Wedding of the Century, Albuquerque, NM
For those of you who were not at the Wedding of the Century (in Albuquerque, where I should have been, permanently, by now), just getting there was a miracle. (Heads up: If you’ve already heard this story, feel free to wait for the next installment. More fun stuff on the horizon.)
On Saturday, three days before leaving, I stopped at a gas station in town to fill up my lawn mower gas can, as well as my Ford Escort gas tank in preparation for my trip to Springfield to catch my flight to New Mexico the following Tuesday. The gas can filled flawlessly; the gas tank, not so much. As Scott squeezed the nozzle, the gas immediately poured onto the ground -- and his foot -- and everywhere but into my gas tank. After several additional attempts, and with a line of cars forming around me, I gave up, went inside and paid, and told the clerk that their pump might be messed up.
On the morning of my flight (with plenty of time to spare), I again attempted to gas up my car before making the 1-1/2 hour trip to the Springfield airport. At this point the “Low Fuel” indicator light had come on. My goal was to put in a few gallons in town in order to get me to Rogersville where I would fill up at a Shell station using my Shell credit card, thereby freeing up my cash reserves for whatever expenses I might incur on my trip.
It is 10:45 a.m. and my flight is scheduled to leave at 1:35 p.m. No problem.
If you believe that, you don’t know my life.
I am at Murphy’s Gas Station, right at the intersection of the highway that will, God willing, take me to Springfield. This time I’m pumping, and this time the gas goes all over the ground and then onto my foot and, again, everywhere but my gas tank. Really??????? This could be a problem. I have no choice but to head to the nearest service station, 2-1/2 miles across town away from the highway.
One mechanic on duty, overwhelmed. I ask, at least, for his opinion. At most, I ask him to be my hero.
“Could be a filter problem, or maybe a clog of some sort, or a kink in the gas line. I can’t tell you and if I could, I don’t have time, and if I had time, I don’t have the tools. You should take it to Ford.”
Ford is across town, five miles in the opposite direction of where I need to go, and way opposite of the kind of time I have. I have no choice. It is now well after 11:00. (Springfield is a small airport; I’m not exactly panicking, but I am freaking out a bit.) After waiting in line for at least six precious minutes, after nearly breaking down in tears (“I have a plane to catch…you need to perform a miracle!”), the mechanic tells me that it could be any number of things, it will be a 3-to-4 hour job and will cost at least $200. I ask if there is a loaner/rental car available, any way of them assisting in my plight.
I am running on adrenaline now, automatic pilot. I head back to town. Go to my office, see if my boss can work a miracle. Scott is on the phone calling everyone he knows to see if anyone is available.
”Well, sure”, his ex-wife says, “but I need to call my sister. If it’s Springfield, then we might as well make a day of it.” (Later, when we called her back to say we had made other plans, she said (and I quote), “I hope you wreck.” Is it any wonder I need to get out of here?)
I get to my office, run in, freak out, and melt down in front of my boss. He is as cool as a cucumber.
“Sure, let’s go. Just stick a note on the door. And meanwhile, let’s see if my wife wants to go. Might as well make a day of it.”
By the time we take my car home, transfer my luggage and pick up my boss’ wife, it’s almost noon. But hey, we’re on the west side of town. But, hey, we need gas, which, by the way, I inadvertently pay for using the wrong credit card, dipping precariously into my “real” credit card reserves which were on reserve to catch me should I surpass my cash reserves.
I make it to the airport with only minutes to spare. There is a line at the check-in counter. (Don’t even think about telling me about pre-check and pre-boarding and all that stuff, even though [and especially since] I wasn’t checking baggage. I packed especially carefully [and heavily, using vacuum space bags] in order to avoid checked baggage fees [can you guess why?] and my packing saga could fill an entire blog all by itself. Blah, blah, blah.)
The guy at the check-in counter has some sympathy, especially when he types in my itinerary number and finds that the flight has already closed, and even more so when he doubts that there is even a seat available (presumably because they’ve already filled the standby seats). Powerful man that he is, he makes a simple phone call and asks “them” to reopen the flight and then hands me my boarding pass.
“Our security is pretty easy,” he says encouragingly. “But once you get through, you are going to have to run, fast. Really fast. And your gate is the farthest one away.”
I’m not surprised.
Of course, there’s a line at TSA. I (surprisingly) have the forethought to call my boss and tell him not to leave since I might not make my flight. A man in front of me overhears and lets me skip ahead. (Thank you, sir!)
I really don’t travel much. (C’mon, are you really surprised?) Whenever I do, I conduct an enormous amount of research beforehand, mainly because I hate looking like an idiot. Today, I have worn (wedge) flip-flops and a comfy dress. But I am carrying a large, heavily-packed carry-on, plus a backpack, plus a “roomy” purse. I am expecting “them” to tell me I have too many bags; I am expecting to have to throw half of my belongings into the trash. I have budgeted for this.
TSA agent: “Do you have any liquids?” Me: “Yes, in my backpack.” TSA agent: “I need you to take your large bag out of the bin and put it directly onto the belt. Then I need you to remove your liquids from your smaller (too-large) bag and put them into a separate bin. You are not required, however, to remove your shoes.”
Really? I don’t have to take off my flip-flops? Damn it, I could have worn more sensible shoes! (Had I known I was going to be running.)
My liquids are packed per TSA https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/liquids-rule. However, they are in the back/bottom of my backpack, and every single nook and cranny and space of available air is filled with loose items: small jewelry bags, a shower scrunchy, breath mints, pairs of underwear, packs of cigarettes (damn that nasty habit; I have also packed my vaporizer in anticipation of an opportunity to cut back/quit. That didn’t happen…another story!). In an effort to make visible the 1-per-person-1-quart-bag-filled-with-3-oz.-liquids, I manage to spill every other little item onto the belt and onto the floor. I make it through the security scan without a hitch (or an alarm or a frisk) except I need to gather up my items, or leave them spilled onto the floor like someone else’s litter. I gather them, cuz that’s what I do. (Another blog subject…hey, just let me know if you’re interested!)
And here we go!
I take off running. In my wedge flip flops, my sundress, my (2) 35-lb. bags and my 3-lb. purse. I am cursing myself, remembering seeing other people in this predicament, thinking I will never be one of “those” people (thinking, secretly, “I wonder what it’s like to be one of those people? Where do they need to be? What is so important? Why didn’t they plan better?” I am NOT judgmental. I just wonder these things because my mind plays tricks on me. Feel free to ask me some time.)
So, yeah, I made my flight. With seconds to spare.
As I approach the boarding area…as I notice that there is not another soul to be seen…as my heart sinks to my knees, the floor, the bottom of my world…I spot an airline agent/associate/personnel/customer service representative.
I am shouting. There is no one to hear me except her. “Can I make it? Do I have time? Can I get on?!”
“You’re okay.” She smiles at me. Takes a quick glance at my papers. Escorts me up the boarding ramp. Hands a luggage tag to the curbside baggage guy, effectively taking half of my load from my shoulder and limiting my embarrassment as I board the plane, as I seek the eyes of the passengers who are wondering if I am the reason why the plane has not yet lifted off.
I am okay. I am on my way.
Destination: The Wedding Of the Century
Albuquerque, New Mexico.
(and My Future.)
To be continued…