Hey there folks,
At the time of this writing, I have been sitting in various airports throughout Mexico and Texas for the past ~24 hours, having been unable to return home to my beloved New Mexico as was the intention. Through a series of rather unfortunate events, human error, and the will of Mother Nature, it’s been one hell of a day in travel.
My time in Cancun came to an end Friday morning. The wedding was an absolute blast, for indeed, whenever you get two or more of the family together you know you’re in for a treat. Problem was, however, that my flight was early (approximately 7AM) and I wasn’t exactly getting much sleep the night before. Lord knows how many drinks I consumed in various toasts and songs of praise for the newlyweds.
Swiss weddings, amiright?
So, operating on fewer than 5 hours of sleep, I departed the lovely Hyatt Ziva hotel and made for the airport. Upon my arrival, I was politely informed by the stupid self-check in robot that my flight had been pushed back ~3 hours. Fantastic. I could have been sleeping then!
Not only that, comrades, but the connecting flight destination had changed from Phoenix to Dallas.
What. The. Hell.
American Airlines hadn’t bothered to email, call, write, smoke signal me this rather significant change to my itinerary and only let me figure it out on my own. No matter, right, because the kind robot was able to do so?
Poppycock, I say! Damnable company could have at least mentioned this to me within a reasonable time frame that my entire itinerary was being changed willy nilly. So much for flying to Phoenix. Bah.
After the initial shock wore off, and the delayed flight finally boarded, I was whisked away in relative comfort (fatigued comfort) to DFW, that cesspool of international travel, where I was to enjoy a 3-hour nap/layover afore my new(ish) flight to Albuquerque.
Just kidding! chortled American Airlines with abject glee. Your flight to ABQ is delayed.
Ah, Christ, why? Why now? I have a wedding to get to tomorrow/today early in the morning; I at least would like some sleep to make myself presentable at her nuptials.
Turns out their reasoning was partially valid for DFW was in the midst of a mighty thunderstorm brought about by the machinations of Thor and Zeus just having a ball. 2 hours of sitting idly in the terminal, however, soon gave way to far graver circumstances.
We taxied to the runway, only to sit in queue for approximately 2 hours more due to the constant storm and the growing number of grounded planes. Absurd didn’t even begin to describe it.
Granted, this wasn’t the fault of American, DFW International, the pilots, the attendants, or anyone associated with the plane itself. You can’t fight Nature, and when she wants her way, she’ll have it.
And so we sat, the tarmac swiftly becoming a veritable Texas swimmin’ hole, neither progressing or regressing – we simply idled away valuable time and fuel to sit the storm out.
Finally, the call came down from higher: our flight was grounded, canceled, and sent to its room without dinner. When it rains, it pours. Quite literally in this case.
Most passengers quickly turned their impatient ire upon the hapless American Airlines staff at our gate. How could YOU do this? and YOU canceled my flight! Rabble! Rabble rabble rabble! were oft heard comments as we stood in line together trying to plot our individual moves out of this mess.
To be fair, it wasn’t American’s fault the flight was cancelled. Those poor ladies certainly didn’t deserve that kind of treatment from that many people over an incident completely out of their control.
To be frank, however, their customer service could have been a bit more, well, customer oriented. At the time of this writing (though I’m hoping it will change), the company offered neither hotel nor travel vouchers for their misplaced customers. Instead, many of us were automatically booked onto the next flight to Albuquerque. A delightful flight from DFW to Phoenix to Albuquerque leaving at approximately 6PM the following day!
Normally things like this would not bother me. However, tomorrow/today is my best friend’s wedding, and I’ll be damned if I miss that crazy cat lady’s nuptials on account of Mother Nature’s menopausal outburst. No, much as I appreciated their help on getting a new flight, it wasn’t good enough.
As my time in the queue finally brought me to the forefront to face the still beaming, but clearly weary, American attendant, I told her my predicament and my desire to just get home. Though she grimaced at my prospects, she did all she could to get me on standby for a flight the next morning. I certainly appreciated that – standby is better than nothing.
The problem, however, is standby is rarely a good move when you’ve a hard time to meet and absolutely no wiggle room. My original itinerary gave me a complete day to travel, rest, relax, and prepare. Now I had absolutely no time left to haggle with. Not only that, but I was number 19 on the standby list; not exactly good odds, especially with my current luck.
