Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A traveling tale

I love to travel. But I do not like travel-ing, especially by myself. This is ironic considering I trekked to live in Honduras alone one spring after graduation and have travelled many places solo including Thailand and Malaysia. I guess my issue is with airports. I become extremely nervous every time I get ready to check in. Some of the more stressful illustrations are:

- I have missed a flight and had to pay another $800 to get a new one the next day after missing the bag check in time by 1-2 minutes.

-I have arrived hours early only to spend hours on the phone trying to re-route a flight that occurs only weekly and was missed due to airline issues.

-Waiting in very small one room airports and hoping I didn’t misunderstand the Spanish saying I missed my flight.

…until last week when I was able to add another event to my list.

Travel back to Wednesday:

Abe was already in Washington DC for a genetics seminar. I was set to fly out that night at 7:12 pm so I could have time to arrive after work which usually is over about 5 pm.

Miraculously, I got done with work much earlier than expected. I was excited thinking I may be able to arrange my flight for an earlier time. I was frustrated when this was not the case. I waited around for hours before leaving for the airport. This is the ironic part.

Finally, about 5:45 I leave my house for the Cedar Rapids airport about 20-30 minutes away. As I approach the airport, I decide having only a short layover I may not get food until midnight or later if I don’t eat now. I pulled into the McDonalds and ordered some food. I text Abe and say something to the extent of,

“Just at the McDonalds down the road from the airport. This is the time I start getting nervous. Silly, I know.” More irony. Can you see it coming yet? This is about 6:10 pm.

I drive past the Casey’s (a gas station here in Iowa) thinking to myself that perhaps I should stop and get some gas. Are you on board yet?-- Nope, I think. I am getting towards low, but don’t want to take the time to stop.

I drive another mile or so when my car starts sputtering. I am wondering what is going on and see that my gas light is on. My car is always great at warning me about being out of gas but I do not remember hearing any dinging noises and the gas tank wasn’t in the red. But I assumed this was my problem. I pulled over and the car was done. Right in sight of the airport. And luckily (in far) sight of the gas station. I called Abe in a panic and he told me to go back and get some gas. Okay. Great idea! It is about 6:20 pm.

I jogged the mile or so back to the station. The attendant at first said he had no gas cans. What? Luckily, he found a small gallon one for me to purchase and then I jogged back to the car as best I could with a sloshing gas can full of heavy (and stinky) gas. This was hard and where I was bemoaning my dislike for running. Maybe if I LOVED running like it seems everyone else I know, I would have enjoyed the extra challenge. I arrive back to the car about 6:40 pm.

I tried my best to put the gas in the car. Hard when it is dark and you are in the middle of a corn field (figuratively speaking). Unfortunately, the car still wouldn’t start. At this point I said the obligatory prayer, the “Please help me get out of this one.” I didn’t have any faith that it could work out my way, which meant getting to the airport on time without trouble.

Just as I said the final word in my mind, I see two headlights pull up. I am a little wary but a nice young man who reminded me a bit of my brother came out of his car and I asked if I needed help. I asked if he would take me to the airport (silly how all caution went to the wind when I was in a jam, I know) and he agrees. He drives me the two minutes or less to the airport, and waits inside to make sure I get off. I arrived about 6:53 and at first they said I was not allowed to board. Luckily, one of the guys at the desk was magic and made that problem disappear. I thanked Ben, his name, for his helpfulness and for not being creepy and ran as they were calling my name.

Of course, there was a line at CID airport security for the first time ever. And I got behind an older family slowly taking off shoes and removing laptops and belts while they are calling for passenger Sheffield. I finally made it through, ran through the terminal (again, need to start training for a marathon because that terminal was suddenly much bigger than I remembered), said hi to Ben’s parents who were watching for me, and was the last to board about 7 pm.

Luckily, it was smooth sailing after that. Except for my cold McDonalds…

We had the car towed to the mechanics thanks to the help of Abe’s brother. I’m still not sure if we were merely out of gas or if it was “broken down.” It is currently receiving some repairs which I am not sure are related or not.


Thanks to Ben and his parents for raising a gentleman who was willing to help a person in need and for not being creepy. Wish I could say a better thanks!


Amber said...

I'm so glad things worked out! I am a little bummed, however, that I didn't know you were in DC. (I live, like, 30 minutes away!) :-)

Erin said...

Oh sorry Amber, I didn't realize you were so close! Would have been so fun to see you. Bummer. Guess you'll just have to come to Iowa or Nauvoo now...

Marci Wittwer Butterfield said...

Oh man.. not fun at all. So glad you made it safe though. Now you just have another flying story to add to the list.

Oriens said...

no freaken way. that sounds like it was quite the adventure and I am so glad that things turned out okay. Thank goodness for nice people out there!

nathan n rachel said...

Wow...that story stressed me out.