Is There a Mr. Fix-It In the House?

I thought I had been lucking out the past few months. Not only did a get a bit of a break from traveling so much, the trips I did have to take were relatively smooth and story free.

I should have known the odds would need to right themselves eventually.

I just didn’t expect it all to happen in one trip.

I had a “quick” trip planned to North Carolina this week. Out on Wednesday afternoon, and back Thursday evening. Since there aren’t a lot of direct options for me into Raleigh/Durham, NC, my out flight was a connection in Baltimore.

The flight from Denver to Baltimore was smooth, and even arrived a little early, giving me those few extra minutes to grab some food before boarding leg 2. If I had seen the future, I may have grabbed a little more to eat.

We boarded the Raleigh bound flight on time, but were quickly informed once boarding was complete, that there was a maintenance issue with one of the plane’s navigation systems. Not to worry though. Maintenance was already here addressing the issue, and we hoped to be cleared to leave shortly.

No big deal.

Sure enough, they were back on about 15 minutes later saying maintenance had fixed the issue and we would be pushing back.

They finished up the paperwork, closed the main cabin door, and we pushed back from the gate.

Only to have them immediately put it back in drive and pull us right back up to the gate.

“Sorry, folks. While maintenance did fix the problem with the first navigation system, now the second system is throwing an alert, so we need to have them back to look at that one.”

I can already see where this is headed.

About 10 minutes later the captain is back, this time with a less optimistic message.

They are pulling the plane from service for the night, so we all have to deplane. Please see the agent at the top of the bridge for information on a new plane.

I’ll give them credit. We were off the plane less than 5 minutes before they were sending us to a new gate, with a new plane, and less than 30 minutes later we were all loaded on the new plane.

The problem was, the bags were not so lucky.

We were sitting on the plane for an hour, before the little carts with all the checked bags finally pulled up beside the plane.

At exactly the same moment that the flight attendant  came over the intercom to call for help with a medical emergency for a passenger in the back of the plane.

Which meant the bags had to wait to be loaded on the plane until the Emergency Medical Response team could board the plane and get the passenger back off.

Another 45 minutes later, the medical emergency has been taken off for care, the bags have been loaded and they announce they have closed the front door and we will be leaving soon.

Which was evidently just what the man in row 2 was waiting for as his cue. He decides to choose that moment to throw a fit and demand to be let off the plane.

Despite the fact that the flight attendant explained in order to do that they have to get clearance to re-open the door, get ground crew to do so and re-do all the paperwork which will only delay things even further, the man continues to demand to be let off the plane

I’m actually surprised he made off the plane in one piece. I thought the entire plane was going to riot .

Another 30 minutes later, we are FINALLY ready to go. For real this time.

I finally get to my hotel and in bed a little after 12:30AM, and had to be up at 5:30AM for a 7AM meeting. That set my Thursday up to be a great day!

I come out of my early morning meeting to a message that my flight for that afternoon had already  been delayed for 3 hours.

You have got to be kidding me!

This time my plane, which was starting it’s day in Burbank, was scheduled to make a pit stop in Denver, on it’s way to pick us up in Raleigh to take us back to Denver.

Evidently, before it could leave Burbank, however, it was pulled due to a flat tire and left Burbank 3 hours late.

Even I can change a tire in less than 3 hours.

So, this is how I find myself landing in Denver, 3 hours later than planned, and then still have to make the drive home when it’s already past my bed time.

Now, not to toot my own horn, but I had done a remarkable job of staying cool and letting all these irritations roll off my back to this point, if I do say so myself. Even though I was beyond tired,  I figured the irritations were at least behind me, and all I had to do was make it home.

I should have known better.

I get to my car in the garage, and pull up behind one car in line to pay my for my parking and put the airport behind me.

And I watch as the guy in this car tries 3 times to insert his parking ticket. Then watch as he tries 3 different credit cards to pay his fee. And then continue to sit there, and sit there, and sit there, as he does who knows what. Finally, after about 10 minutes, the arm goes up and I breathe out my irritation as I assume the guy will finally leave.

Except he doesn’t.

