Hermes is the Greek god of Travel. After last Friday, I can’t help but believe that the cunning trickster and fleet-footed messenger read my previous post, Travel Days are THE WORST, snickered and said, “Hold my beer.”
To recap, last Sunday my friend and I booked a room at a hotel near the bus station in Rockford for “less stress” and “easy access” to our 4:45 am bus to O’Hare for the 7:32 am flight to Newark. Four in the morning is very early. We caught the bus, rode to the airport, checked in, passed security (easy-peasy, thank you O’Hare!), waited, flew, arrived, met our other friend, hopped in the rental car and headed out to Chatham, Massachusetts, for a quick week of sight-seeing and catching up. We meandered along, stopping to shop, stopping for gas, stopping for snacks or potty breaks. We arrived at the airbnb about 6:30 pm. For the detail oriented, that’s approximately 14 1/2 hours between starting the day and arriving at the destination. Long, but all considering, NOT the worst.
Fast Forward through tours of Provincetown, Harwick, Falmouth, Martha’s Vineyard, Brewster, and Chatham–three JAM PACKED days of adventure, sight-seeing, clam chowder, and great company to…Friday, aka, THE WORST TRAVEL DAY.
Packed, cleaned, and ready to go, we headed out of the quaint airbnb at an impressive 8 am for our 6:30 pm flights. Required exit time was 9 and we originally balked at that, even going so far as to request a (denied) late check-out. With battling GPSes, a Garmin in kilometers and Apple Maps in miles, we headed back to Newark. We needed to fill up the rental gas tank before returning the car, then get to the terminal to check in, go through security, etc in time for our 5:45 boarding.
Seven hours to make a five hour trek giving us two hours for airport demands. Three hundred miles and time to spare! Long, sure, but leisurely. Plenty of time, right?!
I wonder if it’s an ice cold can of beer with a godly coozie or an ambrosial draft sloshing in a red plastic Solo cup?
Despite a fantastic driver and passenger guide (neither me) our five hour trek took eight and a half hours. Thanks to lost satellite signals, differing map app routes, and a mess and tangle of crawling traffic. Eventually we found the gas station, were filled up, took the long way to the rental drop-off (nice signage NOT), hauled butt to the train, found our check-in, were harassed, er, delayed by security (not me this time!), and made it to our gate approximately fourteen minutes before boarding was to begin. Whew, right?
Hermes seems like a bottle kind of god, nothing light, probably an import. Maybe in Olympus they’re all imports?
Within moments of our pause at the schedule board, we realized that another plane was boarding at our gate. Shortly after that, we received the first delay text. Which was to be expected since San Jose destined passengers were in our seats. Our flight would now depart at 7:30. Too many planes, not enough gates.
Fine, whatever, gives us a chance to catch our breath after that harrowing commute. Walk around, stretch our legs, get a bite to eat, relax, right?
Is he a two-fister? Maybe one in hand and one in waiting? Does that require two servants to hold his beer?
Newark Liberty International airport has the most effed up shopping system. Not a McDonald’s to be found. Each of the small shops and kiosks are self-check. Except that someone has to be there to make sure you are self-checking properly. (Or, hey, you know, maybe they could just check us out?!) I stumbled into a large food court. Lots of options–pasta, sandwiches, sushi, etc. I wait in a line, I do what the person in front of me does, which is to select your order on the key pad and print out a QR code receipt. Standing, waiting, wondering why they have one guy behind the counter, no other staff, while the hungry crowd grows. Guy behind the counter calls out a name and number, somebody comes, takes the sandwich and leaves, guy behind the counter has a TOTAL PUBLIC MELTDOWN. He’s slamming and swearing–to himself and at us. Lecturing on how obvious the rules are and why can’t people #$%& read (the barely legible hand-drawn sign). Mind you, no sandwiches are being made during this tirade. In explanation, a kind stranger informed me that you need to take your receipt to the exit, scan it, swipe your payment, wait in line for someone else to scan it to prove you paid, then stamp it. Then you go back and wait in line and when your order comes up, you trade the stamped receipt for your food. I have many more details about that counter experience, but today we focus on the TRAVEL.
I finally and frantically make it back to the gate, hoping I am not late since the fast food order was hardly that, when my friend informs me that we have an additional 50 minute delay. Yay. As long as we can make it in time for the 9 pm bus from O’Hare to Rockford.
Another delay. We decide we might as well check our carry-ons since we will have plenty of time to grab them at baggage claim and make the 10 pm bus.
Another delay. Well, shoot, now we may NOT have time. And there is no 11 pm bus, only midnight remains.
Another delay. If we miss the midnight bus, we are there until the 7 am run.
Thirteen updates later, including a changed gate and plane cooling time (?), our 6:29 departure loads for a 9:35 departure.
Well, we loaded anyway. Departure was still a good twenty minutes away. Too many planes, not enough runway.
The Newark Airport is a hot mess. No stars, would not recommend.
Finally, we’re in the air. It’s a quick flight, only about two and half hours but with a glorious time change and gained hour. Great air staff, easy landing, disembark (slooooowly, per usual), make it to baggage claim, grab our luggage right away, and hustle to the bus stop (love the moving sidewalks!), arriving with minutes to spare.
On the midnight bus going from O’Hare (if you didn’t sing that, go back and read it again), we engaged in lively conversation with some very interesting people. I wish them the best of luck. An hour later, we eagerly pulled into the Van Galder lot. Not much left to do, the rest of our trip will be easy, right?
I could be mistaken, but I think maybe he said, “Hold my case of beer,” because Hermes is not done messing with us yet.
We just want to pay for our parking and get on the road. So why is there some guy freaking out in the parking lot at a quarter after one in the morning!? Swearing and stomping and pacing and screaming? Luckily a fellow passenger offered a barrier of protection while we paid at the uncomfortably close to crazy-man machine. I do not know what his deal was, but it was scary behavior and we were a bit distressed to see them let him back on the bus.
I was delivered to my car and drove the 40 minutes home.
I had begun my day with the assist of the overbed skylight (!) at 5:05 am. I arrived home at 2:30 am. A twenty-two hour day filled with hurry-up and waits, stress, anxiety, frustration, and freak-outs. Never so happy to be home.
So, there you go, further proof that travel days are the worst.
(expletive you, Hermes)