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11th April
2009
written by Sean Noble

Some times in life you have a day or two when nearly nothing goes right.  Good Friday was anything but for me.

It actually started Thursday.  I had a very busy morning and then headed to the airport to catch a flight to St. Louis to monitor a focus group that night.  As I’m going into the security line and reaching for my wallet I realize that my pocket is empty.  I had left my wallet on my desk at home.

Now if I were a normal traveler, this wouldn’t have been a crisis, since it would have been 90 minutes before the flight and a loving wife who would have had plenty of time to grab the wallet and drive it down to the airport.  But I’m not normal, and it was exactly 28 minutes before departure.  I was in a bind.

I remembered, out of sheer divine intervention, that I had my old driver’s license (from my previous address) in the console in my car. So I hit the elevator, got back to the 7th level of the parking garage and grabbed the license.  Crisis averted, I got through security and on the plane.

However, still a problem.  No cash, no credit cards.  I made a quick call to a colleague I was meeting in St. Louis (he was in Atlanta on a lay-over) and told him that he would need to cover the hotel and rental car, and if he were feeling generous, feed me.  As expected, he was more than happy to help.

The flight was fine, and other than rain and terrible traffic in St. Louis, the evening was a huge success.

Friday morning I got up, took a quick shower and returned the rental car.  That’s when everything went south.  I pulled into the return lane, and sat their patiently waiting for an attendant to check it in and print out a receipt.  No one in sight.  I start walking around, noticed a shuttle bus at the curb and made a bee-line to get there.  Of course, it pulls away with me eating exhaust flailing my arms trying to get him to stop.  All that was accomplished was me pulling a muscle in my shoulder from swinging my computer bag.

And then I wait. And wait. And wait.  I figure I probably could have walked to the airport faster than it took the next shuttle to show up.  It finally came, and of course stopped at every other possible stop at the airport before getting to my stop.

I ran through security and sprinted to the gate – which was, you guessed it, the furthest gate from security.  And, of course, the door had closed a couple minutes before and the jet-way was just pulling back from the airplane.  

This was at 7:30 a.m. central time, and the next flight wasn’t until 2:30 p.m.  So there I am at the airport with no wallet and a seven hour wait.  There is no US Airways Club in St. Louis, and no United Club, another disappointment.

I was starving.  I had $40 (thanks to my colleague) but that was to pay for parking when I got back to Phoenix, and now with the delay, that would be cutting it close.

Seven hours later, we start the boarding process, and just as I’m about to give the gate agent my boarding pass, they evacuate the plane.  Apparently, something spilled in the cargo hold.  30 minutes later they start the boarding process again, and then we wait on the plane for nearly an hour before taking off.

As soon as we hit 10,000 feet I reach for my iPod to watch a couple episodes of “Mad Men” (my escape when I travel) and realize I don’t have my headphones.  I flip open my laptop to get some work done, and realize that it hadn’t turned off when I had put it in my bag earlier, and it’s down to 20 minutes.  I work on it until it is about to die, and put it away and grab a book, a National Review and read.

We land in Phoenix and by this time I’m actually lightheaded from lack of food.  I get to my car, pull out of the spot and I’m turning left at the aisle and have a fender-bender with a TSA vehicle.  The damage to his truck consists of the front license plate being knocked off, and to my car, a small wrinkle on my front left wheel well.  No biggie, no one hurt, but because it’s TSA, it’s a federal case, and the paperwork starts to fly. 

Forty-five minutes later, as the TSA agent and his partner are filling out countless reports in triplicate, and the Phoenix police officer keeps saying that it can’t possibly take this much effort to deal with such a minor incident, I finally get to leave. I apologize to the TSA agent for making him get writer’s cramp and head toward the exit of the parking garage, praying that my $40 is going to get me out.

I put my parking stub in the machine, and, sure enough, $50 flashes on the screen.  I explain to the guy in the booth that I didn’t have my wallet and I only had $40.  He agreed to bill me for the rest, which took another 10 minutes of paperwork, while a line of cars behind me are honking and cursing me.

As I’m about to pull out, the parking guy points to my rear tire and says, “That looks low.”  Sure enough, it was nearly flat.

I was able to get to a gas station, and miraculously, I had 75 cents AND the air actually worked!  I’ve never been so happy to hear an air compressor start up. So after a missed flight, a seven hour wait with no Club, no food, an evacuation, another delay, no computer, no iPod, an accident with a federal agent, not enough money for parking and a near-flat tire, I was finally on my way. 

It was Friday evening, and that was good.  But it wasn’t a Good Friday.

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9 Comments

  1. […] more than a 1,000 words, so I put it in the Deep Thinking section of the blog.  You can read it here.  If anything, you might get a kick out of laughing at me.  I know my wife and a couple of my […]

  2. Cameron
    11/04/2009

    At least you can take solace in knowing that through the course of your actions you weren’t responsible for allowing N Korea to launch a ballistic missile!

  3. 11/04/2009

    Yikes. Yes — not a very “good Friday”. On a side note I believe you can get onto a plane without an ID — it just takes something short of a strip search to do it.

  4. Ann
    11/04/2009

    There is nothing worse than bad travel days! I lost my license while traveling once and well, there are ways to get on without it but it does require enduring LOTS of laughter at your expense. For years.

  5. Kim Owens
    11/04/2009

    I actually lost my drivers’ license on a multi-state trip of the northeast and discovered the loss when getting my ID out for entry into the White House. I was with a my husband and another couple who had never been inside the White House. So, what to do? I proudly presented my Costco card.

    In case you want to know how to make a whole cadre of Secret Service officers break character and roar in laughter, show your Costco card as ID. Hey… I got in! I think maybe my husband’s badge helped but….I like to think it was my charm and honest face.

    The worst part of that trip…having to ride in a rental car with MA plates during the Bush 2004 campaign in Boston.

  6. Shanna
    13/04/2009

    you know the saying Sean, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle…… I once heard that Mother Theresa’s response to that was, “I just wish he didn’t trust me so much” =)

  7. Kim
    13/04/2009

    I think you did rather well with no cash or credit cards and an expired drivers license on a two-day trip…

  8. denise scheppler
    15/04/2009

    Sean,This is a story of amazing resourcefulness. Next time you are in St. Louis, please look me up. I would have loved to have helped out.

  9. 17/03/2010

    I hope you would not have reservations if I posted a part of Good Friday: Anything But | Noble Thinking on my univeristy blog?

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