I’ve already admitted I was beyond tired, so I assume maybe this guy is too, and possibly he fell asleep behind his wheel and failed to see the arm go up releasing him from parking planet. So I decide to play a gentle alarm on my horn to wake him up and urge him into freedom.

Except he still doesn’t move.

So I toot again.

This elicits him popping his head out of his window and yelling, “Stop that!”

Stop that?? Ummm, what??

Maybe he doesn’t speak horn? He wasn’t able to figure out the message I was trying to send?

So I decide to help him out and translate to plain English for him. I pop my head out of my window and say

“You need to go!”

To which I get,

“I’m not going! They have my license on camera showing I didn’t pay!”

I am beyond confused as to what this guy is missing, but he must be more tired than I am. The arm doesn’t pop up to let you out unless you pay. The arm is clearly up! So, I decide to translate for this guy again.

“The arm is up, so you obviously paid. Now you need to go!”

To which the guy decides to pull his head back in his car, put it in reverse and back it quickly up half the distance to my front bumper.

This seems an interesting move for a guy who was just expressing concern about them having his license plate on camera for not paying, but doesn’t seem concerned about being on camera backing his little car into my SUV.

I get it. Drive and Reverse can be confusing. And this guy is obviously having a difficult time figuring things out at the moment. So I decide to try to help one more time.

I pop my head out the window and say,

“Ummm, you need to go forward…”

Which got him backing another several inches towards my car in response.

Then his head is back out the window and he yells, “I’m not going! If you don’t like it, you can move!”

“Ummm, I’d love to! Except you are in my way, and I can’t!”

Now the parking attendant two booths down starts yelling at the guy that he needs to go, but the guy continues to just sit there.

I try one more time and offer “He’s telling you you can go!” out the window, as the attendant continues to yell at the guy, and the guy continues to sit there.

Finally, another attendant comes out of the main booth and starts to walk towards the guys car. The guy finally decides to move.

After reversing one more time to come as close as he can possibly come to hitting my car, without actually hitting it, he finally puts his car in drive and takes off.

I sure hope he managed to find his way home and to bed a lot easier than he found his way out of DIA parking.

At least I found my way home and to my bed without anymore delays.

Things Seem a Bit Foggy…

This week was a quick trip to Salt Lake City for dinner with a client.

At first I was excited, because I can actually get a quick direct flight from right here in COS without having to drive all the way to Denver!

Alas, when I looked at my two daily options, one put me into SLC way too early for my 6pm dinner, and one put me in too late.

But I wasn’t really in favor of spending 1/4 of my exactly 24 hour round trip on the road back and forth to Denver.

So instead I booked connecting flights with my dear friends on United out of COS. I did make sure the connections were in Denver, however, just in case my United friends continued their near perfect streak of travel issues. At least I would be within driving distance of home.

My trip to SLC was relatively uneventful. My super long 17 minute flight from Colorado Springs to Denver was a little bumpy, but who had time to really care.

I had just enough time on my 50 min layover to get some water and be ready for boarding.

My actual time in SLC, while with very few hours actually awake, was pretty nice. It was a beautiful evening in the bowl, and a pleasant dinner with good company.

I set my alarm before drifting off for 6am to make sure I had time to get to the airport and get the ever important coffee, before my 8:25am flight.

Except.

Having got my coffee, and starting to become pleasantly awake, I walk up to my gate just in time to hear them announce that we are on a “ground hold” from Denver flight control, due to “freezing fog” in Denver.

Wait. What?

Freezing fog? Is that really a thing?

I have traveled a lot for a lot of years. How have I never heard of frozen fog at any other time, on any other trip? Not to mention my slightly more than a few years on this planet. I’m quite sure I have never heard of freezing fog at any point during this time.

I make a note to consult with my super smart 3rd grade friend, Christopher, who I happen to know, through his mom, is studying weather.

They continue to say that at that point, the delay is only set for 30 min, and everyone should be good on their connections, so I decide to finish enjoying my coffee.

As the coffee continues to clear the un-frozen fog in my brain, however, I realize I am hearing the ongoing boarding announcements for the Delta flight to Denver, that is also scheduled to leave at 8:25.

Something is wrong with this picture. Both flights are heading to Denver?

Check.

Both are scheduled to leave at 8:25?

