Thursday, August 03, 2006

BAD Travel Karma

That's its. I surrender. I don't want to travel anymore. ever.

I'm out in Chicago teaching a class today and tomorrow. I rather like doing this, so I signed on to do this several weeks ago. But, after the fiasco of driving in Boston, I should have learned. I should have known that travelling ANYWHERE was going to be a big mistake.

Let's start the beginning: I decided to travel in the evening (8:55 flight) . Why I decided to do this is entirely beyond me. I'm not billable at a client right now, I could have flown out at noon and spend a leisurely evening reading a book. But no, I decided to wait until evening to fly so Ic ould have dinner with the Adorable Husband. Mistake number one.

Then -- since he is on call and can't take me to the airport, I drove myself, intending to park in the ramp for two days. The ramps and close-in lots are FULL. So full, infact, that they have someone routing traffic around the entrance to them and aren't even letting people in to try. I usually ignore the LOT FULL signs because someone is always leaving. I might end up parking on the top floor in the last spot, but I usually ge ta spot. No go. So I go back out to the remote parking lot, about fifteen minutes away.

The lot is the size of Iowa and I end up parking waaaay out in the lot, about a block from the nearest shuttle bus pick up point. WHen I get there, it starts to rain. And I mean Inundation. It was actually hard to drive, my wipers couldn't keep up. I sat in the car with the rain pounding down and thought, "Well, I'll just wait until the rain stops. It never rains for long."

Twenty minutes later, sstill sitting in the now-fogging car, I realized that if I didn't get intot he airport, I'd probably miss my plane. So, taking one long, last look at the thundering rainstorm, I grabbed my bag and ran for it.

By the time I got to the bus stop, I was soaked through. COmpletely drenched, from head to toe. My shoes squelched, my hair was dripping, I had damp and clammy underwear.

As I was standing there squeezing four gallons of water out of my hair and out of my shirt...

it stopped raining.

Steaming gently, I stood in line to go through security -- which, at 8pm at night was half-closed and slower than I've ever seen it. I finally cleared security at 8:10, five minutes after my plane was supposed to start boarding. The train ride is about 5 minutes and I bolted for the discover that it was running just slightly late. Yeah!

A stop in the bathroom where I managed to at least change into a dry shirt and sort of towel-dry my hair. I look like a dead rat. My pants are still soaking wet, and I now have a rolled up polo shirt in my bag that is leaving wet spots on the outside as it drains.

Into the plane about 45 minutes late. Back away from the gate. Sit. There is Weather all over the eastern seaboard that is slowing traffic. My airplane seat is now wet and my damp underwear is getting mighty uncomfortable and chafing. We finally take off.

And circle for an hour in Nebraska, because of the weather. THe nie pilot comes on and explains that they have closed down O'Hare and Midway because of lightning and we're in a holding pattern. Fifteen minutes later...the holding pattern is broken so we can land in Rockford and refuel.

Two hours later -- after sitting on the tarmac in Rockford -- we take off and head into Chicago, landing at approximately 3:10am. Along with several hundred other people whose planes were delayed. People are sleeping on cots in the airport. At this point, too tired to even see straight, I head to pick up a rental car.

It is to laugh. The rental counter is closed. They close at midnight. There is NO WAY to get a car ( I called, and the rude person at Thrifty told me I should have arrived earlier). YOu'd think that if they close the aiport at 10 and reopen at about 1am that the car rental places would figure out that all those people who wanted cars were going to show up between 1am and 4am, right? They don't care.

I was so tired that I was flummoxed by the closed car rental place and called the Adorable Husband, waking him from a sound sleep to tell me what I was supposed to do. (I did apologize later!). "Get a cab, honey." Oh, oh yea! I can get a cab.

I have eighty bucks in cash, no ATM card (and the line at the ATM was about 30 people long) so I just get outside (into the incredibly hot and humid CHicago evening) and stand with 275 other people to a cab. Forty minutes later, after confirming that a ride should cost no more than 70 bucks (premium for after midnight, and premium for going ot the suburbs) I get a cab and a rather crabby gentleman who is a wee bit put out that I want to go to Lombard.

Handing over all of my cash to the cabbie at approximately 4:45 am, I check into my hotel room and lay down just in time for the Serious Thunderstorm that rattles the windows and sets off tornado warning sirens. I remember thinking that if there was a tornado, I probably woudln't have to teach, and falling asleep a bit after five.

The alarm went off about four seconds later (ok, not until 6:30, but it certainly felt like four seconds) and I dragged myself to the office to set up the class by 7:30. I can only hope that things will get better!


Laura said...

The squelching underwear for neverending hours sounds like the worst part. I am radiating pity.

The Tiger said...

WOW! That is one of the worst travel stories I have heard -- congratulations! I've had bad travel luck before, but never THAT bad...