2/10/10

Do you read the ending first?


Typically when someone shares exciting details about a trip, they start at the beginning.


I’m not your typical storyteller. I like to start at the finish line.


Most of the day Saturday, folks attending the conference were getting text messages or emails from their airline carrier indicating that their flights in to any east coast airport had been cancelled. All carriers, that is, except mine. United. Not only was I on hold MOST of the day (“your expected wait time is five billion hours…”) every time I checked online it indicated that MY flight was scheduled to leave on time. I know, I know, I should not have believed that MY flight was the only one that they were allowing to take off and land, but I remained hopeful.

I woke up at 5:30, showered, dragged my five TON, five bags of luggage through the small city called “Opryland” and ran to make the 6:30 shuttle. I walked to the United check-in area, conveniently located at the FAR END of the Nashville airport, and was instantly greeted with a large sign that said, “All flight to Washington/Dulles Airport have been cancelled.” Then, my phone rang. (7:00 a.m)

“This is United Airlines. Your flight has been cancelled.” Oh, really? REALLY?

I stood in line behind several billion people (or twenty) and waited for one of the TWO ticket agents who were handling a throng of crabby, crabby, crabby travelers. When it was finally my turn, I realized I was going to speaking to the ONE ticket agent that we had all discovered by now, was NEW.

My only option, after naming every airport even REMOTELY close to Smythe, Oregon, was to fly Monday afternoon into Dulles Airport. (Don’t ask about the geography, people. Don’t ask.)

I took my ticket, my five heavy pieces of luggage, and dragged myself to the opposite end of the airport where I had discovered a small Starbucks after my earlier flight into Nashville. I sat, dejectedly, and sipped my red-eye.

What were my options? I was pretty much out of cash, and I knew my credit cards did not have enough room for the expense of another night in Nashville. I COULD have twittered and joined the many who were still stranded back at Opryland, but the thought of going backwards instead of forwards brought me down.

Then, I had a feeling in my heart that I should head back to the ticket counter. It was a nagging feeling, but I tend to listen to those. I grabbed my bags, held my coffee carefully, and went back to the OPPOSITE end of the terminal, splashing my red-eye all over the front of my coat as I went.

The line by now had doubled, but I kind of sidled my way towards the fella who issued my previous ticket. He was helping another woman who was about at the end of her rope. He quickly looked at me- hoping for a distraction, and told the woman I was in the same boat. She said she HAD to get back to Dulles, where her vehicle was parked, and HAD to get to another business meeting the next morning. She turned to me and said, “Are YOU trying to get to Dulles?” I nodded my head.

“Well then,” she said, “I am RENTING a car and driving. It’s only about a ten or eleven hour drive. Are you in?”

To which I replied, “Yep. I’m all in.”

After several tries, we found an agency that had some cars left and rented a Dodge Charger. Now, this MIGT be the most opportune time to reveal that I am NOT a good passenger. I was involved in several very bad car accidents when I was young- one that resulted in a shaved head and many stitches. I am STILL to this day a horrible passenger, and anyone who knows me just lets me drive without question.

As we were leaving the airport, I tried to explain this to "Jane" and she just nodded her head and told me I’d be fine. She traveled all the time with her job, and this was a piece of cake.

And the first ten hours WERE. We talked, we shared, we laughed and we were surprised at how much we had in common. I have to say that being in a car with this person was a lucky break. She was ALSO a fabulous driver. And I do not say that lightly.

We took turns, and by the time we turned onto Route 66 into the Washington area, I was behind the wheel. That MIGHT have been a tiny mistake.

The roads were covered with blowing snow, and the trucks and cars were plowing through regardless. I tried to maneuver the car through this mess as best I could. In the meantime, Jane kept saying little things like, “Don’t BRAKE!!! Don’t BRAKE!!!”, or “Do NOT flick your high beams off and on!!!” and “PULL OVER RIGHT NOW!!! PULL OVER!!!!”

Yeah. I managed to find an exit and pulled over into a service station. She put her hand out for the keys and jumped out of the car. I got out, and went inside where I promptly burst into tears. After a few minutes I gathered myself and went to the car. She was sitting in the driver’s side, and I hesitated. When I went to get in the car was locked. LOCKED. She unlocked it and let me in.

