Have I told you that I’ve got more weird plane stories than anyone I’ve ever met? The time a flight attendant got caught in the cart elevator and they had to reroute to Japan? The time I got stuck in the last window seat next to a guy who needed two seatbelt extenders, and a lady got knocked out by a metal briefcase halfway through the deboarding? The guy who forgot to take his meds and starting preaching about Jesus until he was removed? The list goes on and on.
Yeah, well, last Friday wasn’t exactly a plane story. It was actually more of a rental car on the way to the plane story. I was driving back to the Westchester, NY.airport with my boss, but we were running late and his flight was first. So I dropped him off and went for gas. So far so good (except for the price of gas in Greenwich, CT. They must have tiny bits of diamond in the gas there to justify $3.39 for regular unleaded!)
The problem came when I decided to put a few things in my suitcase before driving the five minutes back to the airport. I opened the trunk. put the things in, closed the trunk, and got back in the car. But when I went to start the cars, my keys were gone. Oh, shoot, I must have left them in the trunk! But no worries. I’m in the car. All I have to do is push the open trunk button.
I push the button and nothing happens. Weird. I open the door and immediately the horn starts going off. Whaaaa? Apparently—and no one can explain exactly how this happened—the alarm somehow got pushed on the keys. How that happened while the keys were in the trunk, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a new feature. Lock your keys in the trunk? No problem. We’ll automatically set the alarm so you can’t get them out. Anyone who has a new Nissan Sentra, I’d love to know if you can figure this out.
Anyway, I still had an hour and a half, and the airport was only five minutes away. Here’s where things get crazy. It seems that Budget car rental is named budget for a reason. As in, “I’m sorry our budget is too small to send anyone to help you from five minutes away.” I spent, no lie, forty minutes explaining what happened and asking this crazy woman, to send someone to get me so I wouldn’t miss my flight, which was the last Delta flight of the day. I had to fly to Sacramento to attend a library event the next day.
So yeah, that was too much to ask for. Every single item was like pulling teeth with her. She must have asked me ten times how to spell Greenwich, Connecticut. She couldn’t find the Westchester airport. She didn’t believe that the gas station I was at was only listed as Merritt Pkwy North, and didn’t have a street address, even when I had the gas station attendant tell her. At one point she suggested I call the police to get a ride. Five minutes after I hung up with her, another employee calls back to see why I told her I was going to call 9-1-1. “I didn’t tell her that. She told me!” “Oh, yeah, she’s an idiot. Never mind.”
They finally told me to leave my car there and call a taxi. Except the only taxi company in town had a guy who knew only one word of English. Taxi. I have no problem with people for whom English is a second language. Some of my most entertaining conversations have been with taxi drivers from foreign countries. But the guy whose job it is to get a taxi to you? Really?
“ghg kkjjuyhs kkhkm,;c taxi”
“Yes, I need a taxi. I am at the Mobile gas station on the Merritt Pkwy North and I have to get to the airport in time to catch a flight by 4:30.”
“lljjkjk nkndkjdd jiggtysn taxi”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t understand that.”
“hhgftml jskkjky nijidi buzz buzz taxi.”
“I’m having difficulty understanding you. Are you sending a taxi? I’m in a big hurry here. My flight leaves in forty-five minutes.”
“ghgghgr gyggd piggly wiggly taxi.”
“Did you hear me? Are you sending a taxi?”
“vermin chow, tingle broom, taxi.”
(I’m not sure if he actually starting saying real words or if I was just piecing them together to form words in my head. But it still didn’t make any sense.)
“Is there someone else I can talk to? I really need a taxi.”
I guess he couldn’t understand me any more than I could understand him, because a taxi never arrived. And when I called back, the phone just rang and rang. Just when I was sure I had missed my flight—it was exactly 4:00, and my flight left in thirty minutes—an amazing, awesome, incredible tow truck driver showed up. I’m serious, one day this guy is going to show up in a book up mine and he’ll be the totally awesome hero, who tows cars and kills vampires with a silver crowbar.
I’m still not entirely sure how he did it, but using some kind of slick oily spray, a state of the art tow bar that could actually turn sideways, and amazing driving, he slid my front wheel drive car away from the curb, hooked, it up, and drove me to the airport in amazing time. And this was after trying about a dozen ways to open the trunk.
I got to the counter at twenty after and somehow made it past them, through security, and onto my plane in ten minutes flat. Only then did I call my wife who had spent the day driving the boys to California on her own, and say, “Well, I had an interesting day.”
Of course, on my last leg of the trip we had a woman go into labor—yeah really. But that’s another plane story.
So in honor of my mishaps, I’m posting a song about when the band was scheduled to recorded at a casino in Montreux, using the Rolling Stones Mobile studio. Before they could get there the Casino burned to the ground when a guy shot a flare gun into the the ceiling at a Frank Zappa concert. (I know how you feel guys.)
This classic song, is one of the few tunes that you know just from the beginning guitar riff. Bum, bum, bum. Bum bum, ba dum. If you ever looked like this, you heard it at pretty much every dance you went to.
(Yeah, that really is me in the blinding yellow track suit, with the long hair and mustache. I especially like the “Families are Forever” pillow behind me.)