Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Epic Tale Of How I Missed A Plane and More Series of Unfortunate Events

A couple months ago, I missed a plane for the first time in my life, and what happened afterwords turned out to be pretty comical...
Note: This is meant to be funny and I'm not trying to complain at all because it really was all my fault! I'm kinda glad though, because now, I have a pretty hilarious (and long, sorry!) story to tell.
 (Yeah, it wasn't at all hilarious at the time, though.)

It all starts with...
 I guess this whole story begins the day before my scheduled flight. My aunt and I left our family camping trip early so we didn't have to rush home the next day to make it to the airport. That night, as  usual, my aunt and I got a little carried away with time. We were giggling and laughing until probably about 3 am, knowing full well we'd have to be up at 6am to make the 2 hour drive to the airport so I could be on time for take-off. 
I told my aunt not to worry, I'd set an alarm so we would be up at the right time. 

I awoke with a yawn and stretched my arms out feeling well rested. At that moment, it clicked. I shouldn't feel well rested on only 3 hours of sleep. Speaking of which, why do I not hear an alarm going off??
I jump out of bed faster than a speeding bullet and sprint to the next room to wake my aunt. 
My plane was scheduled for take off at 10 am. 
I had to be at the gate 1 hour before scheduled take-off.
  (I was flying Allegiant which begins boarding an hour before take off...crazy, I know)
It was at least a 2 hour drive to the airport. 

We got ready as quickly as possible and bolted out the door at around 7:20 and we were all good until we got halfway through the next town before I realized that I had forgotten my boarding pass on the kitchen table. 

Knowing I wouldn't have time to wait in line at the airport, my aunt flipped a u-turn and zoomed back towards the house.

 We were back on route towards the airport.

I made a promise to myself to calm down and not to panic...
and also not glance over at the speedometer. My aunt Denise was flying down the interstate.
Don't mess with her! haha!

We pulled into the airport just in time.
I began to feel concerned when I didn't see Allegiant airlines on any of the signs. At this point though, I didn't think too much of it and chalked it up to Allegiant just being a small airlines.

I flew out of the car, just barely kissing Denise on the cheek, and bolted to the security line.
Thankfully, there wasn't a line at all and I went right up to the TSA agent and handed him my boarding pass.

He looked at it and said "One moment, miss."
He walked away to another agent, and asked her something. I was too far away to hear, but it didn't look good, whatever it was.

"Ma'am, Allegiant doesn't fly to this airport. You have to go to the OTHER airport."
"Oh, Rickenbacker? It's on the OTHER side of Columbus."
I glanced at the clock, 9:20. There was still a chance.
I snatched my ticket without so much as a thank you (Sorry TSA agent, it was a bad day for me) and called my sweet aunt who was still waiting and she swung by again. I ran to the car and began telling her all the info quickly. Before, I even finished, we were headed to the opposite side of the city. The GPS said that we'd arrive at 9:55 and he plane wasn't scheduled to leave until 10, so we had a very very slim chance but a chance at that.
The funny thing is that when I told her that there was actually another airport she didn't believe me.
"Amber, I've lived in this area for years and have never in my life heard of that airport" she told me.
Yep. Freaking Rickenbacker.

Precisely 9:58am:
As fate would have it, as soon as we pulled into this unheard-of, mysterious Rickenbacker airport (which only consisted of one gate that was smaller than a CVS store), there goes my sad, little plane taxiing to the runway. I kid you not, it was like a scene out of a movie and I seriously contemplated running after it a la Woody and Buzz in Toy Story 2 (ultimately I decided it probably wasn't safe)

Ride Like the Wind Bullseye! 

At this point, I burst into tears. After I calmed down a bit, we ran inside the 'airport' (I use this term loosely) to try to talk to an agent, but IT WAS CLOSED.
Yes, you read that right.
Apparently there is only 1 flight out of this 'airport' a day, which just so happened to be mine. A security guard saw me emotional, asked us if we were okay and we shared what had just happened. To which she replied "Ma'am I'll ya, that happens eerrrysingleday. You'da be surprised" in her thick country draw. When we asked why we couldn't get into the airport, she told us that they close it 10 minutes before departure. I remember hearing a slur of hushed words behind me coming from my aunt.
I just laughed.
#goodpointthough #tellmeaboutit

That night,approx 5pm:
After holding on the phone for what seemed like all day (numerous times for over an hour and when the call finally connected to a human, my flipping cell battery died), I finally figured out my options. I could A: Wait until the next Allegiant flight out, which wasn't for another 2 days
or B: I could find another airline that left the next day.