Check.

But somehow, the Delta flight is actually boarding and not delayed, while us lucky United passengers are sitting here at the gate and at least 30 min delayed.

Curiouser and curiouser.

I decide not to get too worked up yet. Maybe the Delta crew just haven’t gotten the message, and all those people will actually just sit on the plane during their ground hold, instead of in the slightly more comfortable terminal.

But I just continue to watch as the Delta plane is loaded, the doors closed, and it pushes off the gate.

Sure enough, it takes off merrily on it’s way to Denver as planned.

What kind of weather is this that only affects one airline and not another?!?

I bite my tongue, and take a deep breath, and decide as long as we leave at 9 and my connection is intact, all will be well in the end.

But of course we don’t.

At 9, instead of coming on to announce we will be starting the boarding process, they come on to announce that we are now on another delay for at least another hour, because instead of the Denver fog un-freezing, it is actually getting more frozen. And now I will definitely miss my connection

Now I can’t help myself. I must inquire.

So I walk up to my United agents and ask if they can explain what I obviously missed in 3rd grade weather, about this frozen fog that can affect one airline and not another.

Of course they missed that day in 3rd grade too, and have no answer for me, except that since United has the largest fleet, they are often the most affected by weather issues.

But not to worry! They have already rebooked my connection to the 3:45pm flight to COS.

I literally can not form a response to this, despite being fully loaded with coffee, except to  give them my tilted head, scrunched up eye look.

I take another deep breath and decide continuing the conversation is going to be pointless, so instead I head back to my seat, while I pull up the Delta app on my phone. Sure enough, their 8:25 flight is en route to Denver and still on track to touch down in about 20 minutes time. I also see that they have another flight heading to Denver at 9:59, that is also, miraculously, showing on time.

So I make my way over to the Delta desk directly across the terminal from my United desk.

“I was just curious, if this was accurate, and if your 8:25 flight actually took off to Denver with no issues?”

“Yes”

“And your 9:59 flight is still on time and not delayed?”

“Um, yes I think so. Let me check. Yes. It’s on time”

“Hmmm. I’m just a little confused, because I’m on that United flight right there, that was also supposed to take off at 8:25 to Denver, but was delayed due to weather. So, I’m not really sure how the weather isn’t affecting your planes”

“Yeah, I heard those announcements, and I was wondering what that was about.” Then she looks at me. “But, um, sometimes, it’s the type of aircraft that is affected or not”

I just give her my “I don’t really know what to say to that” look and move on.

“Ok, so are there any seats still left on your 9:59 flight?”

She consults her computer. “It looks like there are 4 seats left”

“Great, thanks! I’ll be right back”

I turn and walk back across the hall to my United friends, wait for them to finish finding solutions for the other un-connected passengers, and when it is finally my turn, I ask them to push my ticket to Delta, so I can travel with an airline that appears impervious to weather.

“But that will only get you to Denver. You won’t have your connection to Colorado Springs”

“I’m pretty sure I can manage” is all I say. I don’t say that even if the United flight did manage to take off at 10, I wasn’t exactly planning on sitting around DIA until 4pm waiting for a 17 min flight.

To the agents credit, he pushed the ticket to Delta without much more to-do, except to say that he has never really been able to figure out the way they manage weather delays either. I just give him a smile, thank him for my Delta voucher, and head to my Delta gate to check in.

5 min later, I have a boarding pass, and another 5 min after, we are actually boarding the plane. While the United crew is still sitting at their gate.

Besides being a bit more bumpy than normal upon approach to DIA, our hour long flight flew by, and I land to what appears to be a sunny, 45 degree day in Denver.

I hop on the train to the main terminal, call an Uber as I ride up the escalator, and walk out to Arie waiting for me at the curb.

Arie is a tiny Asian grandpa, who seems genuinely excited when he sees he has to drive me to Colorado Springs. I assume it’s the triple digit fare that helps with this.

As soon as we leave the airport, Arie literally drives his Prius like there are monsters chasing us, and we make it from DIA to COS airport in an hour and 30 min flat. That might actually be a record, even for me, who has had a speeding ticket or two.  I could take driving lessons from Arie, I think.

