Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the type that no matter how hard you try nothing seems to go right. Yeah, I know you have. We all have at one point or another. Well, this past week was definitely my turn for one of those days. If you have ever seen the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles it really felt a lot like that.
Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a post about me complaining about my day. Instead, it really got to the point that so many things went bad that it actually became funny (at least looking back on it). So with that in mind I hope my blunders bring a bit of slapstick to your day.
Setting the Stage: The Meeting
There was a major project I had been working on at my day job which required me to go to Augusta, GA last Tuesday. So the plan was for my Manager and I to fly out of Detroit Monday afternoon at 4:35, have a brief layover in Atlanta, and then take a jumper to Augusta so we could be ready for the meeting first thing Tuesday. Normally I would have probably left a little sooner than I did, but we had meetings all day and were not able to leave for the airport till 3:00. No big deal though, it only takes 30 min to get to the airport and with an hour left during the middle of the day on a Monday, I wasn’t worried.
My manager and I drove separate and I was just a few min behind him. As planned, the drive went smooth and I arrived at the airport just after 3:30. With over an hour till take off I was feeling good. Now I just need to figure out what terminal I needed to go to. Then I saw this great big sign that gave me all the information I needed.
Delta: McNamara Terminal
Wonderful, those airport designers were so thoughtful with that big sign. Now I just need to figure out where to park. The very next sign shows this:
Hmm… Looks like I have to park at the North Terminal because there is no parking at McNamara. No big deal.
The Shuttle Conspiracy
So I park my car outside the North Terminal just like the sign said to and then there were lots of signs that pointed me to a shuttle area so I could catch a quick ride over to McNamara. So I follow the signs and when I get there I see shuttles for rental car companies and then for “parking garage” (or something to that effect). I was kinda confused – this was supposed to be the area for getting to the other terminal, but I don’t see anything clearly labeled.
Out of the two options though, I knew I didn’t need a rental car so “parking garage” must be the shuttle I need. I mean, I did park in a parking garage, so perhaps that is what they meant.
So I wait 10 min and a shuttle arrives and the friendly driver greets me:
Driver: Hey there! How’s it going? Hop on board!
Me: Doing good! Say, I just wanted to make sure this will take me to McNamara.
Driver: Oh, no. You are at the wrong spot. Behind that escalator over there there is a different platform and they will take you to the other terminal.
Me: Oh… Okay. Thanks!
So although I was in the correct general area, I failed to notice the unmarked section of the shuttle platform that is conveniently hidden behind a giant escalator. Those same airport designers I was grateful for only moments ago quickly fell from grace. I could just imagine the conversation they had while designing the airport:
Designer 1 (Tom – The new guy): Hey Joe, do you think we should put a big sign over here to tell people that we hid part of the shuttle platform.
Designer 2 (Joe – Who’s claim to fame includes inventing hot dog packages that hold 10 dogs and bun packages that hold 8 buns): No no, Tom… that would make too much sense. What we need here is to have a sign that is just ambiguous enough to create the confusion needed to cause people to miss their flight. I mean without it, this international airport would not be nearly stressful enough.
Designer 1 (Tom): Ah yes, good point. That would definitely make things too easy. I have so much to learn from your great wisdom.
Anyway, I digress.
So I head over to the hidden platform and thankfully there is a shuttle waiting right there for me. I quickly go to get on it, but the driver looked at me with a scowl and pointed to a sign in his window: “Out of Service”.
I am now starting to get nervous. 15 minutes have gone by, I only have 50 till my flight takes off and I am not even to the terminal yet. It was still doable though. I just need this next shuttle to come.
So I wait.
It felt as if every second ticking by on my watch reverberated through my body.
I am going to make it… I am going to make it… Where is this stinking shuttle? I think I am going to make it… No, I am going to make it. Think positive.
Finally, in the distance like a ray of sunshine bursting through a rain cloud I see the shuttle. I could almost hear the chariots of fire music playing.
I was going to make it. It would be close, but I will make it.
The bus pulls up and with all the excitement I could muster I made sure I was the first in line to jump on board. Then out of no where when hope was at its highest I see the driver reach for something.
It looks like a sheet of paper.
What is that? Does that say… No… no.. NO?!?!?!
OUT OF SERVICE?!?!?!
If there was a moment in life that I could best equate to Santa telling Ralphie he will shoot his eye out, this was it.
I look at my watch.
I have 39 minutes. I can still make it. I think.
There it is. Another shuttle. Okay, lets go lets go.
I hop on and a few moments later we are driving to the terminal.
I get to the terminal. I make sure I am the first one off the bus and I book it to the automated check in kiosk. As I am hustling I look to my right and see a big parking garage DIRECTLY NEXT to McNamara. I now despise those designers. Knowing there was a parking garage basically attached to the terminal sure would have been helpful.