I went with B.
The only good news was that my return flight didn't get canceled because I missed the first flight.
So I bought a ticket for the following day, departing at 1pm at the RIGHT airport. I had a connection in Charlotte, but I'd be in Florida by 6pm. (Ha! So I thought...)

For dinner that night, we decided to go to Wendy's for a quick bite to eat. My aunt sent me inside to get the food and as I stood in line, I contemplated ordering a frosty.
When I got back to the car with our bag of food and my gigantic frozen drink, my aunt eyed my spur-of-the-moment frosty decision speculatively.
I just looked at her, reading her inner thoughts and said "Hey. I missed my flight today for the first time in my life. I think I deserve it, so I got myself a damn Frosty.  I ultimately went with a medium instead of a large because I figured my day wasn't that bad. " We both just crack up laughing.

This phrase is now used at every possible chance we get.
I don't want to do the I'm gettin' myself a damn frosty!
You have to go to work? Get yourself a damn frosty!
Need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up? Get yourself a damn frosty!


THE DAY AFTER,Late Morning:
My lovely aunt dropped me off at the correct airport (we checked I believe 50 times)
 promptly 2 hours before the flight was scheduled to depart. There was no way I was missing this one. She decided to wait in the Cell Lot until I texted her I was on the plane.

As I sat at the gate, I tried to finally relax for the first time since yesterday morning. 

I glanced at my watch suddenly feeling anxious because it was already 12:45 and we still hadn't started boarding yet. 
As if they could hear my worried thoughts, the loud speaker came on around me.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a little pickle. Your plane hasn't left Charlotte yet for a maintenance issue, which means there will be a 2 hour delay. If you will miss your connecting flight, please come up and see me."

I think to myself "Okay, don't panic. They will reschedule your connecting flight and you'll make it there just a few hours later than I expected."
After waiting in a never-ending line, I got my connecting flight changed just as I thought, 2 hours later than expected. I called everyone and let them know and went and sat back down to read. 

Mind you, once I told my aunt (who hates flying) what happened she promptly called United to make sure the plane would be safe. Gosh, I love her!

Late Afternoon:

Well, 2 hours came and went and guess what never showed up?
Yep. I was beginning to think I had the worst luck in the world. Little did I know those words would serve as a challenge.

So I got back in the never-ending line after they announced that the plane was canceled. 
I overheard the conversation ahead of me and heard that most of the next flights out were full. The lady behind me saw how upset I was and whispered in my ear. "You have to lie. Make up a reason why you have to be wherever you're going today. Otherwise, they won't make it a priority." 
I smiled briefly to the lady behind me thinking that she was crazy and handed the agent my info. She typed away into her computer. 
After an eternity, she looked up at me and said "Miss, unfortunately there's nothing else out today. You're best bet is tomm-"
That's when something came over me and I suddenly told the biggest lie of the century. "WHAT!?! NO!!!! My brother's wedding is tomorrow and I am a bridesmaid! I HAVE to be there tonight!!!! Ma'am, you don't understand!!!" and I begin to cry. I'll admit the tears were real because I was just so sick and tired of dealing with airports but I instantly felt guilty about lying. 
She saw my red blotchy, tear-stained face and said "Hold on ma'am, let me see what I can do." 
She got back to typing. 
After forever, she said "OK, I am switching you onto American and you'll leave here at 5:30 and connect into Miami and you'll depart to Tampa arriving at 9:30. Is that okay?"
"Perfect." I said wiping my tears with a smile.
As I began walking back to my chair, the lady behind me winked and whispered "Nice job, Sister."
I grinned. 
I know, I am horrible.

Luckily, my aunt was still waiting all this time in the Cell Lot and picked me back up for a quick bite to eat before I had to leave again. I hugged her goodbye as she dropped me back off and made sure to tell her that this would be the last time she saw me until a week. 