“Are you okay?” She asked. “I thought you were a strong independent woman?”

“I am. I’m just a bit wimpy about driving in a raging blizzard with trucks and cars strewn in the ditches as we go by!”

I put my coat over my head, reclined the seat, and cried for the next 30 minutes as she navigated us safely into Dulles. She was phenomenal. I was not.

We managed to make it to the rental car drop off, where a Spanish speaking individual took MORE money that we had planned, and drove us to the snow covered extended parking garage. He unloaded us and all of our luggage, and took off.

There we stood - surrounded by THREE FEET OF SNOW, with no elevator in sight. We needed to get to the TOP of the garage, and to the opposite end. It had to be ten blocks long.

Well, we managed, dragging our luggage through dirty snow, and found her Lincoln Navigator. We met my brother-in-law at a tiny service station that was located at the entrance, and Jane practically threw me out of the vehicle and into his truck.


“She’s all yours.”




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77 comments:

Elaine said...

You are such an adventure!

Deb said...

-->Brave....or should I say Bravo?

http://www.websavvymom.com

Coffee with Cathy said...

Did you not remember what you've told your children a million times? You know: "Do not ever ever ever get in a car with a stranger." Oh, Deborah, what are we going to do with you???

Sandee said...

Note to self...do not ride in a vehicle with Vodka Mom. Bwahahahaha. I'm guessing you are feeling quite able to tackle anything. Well, except driving in a blizzard.

Thanks for the laughs. :)

citymouse said...

Oh man, that just sucks. You were braver than I would have been, that's for sure. I would have been on the phone crying to my hubby. The bottom line is you prevailed and achieved your goal, so that ain't no small thing! My sister was due to fly out of Reagan on Saturday and barely was able to leave on Monday. I think her hubby was ready to rent a car and drive from Denver to get her with their two toddlers in the back seat! Kudos to you.

Megan said...

I don't care what you say...or what she thought... YOU, my friend, are a ROCK STAR!

Snappy Di said...

I'm not a good passenger, but I drive like hell on fire despite the weather conditions. Grew up in blizzard country (Iowa) and the white stuff on the road and in the air just doesn't get to my nerves. Glad to hear you made it home!

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal
(Oh ya.. and the extra taxes you pay for when renting a vehicle are killer)

Brian Miller said...

i remember coming around knoxville one year in a storm watching cars sliding...i become another person when i am driving in those conditions. my wife just sits quietly and grants absolution at the end...

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

I think your copilot was a little harsh. You did great. If you made it through that blizzard without needing a change of underwear, then you're a hero.

The Pipster said...

After this trip you should be called BottleofVodkamom, BOVM for short.

Bethany said...

Wow that sounds like quite the adventure! I DO not like driving in snow/ice either, I've gone off the road too many times. So I'm there with ya.

Susan said...

I'm with DG. She had company and someone to split the bill with so she should have been nicer! I REFUSE to drive in that stuff - I've come close to death before while trying. I'd rather be a crybaby than be injured. You're great!

Steven Anthony said...

Wow, what an adventure...well done my friend, a little crying never hurt anyone;) chin up

buffalodick said...

Drink heavily and forget this traveling disaster...

The Girl Next Door said...

Straight out of Planes Trains and Automobiles. Hilarious. And wait do you LIVE here? (HERE being the DC area) I thought you were from out west? Did you come here purposefully if you do not live here? Why would anyone do that? First we had Snowmaggedon right before Christmas,but that wasn't enough so last Friday we had Snowpocalypse (30" in my neighborhood, the hardest hit) and Today? Today? BLIZZARD (aka Snowverkill)

Welcome to the land of the white stuff. Next time pack a flask of Vodka, Mom!

Wendy said...

You are the best story teller in the world! No matter how small a sentence or paragraph I laugh! Thanks for that! Happy Wednesday!

Michele R said...

Wait a sec. This story is not over. I must know more. You are in D.C. with more snow then they have had since the 1880’s and you are not yet on a plane. You have just driven 14 hours to the east when your destination is to the west. (I know you said to ignore the geography but I can’t help it!)

That One Mom said...

