I traveled to New York City for work this week. I left on Wednesday, and was slated to return home Friday. The trip was great. I had no trouble getting there, thoroughly enjoyed myself in the city, and the meetings were educational, informative, and fun. I really like the company I work for - BlogHer - and my coworkers are top notch.
This is me with two of the women who work on my team. I love them so much. Even though I appear to have unfocused eyes - WHAT was I looking at?
On Friday, a driver came to pick me and my coworker Jenny up to transport us to JFK airport. He asked us our departure airlines, and made a notation. Everything seemed to go okay on the way there, although what was supposed to be a 40 minute trip turned into one hour and 45 minutes. I was really sweating it when we dropped her off. I hope that I wouldn't miss my flight. He dropped her at Virgin Airlines and then got back into the car and told me to get out.
"What did you say? Did you tell me to get out of the car?" I said. She had been dropped at terminal 4 and I needed to go to terminal 8. JFK is a very large airport and terminal 8 was not only on the other side but down two levels. In other words, it definitely was not walkable. Not to mention that I was dressed in business clothing. I was wearing a pencil skirt, tights, and heels. Not exactly the greatest for traveling, but I'd run out of time at the office and counted on being early enough to the airport to change to jeans.
He pulled away from the curb, got into the traffic, and stopped right in the middle the road. He turned around to look at me and said, "It's an extra charge to take you to your terminal." I replied, "You've already been paid. Take me to terminal 8."
To which he replied, "No. I'm not taking you anywhere. Get out of the car."
Let me reiterate again that we were in the middle of the road. Traffic was rushing by on both sides. I informed him that no, he was indeed taking me to terminal 8. He had been paid to do so, and I was not about to pay extra. He was going to take me to terminal 8. At this point I had not raised my voice, although I was insistent. He put the car in drive and said, "You are very rude. I am charging you extra." I countered with, "You've already been paid. Take me to terminal 8. I'm close to missing my flight and I do not have time to discuss this. Take me to terminal 8."
He began to mutter under his breath in a language other than English, and drove erratically as we made our way around the airport, back onto the highway, and down two levels. At one point, he stopped the car again and said,"Get out here and walk". I refused. Pretty loudly and most insistenly. There was no way in hell I was going to get out and walk.
I finally reached terminal 8, got out - my driver yelling after me again that I was RUDE - and ran all the way in. At this point in time, I was 30 minutes from the departure time of my flight, and I very much feared I wouldn't get on it. I ran in and attempted to check in at the US Airways terminal.
This is when things get really interesting – as if they already weren't stressful enough. My flight was handled by both US Airways and American. Departing from JFK on American, flying into Washington DC, and departing DC on US Airways.
American Airlines could not find me in their system. They sent me to US Airways. US Airways couldn't find me, and they sent me back to American, who then sent me back to US Airways. I was sweaty, out of breath, and close to losing it when they finally found the correct log in. They told me I would never make it, but offered an escort to run me all the way to the gate and they'd radio ahead if I wanted to try. I took her up on it, and we both began running.
When I say running, I mean running. I am not a runner, and it was obvious to me that my escort probably did triathlons for speed. As I was running, my left shoe flew off of my foot. The heels had a T strap, and the T strap broke and the shoe flew off and skittered down the corridor. I scooped it up, pulled my other shoe off, and ran in my tights. The agent brute forced us to the front of the TSA line and we got through with no difficulty. We then ran to the furthest gate in the entire airport. (I later asked how far we had run all total, and she told me it was at least a mile.) All I know is I was in my tights, carrying a 25 pound backpack and a 25 pound suitcase, running down escalators and up escalators, flying through the moving walkway, and cursing the fact that my feet were so incredibly tender. And, of course, I have a gigantic bunion, and running on concrete didn't help it. (And? I had to PEE!) By the time we reach the gate, I was in a sopping beastly soaked mess, my hair plastered to my face, and I was totally out of breath. But I had made it, and I was there, ready to get on the plane.
Except that they had no seat for me. Ten very long, frustrating minutes later, I was on the verge of tears – no, not on the verge, I was literally crying -and they found a seat for me. I got on the plane, sat down, and tried to regulate my breathing – at which point we were all informed that we were delayed 45 minutes.
I had a one hour layover in DC.
The landing did give us a great overview of the Capitol.
The flight finally arrived in DC, and I jumped off the plane, down the gateway, and got out to find my gate. When I checked the board, it was to see that the flight was boarding when we landed. We had arrived at gate 31 - and were to depart at gate 34C. Which are NOT near each other, but on the other side of the terminal – which meant a bus ride to the other side.
I got to the bus pick up area in time to see the bus depart.
At this point, the tears threatened again. I was so tired, so frustrated and just - DONE. I'm exhausted. I'm mentally, physically and emotionally spent and have not one shred of reserve left. I'm just - done is the best way to describe it. The past 7 months have finally caught up with me.
I waited for the bus while discreetly blotting my eyes. I was then directed to go down two levels. I walked down two flights of steps – in my broken shoe, which was flapping on my foot, carrying 50 pounds of luggage. I was moving pretty slow is the image I'm trying to paint in your mind. Other travelers were not very happy with me, but I finally got on the bus to ride to the other side. Exited the bus and told to go down another level - I got to gate 34C – which had four doors. There were four flights departing at the same time out of those four doors. I found my line, and got on it. Except that my line was actually CHARLESTON, and not my fair city - the agent goofed. So sorry, everyone.
Found the correct line, and everyone walked outside, but it was not to get on the plane. It was to get on another bus. They packed us in like sardines, and I was literally at the end of my rope. In fact, the end of my rope had been reached long earlier and at this point, the rope end was tied in a noose around my neck.
People were grumbling, complaining, and very unhappy. We were already jammed in, and people just kept getting on. I was one of those grumpy folks, not to mention hot and sweaty, but I wanted to try to save the situation, so I pulled out my phone and said " Let's take a gigantic selfie. Kind of like Ellen did, right? Everyone knows that? Put it on Twitter!"
Not too many people were happy to do it. Although there was one guy, the guy in the corner, who was super happy.
I look a righteous mess, that's for certain.
When we arrived at the plane, which was out in the middle of the tarmac, we got out of the bus, and had to climb up the stairs to get into the plane. I still was wearing my broken shoe, and tripped on the steps going up into the plane. And a pencil skirt. The guy behind me blocked my fall with his entire body and grabbed my backpack to keep me from smacking my teeth. That was a sight I hope he never has to see again.
I got home. And, when you come down to it, that's all that matters. No matter how shitty of a trip it is - being yelled at my the driver who refused to drive, arguing to be taken to my gate, breaking my shoe, running more than a mile through the airport in my tights (Spanx tights that are now, sadly, trashed), getting to know two airports more intimately than I ever desired, and pushing myself beyond all reasonable limits of tolerance -
I did get home.