The plane boarded on time and even though I was the legit last seat in the very back of the plane, I was just happy to be on an airplane.  I buckled my seat belt, pulled out my book and began to relax for the first time in the last 36 hours. 

The thing was though, I was relaxing an awful lot and the plane didn't seem to be moving. I looked up and noticed that everyone had already boarded and we had pulled away from the gate but that was it. We hadn't moved for at least 15 minutes. 

The loud over-head speaker roared 
"It seems that the plane has had a bit of a technical issue. We are working on it, the technician is on his way, and we should be on our way shortly."

I officially had the worst luck or someone had a vendetta against me because it looked like I just wasn't supposed to make it to Florida. 
Panicked, the guy sitting next to me helped me figure out that as long as we left Columbus in the next 30 minutes, I would still make my connecting flight to Tampa. I had to book it though, because I would only have a 10 minute layover and I had to be at the other end of the airport. 

Finally, the odds were in my favor, because 30 minutes later the issue had been fixed and we were at 20,000 feet heading to the Sunshine State. 

Late Evening:
I smiled as I looked out the window and finally saw palm trees. It's the small things, guys. 

Once we landed, I deboarded and quickly checked the flight-status board to confirm the gate I needed to be at and that it was still on time. It read that the gate and time were on schedule which meant I had 8 minutes to get onto my next plane. 
I began to run like my life depended on it, faster than I ever had before. 
I once again felt like I was in a movie... I dodged several people & golf carts and my lungs were screaming at me once I reached my gate.
 Only, when I got there...the gate wasn't empty. There were still people sitting there and the plane was still at the gate. 
My heart fell as I looked at the board and it said 
in big red letters. 

Of course it was. 
Because that was just my luck.

Well, I realized that I had another hour and a half to spend in Miami, I might as well make the most of it. 
It was actually pretty cool because the world cup had just begun and seeing that Miami is a hub for South America, there were tons of people with jerseys and huge flags. The atmosphere in the airport felt like a giant party, I loved it!

About 10 minutes before boarding, a lady with a baby strapped to her chest, who looked exhausted walked by and asked if I wanted some magazines because she had read them too many times. 
I suddenly realized that I could've had it a lot worse and I was thankful for her sweet gesture. 

Smiling, I told her thank you and that her sweet little one was adorable. She laughed and told me that I should've heard him 10 minutes ago. I chuckled.

As I handed my ticket to the agent so she could scan it, I saw something that shocked me
"Wait, what does that say?" I said out loud. 

"Miss, you're in first class! Lucky you!"

The irony was not lost on me. 

I nestled into my first class seat, utterly spent from the day and glanced over at what was happening next to me. 

I began to notice something. People that were walking by kept shaking the hand of the man sitting next to me, 'saying good luck, Governor' or 'thank you, Governor.'

Perplexed, I did the one thing that can solve all questions...
I consulted the Google.

Under images, I typed 
'Governor of Florida'
but that wasn't him, the picture didn't match. 
So I typed
'Former Governor of Florida'


I was seated next to Charlie Crist, who happened to be running again for Governor. 

When everyone had boarded the plane, he sat back in his seat and looked over at me, reaching to shake my hand. 
"Hi, I'm Charlie Crist. Where are you from?"
"Hi, I know who you are and I'm from Dallas."
His brow furrowed, obviously confused. "How do you know who I am if you're from Texas."
I rested back in my seat, buckled my seat belt and looked over at him with a smile.
"That's the power of google" I said. 

Less than an hour later, at around 12:30 am, the wheels finally, 
touched down in Tampa. 

I finally made it. 
I just happened to be about 48 hours short of when I was originally supposed to be there...
but I was there and that was all that mattered.

Except when I began thinking that if I would've just went with option A, I would've been in Tampa at almost the same time with probably a lot less hassle.

 But I quickly denied that reasoning because I had a wild adventure and one day, I would look back on this and laugh and that would make it all worth it. 

I was right.

And that my friends, was the epic tale of how I missed my plane for the first time in my life, which ultimately lead to a lot more series of unfortunate events. 

Ask me if I'll ever miss another plane, I dare ya. 

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