Holy Hannah! That certainly is an adventure!

Midwest Mommy said...

So did it really save you any more money than if you would have stayed? That sucks. I would have been freaked too.

ChiTown Girl said...

What an adventure! I can't wait for the next exciting installment of "Vodka Mom vs. Snowpocalypse"!

Liz said...

I'm with Citymouse...I totally would've been on the phone crying to Hubby. And as for the blizzard? Um, I'm from Miami. I get nervous when the temperature dips below 60.

CaneWife said...

You're a brave soul! Glad you made it safe... somewhere...

Captain Dumbass said...

That's quite the story, but how much snow is your garden under?

Grace's Mom said...

Yikes! That woman sounds more than a little rude!

Yo is Me said...

can i tell you how hard i laughed? with my mouth open.

that sucks. i drove from socal to portland, oregon BY MYSELF. you know, for adventure. i made it through snow and winding roads (which they don't have in socal). it was stupid, stupid, stupid. a few weeks later a family in a car went over the sidrails of Grant's Pass and the dad died. i freaked out even more.

anyway, this is about YOU. i'm glad you're alive.

Sara J. Henry said...

Damn, you could have stayed in the guest room here (just 35 minutes from the Nashville airport) and we would have had a great time visiting.

3 Men and a Lady said...

So will Jane be reading your blog? LOL, glad you made it home safe and sound.

Vodka Logic said...

Glad you made it safe and sound. She sounds like a laugh.

Will you be keeping in touch?

Vodka Mom said...

I'm just going on record here to say she was AMAZING. She said exactly the right things, and drove like a PRO!!!


I am still shaking.

suzicate said...

Glad you're safe...you had me thinking of "Planes, trains, and automobiles"...glad your trip was better. If it's any consolation, I'm not a great driver or passenger. This is a funny story though!

Sue said...

Zoiks! Glad that you are safe and she didn't wind up being an axe murderer. Maybe you should have offered her some vodka?

Sprite's Keeper said...

Vodka, remember when you and I navigated the El and then the streets of Chicago trying to find our way to the hotel? It was MUCH MORE FUN than this! I win! (And love you very much!)

Kris said...

I drive. ALWAYS. I can't be a passenger unless I'm drunk. I drove to Alaska and back! I guess I think no one else can drive but me?

Juli Ryan said...

See, I think it's amazing that you got into a car with a total stranger. Who cares if you lost your marbles? There may be hope for you Yanks yet.

Anna See said...

Holy Moley! I can not believe this. We still haven't dug out from that storm and you 2 were driving in it???? Good gracious. We must hear how you finally got home.

I would have cried too.

Secretia said...

That is a hell of an adventure! Have a double on me!

Secretia

Kathryn Magendie said...

I'm sorry, but - well, that Be0tch! *laughing* - I mean, really - she couldn't have been a bit more ...human? Well, she wasn't from the SOUTH - huhn, we su'thun women would have just said "bless your heart" which means "you dumbass" or "okay, that's enough, just settle down" or "you are ..fill in blank with something not nice..." or it could REALLY MEAN "Bless your heart"!! teeheehee

anyway--what a story -good lawd!

Suzy said...

Sometimes it's just cheaper to spend more money.

Brigid said...

Gah! Sorry your trip home was so crazy. Glad you made it home in one piece. Next time you're stuck in Nashville, call me!!

Jenni Jiggety said...

Well, at least you made it home. AND think of the blog material you gave to Jane!

Rachel Cotterill said...

At least you got home! :)

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Oh, I really felt for you! She sounds kind of mean...
But the whole thing was very brave of you; I so would have cried too.

Oh, and I loved your post about your grandmother's birthday and finding it was the same as your daughter's; way cool!

The Muse said...

I give you the BADGE of Courage award...

But honey be careful!

Sara said...

I hope no one actually said "piece of cake" because according to the movie "Forget Paris," that will kill everything.

Glad you made it alive!

Otter Thomas said...

I feel for you and everyone else that was travelling. The airlines can make a huge mess of things in perfect weather these days. I can't imagine how the manage a blizzard.

Scobberlotcher said...

Was this a blog post or a reality show? :)

Ann's Rants said...

That sounds harrowing indeed.

