When my husband took me on a cruise, to celebrate my 50th birthday, I ignored the advice of every professional travel planner on the planet, did things my own way, and in the process, managed to survive The Ordeal of a lifetime. This is Part Two of the story. It is true, y’all. Every single detail of it.
Again, the loud speaker, with another announcement: “Attention passengers….”
(About 60 passengers who were sitting in the waiting area immediately got up and started to form a line.)
“….we are sorry to inform you…”
(About 30 more folks jumped up and started running over to the back of the line. Meanwhile, we were still standing off to the side trying to comprehend what was happening.)
“….that this flight has been canceled….”
OH GOD!! By now the line is 40 feet long and we are lucky to get into the tail end of it, along with a few stragglers.
“…..Unfortunately, the plane is in need of a repair, and due to the holiday, our mechanic is having to catch a flight from Philadelphia, which will arrive at 3 pm. If you need to reach your destination today, please form a line at our service desk and the first our service representatives will help you.”
OH GOD!!! Jeff is hissing at me, “CALL KLINTON!”
Klintons phone is ringing and I get his voicemail. “KLINTON” I yell, as if he can hear me. “ANSWER YOUR PHONE! WE’RE AT THE AIRPORT AND WE MIGHT NEED YOU! CALL ME BACK!”
Jeff rolled his eyes at me. “Great! Where’s Klinton and where’s our car?”
“He’ll call back,” I assured him. “Anyways, maybe they can find us another flight,” I added, hopefully.
Things did seem to be moving along pretty quickly. Folks ahead of us were being given new flight assignments, it seems, and I overheard one couple (who were also going on a cruise, and yes, I was shamelessly eavesdropping) being offered a voucher for a taxi trip to the airport in Raleigh – to catch a flight from there. While we were waiting, I continued to dial Klinton’s cell phone and each time I got his voice mail.
After what seemed like hours, it was our turn to step up to the desk. I breathlessly explained to the weary employee that we were going on our first cruise, to celebrate my birthday and anniversary, and we needed to get a flight to Ft. Lauderdale, ASAP. She looked and looked at her computer. Finally, she said, “I have a flight that arrives in Ft. Lauderdale at 4 pm! What time does your ship sail?”
When I said 5 pm, she frowned. “That might not be enough time to get you onto the ship. Let me call your cruise line and see if they can help.”
She spent the next several minutes conferring with Royal Caribbean over the phone. Apparently, there’s this rule, y’all, that you must be on your ship exactly one hour prior to sailing, no exceptions. No amount of pleading could convince them to bend this rule.
I was trying to come up with a solution. “How about a flight to our first port, Key West, and we board the ship tomorrow?” I asked. We were informed by the cruise rep that they do not allow guests to board in Key West. They would, however, allow us to board in Cozumel, on day THREE of our five day cruise.
Well for cryin’ out loud, what good was that? We were so upset, y’all.
The airport employee continued to search. Then she said, “Well…..I do have a flight out of Raleigh that lands in Miami at 3 pm. From there, you could get a cab to take you to Ft. Lauderdale.”
We blinked. Miami? “How far away is Miami from Ft. Lauderdale?” I asked.
“About 30 miles,” she replied. “But, you’d have to get your own transportation to the Raleigh airport, because I have no taxi vouchers left, and that flight leaves in two hours.”
I turned to Jeff. “Can you drive us to Raleigh in two hours?”
His chest puffed out. If there’s one thing my husband is proud of, it’s his driving skills. “I can get us there is an hour and a half,” he said proudly, “but we need to go right now!”
The relieved airport lady was already printing our tickets. “You’ll need to retrieve your bags,” she reminded us, as we dashed off.
We had to wait a couple of minutes to get our luggage. As we were hauling all five suitcases, camera bag, laptop case, pocketbook, incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, and my itinerary out the door, onto the sidewalk, I was still trying to call Klinton. If we could not locate his whereabouts, we would have no vehicle to drive to Raleigh!
Jeff rushed over to the only cab parked outside the airport and started throwing in our stuff. We climbed in and told the cab driver we were in a HUGE hurry and needed to get to our address as quickly as possible.
The cab driver was all smiles. “Yes, yes,” he assured us, in a Scandinavian accent. “My name is Dddragon, and I get you there, quick like! I live here long time. I know short cut!”
Now we live about two miles from the airport, y’all. We could ‘ve walked home, if not for the five suitcases, camera bag, laptop case, pocketbook, incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, and my itinerary. There really isn’t a short cut to our house, but there was, as it turns out, a much longer way to get there.
Dragon was happily chatting on, in broken english, about all the wonderful short cuts he knew about, when he passed the turn that would have taken us home in a couple of minutes. Jeff opened his mouth, tried to point out the turn, and mutely closed his mouth, helplessly.
“Where is he going?” I whispered.
“Excuse me, Dragon,” I said cautiously from the back seat. “Are you sure you know the way to our neighborhood?”
“Oh yes, yes,” he said, as he nodded emphatically. “I go there all the time. I know short cut. Good short cut.”
“Well, we’re in a big hurry,” I tried to explain. “We have to be at the airport in Raleigh to catch a plane, in less than two hours!”
Dragon turned around and smiled at me. “Oh, no problem, lady,” he said. “I drive you to Raliegh! I get you there, no problem!”
Thinking that we weren’t even sure where our car was, because we still had not reached Klinton, I asked, “How much?”
“Oh,” he said, still smiling. “Only two hundred and fifty dollars!”
“No thanks,” Jeff said quickly, rolling his eyes at me. “We’ll drive ourselves.”
“If we ever get home,” I thought.
Fifteen long minutes later, we pulled up in front of our house. Both of us were in major Panic Mode. Thank God our car was sitting in the driveway, since we still had not managed to speak to Klinton. Jeff told me to go inside, find Klinton, and tell him he was going with us to Raleigh, while he got our things out of the cab, and paid the driver.
So while he was unloading our five suitcases, camera bag, laptop case, pocketbook, incredibly heavy golf club bag which was stuffed with two sets of golf clubs, plus our shoes and a bottle of Peach Schnapps, and my itinerary out of cab and into our car, I ran to my front door.
I didn’t have the keys.
I began ringing the door bell and pounding on the door. And shouting, “KLINTON!!”
After a couple more precious minutes slipped by, the door opened and there stood my half asleep, bewildered son.
“What are you doing here? I thought you would be on your ship, by now, ” he said.
“GET DRESSED!” I shouted at him. “YOU’RE GOING WITH US TO RALEIGH!”
“Whaaaat?” Klinton was clearly befuddled.
“HURRY UP!” I yelled franticaly. “We have to be in Raleigh to catch a plane in ONE HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES! You have to go with us to bring the car back!”
Was this even possible? I had no idea. But we were about to find out.
To be continued…
Part Three: Our Harrowing Drive to Raleigh, (Being Chased by a Dragon)