* (barring death and illness of course)
Coming down off a high of Harry Potter Land and a day at Universal (where i walked over 10 miles according to my fitbit. remember this, it will come into play later.) I entered the Orlando airport and the black hole where everything that could go wrong, DID GO WRONG.
Part A: Orlando Airport
1. 6PM. There were 2 lines for US Airways: Self Check in and the regular line. Of course i got into the regular line, because thanks to the weather we had across the country, everything was delayed and i already knew my flight was delayed 2 hours. This line had ZERO counter people working. and fifty people in line. i went to the other line, which took 40 minutes to be helped with only 5 people in front of me. the self help kiosks were broken, the attendants were frazzled (i overheard one whisper into a walkie talkie “get your ass out here and help, there is going to be a riot ANY SECOND!) oh and the checked bag stickers weren’t printing. after waiting 25 minutes for the group of 3 women in front of me to come to the realization that 30 minutes is indeed, not enough time to be there before an international flight (2 hours idiots!) i finally was told my plane was delayed 3 hours, and i would miss my connection in philly and have to spend the night. but he could get me to scranton (2 hours from philly!) by 6 PM the following day. due to the impending riot i took that and walked away. past the initial line of 50 people who STILL had no one at the counter. and yet they were STILL in line. like whoa.
2. talked to my sister, and decided to pursue her grand idea of flying into NYC and coming home with them the next day. which meant i walked another 2 miles (total 12 miles) to every terminal to see if that could happen. short story: it couldn’t. to which i said my new mantra “of course.”.
3. 9:02PM Back to my terminal. See a Qdoba! things are looking up, i can get a burrito for dinner! Burritos fix everything! Qdoba closed at 9. of course.
4. 9:20 PM. We can begin boarding! Wait, they found something wrong with the plane. Stand by. Yep plane is broken. But there is another plane! Please walk from gate 39 to gate 59 as soon as possible so we can takeoff. My feet are now numb. of course.
Part B: Philly Airport
1. 12:42AM We land. And i take off to the Marriott in the airport! 1.5 miles away! there is a shuttle but it is closed for the night. of course. 13.5 miles. Get to the Marriott! They have no rooms. of course. I just start to cry. and can’t stop. You know who else is fully booked? EVERY OTHER HOTEL NEAR THE AIRPORT. of course. Only apparent option to me: rent a car. Which the nice people at the desk help me with. Mostly because they are afraid i will stand there all night silently crying. As the guy is walking me to the door outside (where budget is right across the street!) and i am marveling at the sheer price of renting a car to go 100 miles, he says the following:
Marriott guy: Well on the upside you are saving money!
Me: (while still silently crying) How?
Marriott guy: Our room rates at $359.
Me: stop dead in my tracks. (explosively) THAT IS BULLSHIT!! That is the meanest thing i have heard. You should be ashamed of yourself! People do not stay here to experience the magic of the Philly airport, they stay here because something has already gone horribly awry. That is awful!
Marriott guy: Soooo, there is budget right across the street. Good luck! of course.
Part C. My Ford Hybrid Clown Car.
1. 1:30 AM. Budget was right across the street. Down an icy driveway, over an enormous snowbank, across a 4 lane airport highway, over another snowbank, and across an icy snowy parking lot. of course. in my sneakers and sweater coat no less.
2. Into the fancy car i go! Takes me 5 minutes to figure out how to start it with the stupid fancy push button start. (hint-step on the brake). Drive out the of the parking lot (still silently crying by the way) and almost get stuck on a patch of slushy ice that is approximately the size of my sneaker. awesome. and of course.
3. 2 AM. Made it to the turnpike! You got this Maria, not problem! lets pop into the first truck stop and grab a water. crying so much has dehydrated me. on the upside i have now stopped crying. i come out of the truck stop, literally less than 2 minutes later, and it is a BLIZZARD. OF COURSE IT IS. i start crying again.
4. Luckily it doesn’t stick to the road. i have my single moment of enjoyment when i pull up to the tollbooth and scare the operator who didn’t hear me thanks to my ultra-quiet hybrid clown car. Made it to Scranton!
Part D: Scranton Airport
1. 3:30 AM. almost there Maria, getting close now, keep it together. just need to return the rental car, get my car, and drive home. Find the budget spot, grab all my stuff, step into the 20* weather once more, down the sidewalk, over a snowbank, across the street and into the building!
2. Which has exactly ZERO people working in it. Zero, zilch, nada. I ask 4 guys waiting at the counter, ummm anyone working here? To which they reply, no they don’t get here till 4 AM. of course. My brain can literally not comprehend waiting 30 minutes so i simply drop my suitcase (unattended baggage! come arrest me! and while you are at it take care of my rental car please!) and walk to the empty rental car area.
3. i have never returned a rental car before, so i have no idea what to do. and full disclaimer, my brain is only operating at like 30% potential. so i stand there blankly for a moment before my eyes focus on… a Drop Box! at Budget! which is my company! and is the only dropbox on the whole counter! I literally have my keys halfway in the box before my brain fires and i realize there may be more to this. So i read the box: fill out your return form provided to you and place the keys inside before dropping in the dropbox. i have no return form. of course.
4. But by now i have already leaned into rebel territory (unattended baggage!) so i simply go behind the counter at start rifling thru the Budget counter to get a return form. (behind the counter! at an airport! rifling! come arrest me! and while you are at it can you grab me a return form?!) find one, have to rifle through all the other drawers in the rental car counter (like 10. it’s a rental car counter with a “take your pen home with you” policy. i mean, seriously.) to find a freakin pen, fill it out, add my phone number (you got a problem with my method, call me), collect my unattended baggage and head to my car.
The End: My House, 4:45AM
1. I hit the open road, almost lose my car in a ridiculously giant pothole, of course (thank god i didn’t still have my clown car or i would probably still be in the pothole) and finally make it home! and bonnie has plowed my driveway clear of our 14 inches of snow so i can actually get in! I throw it in park, gather my suitcase, think “i made it. i actually made it!” and promptly fall going up my stairs that are covered in 14″ of snow in my sneakers. of. course.