4:06 (T-minus 29 minutes)
I get to the automated Kiosk and insert my credit card.
Kiosk: Processing… Please wait…
Kiosk: We are sorry, your seat has been given away. Please check in sooner next time.
I try it again. No dice.
So I walk up to the check in counter, maybe they can get me on. I talk to a lady there and she confirms there is no hope. My seat had been given away.
Apparently if you do not check in 30 min before take off they give the seat to one of the standby passengers.
I was 1 minute too late.
So I ask if there is any other way to get to Augusta that evening. Sure enough there is another flight that leaves at 5:45 to Atlanta and a later flight from Atlanta to Augusta. It was the best I could do, so I took it.
Definitely annoying, but not the end of the world. I would still be in Augusta that night. So I call my manager who was already at the gate and let him know what was going on.
The Epic Detroit Tornado of 2014 (AKA: Rain)
So I make it through security and get to my gate and sit down. I had some time to kill, but I didn’t feel like doing anything. I just sat there and looked out the window.
Then I felt my cell phone buzz.
“Hmm… I’m really going to need this tonight”, I thought. “I wonder if there is any place to charge it?”
I look around and there are several charging stations positioned throughout the seating section by the gate; however, these little oases were packed with travelers like mosquitoes flying around a streetlight.
I had time, I figured I would go find a different gate that had a charging space available and camp out there for a bit while my phone drank in the sweet life of electric current. Sure enough, a few gates down, no flights were scheduled and I sat down, plugged in my phone and tried to relax – I was going to be waiting a while.
Just as I start to relax, all off a sudden a voice comes on the airport loudspeaker.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the National Weather Service has issued a Tornado warning for Wayne County. Therefore we are evacuating the terminal to the central tunnel and interior restroom locations to get everyone away from the windows. Please calmly head to these locations at this time. Thank You.
Well now this is different. Not only was today the first day I have ever missed a flight, it is now the first day I have ever been evacuated in an airport.
So I start walking towards a bathroom and since it was already crowded with people I just sat outside it. I had a wall to my back, but I could still easily see out the large window across from me. I figure if I get taken out at least I will see a show before hand.
So I text my manager, who I assumed had already taken off, about what was going on – thinking he would see it when he got to Atlanta. To my surprise though he texts back:
Manager: What?!?!?! I’m on the plane on the runway
Me: Lol. Yeah, they told us we have to get away from the windows
Manager: Lol. I have a window seat
Me: Well, nice knowing you.
I wait about 15 minutes, but then I start thinking, if I go back to my gate right now, no one will be there and I can post up at a prime spot next to one of one of those charging pillars. So based on what I was seeing out the window (light rain) and the fact that they didn’t get my manager off the plane I figured that things were really not that bad and I would risk going back to the gate to get one of those spots.
Yes, you did read that correctly. I abandoned the evacuation protocol to get a better seat and a charging outlet. I’m not sure if that makes me ballsy, stupid, or both. Either way, my gamble pays off. The gate is completely empty and not even 5 minutes later the evacuation is lifted.
However, my maverick feeling quickly faded as I saw the screen at my gate start to update as a result of the weather.
New Departure Time: 7:00
More annoyances. I’m not sure I will be able to make my connecting flight anymore.
Time to wait.
To my surprise, my manager keeps texting me occasionally because they are still sitting on the runway for whatever reason.
An hour goes by.
Then another hour.
It is almost 7:00 and my my manager is finally about to take off, but the plane I am supposed to be on is just sitting in Indianapolis.
New departure time: 9:00
I’m getting pretty hungry by this point, but I have been on my cell phone quite a bit during this waiting period so it really isn’t charging very quickly and based on the way things were going I felt that a charged cell was more important than food. So despite my hunger, I just hunkered down. I was in it for the long haul. I mean, I couldn’t give up that seat now. I basically risked my life to get it in the first place.
So I wait.
It always amazes me what you can learn about people in a situation like that by just watching and listening. In the row I was setting in I learned about basic training from three young Marines and one of their parents. I learned about a grant proposal for a community college in Pensacola, FL. I learned that the movie Bad Grandpa caused the guy across from me to almost cry on several occasions because he was laughing so hard. And just behind me there was apparently some young professionals from a rival accounting firm that I work for.
Needless to say, time crept by.
Harry, You’ve Got That Crazy Look In Your Eye
Finally, around 8:50 our plane pulls up to the gate. There is no way for me to make my connecting flight considering it left 15 minutes ago so I call and reserve a car in Atlanta figuring I can just drive to Augusta (a little over 2 hours away). It would be a late night, but I was determined.
I also finally give up my precious seat and figured I would try and grab some sort of snack before boarding because I was famished. I head over to the nearest gift shop and pick up a package of trail mix – dinner of champions – pay and go stand by my gate (my original spot got snatched up quicker than a knife fight in a phone booth).
