Sunday, March 18, 2007

From excellent adventure to bogus journey.

This past week I was in the Philadelphia area for my job. After arriving Monday evening, I met with my boss and co-worker who were also along on the trip. We had a nice steak dinner that night. The week was off to a nice enough start. Tuesday morning we met with colleagues at one of our subsidiary companies in an effort to integrate their procedures into our Minnesota facility (Translation: We gave them notice that we’re eliminating their Finance department). The week went pretty well, without incident, and we were ready to head home Friday morning.

That’s when the proverbial roof caved in.

We drove to the Philly airport in rain and sleet which caused some trepidation as to how long our flight would be delayed. Turns out we would be only 25 minutes late, leaving at 11:50 am. Once we got to the gate we heard an announcement that our flight would literally be the final one to leave Philadelphia International Airport. As we boarded the plane we were urged to get seated in a quick manor before the weather got more treacherous. Once we got situated the plane did its customary taxiing out on the tarmac to get ready for liftoff. Within ten minutes, the plane suddenly stopped. I awoke from my snooze to take a gander out the window when I felt my jaw drop and my eyes bug out. There were literally 25 other planes in front of ours which were also waiting to take off. At this point, the sleet and rain was coming down heavier which made getting out of Philly less likely. Within seconds of stopping, the captain came over the intercom informing us that each plane needed to be de-iced and that we were approximately number 25 in line. There happened to be another pilot sitting next to me so I decided to inquire as to how long de-icing takes. About 5-10 minutes per plane, I learned. My mathematical mind kicked into high gear and came up with the horrifying answer: anywhere from 2 to 4 HOURS!!!

Sure enough, about 3 ½ hours later we were informed that our flight was indeed cancelled and we were going back to the terminal for re-booking. Thankfully my boss is a seasoned traveler. Given the nightmares of her past excursions, she was quick to get on the cell phone to re-book our flights. Once little hitch: there were no flights leaving Philly until Monday. However, the boss managed to book us on flights which were to leave tiny Wilkes-Barre, PA airport at 6:00 am Saturday. That meant we faced the daunting task of somehow driving about 120 miles north in sleet, snow and freezing rain---through the hilly terrain of The Poconos!!! The three of us met a gentleman on the plane who was a Hertz gold club member. After securing the same Saturday flight as us he agreed to drive us north if we would book him a hotel room. Our executive secretary at work managed to find us rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn. The front desk at the hotel conveyed to our secretary that we were crazy to attempt that drive. But what were we going to do? We could sleep in the Philly airport until Monday or start driving north. We obviously chose the latter. And though it took us five hours to drive to Wilkes-Barre (in what is normally a 2 ½ hour trip) we arrived safely. We entered the lobby with a certain smugness about us. We took it as a challenge when they said we’d never make it. However, the brief adulation we experienced was soon dashed when we learned our Saturday morning flight was also canceled. That meant yet another day away from home. I guess the silver lining was that we didn’t get up at 4:00 am Saturday to get ready and go catch a flight that was nixed. In the end, we were re-booked on the 6:00 am flight on Sunday.

Since we had nothing but time on our hands Saturday my fellow travelers decided to explore the local mall in the morning. Having only packed for a 5-day trip we were hoping to obtain some fresh clothes. Not wanting to go to the mall I decided to shop for clothes across the parking lot at the local Wal-Mart (HA!! Stick that in your hookah pipes and smoke it, lefties!). I figured I just needed some more t-shirts, underwear and socks. Before that, I was requested to help push our rental car out of the snow drift. While we eventually succeeded in getting the car free the initial effort was futile. The front tires merely spun in place kicking up slush and dirt---and caused me to add two new pairs of jeans to my shopping list.

Later in the afternoon we headed next door to the Benagin’s to celebrate St Patty’s Day. After five hours of loud music, drunken patrons and watching the NCAA basketball tourney, I headed back to my room to pack for Sunday’s 6:30 am flight.

Thankfully, everything went relatively smoothly on said flight. We took off on time from the Wilkes-Barre airport, hair care and tire center. It was like flying on a pack of gum with 14 people on it. The pilot went through the formalities of making announcements over the intercom which seemed rather silly. All he had to do in a plane that size was turn around and say “Buckle up, we’re going for a ride.”

I landed in Minneapolis at 10:30 this morning and finally got to go home and see my loving wife. All weekend I was being consoled with this “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” gibberish from others who were stranded. I don’t need to be gone more than a day or two before I start missing my gal.

But we’re indeed together again and all seems right with the world!

1 comment:

Leo Pusateri said...

Glad you made it home safe, sir!