Thursday, December 08, 2005

Stranded in Tulsa.. almost.

So I thought I might write about how I almost got stuck in Oklahoma last week. This might be funnier if I give a little background on how I usually don’t have many problems getting to a place—it’s getting back that has been tricky. There was the time I was almost stranded somewhere between San Francisco and Tucson (that was several years ago). I can’t take any credit for that—I was traveling with a guy who swore up and down that he had enough money for the trip. And he may have had, if we hadn’t had to pay for food, gas, and hotel rooms.

Then there was the time I tried to get from Berlin to Valence. I took a plane from Berlin to Nice, before which I had carefully checked the internet to make sure there would be a train to take me from Nice to Valence. Unfortunately, when I went to the train station, there were no trains (you can ask anyone—the French train system’s website is a bit of a mess). I couldn’t stay the night in Nice because there was a giant lemon festival (or something like that—I forget what exactly, but my mind keeps picturing a lemon so I’m going with that). So I wound up buying a ticket for Marseille. I arrived in Marseille in the middle of the night and wound up riding the subway with gangs of shifty-looking French teenagers, trying to find the hostel. After a few frantic phone calls to Mom, I got myself into a hotel next to the train station and I left Marseille early the next morning.

A few weekends later, I decided to go over to Venice. I had an awesome time, until the night before I was supposed to leave I learned that there was to be a train strike the next morning. So I woke up at about 4am to go to the train station and try to get a ticket that would put me on a train to Turin before the official start of the strike at 9am. (As long as the train was actually moving before 9am I would be fine. I just had to find on that kept moving between 9am and Turin—I really didn’t want to get stranded in a little Italian village.) I reached Valence a little after midnight, so the entire trip back took almost 24 hours—grueling, to say the least.

And this most recent one has been my Oklahoma adventure. Compared to the previous almost-getting-stuck stories, this one is pretty tame. I drove my grandparents’ car from Ozark, MO to Tulsa, OK—with my grandparents in the car. By the time we reached the airport, they were a little flustered (couple of wrong turns), and they dropped me off quickly. I wheeled my suitcase in to the (tiny) Tulsa airport, plopped it on the scale, realized I had left my purse in the car, snatched back my suitcase, and took off running for the drop-off area. No luck. My grandparents were long gone. I wheeled my suitcase back in dejectedly, plopped it back on the scale, and explained my situation to Southwest. The lady behind the counter took my luggage, gave me a ticket, and assured me that I would be able to get through security without a photo ID (and I didn’t believe her, but I figured at least this was I wouldn’t have to wheel my suitcase around me while I figured out what to do next). She also, knowing that my funds were limited, gave me a stack of McDonalds gift cards so I could afford to eat, saying, “Here are some McDonald gift cards you can use to get some food. Too bad we don’t have a McDonalds in this airport.” (You think I jest? How could I make something like this up?)

I decided to try to find a cheap phone card so I could call my Mom and see if she could fax a copy of my passport to me so I could (maybe) use it to get through security. I went to the one boutique (I said it was a small airport) and asked there. No phone cards, but there might be a place on the other side of security that sells them. Hm. I could see a flaw in my plan. So I took some of my precious money, bought a tea, and sat down to think And I decided to give it a try anyway.

I got through security. Again, I’m being completely serious here. No photo ID, no cash for bribes—only my big-boobed, blond, freckled self (I say this because I think it had everything to do with my ability to get through security. I mean, could I look any less threatening?). I had to go through some extra prodding with the security wand, and I had my backpack emptied and my sociolinguistics books examined warily, but I made it through.

And now I only had about four hours to wait for my plane. (The plane was scheduled to leave at 5:45, so we had to leave my grandparent’s house--for the two hour drive to the airport—at 11am. You have to know my grandparents.) I used this time to search for a phone card and. No luck (can you imagine? And airport that doesn’t sell phone cards?). I was getting a little hungry and I would have started sucking the ketchup out of packets (reference to The Terminal), but, as I previously mentioned, there was no McDonalds there (can you imagine The Terminal set in Tulsa airport? It would have been a lot shorter). I did find a payphone that was 50 cents to call anywhere in the states, and I called Mom and left a rather disjointed, rambling message on her machine.

And then I waited. And wondered how I was going to get from BWI to my Dad’s house. I figured I maybe had enough for a taxi—or at least enough for a taxi to get me closer to my Dad’s house (I couldn’t call my Dad because he was in Salisbury).

Now, if you’ve ever flown Southwest before, you know that it stops every 45 minutes. So my flight from Tulsa to BWI was actually a flight from Tulsa to St Louis to Louisville to BWI. I’m sure some of these airports actually had McDonalds; I don’t know, however, as I was never allowed to leave the plane. Oh, and Southwest does not feed people. So I ate a lot of peanuts. A lot of peanuts.

At about midnight the plane landed in BWI, and I dragged my tired carcass towards baggage claim. And then I saw a shining angel in the form of my friend Shari (and I really have to emphasize the part she played in getting me out of this whole mess. My mom had called her). She got me, we got my bags, she drove me home, and she cheerfully assured me that she would be able to sleep in the next day—until 6am—and drove off.

Here is where you--especially if you know me—expect to hear that I forgot my keys or something, but I didn’t. I had them in my backpack. I went in, pet the cats, called my mom, and fell asleep, thankful that I was not stuck in Tulsa.


At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel any better, I actually slept until 7 the next morning. ;-)


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