Often when I meet collogues and friends in IT events we hang out in the bar
and share stories over beer about our travel ordeals. I’m inviting you to such
a get-together only this time it’s virtual (though the beer I’m having at the
moment is real ;). I’ll share a story about the unusual way I got to one of our
customers. If you wish, share stories from your experience...
LA, Saturday morning (10:00 AM); my wife and I are in LAX airport about
to catch a flight to Philly in a couple of hours. I’m supposed to deliver a class
in Philly starting Monday 8:00 AM.
46 hours left...
We go to the airline counter to grab our tickets. Due to some unfortunate
misunderstanding we are notified that we’re not registered in the flight, and
that the flight is completely full. Taking the next flight that would get us to
Philly would mean that I’d be at least half a day late to class. They check
with other airlines, and there’s no flight that would get us there on time. We
try to convince the airline that it’s not our mistake and that our place is on
that plain, but after long debates we realize it’s a lost battle—our flight took
off without us.
My mind is working fast... never in the past had I postponed a class in such a
short notice, and I sure as hell am not going to start now! Our options were
to start checking with other airports near by (e.g., Las Vegas), and loosing
time while doing so, or... I turn to my wife and say “you would probably
think I’m crazy, but bear with me on this one... how long does it take to drive
from LA to Philly?”
My wife makes a couple of calls to car rental companies and says it should
take about 40 hours.
43 hours left...
We figure, it’s doable (that is, assuming we survive the drive <g>).
But we still need to figure out the fastest route. We rent a car, and drive to a
gas station near the hotel where we stayed last night. There was wireless
connectivity in that hotel and we hoped it would work in the hotel’s
surroundings. We open the laptop and fortunately we manage to get online.
We get the fastest route from mapquest.com, and indeed it says 40 hours.
We copy the instructions to a piece of paper and start driving...
42 hours left...
We drive continuously with no stops save fueling and food pickup. We do
4 hour shifts during the day, and 1 hour shifts during the night. I tell you, even
though it sounds like an adventure, driving during the night is a nightmare. It’s
so hard to keep your eyes open even for a few minutes.
Somewhere around mid-US a police officer signs us to pull over. The police
officer says that I was too close to the car in front of me, but I remember
vividly that I kept more than enough distance. My guess is that he stopped us
since we had California plates which looked subspecies in that area, but
never mind that. The police officer asks me where we’re coming from and
where we’re going, and I briefly describe the circumstances. He even inquires
about what SQL is. He then shakes my hand, smiles, and wishes us luck. :)
We continue driving and finally get to our destination.
2 hours left...
After long 2,700 miles taking a bit less than 40 hours, we get to our hotel in
Philly on Monday morning a bit after 6:00 AM. Originally we thought that we
would drive directly to the classroom, so my wife called the hotel from LAX
telling them that we would get there on Monday afternoon. But we arrived
almost two hours early and I wanted to get a shower and a short nap.
So my wife goes to the front desk and asks if they have a clean room ready.
While the receptionist checks whether there are available rooms, she inquires
about where we drove from. My wife tells her... The receptionist responds:
“if there was no clean room at the moment, I would have cleaned it myself.”
So we got a room, I took a shower, and slept for an hour.
0 hours left...
Class starts, on time!