And at 3:45 I had had my lunch, unpacked and was sitting comfortably in my house.

Cats aren’t the Only Ones with 9 lives

I almost died this week.

You’re probably wondering how I can be emotionally recovered enough to be writing about that, just a day or two later. But the truth is, this is not my first near death experience.

I seem to have regular, periodic episodes that allow me to evaluate my life as it flashes before my eyes and see how I’m doing so far.

Some of these episodes may, admittedly,  be of my own doing. I seem to have this occasional cerebral hiccup that  allows me to believe my skills and abilities are far above where they are in reality. Some are due to the choices of others or the Fates. Either way, they do manage to keep life exciting.

Like the time I was trampled by a horse.

Or the time I was hit by a car.

Or that time I almost rolled backwards over the edge of Pikes Peak. Good times!

Or that one time I tried CrossFit. (Seriously people. Who invented that torture??)

I also know that my frequent traveling increases my potential for danger. While I understand that flying is stastically safer than driving in my car, let’s face it. When you’re hurtling through the air at hundreds of miles per hour, thousands of feet off the ground, it doesn’t take much to throw things off.

Even with that delicate balance, in all the hundreds of flights I have taken in the past few years, I have never been in danger, and have escaped with nary a scratch (if we don’t count the head injuries from the monstrous backpacks people carry).

I’m afraid I can’t say the same about the airports, however.

Like the time that the escalator handrail decided to eat my sweater, that I happened to be wearing at the time. The handrail tried to pull my sweater back down, as the rest of me continued to follow the step under my feet up.

That could have ended badly.

Or the time that I nearly got crushed by the automatic train door. I barely escaped, but my bag wasn’t so lucky,

The airport was the scene for this week’s near death encounter too.

For any of you unfamiliar with the Denver airport, to get from any of the terminals to the main terminal, you have to take a train. And to get to this train you have to go down a set of escalators.

There is one escalator that takes you halfway down, then you make a U-turn to get on the second escalator that will take you to the bottom.

This means the second escalator is slightly offset and below the top one. This will be important in a second.

I had successfully made it down the first escalator, made my U- turn, and was about halfway down the second, when the incident occurred.

Someone who was still on the top escalator- and who evidently skipped or slept through the day momentum and gravity and falling objects was explained in physics class- either failed to see the need to secure their metal water bottle to their bag or their person, or decided that was a good time to juggle this metal water bottle and missed the grab.

The water bottle took a swan dive over the side of the top escalator and arced through the air to miss my head by inches, and land on the step right behind me on the bottom escalator.

Did I mention this water bottle was metal?

So when it failed to give me a much more serious head injury than any I’ve received from gargantuan backbacks, it nearly succeeded in taking me out with a heart attack at the sound of metal hitting metal right behind me.

At least, had it succeeded in ending my life, I would have been glad I hadn’t seen it coming.

I retrieved the water bottle, and had a very educational lesson on physics ready to deliver to the owner when they retrieved it at the bottom. However, the owner decided they weren’t interested in either the lecture or the water bottle, and never came forward.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to try to make sure I get all I can out of the few lives I have remaining.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Keep Calm and Travel On….

So, I have my first trip of 2018 under my belt. And while it was a short trip, there was still time for a couple blog worthy encounters.

I was especially excited to be heading to balmy Sioux Falls, SD, where the real feel temp when I got off the plane was -19 degrees. Yes, that is a negative sign before the 19. This was an extra shock to my system, since Old Man Winter hasn’t really decided to show his face in Colorado yet, so it’s been easy to forget temperatures like that even exist.

It was all good though when I collected the keys to my rental and walked out to find I had been given a super exciting…. Dodge Grand Caravan. This seemed a bit excessive for just me and my little old carry on bag, but hey. It was almost midnight and -19 degrees. It wasn’t worth walking back in to exchange it. When I climbed in and realized this Caravan came complete with heated seats AND a heated steering wheel, I must say it was better than any fancy Maserati! Seriously. Is there any invention better than heated seats??

I think not.