And I'm with Suzy.

xoxxo

So glad you're okay. I have my own harrowing tale to tell one of these days...

Not The Rockefellers said...

What is it with you and the traveling?

You crack me up and if we ever share a ride..you're riding shotgun :)


Peace ~ Rene

Malia said...

Wow, just wow! My jaw was literally dropped by the end of your story. I'm glad you're OK!

WeaselMomma said...

What a rotten trip! I can't wait to hear the rest of the story!

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

Why did the airline put you up for another day in the hotel? That would've been the perfect solution. So sorry that you had to endure a drive and stress combined. I would've been a mess like you...crying and snotting everywhere! LOL Glad you made it home safely.

Lori said...

Bwahahahaha! Is this true? Did you really do that? And did she really lock you out? You are one LUCKY woman's all I gotta say.

Beth said...

Did you tuck your head and roll? It doesn't even sound like she slowed down.

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

You would not leave the house if you lived here in Ottawa. We deal with that crap five months of the year, and it sucks, but somehow we deal with it.

I totally know what you mean though, and I too would have been gnawing at my knuckles.

Glad you got back in one piece ... more or less.

Annie said...

I would have been a crying, sloppy mess. You made it. Thank God.

the mama bird diaries said...

Holy crap. Well, we could all use a little more adventure in our lives. Right?

Joanie M said...

Do you know how to have an adventure or what!

By the way, I'm still voting daily. I sure hope everyone else is too!

And we got 20 inches of snow on this side of Oregon. How about you?

Bano said...

I, too, am a HORRIBLE passenger, especially in bad traffic and snow. Mr. Clean has actually taken to letting me drive when we are in town so as to avoid me saying things like, "Slow down!" and "Why are you following so closely?!" and grasping the handle for dear life.

When we go on long distance trips, I SLEEP so I don't have to witness his driving skills and he doesn't have to reach over and throttle me. It keeps the peace.

♥ Braja said...

Bitch. Well hell, someone had to say it.

Darkwitless said...

VodkaMom:
1)Glad you made it home!
2) You MUST let her guest post!! We want her version!!
3) I tangled with a semi many years ago and walked away (with our 18 month old son)...Hubby doesn't question letting me drive. He's just glad I was willing to get back behind the wheel ;-)
4) please invite Jane to guest post! (yeah, worth repeating!)

BLOGitse said...

wow, and here I am complaining about the traffic - only 20 million people and air is thick of pollution, too many cars...but I can just sit and look what happens around me. Sometimes we have to travel 20 km (12,5 miles) for 2,5 hours. But we don't have snow problems!
Are going to be in contact with "Jane"? :)

BLOGitse

The Blue Zoo said...

Sheesh! That is just a crazy adventure!

SweetPeaSurry said...

Sooo I'm guessing you and Jane aren't currently BFF's? What a story ... that's a good one! Glad you're home safe!

blessings!

The Stiletto Mom said...

I may need to call you to hear the back story on this one! What a crazy adventure!

Poppy Buxom said...

OMG you poor thing! I wish you had been in a car with ME. I totally rock the driving-in-the-blizzard thing. And I could use another 10 hours with you!

I'm so glad you got home safe.

Everyday Goddess said...

Every Thelma has her Louise.

But don't feel bad, you are only human!

She needed you too, you know.

SmartBear said...

Hi! Just recently found your blog...which instantly had me at "vodka". Glad you made it home safe!

Mandy said...

Great to meet you at Blissdom. Too bad you had such a traumatic ride home. Glad you're safe.

Travis Erwin said...

You have all the fun.

Hollywood Farm Films said...

OH MY G---!!!

You are so brave!! You were wonderful, and bave and I could have NEVER TAKEN THE WEHEEL IN A BLIZZARD!!!
! She was an angel.....you were her angel too!!!

OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU HAD TO DRIVE BACK !!! NIGHTMARE!!

FabulousTerrah said...

Ah, big hugs. United is on my shit list as well. A flight a few years ago was delayed 4 hours, FOUR! Then they lost my luggage. Good goin' United.

Katy said...

My mom's got you beat--and that's all I'm gonna say about that.

Dana said...

Too Funny...unless you lived it!

