“Picture it, Sicily, 1912”… Ok, not exactly.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
I’m at work in my Mud Logging unit; finishing up my last shift offshore. Tomorrow I am taking a helicopter into Louisiana, where I will begin my journey home to Houston Texas. It's 6:00 pm and ‘T minus 4 days’ until I am to meet my family in San Antonio for my first overseas trip EVER! I have so many things to do when I get back because of course I didn’t pack before leaving for my 3 week hitch offshore. Why? Once I’m home, I will have 3 days to pack, right?! As I am discussing the trip with my co-worker, I nonchalantly check the weather forecast for Louisiana. In my head I’m singing “In less than 24 hours I will be in Houston,” when it came full stop...
No big deal… I may have a canceled crew change for Monday. I can still get off the rig Tuesday and have enough time to get back to Houston before my trip.
Monday, April 27, 2015
‘T minus 3 days to my trip’
Long story short, we did make our crew change, albeit I did miss my original flight at 3:20 pm. Not the end of the world, my flight had been rebooked for 6:30 that evening.
My driver pulls up to the New Orleans airport, I see the line leading out the front door and extending outside; halfway down the ramp to the drop-off zone.
It’s okay, it’s only 3:30, I have my e-ticket and I don’t need to check any luggage. I squeeze past everyone and make my way inside. No lights are on and the air smells like bad perfume, if I had to put a name to it I’d say Dire Prophecy.
I find the security line. It’s long, but I plant myself in place, head tilted as I grab my headphones and start listening to a podcast. Just trying to pass the time so I don’t panic.
My mind immediately switched into fight or flight mode! It was like being handed the baton in a relay race. I took off! The advantage of consistently traveling this airport for work meant I knew exactly where I needed to go. I needed to beat everyone in this airport to the taxi line!
Along the way I ran into two men I know from my company who worked on other rigs. I stopped and asked them if they already called Valerie, our travel lady who makes all of our hotel/flight arrangements. They had, and she was aware that I would also need a hotel. Thankfully, within the hour we were on our way and not left stranded for the night in the airport.
Departing New Orleans for Houston Hobby
Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 9:00 pm....9:00 PM!!!!!
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 ‘T minus 2 days to my trip’
I wake up and decide I am not going to sit at the airport for 9 hours. I am renting a car and driving myself. I call my manager, get approval, head downstairs and run into my co-workers; waiting for their ride to the airport. I tell them I got approval to drive home.
***Side note: In our company, you are treated like a child and so if you want to be able to drive yourself anywhere on company time then you need to have specific training called “Drive SMARRT.” (Yes, two ‘R’s, don’t remember why)
Unbeknownst to me, they too had very late flights booked for that day, 7:50pm to be exact. Since they didn’t have the certification they needed to drive, I offered that they come with me. If we left soon, we’d be home before their flight would even be scheduled to take off! They agreed, got the confirmation from their managers and we took off to the airport ‘rent a car’ place together. Happy as can be!
In my head I was expecting MUCH longer lines at ‘rent a car’ but when we got there it was dead. I guess everyone else was happy to have their flights. I walked up to the counter, got my reservation and was told to walk out the doors to the garage in order to actually book the vehicle and pay. So there we go, we walk out into a huge parking lot below the airport and about 50 yards away, in the middle, is the ‘rent a car’ shack. With my co-workers in tow, I set off with a vengeance because as I look around, I see three cars left and about 500 empty spaces. I panic as I notice there are three people already in line ahead of me!
I’m dreading the prospect of being told “Sorry, we just rented our last one,” when the agent walks up to the lady at the head of the line and hands her the keys to an extended cab pickup truck. She exclaims, “Oh No!!! I cannot drive a truck.” The agent looks to the next two customers behind her and they lean back; shaking their heads ‘No’ as if he’s offering them the keys to Hell itself.
Then, he looks at me, and I’m standing there like an 8 year old who’s sitting anxiously in their seat; waiting to be called on to answer a question. I’m bouncing up and down, my arm is up in the air, “Pick me! Pick me!” I don’t even think he got the first word out before I exclaimed, “YES! I can drive a truck!!!”
So, I’m on cloud nine, I couldn’t breathe for 24 hours and at that moment I let out a huge sigh of relief, and it would have been so rewarding had it not been interrupted by, “Are you kidding me? We can’t ride in a truck. This is going to be so uncomfortable. Our bags… where are our bags going to go? Don’t they have any minivans?”
So, you know how in the movies, when someone says something extremely foolish and the piano player packs up, “Gotta go!” Picture that, that’s about how it went down. Through gritted teeth I replied, “I’m not kidding, I’m not worried about your bags, and I’m also not worried about your comfort. You can throw your bags in the bed of the truck with mine and hop in or find a more comfortable place to sit for the next 7 hours while you wait for your flight!”
Five minutes later, after much huffing and puffing on his end, we were driving out of that lot. I put some music on and after about 7 hours I was dropping the guys off at their homes.
It was a rocky start, but as I headed to drop off the truck, I realized something about myself that day. I should do this travel thing more often, I bet I’d get better at it.
P.S... Thank you to the Golden Girls for always making things funny