By 9:15 I board the plane and the new expected departure time is now 9:26.
As I sat in my seat on the plane, I finally breathed a sigh of relief. It had been a hectic day, but in a little over an hour and a half I would be in Atlanta and would be able to make the drive to Augusta getting to my hotel a little after 1 AM. Making progress.
I shot another text to my manager, and he was in Atlanta by this time trying to determine if he will wait for me or take the last flight out of Atlanta to Augusta that night. I told him to go on ahead without me and I would see him the next morning because we were about to take off.
So I thought at least.
About every 5 – 10 minutes there was a new reason we were not leaving. At first it was because they were refilling the ice bin. Then they said they were double checking the baggage to make sure everyone got their bags correctly because sometimes the delays caused baggage mix-ups. Then they were triple checking the baggage. After a while we finally start backing up, then we stop, and just chill for a while.
30 minutes turns into 45 which turns into an hour.
It is now 10:15 and I am still sitting on the plane. No sign of when we are going to leave. All I can think of is I had been one minute earlier I would almost be to Augusta by now. I also calculate how long it would have taken me to just drive to Augusta from my house instead of flying and to my humor I would have ended up getting there faster if I would have never bothered flying.
Eventually we start to move and by 10:30 we finally take off.
I am exhausted, but determined. Before I took off my manager had texted me saying perhaps I should stay in Atlanta that night and drive early in the morning (he was concerned that I would die or something if I drove that late). It was tempting and I contemplated it during my hour and a half flight, but as I landed in Atlanta just after midnight I determined that I have gotten this far and there is nothing that could prevent me from getting to Augusta that night.
Like Clark W. Griswald going to Wally World, I was going to make it – and I would not be stopped.
If you have ever been to the Atlanta airport you know it is pretty much its own city inside the city of Atlanta. Sorta like the Vatican in Rome except a lot more fast food restaurants and less artwork.
It was about 12:15 by the time I got off the plane and I laughed as I saw I was literally at the last gate in the terminal. No matter. I had that crazy look in my eye. I was going to make it. So I start trekking to try and find my rental car.
About 40 minutes, a few escalators, and a couple shuttle trains later I get to the rental car booth. Except there is no one there.
I could have cried.
But no… I will prevail. I must.
And just then I see a slip of paper on the counter that says to walk to across the street to a parking garage where a different office was located. So I did and to my relief there was a guy in there.
Driving Off Into the Sunset… Or…umm… the Moonlight
A few minutes later I have a car. It is now nearly 1 AM. I have over a 2 hour drive ahead of me and have no idea how to get there. No problem, I figure; I will just throw on my phone GPS and it will take me right there. So I start driving and am waiting for the phone to tell me where to go because now I am out of the airport and have no clue.
I look down though and see an error that says it cannot connect to a satellite. At this point, I’m not surprised – something work as it’s supposed to… that would be absurd.
So I pull over and start looking at a map to figure out a route and get back on the road. A couple minutes later I am driving again and on my way. Nothing can stop me now, I just have to try to not fall asleep.
So I crank the A/C and the radio.
For the first hour things were going good. I was pretty much in metro Atlanta and there was plenty of lights and buildings to look at as I was driving to keep my interest, but after about an hour all signs of civilization other than the road I was on ceased to exist.
No big deal. At least I have the radio.
Fifteen more minutes go by and all I hear is static.
I try to change the station.
Click – Static
Click – Static
Click – Static
Click – The worst backwoods redneck country twang music you have ever heard
Click – Static
Well… at least there is just one more hour.
Another 20 minutes go by then thankfully my wife called me while she was feeding the baby and talked to me the rest of my time till Augusta (she is awesome).
I finally get to the hotel and checked in around 3:30 and ended up falling asleep around 4.
Two hours later my alarm goes off and I get dressed to go to my meeting. I was tired, but after enduring neurotic airport designers, shuttle conspirators, low batteries, tornadoes, flight delays, hunger, the Atlanta airport, a broken GPS, terrible music, and a red eye drive – I had made it.
Thankfully the meeting went off without a hitch and my manager was impressed with my dedication. I even ended up with a great story too, so as much as I hated it at the time, looking back on it, days like that make life interesting.
You may be thinking though, wait a second Chris, this is a coffee blog. What did that have to do with coffee?
However, it was a pretty long story so thanks for reading about my day. To show my appreciation, feel free to take 10% off any purchase you make at our store this week by using promo code “TheMondays” (good through 5/24).
Click here to shop → Store (If you want a good laugh, make sure to read our mug description)
Anyway, if you enjoyed this story, please share it with your friends on Facebook/Twitter. Also, have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to go bad, but looking back on it it’s now funny? Tell me about it in the comments below!