The week before Surtex I planned a trip to see a couple of customers up in Cleveland.
I had spent the Monday sorting the prints out, and packing them into two suitcases. I was booked to fly from Newark to Cleveland via Philadelphia ( US Airways will always take you the long way round whenever they can :). So the flight left on time and landed late for whatever reason and we deplaned at Terminal F in Philadelphia. US Airways flights usually only give you 40 minutes to connect, but the next flight to Cleveland was from Terminal B, which, due to the layout of the airport must be at least three quarters of a mile away. So I follow the signs for the buses to Terminal B, and then get caught up in a snake of a queue which is alongside different queues all queuing for buses to different Terminals. I should make the point here that Philadelphia is an extremely busy airport. However the buses all pull up at the same door, so whenever a bus pulls up everyone surges forward thinking it is their bus ! Also waiting for these buses are people in wheel chairs so you can imagine the chaos. Eventually I get on a bus for Terminal B, already ten minutes late and stressed for the next flight. I thought as I got off the bus, there is no way I am going to catch this flight but hurried to the gate none the less. When I get to the gate the flight is delayed by two hours, and that information had only just gone out. No seats, loads of people standing all around moaning about how bad US Airways are, and apparently this is normal for them ! So my original flight was due to arrive in Cleveland at 10.50, this one did indeed take off two hours late and I arrived in Cleveland around 12.15, gone midnight !
I was quite groggy by now because I had fallen into a deep sleep on the short flight, and I headed down to the baggage claim to collect my two suitcases. All the baggage came through but one of my suitcases had not arrived. I queued to see the Baggage office, there was only one person on duty. I finally get to speak to her and my bag was left in Philadelphia ! I told her in an almost polite way that I had flown all the way through from N Ireland for a meeting at 10.00 am on Tuesday morning, and now I don't have half of what I need for my meeting. I told her the flight was delayed two hours so how did they manage to leave my bag in Philadelphia ? What a waste of time asking that question was ! So she told me the bag would be in Cleveland on the first flight in the morning and they would deliver it to my clients office, but she could not guarantee it would be there in time for my meeting.
So I head outside to get the shuttle bus to the Car Rental centre, and luckily enough there was one waiting. Dollar is not in the Car Rental centre, but I have to get the bus there, so the Dollar bus can take me to my prepaid car about a mile away. So I arrive at the Car Rental centre at around 1.30 in the morning but there is no Dollar bus there. I ask inside and apparently Dollar closes at 12.30 …
So I wheel my bags over to Hertz. no cars left at all, apparently it's the same for everyone, but I could try National at the end. The guy there wasn't sure if he had anything but asked me to wait while he went outside to check. He came back five minutes later, apparently it's my lucky day because he still had a Ford F250 pick up truck ! No choice so I booked it, loaded the bags on the seats behind the driver's seat and CLIMBED up into the cab. It actually felt great ;) ! All I needed was a baseball cap and some chewing tobacco … open road here I come !
So I arrive at the Radisson for my prepaid room really tired, at around 2.00 in the morning. The manageress on duty asked how she could help me, I told her I had a prepaid room but could not be bothered to tell her why I was so late checking in. I am sorry sir we have no rooms left !!! The day manageress had overbooked the hotel. I was thinking the pick up truck was not so bad a deal after all, especially as I had nowhere to sleep ! To her credit the manageress then got onto the Courtyard Marriott just behind the Radisson, and they paid for me to stay there for the night, and she also gave me a voucher for a Radisson breakfast, which was not so far away by now.
By the time I climbed into bed I had gone past the point of sleep, and my meeting was at 10.00 in the morning ! Needless to say the suitcase I was missing turned up at the clients reception after my meeting.
The magnificent Ford F 250 !