Thankfully DFW has complimentary Wi-Fi (the only thing going for that place); I was able to contact the bestie and explain my predicament. I began researching alternative methods of getting home before 10AM (mind you, this was now closer to 10PM) when I suddenly pricked my finger upon the most brilliant Rose: a rental car!
Oh, sure, you say, just drive to Albuquerque from Dallas. No big deal, right? Loon. To be fair, dear reader, I have actually made that drive in one go afore. And to be even fairer, my parents’ house is approximately the halfway point between the two. My reasoning, as I boarded the shuttle to the rental agency, was drive to Mom and Dad’s (having a house key and all), rest and clean up there, before hightailing it to Albuquerque just in time for the wedding!
It was brilliant! It was perfect! It was flawed from the start…
Because I didn’t have my driver’s license!
As I stood in line at the agency, I realized with dread that I hadn’t my license. Why would I, right? I was abroad internationally with no need for a car – the only identification I needed in my fanny pack was my passport.
Unfortunately, despite my pleading and playing the wedding card, I was denied access to a rental. Understandable, given the legality of such a request, but come on! Have a heart for this smelly, disheveled, tired, and starting to crack poor sod!
The gentleman working the counter did try to get me a long-haul taxi, however, and assured me I would be completely safe in his care. Safety, comrade, wasn’t my concern: Time. For once in my Life, Time was my concern. I spoke to his contact and rejected his offer of $2 a mile: the blackguard wanted approximately $1600! Good God Almighty, he was a literal highway robber!
My all-inclusive trip to Cancun didn’t cost that much. My flights to Europe weren’t that expensive. The rental car would have been a fraction of that cost. But this thief wanted almost $2k to drive to Albuquerque in a night! Christ, man, I’m not an illegal immigrant trying to cross the border; I’m just trying to get home.
Dejected with that bust, I whipped out the lappy and stared at the screen for a few seconds. How do I get there? I thought to myself. And then, bam! Inspiration!
Rome2Rio is a website I’ve used many times to plot my travels abroad. You just access the site, punch in point A and B, and voila! And there it was: Dallas Love Field, of course! Motherfuckin’ Southwest Airlines had a flight arriving in Albuquerque at approximately 8:30AM – just enough to get to my brother’s pad, shower, put on mah weddin’ digs, and make it to the ceremony! The Camino provides!
So there it stood: I had a standby slot on a one-shot plane that would put me where I needed to go -or- I had a guaranteed seat on another plane arriving around the same time. The former was a crap shoot: might get a seat, might be spinning my wheels. The latter was an ace in the hole.
So I booked that ticket out of Dallas Love Field.
Because, Roxann, you are my best friend. And watching you
finally get married to Craig is not something I could forgive myself for missing. Honestly, what would Spookie think?
One rather odd, late night taxi ride later, I found myself at Love Field. I bid farewell to Abedt, the chain-smoking cabbie, and made my way inside. He disappeared in a cloud of cigarette smoke and wailing Arabic music. This was approximately 1AM and I was no longer certain if the incredible fatigue was playing tricks on me or if that drive really happened.
Security wasn’t operating at the late hour so I found a bench and tried to snag at least a couple hours of sleep. Indeed, all I managed on those uncomfortable wooden benches was an hour or two of rest. To the cleaning staff at Love Field, I do apologize for that massive drool puddle I left behind. If you read this, you understand, right?
And so I wandered to my gate, still dressed in the same attire from the inception of this leg of the journey, looking like absolute hell (smelling like it too, no doubt), watching the boarding screen with fearful trepidation lest those dread words return: Canceled. Delayed. Too Bad, Sucker.
In a few moments I will be boarding the plane to home. From there, it’s a lightning round of getting to the shower, the ironing board, and the venue itself.
It’s been a hell of an adventure – especially these last few days – and such experiences are worth remembering.
Am I tired? Dogged.
Am I irritable and cranky? Quite snappy.
Impatient? Growing on me.
No matter how bad things get, no matter how awful Murphy wants to make things, no matter where those dark thoughts want to go, never forget to smile and be grateful. Love, comrade, is a hell of a drug.
PS – I have successfully made it home and am headed to the wedding! Huzzah!