I was also surprised, although maybe not as pleasantly, when I started driving and realized that this particular Caravan also performed a low grade vertical “bounce” as it proceeded down the road. Think all those low-rider vehicles you have ever seen that literally bounce in time to the over active bass thundering through their tinted windows. That is what my Caravan was doing. I still haven’t figured out why someone thought a mom-mobile needed to bounce down the road like I should be listening to “Drop it Like it’s Hot”, but it indeed was.

I managed to avoid frost bite during my short time in SD, mainly because I only went from my car to inside and back again. I don’t think the real feel temp ever made it above -4 degrees. I actually heard a couple people talking about the temp when I returned to the airport and using phrases like “It really wasn’t that bad”. I’m pretty sure they just said that because they never fully thawed out and were numb their entire visit.

One of these folks  was the gentleman I sat behind at the gate for my return flight. And he said this exactly 10 times. I know, because I had the pleasure of listening to him have the

Exact.

Same.

Conversation.

with 10 different people over the course of 30 minutes or so. The only difference was when he called Dan (yes, I know everyone he called by name, because he used Siri to voice dial all of them). He first called Dan on his home phone, which was disconnected. So then he had Siri call Dan on his mobile. When Dan answered, my friend’s first question was if Dan had disconnected his home phone. To which Dan replied, “Oh, yeah. I had to get rid of that. All I ever got on that thing was those Viagra calls”

Can we all just agree as part of our 2018 resolutions, that speaker phones really have no place in public spaces? Seriously. Everyone within hearing vicinity does not need to be a part of conversations about what you had for lunch, what Netflix show you binged on last weekend or the delicate reasons your home phone was disconnected.

SD had one more special encounter in store for me before I left. The planes that fly back and forth from Sioux Falls to Denver are very small. So small, in fact, that even my little carry on bag won’t fit in the overhead bins.

So I was prepared to be whacked in the head a time or two during the boarding process.

You might think, from the amount of times this happens that I have an abnormally  large head. I really don’t think I do. I have spent time comparing my head to other heads, and it falls quite squarely into the average size category.

What is abnormally large, however, are the sizes of the backpacks, bags and other various and sundry items that people carry on their backs in small enclosed spaces these days.

And what seems to be inversely proportionate to how big the back appendage, is how little these people’s spacial awareness is. While some of the biggest offenders of this seem to be the generation who have a lot in common with perennials, basic spatial theory and area awareness seems to be leaking out of the general knowledge banks at an alarming rate.

Thus I get whacked in the head on a regular basis.

This weeks offender, with an especially large back pack on her back, decided, for whatever reason, to start practicing her washing machine spin cycle dance moves right next to my seat. This led to several good whacks to the side of my head, but I may have been able to lean away from the aisle and avoid further injury until she moved on, if it was just that.

But of course it wasn’t.

She and her friend then realized they were standing next to their seats and my spin cycle buddy offered to help her friend put her equally  large back pack into the overhead bin. All without removing her own backpack, which is now turned squarely in line with the side of my head.

You’ll remember I said that these planes are small. And that normal carry ons will not fit in the overhead.

This, however, did not stop our back-pack laden friend from trying to shove her friends mutant pack into these bins.

With every shove on the backpack, I got the resulting “opposite reaction” up aside the head. I literally had to put both my hands up and push back on the bag with all of my Superman holding back a speeding train strength to stop it. (Going to the gym is for self defense, boys and girls). The gal finally turned around with a puzzled look as to why she could no longer move, and finally realized there were other people on the plane with her. Her response?

“Oh”.

But she did remove the back pack and threw it on her seat for the rest of her wrestling match with the overhead bin. So I did arrive back in Colorado, awake and alert and concussion free. It’s good to be home!

Thank you 2018, for making my first trip a memorable one. Cheers to many more memories over the next 361 days!

 

Let’s talk about Uber, baby

I feel like there has been a big part of my travel life that has been largely excluded to this point.

Uber.

I know there are Uber lovers and Uber haters out there, but I happen to be one of the former.

When I travel to places such as NYC and DC, where you will never catch me behind the wheel of a car, dealing with all those whirling dervishes others call traffic, I become, quite literally, an Uber VIP. I love them, and they, in turn love me.

I know people who are like, “yeah, but if you take an Uber, you have to like, talk, to your driver”.  Gasp!! Anything but that!

