Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Happens When Florida Doesn't Want You To Leave

The whole way home from Florida last weekend I kept thinking of that Jim Carrey movie from a few years ago, A Series of Unfortunate Events, because that's what it felt like. For two days. We were faced with several situations that could have either gone our way or against us and we just couldn't catch a break. I'm sure there's a term for it when you gamble and beat the odds... in a negative way.

So since my Facebook statuses during the ordeal were a bit vague, here's how it all went down:

Monday morning at the beach we got up, got some coffee and took a nice walk. Our flight was at 2:10 and we planned to get ready to leave and have an early lunch out before going to the airport. By the time we got back from our walk and Charlie was taking his morning nap Brad had an email from work that something had to be done ASAP and to call ASAP (Unfortunate Event #1).

Brad started working in the condo and I got us all packed up and Charlie napped, fed and ready to go. Finally at 11:30am I told Brad he really needed to take a shower because we HAD to go. We left around noon. It was an hour to the airport so we thought we'd be fine for our 2:10pm flight.

Except it was Labor Day. At the beach. We hit traffic about 10 minutes into our drive - stop and go, over the bridge and through the woods (Unfortunate Event #2). Then a monsoon hit and traffic stopped again (Unfortunate Event #3). Somewhere in all the confusion and panic, we got lost (Unfortunate Event #4), although we would have most likely missed the flight anyways. I was driving and Brad was in the backseat still trying to work so it was chaos all around. Brad called Delta on the way and the agent told him that there was another flight a few hours later so we calmed down some thinking we'd still get home, just later then originally planned.

When we got to the airport around 2, Brad ran inside to see if there was any way they'd still let us on the flight. Of course THIS particular flight was running on time. When you need them to be late they never are. If they wouldn't let us on he was going to get us on the list for the later flight. I circled the airport with Charlie asleep in the car seat. When Brad got back in the car he said pull over - we need to talk. My stomach felt sick. Good conversations rarely come from such statements.

What the Delta agent on the phone failed to check when we called was that the later flight was not only full, but overbooked. So was every other Delta flight out of all of the surrounding airports, including Mobile, AL. Until Thursday (Unfortunate event #5). The desk agent suggested we drive 5 hours to Atlanta and catch the flight there to Richmond. So off we went in our rental car to Atlanta.

About halfway to Atlanta the time change occurred to me. Brad was in the backseat working while Charlie slept and it occurred to him about the same time. The Florida panhandle is on CST and Atlanta is obviously EST. We were cutting it close. Really close. We pressed on through bad weather and this really annoying 2 lane highway and thought we would make it but there would probably be some running involved when we got to the airport. About 20 miles from ATL we hit construction traffic and everything stopped (Unfortunate event #6). We just watched the minutes tick by on the car's clock and finally passed the airport around takeoff time.

Time for a new plan, which was developed over a "dinner" of Snickers bars while getting gas. We were going to keep driving, find somewhere to spend the night and I would drop Brad off at his client in Charlotte in the morning. I would continue driving and Charlie and I would return the rental car at the Richmond airport and pick up my car to go home.

After an Atlanta Target stop for supplies, we arrived at the Spartanburg, SC Marriott at 1:15am. We left at 8am. I'm not sure I've ever slept that heavy. We drove to Charlotte where I dropped Brad off at his client around 9:30am. I drove for 3 hours, got some lunch, drove for another 2 hours and finally got to the Richmond airport around 3:30pm. Charlie and I were finally home after dropping the rental car and getting our car around 4:30pm on Tuesday.

Once we got home I had 2 conference calls to attend while trying to keep a very tired and fussy baby entertained. It was so painful. I barely remember what was discussed on these calls, just that I was pretty sure I sounded like a completely incompetent idiot. The rest of the week is something of a blur.

I do have to say that Charlie was wonderful the entire trip. He was delighted to have Brad sitting in the backseat with him so much and he either slept or talked or clapped his hands and was just as happy as he can be. I felt so undeserving of him and his good nature the whole time. I know all of this really wore him out. Daycare thought he was sick on Wednesday but I think it was a combo of exhaustion and teething.

I also have to say that I have the nicest neighbors ever. After three days of eating virtually nothing because of stress, lack of time and then no groceries at the house, they had me over for dinner Wednesday night. I had two big plates and some wine - and then slept like nobody's business. Nice neighbors: Priceless.

Moral of the story: Do not ever, ever, EVER miss your flight out of Fort Walton Beach airport on a holiday weekend.

Other moral of the story: Call your rental car company before you leave the state with their car and return it elsewhere the next day. They sure do get fussy if you don't.

It was definitely an experience where you keep asking yourself every so often 'is this really happening right now?' as you grasp onto the end of your rapidly fraying rope. Even in retrospect it seems so unbelievable. Kind of like labor and delivery. Fortunately I married someone who can laugh about such things. And laugh we will - because what else can you do?


Soña said...

Wow. That is all. Wow.

p.s. so glad you made it, and with your sense of humor intact ;)

Holly said...

Holy $*#%! How did you not pull all your hair out? I am so sorry... Kindof discourages traveling with baby:(.

Lakshmy said...

Oh my dear lord in heaven! I had no idea you went through so much getting home!! I must admit that I had a good laugh about the "really annoying two lane highway" on your way to Atlanta. Was it I-20? There are so many annoying two lane highways on the way to ATL....