Saturday, June 01, 2013

what happened at midnight that should have been history

So I know people think that I am a travelbug and probably totally on top of it... Well, forget that, nobody would jump up and shout "On top of it!" if they were asked to spit out 4 words describing me. However I have never had any self-caused travel mishaps until yesterday. Well, except getting the Ovaltine through London customs, which was ultimately a success story... that's another story for another time though.

Yesterday I was flying to Philly to spend the weekend with cousins before a week of work in the Philly/NJ area. Of course I had made arrangements for a Friday evening flight to max out my time with people! Now because there is almost never a direct flight from Warsaw to anywhere (except Dallas), my connecting flight was through Chicago. So I left South Bend at 3:45pm on Friday and got to Chicago at 3:30pm, time travel backward! When I got there I had a 3-ish-hour wait, so I did some work, went on a treasure hunt, got some dinner (my first Johnny Rockets burger, woohoo!). I got back to the gate in plenty of time prior to boarding. I waited and waited... watching the tornado news that was playing non-stop on the TV... Nothing. Finally, 15 minutes after my flight was supposed to leave, I started to get panic-stricken and look around for someone to ask. The tricky thing was that my flight was a US Airways flight, but it was in a United terminal that was basically all United gates except 3 for US Airways. And all the US Airways people had disappeared a little prior to my supposed boarding time, and of course no United people knew anything. Well, after seeing nothing about my flight number on any of the screens and seeing online that this flight had supposedly been switched to a gate at the opposite end of the airport (!!!), getting quick panic-stricken, I finally stumbled across a chance US Airways person and asked her about it. She said I had missed the flight, it had switched gates - to the one right next door! - and they had announced it a ton of times, and that if I didn't see people aroud my gate 15 minutes prior to boarding I should go asking people about it. Imagine my distress, even if you have no sympathy for my being out of it -- I had heard NOTHING and seen nothing this whole time. I was horrified. She said she was not really supposed to set up flights for people on another airline but she did find me one 2 hours later with United. Maybe the fact that I was on the verge of tears with braces eked out just the sympathy needed to get me that flight. I don't know. anyway there was no extra charge, I went and checked in for that flight, and waited. For a while tears streaming down my face because my dear cousins in Philly would have to wait up at least 2 extra hours for me just to get in. And also because my phone battery was getting close to the end of its life and I could not find an outlet to charge it, and how was I even going to keep my cousins in the loop and use my phone as a GPS when I got there?! Finally I got up to look around for an outlet with more determination and I found one that I could sit down next to and plug into. I had just started doing this when a young man in a seat nearby said, "Hey ma'am, if you want to plug in, there's an empty chair right here," and they had outlets right next to each chair. "It's nicer than sitting on the floor, just saying," he grinned. So I sat down there to charge it for a bit. I worked up the courage to ask him where he was headed and we chatted for a bit. He was a very pleasant free-spirit type, in the military, on his way to a new post but missing flights and getting delayed not by his own fault. Anyway it cheered me up quite a bit to talk to someone, and we both agreed that talking to people in airports and on planes was considered weird by other people but that we both enjoyed it a lot and had great conversations. After this, it was time for me to go make sure I was truly properly checked in and almost time to board... Well, boarding was delayed a bit till the gate was free and our plane was de-planed from its previous load of people. So by the time we finally left Philly it was already at least 15 minutes late. We seemed to be taxiing on the runway forever prior to takeoff. Maybe just because I was dozing in and out. Shortly into the flight, I was quite freaked out by the fact that the cabin lights came on, there came a distinct slight smell of something burning, and the pilot asked everyone to unplug everything they had plugged in "for just a moment"... but never said when people could plug things back in. Well, I guess the cabin lights  must have actually been for the sake of the beverage service, but I never found out about the other two bits. Also there was a considerable amount of turbulence much of the way even though we were heading a bit north to avoid weather... Ahh yes, that made our flight time a bit longer too. I should have asked about those mystery items but I was just kind of out of it due to tiredness and desperation now.

---Keep in mind that this is after a week of less-than-ideal sleep, particularly a night of 4.5 hours due to staying out late with friends, and then a short night that was interrupted by violent wind which woke me up---

Well, I must have dozed off for part of the flight because it did seem awfully short for over 2 hours, minus those pockets of excitement, at which time I did again mentally prepare to die. But thank the Lord we landed safely around 12:30. After we got off the plane, I went down to baggage claim, went to the office to ask about my bag which should have been on the earlier flight (how was the bag to know I was going to miss the flight, after all). I was behind a man who had also had bags on the earlier flight and the lady looking them up said the last track they had was such-and-such time and they would have to file a claim. I was slightly terrified to hear this, especially when the lady helping me began to say they would have to file a claim for mine.... I knew I would be hopping around to different locations practically each night and gone from Philly for a couple nights, and basically ALL my stuff was in that bag. Just as she was finishing saying this and I was prepared to try asking some last questions without crying, she said, "Oh wait, it's over at US Airways." Relief!!! Then I just had to find the US Airways baggage claim... had to ask several people, including the flight attendants from my flight who were rather confused about what direction C would be even though we were standing right in front of D... Well, I made it over there and claimed my bag in great happiness. Took the shuttle to the rental center. There were 3 of us who got off at Avis and there was just one Avis person working there. The first guy in line was Avis Preferred and because the car was not right there waiting for him, he had to go bring it up, because that was protocol. He apologized and the Avis Preferred guy apologized and those of us waiting just said, "no problem!"  next it was my turn and the arrangements were made in short order. I went out to my car with some great anticipation, what model and color would it be.... Wow! It was a Chevy Cruze, a beautiful rose-pink-maroon color! I really liked the color the minute I saw it. And it was a Cruze which was the rental car in Dallas I had previously returned for being "too new", but now I knew how they worked, and fortunately the key was normal, not one of those "push-and-start" types. So I arranged my mirrors and everything and headed to the exit. Only to find there was a car ahead of my that was having issues. Fortunately that was only a couple-minute wait and then they had to pull aside and I got to go through. My little phone GPS got my safely to my cousins' area, though as usual it rather threw me off with some of the one-way roads and names right around their area... I found a place to park that was not much of a walk. Called to let them know I was headed over, as they had instructed, just for my safety. Got to their street and then I was not sure which way they lived on it, right or left, but I quickly ascertained that by going right and discovering the numbers were descending away from theirs. Went left and there was Jeremy waiting for me on their porch! Ahh what relief!

And so around 2:30 or 2:45 I tumbled into bed and must have drifted off...

Oh, I forgot to explain the title of this. At midnight I should have already been in their house, but what actually happened was I was in a plane approaching Philly. Oh well. By the way, I love flying in over Philly at night, it looks like TwinkleTown to me. There are all these little lights that twinkle. Probably because of all the trees that wave in front of lights. At least that's my intelligent guess.

Well I hope this story has somehow entertained you or at least encouraged you that you have not missed a flight by your own subconscious deafness like me!

No comments: