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Archive for August 29th, 2011

Irene, Why You Gotta Do Me That Way?

August 29, 2011

No goal report card again this Monday, since I’ve once again been traveling. This time it was a trip to Maryland on Friday to meet with a coworker who’s based in her home office there. Originally, I was planning to stay over until Sunday so I could spend some time with my New Jersey-by-way-of-Australia friend Amanda, but my not-at-all friend Hurricane Irene had other ideas about that. Irene was already threatening to be an issue before I left; I considered changing my plans to avoid her entirely, but while Delta was waiving change fees for my destination and timeframe, they were still collecting the difference in fares and only allowing flights to be postponed until September 2nd, which happens to be the start of the long holiday weekend, so a) not an easy time to rearrange things and b) not a cheap time to fly, especially compared to my ticket purchased weeks ago. So, since Irene wasn’t scheduled to arrive in Maryland until Saturday or Sunday, I got on my flight as scheduled Friday morning. Before the plane took off I saw something happen I’ve never seen: two passengers removed from the flight after the boarding process was complete. They were children, traveling without a parent (Mom put them on the plane, and Dad was to pick them up in Baltimore), and the younger one, the girl, cried inconsolably and wailed for her mother the whole brief time she was on the plane. I was a handful of rows up from where they were sitting and could hear the flight attendants trying to distract her and calm her and explain to her what was happening, all to no avail. Finally, one said “you’re going to see mommy now” and walked the kids up the aisle and came back alone. During beverage service, the passengers in the row ahead asked the flight attendant if the kids were still on the plane and was told they were not. Oh, how I would like to know how that story turned out.

Of course I had to snap the winglet

After we landed in Baltimore and I’d gotten to the car rental counter, I asked about the possibility of dropping the car off in Detroit, in case I need to drive back to either avoid the hurricane or make it to work on Monday despite the hurricane. The clerk did some research (including asking me to confirm that Detroit was in Michigan) and quoted a figure $500 more than my weekend rental was otherwise going to be. Did I want her to change my reservation? No, I did not. My meeting went fine, and once it was done, I spent most of the rest of the afternoon looking at Irene forecasts and researching my travel options. Should I just stay and hope the storm would have passed on by the time I was scheduled to leave midday on Sunday? (And also hope that the storm wouldn’t be bad where I’d be, and that the airplane I needed to fly out on would have made it to Baltimore, and so on.) Should I give up on seeing Amanda and pay Delta $300 to change my flight to 9:30 Saturday morning or pay Alamo $160 to rent a car one way to Detroit—they seemed not so put out by that idea as the company whose care I already had in my possession—and spend all day Saturday driving home? Should I look for a hotel room in Pennsylvania outside of the predicted storm path? I stopped into a drugstore at one point, where I found a sign on the door telling me they were sold out of D batteries and flashlights. Okay then. I talked to Mr. Karen, who helped me think through various scenarios. I texted Amanda. I refreshed the cone of probability webpage. I talked to Amanda; we agreed it was probably not a great idea for her to drive to where I was and potentially get stuck or vice versa, much as we wanted to see each other. I poked some more at the Delta site and found I could get on the 6 a.m. flight Saturday for no cost (evidently fares are very low at crazy early times in the morning I don’t usually think to include in my filters), so I changed my reservation and was glad to be able to stop fretting about the situation.

CVS in Maryland, Friday afternoon before Irene

With my near term future resolved, I was able to head to dinner with a clear head, meeting up with Weetacon friends Deb, Mary, Beth, and Jessi. The Google Maps navigation lady who lives in my Droid did a good job getting me to the restaurant until the very last step, where she was telling me to proceed on this road when I could quite clearly see I was driving right by the building on my left. I turned around and parked in a nearby lot, looking at my phone to see a “destination is not here” prompt. Destination was there. The restaurant had some storm-related drink specials; Deb and I both ordered the hurricane but due to a bartender error got something else instead, a punch made with rum, rum, rum, rum, banana liqueur, and a few drops of fruit juice. Before I started in on it, I thought, “oh, I’ll just have a hurricane next”. Wrong. No way could I follow that punch with anything alcoholic and still make it back to the hotel, much less up for a 6 a.m. flight. Dinner was great—the food was tasty and our laughter was frequent as we caught up with each other. I was so glad all the ladies were able to make it out to meet up!

Morning came way, way too early, but I managed to get up and out and over to the airport in time to make my flight (which was 100% full despite the early hour) and ended up getting back to Detroit Metro Airport about 24 hours after I’d left it. I managed to stay up ’til nearly a normal bedtime on Saturday, though I did sleep until 9:30 the next morning as my body tried to make up for the two short nights preceding. Sunday I couldn’t resist checking the Baltimore airport website—as it turned out, my original flight only left one minute behind schedule. Lots of flights were delayed or cancelled, but not that one. I couldn’t have known that would be the case, though, and I sure would have felt dumb if I’d had the chance to come home early and not taken it, then spent most of Saturday in a hotel with no power, Mr. Karen’s hand-cranked radio/flashlight/weather radio unit my only link to the outside world, then woken up Sunday to a closed airport and no chance to get home until Monday or Tuesday or later, which also could have happened. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.

Maybe next week I’ll be back into goal mode—no, wait, that’s Labor Day, so I will be into holiday mode. The week after that, though, for sure. I have still been doing some goal-related stuff, like pages at DP and pushing ahead on the photo album, but just haven’t been able to focus much what with all the travel and pre- and post-travel activities. Now I’ll be staying put at home for a while so that won’t be an issue.

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