I actually like talking to my drivers. I have had a great many fascinating conversations in Ubers. And don’t even think about challenging me to Uber trivia. You will lose.

I’ve also had my share of odd Uber drivers. Like the guy who wanted to stop for a bottle of wine. Or the ones who have wanted me to drag my bags 5 city blocks so they don’t have to go around the block.

But my driver to the airport last week may have claimed the Number 1 worst spot.

I should have known I was in trouble when I put in my pick up spot as the hotel I was staying at, and instead of pulling up to the front door, as most normal people would do, he pulls over at the end of the block and sits there, evidently waiting for me to come to him.

The doorman and I spend a few moments debating on whether that is my car, and then he runs down the block and tells my driver to pull up and get me. He pulls up, pops the trunk, and leaves me to fend for my own bags. Okay, fair enough. Women’s equality and feminism and all that. I can toss a bag in the trunk with the best of them.

I settle myself in the back seat, and we take off for the airport. Or at least this is what I assume, as that is what I entered as my destination.

Now, I will admit, that I do not always pay very much attention when in the back of an Uber. If my driver is not the talkative type, or I just don’t feel like talking, I may just settle in and surf my phone. Or nap. Or whatever. And I hadn’t slept very well all week, so I just tucked in and was staring rather blankly out the window. After about 10 minutes of what should have been a 20 min drive, at the most, something started nudging the back of my brain, and I started to focus on the scenery outside the window.

Which is when I realized I had already seen this scenery about 5 min or so ago.

Not wanting to jump to conclusions, I decided now was a good time to engage my driver in conversation.

“Ummm, we are going to the airport, right?”

“Yes. That’s where you want to go, yes?”

“I do, but is this the way to get there? I’m pretty sure we just went in one big circle”

“I’m just following my GPS” He waves the phone in his hand emphatically for effect.

“Are you sure you didn’t miss a turn or something? Because we’ve driven by this building twice now”

“Do you know how to get there? You have directions?”

He did have me there. I can be rather directionally challenged. And I do live in a place where we have big mountains by which all navigation occurs. Take me away from those and north, south, east and west take  way more brain power to decipher.

“Well, no. I’m not from here. But I’m pretty sure we have to cross the river at some point. And not keep driving by the same building”

“I just follow my GPS! Maybe it re-routing because of traffic”

Now I have spent a lot of time in NYC lately. I know traffic. We were not in traffic.

I decide to play along. But now I am watching his GPS.

We approach the river again. The GPS is very clearly telling us to go left to cross the bridge.

We go right.

And start the circle again.

“Ok. I’m pretty sure we were supposed to go left there, and that’s what the GPS said. I think maybe I should navigate now.” I pull out my phone and start to pull up my maps.

“Ok, fine. You want to do it. Fine”

“While I’m getting this pulled up, why don’t you turn here, and head across the bridge.” This much I can figure out without my map.

So we finally make it across the bridge. Where his GPS and a HUGE sign say to keep right for the airport. Which way do we go?

You got it. Left!

And end up in the line of cars heading into Arlington Cemetery.

I realize I didn’t get a lot of sleep and may have been looking a little rough, but I really thought with a little makeup and some body work that morning, I was still passing for a live person. Not someone who needed to be taken to the cemetery.

And not only that, but my driver is literally just sitting in the line to proceed into the cemetery.

Now I am flabbergasted and more than a little irritated.

“What are we doing?? This is definitely not going to take us to the airport! This is a cemetery”

“I don’t know! I just go where it says! I..”

“Ok, well first, you need to go out that exit right there and get us back on the highway”

At least he seemed to listen to me better than the GPS.

We make it back to the highway.

“Now we just need to follow the signs. They are everywhere!”

Not that I trusted that for a minute. I still told him every turn to take.

“Can I just make one suggestion? If you are wanting to drive an Uber, I would suggest you at least learn the way to the airport.”

“I know the way to the airport!”

Of course he did. My mistake. Cemetery, airport. Easily confused.

Believe it or not, we finally made it to the airport, and I didn’t miss my flight.

If only the story ended there.

I am never anxious to leave feedback for my Uber drivers, and most times never do until the next time I request a car.

