This is the conclusion of my four-part recap of the Helping Hands Foundation’s 2014 Winter Outing. Read about Friday here, Saturday here and Sunday here.
While my travel to the outing was uneventful, my trip home was…kind of a disaster.
Tony, Nikki and I left the hotel a little after 10am and my flight to Philadelphia departed as planned around 130pm. I arrived in Philly, took the shuttle to Terminal F, and waited for my 522pm flight to Milwaukee. We were all sitting there, waiting and watching for our plane to arrive at the gate. 5pm, still no plane. 515pm, no plane. Finally we were told the plane would arrive at 6pm and we’d leave at 645pm. The plane finally arrived at 630pm and we waited for an update. The woman at the gate said something about the pilot needing 15 more minutes to talk to the people in Milwaukee “to make sure it’s safe.” That was the first indication we had that we might not be going home that night.
Finally, the woman came back and I’ll never forget the look of fear on her face. She didn’t even use the PA system, she just blurted out, “It’s cancelled.” Of course a ton of irate people ran at her, like SHE made the decision to cancel it. What did they want her to do? “Oh, I can see you’re all very upset, so, never mind! Let’s board and head to Milwaukee! Hope you don’t die!” Just dumb. So, we all had to stand in line and try to reschedule our flights. Rumors were swirling about why the flight was cancelled and when we’d be able to get out of Philly. I met a few people who I got to help make laugh, so that was nice. I finally got to the counter and was super jokey with the lady, which she seemed to appreciate. The first flight she found me had me getting into Milwaukee at 230am on Tuesday. Yeah…no. I had her look again and she found the LAST flight to Charlotte, NC at 5, connecting me to Milwaukee around 1030. “Sweet, I’ve never been to North Carolina!” I said. She laughed. She printed my tickets and off I went.
When I called Julie to give her the plan, it was the first I realized I was to leave at 5 IN THE MORNING. I thought I was getting back to Milwaukee at 1030pm, when it turned out to be 1030am! Awesome, except it meant barely any sleep. Again. Thankfully I was able to crash on a friend’s couch in New Jersey and then got back to the airport at 4am. Security didn’t even open until 430am, so we all lined-up and waited. Eventually I got through security and onto the plane and just as we were about to push off, the flight attendant comes on and says, “Unfortunately, I am apparently not legal to be your flight attendant today. So, we are going to de-plane and anybody who is going to miss your 730am connection in Charlotte, you’ll have to get a different flight. In the meantime, we’ll try to find a flight attendant walking around the airport who’s legal.” Literally. That’s what she said.
I got off the plane to get something to eat and to cool off (it was like 95 degrees on there for some reason), thinking to myself, “Glad I have a two hour layover in Charlotte.” Two hours later, we were off!
I got to Charlotte, entered through gate E33 and RAN to gate E9 to try and make my flight. I got there and the guy says, “Oh, your gate changed to E32. Better put the pedal to the metal, son!” SERIOUSLY?? So, I ran ALL THE WAY BACK TO WHERE I HAD COME FROM and made it just in time. Pretty sure that was the shortest amount of time I’ve ever spent in an airport.
The descent into Milwaukee was incredible. We had to dive through these thick, white clouds and when we emerged below them we could see what looked like all these mini-tornadoes on the water. It looked like something from a science fiction movie.
We were blown around, but landed safely. What a relief! I called the bus and found out it came at 1245pm, so I waited and then rode home to Madison where my friend Jake picked me up from the bus depot and drove me home.
Nearly 30 hours (and four states) after I left the hotel, I was finally home. I walked in and my youngest, Claire, ran to me yelling, “Daddy!” and threw her arms around me and wouldn’t let go. Couldn’t have scripted it better. Well, I guess Sam and Anna could have come out, but they were on the computer, so… It was a long, strange, frustrating journey, but it all worked out in the end.
And it was totally worth it.
Oh, and my favorite part was going through security in Boston and Charlotte. I had made a plaster casting of my short arm at the outing and stuck it in my suitcase to bring home. Well, the TSA wasn’t so hip to that plan. They pulled me out of line both times and asked what it was and then had to go x-ray it again or something. I’m pretty sure they thought I was smuggling something in it. For real. Which would actually be kind of awesome. I kind of wanted them to start yelling in my face, like, “JUST TELL US WHAT’S IN HERE OR WE’LL SMASH IT AND SEE FOR OURSELVES!!!” and then I would keep saying there’s nothing in it and then they’d SMASH it and THERE WOULD BE DIAMONDS IN IT. Dude, that would be so rad. Wait, what’s happening? Oh, yeah…if you ever bring a plaster casting of your short arm on a plane, just take it out of your suitcase and be prepared to have a weird conversation.
And that’s it. The exciting conclusion to my 2014 HHF trip.
Next year I’m taking a train.
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– I got bumped from a plane once. Got scheduled the next morning. However, the fact that it took them a ton of time getting the hotel voucher surprised me. It was filling out paper forms! Oh, and they do nothing with your bag. Leave it there until it’s “unclaimed”, send it to TSA, and then throw it in an office for you to pickup.
– My shortest time in an airport was in Detroit. Ran between the big carrier terminals to the regional through a cool tunnel. Arrived at the gate out of breath, but I was the last person to board (they knew my plane had just landed and were waiting a few minutes). “You must be Mr. Logan”. I just nodded because I was too winded to speak.
– Go through TSA with a bag full of Rubik’s Cubes. I tried to explain what it was, told them they were free to open the bag. But no, they decided to bomb test the bag.
Going through security coming back from Kauai, I was pulled out of line by a worker who said “I am so sorry but my manager wants you to remove the cover off of your arm.” I wear a prosthetic sock on my short arm to protect it and keep it warm. I felt so bad for the worker. The manager was glaring at me from her desk for some reason. I told the worker it was OK, that I didn’t mind, and I pulled it off. Now when I think about it I should have refused just to see what would happen. What did she think I had in it? It is no different than an article of clothing. Why not make everyone pull up their sleeves or pant legs to see what is under them?