I know it’s been a few weeks since I left you hanging about my IN trip but I’m in the midst of closing a chapter of my life and beginning a new one. The blog is in the present but not yet…hopefully you will understand.
When I left off I told you that there was an interesting story about my final trip, which was my final training. Now, it may not sound that interesting to you, but it was to me and probably anyone that was there. It reminds me of ground hog day because it just kept going and going and just when you thought it would end, it didn’t.
I left for South Bend, IN on Thursday afternoon-not the easiest place to get to. The training took place on Friday and it was awesome. The message was loud and clear.
After lunch I was driven to the airport a little early since I did not have assigned seats. My flight was scheduled to leave at 3:30 and I arrived at the airport at 2…the airport is very small so you could truthfully get there at 3 and be fine but I needed to get seats. I was flying to DFW via Chicago. The choices were Cincinnati or Chicago. I did Cincinnati going and decided on variety and chose Chicago going back.
Anyway I did get my seats and the flight was listed as On Time. At 4:00 we all understood that this flight was no longer on time but the board didn’t change. The gate agent who was also the ticket agent, who was also the baggage agent and guided the planes in, was a bit lax in communicating. Finally at 5:30, after the natives were getting extremely restless, Jack of all trades announced that the weather in Chicago was not great and the plane was running late. Wow! Imagine that?? There was another flight to Chicago scheduled for 5:10. I would say that it was pretty obvious that was late as well. You didn’t know I was that smart!
At 7ish 2 planes landed, mine and the 5:10 flight. Did I mention it was thundering and lightening?? I was still ok at this point because my connecting flight in Chicago I had changed to 8:30, the last flight out. South Bend is EST and Chicago is CST so I was still good. If the flight left South Bend by 7:30 I could still connect to my Dallas flight.
Sooooo we are now told that one of the flights was going to leave-want to guess whose flight it wasn’t? My flight was now changed from weather delays to mechanical. It seems the pilot’s headset was not working and they had to fly another one in from Chicago and even when it arrives; they aren’t sure if that model will be compatible. Any reason why they don’t have them on hand in South Bend or why they didn’t think of flying in different models at the same time? Nonetheless, at this point, a bunch of us started chatting and one in the “group” said that I went from smiling and laughing to tears in a nanosecond. At that point I had realized that I went from meeting my son at the DFW airport to having to call him to tell him I was stuck in South Bend. Here’s the problem, he can get to my house but there is no way to get him in. He never needed a key because either I’m there or I leave the door open if he is going to get here a little before me. I had to call him and try to figure this out. He ended up changing his flight to hopefully meet me in the morning.
Ok now back to South Bend. It’s now around 8-8:30 and they are not canceling the flight but are STRONGLY encouraging us to reschedule for the morning. The only problem is the weather heading for South Bend is the same weather that was in Chicago…understand the dilemma? We were all waiting in line to make the changes and yes the same guy was the one that needed to do that. One person for 40+ changes. I called United and changed my flight and handed my phone off to others waiting to do the same. And all this time, the flight is still reading On Time on the board… enough to make you want to jump out of your skin.
Four of us decided to rent a car and drive to Chicago. It’s better to be there with a number of choices than in South Bend with one or two. Did I tell you we didn’t know each other? It was myself, a female graduate student from Notre Dame who was leaving for India from Dallas at noon on Saturday-LOL, a student from Notre Dame and a consultant from OKC. The grad student rented the car and was going to drive solo until she asked if I would go with her and the student. I in turn invited the consultant, since we all were chatting anyway. We all piled into this car called a Cube? OMG the wind was picking this thing up and moving it around. We were all going to share in the cost of the car except that the student had no money and the grad student put this on her debit card and would never get to the bank before leaving for India. I told her not to worry and we would switch it to my card when we got to Chicago when we brought the car back. Because I travel so much, I know that when you bring a car back, they will ask you if you want to leave it on the card you reserved it on. We will just swap it then-remember this thought. So we drove the 3 hours with the student and I in the back and he is wheezing the entire time because of the cleaning solution used on the car. I was trying to keep him calm and finally he fell asleep. I did check a number of times to see if he was breathing.
We got to Chicago about 10:45 or so and I told the person at the car rental we were going to change the credit card and she said no problem just head inside and they will do it. She handed me a slip with the mileage and car stall # and thanked us. The grad student and student headed to the terminal and the consultant and I headed inside the Rental Car building. There were about 30 people on line with 1 person working. So we waited and as we almost got to the counter I said that I’m not sure if we need more info than what is on this paper because I didn’t have the contract and guess what else we didn’t have??? We didn’t know the grad student’s name. We finally got to the counter and handed him the piece of paper. He asked if we had the contract-nope, person’s name-nope, car info-other than Cube-nope. He said he couldn’t do anything. I told him it was the LAST car rented in South Bend one way. He said he couldn’t look it up that way. So the consultant went out to find the car. Did I mention it was really cold, raining and windy? After about 10 minutes we realized it was for naught. So the only thing to do was to leave it on her debit card.
Now off to the terminal-of course there was a skeleton crew working at this time of night and again we needed to wait on line, which we did. When we finally got to the counter, the ticket agent said she didn’t need to hear anything because she had heard it all before and would just look up the ticket numbers. When she did, she asked how we got there since our flight hadn’t taken off yet… now she wants to hear the story? We explained it and she said she would get us a hotel voucher, meal voucher and a refund for the unused leg of our trip…oh wait I had booked through Orbitz and now have to go through them if that is even possible (BTW I still have not received my refund). The consultant got his refund no problem. So we walked away from the counter and realized she hadn’t given us our boarding pass for the morning so we scooted back over and she apologized and handed them to us. As we are walking away, a man standing in the long line waiting to talk to the ticket agent called us Assholes for cutting the line. OMG I was so tired and was biting my tongue. The consultant flipped around and asked the guy What did you say?? Did I say he was about 6’2”. Ok so I am standing in between the two of them and I said as politely as I could, that we waited in line as you are now doing, and the ticket agent forgot to hand us something and we walked back and she did. So we started walking away and he muttered some other choice message and I spun around and said Seriously?? The consultant walked back and said why do you need to wait until we are 20 feet away. How about saying something now?? I left with the consultant and suggested we go get on the shuttle and started going La La La loudly just in case there was another comment because I was afraid the next time there would be physical contact and not sure who would be throwing the first punch.
Now off to the shuttle to the hotel…which is about 3 blocks away and remember the weather I told you earlier. I’m wearing heels and trying to run. I’m so tired now I’m literally crying. People are just crabby and mean when they are tired and that would include me at this point.
We get to the hotel around midnight and we have not eaten since lunchtime. Yes in South Bend the only restaurant closes before 6 and who knew we would be there after that? The hotel restaurant and bar in Chicago closes at 11…so I went to sleep for the few hours because the hotel shuttle runs every 30 minutes and only takes 20 people and at that time in the morning to get the 5am shuttle you need to be down at 4:30. So I was there at 4:30 and there were already 10 people there and yes the weather was the same only colder. When the shuttle arrived there were about 35 people there but we were in an orderly line….except that the driver decided to start from the back of the line-are you serious? The people were up in arms and finally the driver reconsidered.
We got to the airport and got through security and I finally go on the 7am flight and arrived 20 minutes before my son….ahhh that was the happy ending to my story.
Needless to say I was pooped but it was great having him here. So the trip started with a great training and ended with my son taking care of his mom.
I will tell you this story is not over yet…