Not this time.

As soon as I dropped off my bag, I was on my phone to leave feedback on this ride.

Except my lovely driver hadn’t ended my trip and was still driving around on my dime. Probably trying to find his way out of the airport.

I text him and said “Ummm.. You need to end my trip”

I keep checking. For the next 15 min. Until he finally ended the trip.

And charged me about $10 more than it should have been.

I gave him a very good rating. And left a very long feedback message. My hope is he will not be long for the Uber world.

But despite all this, I am still an Uber lover.

 

 

The Rush for A17

I love the heart pounding, adrenaline rush of leaving things to the last possible second. Of making a save right before the buzzer. Of rushing to your gate with literally less than a minute to boarding.

I am no novice to this travel gig. I have been doing this for a year or two. I have it down to a science exactly what time I need to leave my house and make it to my gate with 15 min or so to spare. Sometimes, if all the stars align, I even have a 30-minute buffer. I don’t like to give myself too much extra time. I already spend enough time in airports as it is.

Yesterday, all the stars most definitely did not align.

It all started with traffic, as does every good story.

For no reason that was readily apparent to my limited view of Colorado life, there was a sudden influx of cars that decided to travel between my house and the airport. It wasn’t a holiday. There was no big event going on in between, that I am aware of. No celebrity was standing on the side of the road signing autographs. So I’m not sure what led to this influx of vehicles. I even go the “back way” to try to avoid these vehicles. But evidently, yesterday so did everyone else.

The downside to the back way? It is very difficult to get around those folks who have not figured out what the long, skinny pedal does.

So I found myself stuck behind a long line of such folks.

Eventually, I made it to my off site parking spot, where they know me by name. Who needs a bar stool?

The shuttle stars were out of wack too, and there was an unusual wait for the shuttle to transport us to the airport. Of course.

This gave me a chance to spend some time with a precocious little 6-year-old. She informed me that she has already visited 26 states. And that she had just returned from one trip. But not on a plane. And was now traveling to San Diego. This time on a plane. And that, having  2 brothers, she was the only princess in her family. Naturally. Trust me.  I took notes. Being such an experienced traveler, she had a lot I could learn to become a better traveler myself. But I was more interested in the tips on being a princess.

I did not, however, take tips from her parents on packing lite. I thought I was a hefty packer. At 9 bags (not counting car seats and strollers) they had me beat by a long shot.

The stars that were the most out of line yesterday?  The beloved TSA Security.

I pay for TSA Pre-Check. Partly because I enjoy feeling like I’m in a VIP club. But mostly because I enjoy the shorter lines and the expedited experience. It’s not even about not having to remove my shoes. I regularly wear heels, so I still have to remove them. The x-ray machines are evidently biased against the steel rods in women’s heels.

But I digress.

I did not enjoy a shorter line or an expedited experience yesterday. I suspected there might be trouble when the end of the Pre-Check line was around the corner from the entrance. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw people in the regular security line getting through security faster than those of us in the expedited Pre-Check club. Yes, those regular people who have to remove their shoes, laptops and liquids were speeding through faster than us VIPs. Something was very wrong with this picture.

20 minutes later, and with slightly more than 5 minutes until boarding, I was standing in line waiting for the train to the terminals.

And waiting. And waiting. Was anything running on schedule today?

Not the train.

4 min and counting. And 3 terminal stops to go.

I finally exit the train exactly at boarding time and get stuck in the slow flow of folks funneling up the escalator.

For those of you wondering why boarding time is such a central part of my story, as opposed to the time they close the boarding doors, I have one word for you.

Southwest.

I love Southwest airlines. I fly them all the time. I am part of their VIP club.

But to fly Southwest airlines makes boarding position very important. If I was late by even a minute I could lose my coveted A17 spot.

Thankfully, I did not lose my spot. Or my front of the plane aisle seat. I walked up to the gate as the last pre-board passenger was being wheeled onto the plane.

I did have to forgo my liter bottle of water and any lunch though. At least it was only a 2 hour flight so it was very unlikely I would die from starvation or dehydration.

The one thing that happened to run on time yesterday, oddly enough, was the flight.

Where’s a good delay when you actually need one??