-{Previously Installment}-


Wake up, walk to the train station.


I get my hopes up that the train line that runs straight to the airport is working this morning. There are no messages either on the intercom or the lightboard about taking alternate routes and shuttles as I had to do yesterday. But when the next train arrived, the conductor said that everybody needed to get on and gave the dirt on the alternate routes and shuttles that I took yesterday. I had the vague feeling that the uncertainty here might come back to bite my rear.


A guy from the local Fox affiliate flags the guy next to me for an interview. It’s apparent from the get-go that he doesn’t particularly care to be on the news. He answers the reporters questions in one or two word responses and when the reporter asks “So what’s your story?” trying to get him to elaborate, he replies “I just told you.” There’s a 50/50 chance that I will be on the local news bobbing up and down to keep warm in the light wind and increasingly heavy snow. It probably would have been better for all involved if he’d interviewed me. I could have said something about having plane tickets, train tickets, and trying to get a flight out of here so that I can catch another flight out of Zaulem. I had the story that the guy next to me did not seem interested in telling.


We’ve been waiting in the wind and snow for two hours waiting for a shuttle bus to get there. Apparently my earlier premonition was correct. The train-plane line should have been running and wasn’t. So they had to scramble to find the shuttle buses to take us to the airport. Everyone waiting is getting irate and every twenty minutes or so a train comes by to drop off more people. It’s becoming apparent that there are too many people to fit on a single bus and there is no telling how much longer it will take the next bus to arrive. The Metro guy is saying that one should be coming by any minute now and that another will come by 20 minutes after. The problem, he explains, is a shortage of buses. Apparently, a dozen or so buses had gotten stuck in the snow, scattered around Shaston. Whatever other hardships I was facing, I was quite glad not to be on one of those buses. The long-awaited bus arrives, but the poor Metro guy is stuck in the position of telling us that even though it’s here and that we need to get to the airport, we’re going to have to wait another thirty minutes for reasons he’s not sure of. I’m wondering if there is about to be a riot.


I am getting increasingly anxious as to whether or not I will get on the bus and whether or not the next bus will be on time for my 7:30 departure. I want to tell everyone when my departure time is so that I can be sure to get on ahead of the people that have later flights. That’s when I find out that there are people with flights at 6:30, 6:45, and 7am waiting as well. At this point I’m not sure if I can even get on the bus with a good conscience. A young woman tries to organize everybody so that those with the earliest flights get on first. I’m game even if it may be to my disadvantage, but it quickly breaks down the second the doors open. Feeling awfully bad about it, I make my way on the bus as I mentally apologize to anyone that might miss their plane on my account.


A guy on the bus has unlimited data service on his cell phone and becomes very popular. He keeps checking on everyone’s flight. One woman talks about how worried she is about making her flight. Then she says something like “I know I’m being paranoid because the flight isn’t until 10:45, but I’m just worried.” 10:45?! I want to scream at her and throttle her. Her flight wasn’t for over four hours and she butted her way on to the dang bus ahead of people that now may miss their flights. If my flight had even been as late as 8:30 I would have waited. I wanted to call her nasty names, but instead I quietly seethed.


We arrive. I check the board and see that my flight is still listed as “On Time”. I’ve got my ticket printed out from the night before so I go straight to the security line. I’m feeling pretty good about my chances of making the flight. Several people from earlier flights ask if they can cut in front of us. We ask to see their ticket and when they show it to us we let them. The line is moving very quickly. I had forgotten what that feels like. A line actually moving. Because of the rush and staffing shortage, there is no pretense that anyone is going to be pulled aside and not a single bag is investigated thoroughly. This is good because I seem to always get caught up in these things.








Got my luggage and after a wait at the bus stop, it arrives and I board.


I arrive at the Sounddome, which is the bus stop that happens to be right across the street to the Amtrak station where my car is parked. I wait in the Amtrak line and get my two train tickets canceled. The Amtrak guy was really great about it. Then a woman in the parking lot loaned me her shovel so that I could get my car out of the snow and the parking lot. Things are suddenly going really well and working out. I am not sure what to make of this.


The main roads in Soundview have been shoveled and all that and since I live on a main road that works out great. The back alleyway to our parking area is completely iced over, though, so I park off the street in the front. There is some snow and ice in that area, but I figure I’ll be okay. I figure wrong. I can tell immediately that my car is stuck. I have another flight to Colosse tomorrow, so my first two hours spent after the initial euphoria getting home is spent desperately trying to free up my car so that we can drive it to the airport.


The car is not coming out. I’ve managed to move a lot of ice and snow around, but it appears to be doing almost as much harm as good. More than ice-free, it’s important that everything is even. It’s hard to keep that amount of ice even and no matter what I do I keep getting stuck. My car gets further and further out on the street to the point that it’s impeding traffic, but I can’t get it out. Fortunately, a woman with three very large sons stops and sends her team of kids out to help. They get it out with little difficulty. I take my car and find a side street that’s covered with ice but not much snow and park my car there, hoping that I can get it out in a few hours when I find a way to completely clear my street parking spot.


I go around from neighbor to neighbor asking if anyone has a snow shovel that I can use. I had previously been using an ice scraper because it was all I had, but I realized that I needed a bona fide shovel. Nobody answers or if they do they don’t have a shovel. Then I notice as I knock on my neighbors’ door for the second time that she has a shovel just sitting there on her porch. She is probably the neighbor that I am closest to and I don’t think she would mind if I borrowed it, but I’m not sure. I decide to knock on the door again after work hours. In a stroke of luck, I run into her in the back yard. She has apparently been around all day but is not in the habit of answering her door. I get a snow shovel, which is great because now I can dig out my parking space. Yay. I get to dig out a parking space.


The parking space is cleared. Clancy is home. Now laundry, packing, and a bunch of other stuff so that we can make it out to the airport tomorrow morning. She asks what time we should arrive at the airport and tells me that she is willing to arrive as early as I want. I tell her that I really want to go to the airport tonight and spend the night there. At this point, despite a light uptick in my luck, I don’t want to take any chances. She laughs at the prospect. As early tomorrow as I want. We decide to get up at 6am for our 12:30 flight. Getting Clancy up at 6 is quite the concession.

-{Next Installment to be posted tomorrow}-

Category: Downtown, Road

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3 Responses to Travhell 2008: Tuesday, 12/23

  1. Peter says:

    When we had about six inches of snow a week before Christmas I trooped out to the garage to retrieve our snow shovel … only to find that some heavy stuff that had been tossed upon it last summer had broken off the blade portion from the handle. I then got to experience the frustration of shoveling snow with a dirt shovel. It takes at least 3x longer than using a snow shovel.

  2. trumwill says:

    I really don’t like the whole “shoveling snow” business regardless of the tool. Tools, I have come to find out, do make a pretty big difference.

  3. David Alexander says:

    I really don’t like the whole “shoveling snow” business regardless of the tool.

    Weak man. 🙂

    I haven’t shoveled in two years since I live on a cul-de-sac where nobody walks except for the mailman and last winter barely had any snow.

    BTW, we only have a dirt shovel at home. If we had to shovel as frequently as we did in Queens, I suspect that I would blow some cash on a snowblower, and I’d recoup the costs from cleaning for others.

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