On company business, I flew into LaGuardia late last Sunday and thinking I’d save some money, ate at the airport. I sure didn’t want to eat a meal at my own expense at the Ritz Carlton where I’d be staying. The food at the airport wasn’t all that good but spending ten is better than spending a ton so I felt pretty good even after shelling out five for a milk chocolate-hazelnut candy bar.
Still in a saving frame of mind, I asked the lady at ground transportation how else I could same money. She said the airport shuttle was a lot cheaper than taxi fare, a good twenty dollars but there’d be a twenty minute wait. Being in no hurry and believing her, that sounded good to me but it was the same ol story. Was no twenty minute wait, was an hour and forty minutes. A tornado was their excuse. All I saw was rain.
A couple of hours later, I was on the shuttle and I declare before leaving that airport, the shuttle stopped three times, the driver getting out and disappearing five to ten minutes at a whack. Finally, we were rolling towards Manhattan and the Ritz. I was ready.
What a sight! I’d have been happy to have been first off the bus but no luck, I was last; still, seeing the sights had its advantages. That night all kinds of leggy girls were walking the sidewalks of New York City and some of em didn’t seem to have on much underneath. It’s a memory that keeps on walking.
Finally, my driver let me off some place far out on the edge of town. I couldn’t understand it but like a fool got off any way; after all, surely the driver knew what he was doing. Sure enough, the desk clerk at the Ritz in the Country didn’t have me down and worse, when he called the other Ritz Carlton, the Ritz Carlton downtown where I was supposed to be staying, that Ritz Carlton didn’t have me down either.
Man! I wasn’t too happy about that, but what could I do? There I was a thousand miles from home, been traveling all day, been messing with LaGuardia ground transportation all night, and now I didn’t even have a room in which to stay? I didn’t know whether to cuss or cry. I was certain I’d been let off at the wrong place. This was nowhere near 51 Madison Avenue and two blocks from the home office like my papers stated.
About that time, one of the bellmen politely asked if I had papers that might be of some help. I sure did and gave the bellman my papers. The bellman gently pointed out that I was staying at the Carlton Hotel, not the Ritz Carlton. Well, shoot! What could I say?
Nothing for it but to climb into the backseat of another cab. The bellman felt so sorry for me he wouldn’t even take my money. As I climbed into the rear seat I heard the bellman pleading, almost crying talking to the driver. Seemed the bellman was begging the driver to please get me to where I was going.
Of course, this cost me a lot more money and another twenty minutes of night riding; but finally,
I made it to my room. I remember sitting on my bed, taking off my shoes, and thinking what a day! I’d just arrived, been all over New York City, and it wasn’t even 10:00 in the evening.
You’d have thought making it to my room would have been the end of it, but Sunday was just a wake-up call for what was coming. The hard part would be making it back home to Alabama.
I’m convinced if Delta really wanted to Delta-Northwest could have flown me out of LaGuardia Wednesday afternoon like Delta-Northwest had earlier promised, but every thirty minutes Delta kept postponing my flight until right when I reached their ticket counter. That’s when Delta looked me in the eye and cancelled my flight altogether. I spent another night in New York City, make that La Quinta Motel near LaGuardia. Naturally, everything was at me own expense. Delta-Northwest told me they couldn’t be blamed because the weather was cloudy.
La Quinta Motel was so glad to see me they charged me double. I let it ride. By now I was used to slings and arrows.
Got up at 3:30 the next morning and caught the shuttle. Was at LaGuardia in no time, fifteen to five to be exact and I promise you, all the rest of God’s children were right there with me, every one of em with a six o’clock plane to catch.
I made mine, but barely. Had to cheat to do it but when a man’s 71 and bald from chemo, he uses what he has because for sure those planes have a mind of their own. They’ll leave you in a heartbeat.
I proved that all over again in Detroit City. Made it to Detroit just fine with plenty of time to catch my 8:45 flight to Huntsville. I’d be getting to Huntsville at 9:33, early enough to start my sixth chemo at 10:15 later that morning.
I felt so good about how things were going, that while I was still in the air and before landing in Detroit, I set my wristwatch to Alabama time. That’s right, I set my watch back one hour and in my mind just like that gave myself exactly sixty more minutes to catch my flight to Huntsville.
I hate to tell this on myself. In Detroit, I’d walked like rip to get to my Huntsville gate. I admit to seeing a big clock right there at my gate or close to it and that clock showed I had no time left, but that just didn’t make sense because my new wristwatch said it wasn’t yet 8:00 in the morning.
Reasonably sure and totally confused enough to believe I had all kinds of time, I sat at one of those airport eateries enjoying a hot cup of coffee, bagel, and a Philadelphia cream cheese; sat there admiring the sight of a young and pretty brunette hostess; and honestly, I can’t say which I enjoying the most.
Only when I approached my gate and noticed the total absence of any passengers did I realize what I had done. Talk about stupid! Not really. It’s just that I believe my brain went dead somewhere between New York and Detroit City.
Nothing for it but to sit at the Detroit airport, gate B 16, waiting for flight 2283. Flight 2283 would leave for Huntsville at 3:25 that afternoon. As the hours went by, I kept thinking to myself with luck and by paying very close attention, I’d make it home that day; maybe, even have my bag waiting for me when I arrived. Boy, that’d be a break!
Sure hope I do better next time I go to New York City.