Let me begin by saying that the Goat Rodeo of Friday did not ruin my Blogtoberfest experience one bit! Those people worked their asses off to save my sorry ass from the airport in Atlanta and get me there after a miserable 6 hours of not knowing what I was going to do to get there.
See, when I got to Charlotte 8 minutes before my boarding time of 10am, I misread my boarding pass and ended up at the wrong gate. Then I had to lug my kazillion pound carry-on bag all the way from E concourse to B concourse. From the FAR end of E concourse to the FAR end of B concourse. On knees with no cartlidge in them. And lugging my own extra baggage of over a hundred pounds of hard earned pudgy. See where this is going? Yes, I got there, no plane.
So the USAir guy at the podium at that gate set me up in a first-class seat on a puddle-jumper that left at 12:30. Of course, being an Air-Travel Virgin, I had no clue how to let anyone know I was going to be delayed. Customer Services said they could do nothing, someone at the podium at my new gate would have to call Atlanta for me. Uh, yeah. Right. There was such pandimonium at that gate I was lucky to get my boarding pass. She tried to tell me the flight was oversold and I had no seat. "No, it's already in there, the other guy took my old boarding pass and told me to tell you I was in A1, whatever that means." so she looked again, actually asked my my name, verified my seat and printed my new boarding pass. Phone call? Fat chance. She was dealing with a bunch of bratty intoxicated college kids in Abercrombie & Fitch duds who kept wanting to help her behind the podium, a bunch of old folks who were being bumped, and...well, you get that picture too.
So I get on my new flight, land in Atlanta at sometime between 2:30 and 3:00, and start looking for my bags. I'd been told to go to the North Terminal to meet Acidman and Catfish, so I follow the signs and end up in a tunnel underneath the airport that was 90 degrees, humid as a sauna, and 2 1/2 miles long. Did I tell you before that I'm chubby and have crappy knees? Well, at the time I had no idea how big this place was or how long the tunnel was, so I decided to forego the train and walk. And walk. And walk. Past bad sculpture. Past photos of African savannahs (I think that was why it was so hot. They wanted you to have the WHOLE continental experience). In and around, and past and through, and I thought I'd never find the damned North Terminal. But there, like a beacon in the night, was the sign pointing me to an elevator to the Promised Land of Luggage Retrieval and my ride to Helen.
Well, not really.
My ride was not there. I retrieved my bag and thought, "I'll just stay right here at the carousel and wait, because if they're in the bar having drinks, I'll never find them, they can just find me here."
An hour later, I began to make inquiries. The only way to get anyone paged in the Atlanta airport is to hoof it to the South terminal and ask Delta to do it. But, the volunteers at the Information Desk said, Don't tell them you didn't fly Delta or they won't do it. What? There's no main PA for the airport unless you fly Delta?
This began the hour long crying jag. Yes, Mama the Strong, Montezz the Invincible, had a case of the vapors. I admit it. I am secure enough in my womanhood to admit it. I had lost all sense of decorum and sat on that Group W bench with the hooker and the two Indian women and the the weird patchouli-stinking yuppy, and just lost it. I was thinking, do I just go back home? Do I try to make contact with the people at Helen and beg for help? Do I go hijack the Hertz Rental Lot-Shuttle and make it take me? So I called Delfts.
Well, he called Helen, then they had a confab. Then they started making calls. I can stay in Atlanta overnight with Kelly or Key and ride up with them. Or I can stay in a hotel and someone bring me in Saturday. Or we can rent a car and drive. Then we find out that there's a shuttle from the airport to Gainsville, about 30 minutes from Helen. So it's decided. I'm to dash out and catch the AAA shuttle to Gainsville. I ran out to Ground Tranportation, asked where to go, was misdirected, and missed my shuttle. That was at 6:30.
Then they told me there was another one at 7:00. Again, I make the mad dash to the right place and there's no shuttle. It broke down.
Did I mention that I hadn't eaten anything since noon on Thursday? Thinking that might have a little bit to do with my rapidly deteriorating mental state, I decide to eat. Luckly I found one of those $3 airport carts for the Carry-on from Hell so I don't have to drag it anymore. I went back into the terminal. I found a Wendy's, broke my $10 bill (all my money in the world, I might add), and bought a Cheesburger Kid meal.
Then, after checking back in with Delfts, the Helen Gang called me again at the payphone and at 8:00 told me the shuttle was leaving at 9:00. So I ran out again to the slot they told me, and there was a shuttle with the hood up. I thought to myself that another one had broken down and I was out of luck again. But as it was, he was just checking the oil. And to make sure I didn't miss this one, at 8:10 I boarded the shuttle, strapped my ass in, and waited IN THE VAN until it left at 9:00 to make sure I was on it.
At 10:30 we finally reached Gainsville, and he pulled into a Best Western motel. What? Why is he dropping me at a Motel? I figured I would be dropped at maybe a coffee shop or some place like that, but I'm at a motel. So I walk in, drop the Carry-On from Hell, and approach the desk.
They knew exactly who I was and directed me to a telephone where I made what was probably my 20th collect call of the day. Georgia and Catfish were on their way.
I hit Helen at 11:58. I made it to Blogtoberfest on the 15th. And it all went uphill from there.
No harm, no foul. Goat Rodeos just happen sometimes. All made well by beautiful people going above and beyond to rescue me from a night at the airport and get me into the welcoming arms of people I consider now to be not just blog-buddies but genuine friends. I love you all.