ReadingRosie :)

Lora said...

erm...is this a bad time to mention that i live between opryland hotel and the airport and you could have totally crashed at my house?

like seriously, less than 5 minutes from the airport. and that pesky sound of airplanes flying over wouldn't have even bothered us since there WERE no planes flying over.

yeah, probably a bad time to mention that. i'm sure you could have gotten some mileage out of my trashed house (it's the cat's fault i PROMISE) and my weird self. and my boyfriend who would have said 'she's a friend from WHERE? wait, you've never MET her? oh my GA...' and come speeding over from his own apartment just to make sure you hadn't murdered me in the 10 minutes it would take for him to get here...

Marinka said...

OMG, is Jane ok?

La Mere Joie said...

Wow! I feel really badly for you! I am a horrible passenger too. To everyone except my DH. Although, maybe he's just used to me, so he ignores me. D.C. was trecherous! Jane seems mean.

Anonymous said...

Jane here and now for the rest of the story.... I first met Vodka Mom at the ticket counter when she was telling me how her flight had been cancelled the day before and she spent the night in the airport. We were both re-booked for the next day. I told her I was getting a rental car and driving did she want to ride along. I’ve been on trains, planes and automobiles all over the world, sometimes driving on the left side of the road in England and other times in the back seat of a harrowing taxi taking the longest possible route driving the cost up.....this would be a piece of cake. We did not drive in the blizzard. The snow had stopped more than 12 hours ago. I rented the car on my corporate credit card, which carries steep penalties for allowing other drivers not employed by the company to drive, so I had a dilema. I knew Vodka Mom was having trouble as a passenger so I let her drive the last 2 hours of the trip giving me time to rest since I still needed to drive from Dulles to Norfolk which tacked another 7 hours to my 12 hour drive. When she made the turn off of I-81 onto Route 66, the right lane was snow covered from where the snow had drifted the night before. You couldn’t drive on that side of the road because it was bumpity, bump, bumpity, bump. The passing lane however was bare and trucks were driving 50 mph on it. Vodka Mom started to panic. She kept braking and flashing her lights up and down to try and see the road. She was afraid there was black ice on the road. She had slowed to 20 mph in the passing lane with trucks barreling up on us. I knew at that rate, it would take 4 hours to get to Dulles and she was freaking out. I was trying to guide her on how to drive on the bare road by staying in the passing lane just as I would have when I was teaching my kids to drive. Nothing was working and I was worried that something would happen while she was driving and then I would be in deep trouble with my company and car insurance. So I asked her to pull over so that I could drive. I knew we couldn’t pull a Chinese fire drill in the middle of the road, so we looked for the next exit. When we pulled into the gas station, the first thing I had to do was go to the bathroom. She handed me the keys and I jumped out and ran inside. When I came out of the bathroom, she was standing in the middle of the convenience store talking on her cell phone. I told her to hurry up if she needed to go to the bathroom because we needed to get back on the road. It was at least another 2 hour drive. When I clicked the remote to unlock the doors it didn’t unlock both doors. When Vodka Mom went to get in, panic mode kicked in and she thought I locked her out. I just laughed and said come on get in. In all of this, I asked her how she ever drove in the many snow storms in her small college town in Oregon which has an annual snow fall of 48.3 inches. We arrived at Dulles at 9 PM. The shuttle buses were not running and yep, you guessed it, I had to go to the bathroom again. I love my coffee, need I say more, lol. The non-English speaking rental car attendants didn’t know how to get us from the rental car lot to the parking garage, so I told him to hop in the passenger side and I would drive to the garage. I am very innovative and think quickly on my feet. We got to my Lincoln Navigator and ultimately to the service station to meet Vodka Mom’s brother-in-law. She pointed out his silver truck across the lot and I pulled in beside him. I needed to find a bathroom fast, so, I jumped out and grabbed her luggage out of the back of my SUV and was hoping that being with family and at the end of her journey she would be able to calm down. So, I turned to her brother-in-law and said "She's all yours, good luck with calming her down!" Vodka Mom and I promised to keep in touch and said our goodbyes. She asked me to help her trace her family tree since I am an avid genealogist. And I plan on doing just that. It was a great road trip and we made friends for life.