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18 December 2005

A Day in Hell !!!...

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h my God.... My last day in Philly/Jersey... or How I Spent a Lifetime in Hades! What a great way to ruin a really fun time in Philly! Really!!

Ok, I want to re-construct this in a proper manner and leave out all the curse words. Friday night, the night before I left, since I don't use an alarm clock I wanted to wake up at a decent hour, like 2AM so I'd be ontime to take the rental car back and be at my 7AM flight in time. Do you think I could fall asleep? Nooooo... I laid awake for an hour debating if I should just get up and go to the airport then while the Enterprise was still open... After that hour was up I started to get a headache and wondered if I was getting ready to have another stroke. I laid there for another hour assessing my symptoms... finally about 10PM I fell asleep. I woke up at 2:30AM... not bad. Got dressed, etc. and headed out the door.

Since it was after midnight I had to take my rental car to a "collect all rental cars" drop-off point at the Philly area. Since this was the Philly airport, there were no signs of course... you had to do this by ESP or something. Around and around I drove, up darks streets, down even darker roadways... not a light or a sign that says anything... except No Outlet at the end of one long street. I turn around and go all the way back. I see what appeared to be a dimly lit, empty parking lot. There was a booth at the entrance. No signs, no nothing. I pulled in and asked the lady where Sunpark was because I had to return my car. I saw her lips moving but no sound. She spoke behind what I think was bullet-proof glass. I think I started doing hand and finger gestures as a way of communicating. I couldn't take it anymore, so I grabbed a piece of paper and scrawled SUNPARK?. She pointed down. Was she telling me to 'go to hell' or what? Then she pointed to her left breast. Great, I'm trying to get to the airport and not miss my flight and this broad wants to show me her breast. Then I saw it.... in teeny, tiny letters... Sunpark on her shirt. I swear if I had a gun.....

Ok, I get the car returned and the Sunpark van drove me over to the airport. Now it's about 4AM. (All times are approximate because my memory was becoming a blurr). There's a skycap doing something and I tell him I'd like to check in with my bags. "Oh, we don't open for another half hour", he says. "WHAT??? this is an airport, flights in and out all day and night" I say. "We open at 4:30 sir"...

To make a long story shorter, I finally get my bag checked, and head to Concourse C. There's a sign that says the security people don't start til 5AM and to go to Concourse B to check-in for flights departing from C. This is getting worse! Back down the stairs... walker and all. I get to the bottom and decide to go outside for a well-deserved cigarette. That accomplished I go back in and look for concourse B. I look across the whatever the hell it was, and I see people standing in line at my concourse now. (Insert heavy sigh here). Back down the steps and over to the steps leading me to heaven. Once at the top there's a line but no-one checking anything... It's almost 5AM so they should be opening soon. At 5:15AM someone shows up... and I breeze right through... then I get to security. You think it's easy sailing now, dontcha? Who do I get but some over-sized Gestapo agent. I nicely inform her that I have a laptop. "Put it through" she barked. "But in Houston they hand-checked it",I said. "Put it through on the belt", she ordered. Fine, whatever... just get me the hell outta here.

Onto C22 where my flight was leaving at 7AM. (Excuse me while I run for some coffee, this is getting tiresome just writing about it. You wanna go take a bathroom break or anything?).

I get to my departure gate and sit down exhausted. People start arriving... the flight people arrive. (You think this is over finally, huh?).

Some guy in a uniform gets on the mike and announces that the flight is over-booked by two people and they need 2 volunteers to give up their seats. While he's waiting for a response and uniformed guy walks up and tells the other guy, he's got very strong headwinds before he gets to his destination and he has to bump 4 people... shakes his head and walks away. Shrug... Two people volunteer to take the cut and get a free roundtrip ticket anywhere in the U.S. or Canada good for one year. We start boarding!!! Yippee!!! Finally, we're on our way... (You would think? Not quite there poopsie.)

After we're all seated and axiously awaiting take off... the captain comes out of the cockpit and addresses the passengers... remember the uniformed guy complaining he had to bump 4 people? Yep, he's my captain. He goes through the high winds sob story but says he don't have to bump anyone... to make a long story short, we're stopping in Birmingham, Alabama for a refill (insert loud groan from people). (Do ya wanna stop here and go make breakfast or maybe go to Mass?).

Finally, about 7:30AM the plane actually starts moving. We didn't go very far. The captain gets on the mic and announces that there is a slight delay... skies foggy or misty or some shit like that. FORTY-FIVE minutes later... we slowly move to the runway. And whoosh... we're off!!!

Now I stopped looking at my watch and I didn't care what time it was... I didn't know what time zone we were in... I didn't care.

We land in beautiful downtown Birmingham... it takes a half hour to get gas... another half hour to get back into the air. Houston here I come!! We finally land at noon... approximately 5 hours after we took off... the flight normally take 3 and a half hours. Down to baggage claim to get my bag. I'm tired, pissed and haven't had a cigarette for dunno 6 hours? The belt starts, and runs and runs and run... a half hour later ONE friggen bag comes down the shoot. The shoot stops. Malfunction... why not? Over to another area to wait for my bag. I don't know, 5, 10 maybe 15 bags come down and then the belt stops. In the meantime I don't see my limo driver.... finally I see him, sleeping on a chair. I wake him up and he says he's been waiting for 3 hours. By then the bags come off and there's my bag. It's FINALLY over!! My fun-filled week of fun and no sun, in snowing Philly was over. I fell asleep in the back of the cozy limo for the 1/2 hour ride home. Bah Humbug... no, make that BAH HUMBUG... BAH HUMBUG!!!

Observations and Questions
Have you ever had a trip go terribly wrong?

Birth Announcements and Dusty Death Notices
Born this day in 1980, Christina Aguilera, Staten Island, NY, singer (Genie in a Bottle, What A Girl Wants). And in our warm, cozy death notices we find in 1931 John T "Legs" Diamond, US gangster, murdered at 35, who also attended the same grade school as two of my grandsons, St. Anne's in Philly.
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