to my car and head out on the long drive home.

It may, indeed, have been snow showers for the first few minutes, but those “showers” quickly turned into a full on blizzard which is making it very challenging to see 3 feet in front of you.

Murphy is having himself a good laugh by now I am sure.

The weather and the roads only get worse the further I drive, until you can no longer tell where the lanes on the road are because we are driving through at least 4 inches of snow on the highway.

Let me just take a minute to say, we have not had any winter in Colorado until the past two weeks, so I would assume the snow plow drivers would be happy for some work and working overtime to keep our roads clear. However, the only plow I saw in the entire drive from Denver, was one that was plowing the frontage road that runs beside the highway ( and where there were no cars driving) , but not the highway itself. I’m sure there is a logical explanation for this in some alternate universe.

Thankfully, I make it home safely, despite passing several accidents, cars off the road, and one that is up on it’s side and blocking the lanes of traffic.

I crawl into bed just before midnight, and hope that I have survived my Murphy’s Law day and he will move on to more worthy opponents tomorrow.

Ticket to Ride

I just returned from a visit to our Nations capital and a visit with all my colleagues. I was very grateful that they ordered in some warmer temps prior to my arrival than they had been experiencing recently.

On Wednesday night we were lucky enough to attend a team building event at the Capital One Arena and watch, what I was told, was an exciting game of basketball between the Jazz and the Wizards.  I will admit that I may have spent more time eating and socializing than actually watching the game, but since the scoreboard read 74-74 the one time I did look at it, I’ll take their word for it.

Standing in front of the arena waiting for an Uber after the game, I couldn’t help remember the other wonderful Uber adventures I’ve had in our fair capital. (Remember my driver who drove in circles and confused the airport with Arlington National Cemetery? Good times).

While this Uber ride turned out to be relatively uneventful, I wasn’t so lucky on my previous trip to DC a  couple months ago.

We had gone to see a Nationals game as a team on that particular trip, and, as you can imagine, there were quite a number of people pouring out of the stadium and requesting Ubers after the game.

There are also multiple gates leading out of the stadium and onto many, very different streets around the stadium.

And if you are from out of town, you may or may not be aware that there is an Uber “pick up spot” outside one of these gates.

The group I was with fell into the may not camp.

So we filed out of the gate nearest our seats, divided into two groups, and took off to the nearest corner, to request an Uber using the cross streets over our head.  One group went one way, and myself and my new boss went the opposite.

We requested our Uber and proceeded to watch it’s progress on it’s way to find us. I think the original ETA was about 5 min. However, as we continue to watch the progress, we begin to notice that the Uber seemed to be moving in the opposite direction and the ETA is getting longer, not shorter.

After the estimated 5 min and a few more has passed, and we seem to only be further from having our Uber arrive, I decide to give our driver a call.

I get her on the phone, and immediately it is clear there is much confusion as to where we might be.

I spend several minutes telling her where we are based on the streets (which in my mind should be the easiest landmarks, especially for someone whose business it is to drive on said streets) and when that fails to help her locate us, I start naming every landmark I can spy with my little eye.

Meanwhile, obviously not cluing into any of my landmarks, she is trying to tell me where the Uber pick up spot is using landmarks of her own, which may have been effective, if I was from the area, and had ever been to that specific part of town before.

But neither was true.

Then she proceeded to tell me we would need to walk to her, because all the streets around the stadium were closed and she wouldn’t be able to get to us, even though I gently informed her that I was watching numerous cars drive on those streets as we spoke.

I finally decided that this may be a fruitless venture, and told her I would cancel my request so she could just find someone who knew where the pick-up spot was.

My boss and I decided to walk down a few blocks, further from the stadium, before requesting another ride, in the hopes that we would have either better luck or an Uber driver who actually believed in GPS.

Of course the other group had somehow found one of DC’s best drivers and had already been picked up and were halfway back to the hotel.

We get to our new “pick up spot” and request another car.

This one is about 8 min away, but at least seems to be moving in the right direction in the first few minutes, so we are hopeful. About 5 min in, my phone rings. IRead More »