3:00pm Eric arrives KC. Rents a car, drives to the hotel, calls his buddy, goes out to a nice dinner, goes to sleep.
11:00pm Ed and Diane arrive Milwaukee.
7:00am Eric wakes up for Boards Orientation, has lunch, takes a written test, goes back to the hotel for a nap.
3:00pm I leave for the airport with Chris (patient #1 - 24 year old WI native, dresses very goth, has long fingernails but does NOT play the guitar, smokes, is a bar tender, swears about ever 4 words, has a suspended license and can only get on the plane thanks to his passport), we park at the airport, check-in, get through security.
4:00pm Locate Alex (patient #2 - 19 year old WI native, short, skinny, red head kid, likes to draw and is taking graphic design/animation courses, listens to Ipod constantly, quiet but good kid), find out that our plane is delayed 30 min, no biggie, we'll still make our connection in Minneapolis.
...remember in my previous post when I said "the difficulty comes when I have to ____"? I take ALL of that back. ALL OF IT! Would the court please strike that previous information from their minds and replace it with this:
5:00pm Start boarding our plane, only to get to row 4 before they tell us all to get off because Air Traffic Control has grounded us for 2 hours. Supposedly, there is a winter storm warning that stretches from the Dakotas clear to Minneapolis. The snow is beginning to accumulate and there is only one runway open for flight to come in and out of. PANIC! I officially start stressing. I run off the flight knowing that if at least one of the two patients doesn't make it to KC tonight, Eric is failing his exam and all of this planning was for nothing.
I get to the ticket counter where there is already three people waiting to be rescheduled. Luckily, none of them were going to KC. There just so happens to be one flight going out on Midwest Airlines direct, but there is only ONE seat available. I'll take it. I get Alex booked on the flight which arrives KC at 9:30pm. Sorry Eric, guess you're not going to be getting to bed early tonight. Then the lady re-books Chris and I on a different connecting flight for MSP-KC at 6:45am Friday morning. It arrives KC at 8:30am which, assuming we leave Minneapolis on time, will give me 3 hours to get our luggage, hop a shuttle to downtown and to the dental chair that he has to be sitting in at 12 noon. Doable.
6:00pm I call Eric who is currently eating dinner at Houston's with his buddy. Of course I am in a panic telling him all that has happened and he says, "well what do you want me to do?" UMMMM - how about a. leave the restaurant b. get to the closest computer to check other flight options c. rent me a car because i might have to drive the 9.5 hours at this point because who knows if we will ever get off the ground in Milwaukee let alone take off tomorrow from Minneapolis on time??? But, what am I thinking - I don't think Eric has ever scheduled a flight for himself - he wouldn't have the first clue about what to do. So I call Ed and Diane...
J: Hey, guess where I am!?!
J: Ummm, no joke. Can you check the weather for me?
E: Not looking good. Maybe we should drive.
J: I might have to at this point.
- Meanwhile Chris (patient) is asking me what his "rules" are for when we get to Minneapolis. Rules? Well, he has some friends in Minnesota he hasn't seen in a while and would like to party with them if I will let him. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You think for one second I am going to let you go off bar hopping when we have to catch a possible 6:45am flight to KC?
C: So... what do you think?
J: Are you serious right now? Chris you are killing me. Do you not see how stressed I am and you think I am going to let you go out tonight?
C: No, I was just thinking they could come to the hotel.
J: How many people are you talking?
J: And you are going to just stay at the hotel?
C: Yes, maybe go in the hot tub.
J: How are you going to wake up for the flight?
C: I will probably just stay awake all night.
J: You cannot be wasted when we get on the plane. Two drink maximum.
C: I just had two drinks at the airport bar... 2 does nothing to me.
- at this point it was like I was talking to an alcoholic child
J: TWO drinks, and you will give me a key to your room.
We decide to skip the driving idea and just get on the plane, hoping it would all work out. So at 8pm we board the plane for a second time. The plane pulls back from the gate and surprise surprise, "um, this is your captain speaking, we have been grounded for another hour and a half, sorry for this delay, we will be waiting on the tarmac until we get the ok from air traffic control to take off". And here's where the waterworks started. It had been building but this sent me over the edge. I have heard all the horror stories of airplanes being stuck on the ground for 8 hours not being able to get off the plane just because they have "pulled away from the gate". Why that is a valid excuse - I have no idea. I do remember a flight attendant telling me once that they only get paid from the time they pull away from the gate until they arrive at the next gate. If they are delayed, they do not get paid. So I see it as no coincidence that not two seconds after we pull away from the gate we get word we will have to be waiting again. They knew full well we were grounded for longer and hurried us on the plane only so they could get paid. So, now I'm stuck. I have no other options at this point to hope that we make it to MSP in time for the flight the next morning.
10:30pm We finally arrive in Minneapolis. The flight was the bumpiest ride I have ever been on and the landing was just as sketchy. Never have I had a flight attendant get on the intercom and tell us flat out, "buckle you seat belts, it's going to be a rough landing". We go straight to the ticket counter to get our boarding passes for the next mornings flight and a hotel room for the night. No hotels available. Sold out. But, we can grab a mattress and sleep at the gate. This was actually good news because the flight was only 8 hours away at this point and I didn't want Chris partying with his friends. He was irritated and needed a cigarette. We started walking towards the exit so he could smoke and I noticed on the monitors that our original connecting flight was still here. What? They just gave us boarding passes for tomorrows flight knowing full well our original connection was still at the gate. Sorry Chris, no time for a cigarette. We start running to the gate. And wouldn't you know - 1 seat available. They had given mine away because they already re-ticketed me. Fine, I will sleep in the airport.
J: Chris, get on the plane - get a taxi to the hotel - Eric will come see you in the morning.
C: Ugh, I need a cigarette...
J: - roll of the eyes -
10 minutes later, ring ring...
C: Where are you?
J: In the terminal, why?
C: They are kicking me off the flight.
C: The plane is too heavy.
J: You ARE KIDDING ME!!!
C: No, but guess what - because they are kicking me off I get a $300 voucher to fly again and a free hotel for the night, isn't that great?
J: Ummmmmm.... I guess (NOOOOOOO!)
12:30am Arrive at the hotel. Did I mention that I would be sharing a hotel room with this guy? Awkward!!! His first priority was to get to the hotel bar. Good news - his friends were not going to be meeting up with him because the weather was too bad. Another bonus - the hotel room had a separate room with two sets of bunk beds. I turn on the TV to check out the weather and Chris hits the bar.
2:00am Finally fall asleep.
4:30am Wake up, the shuttle to the airport leaves at 5. And since we have no luggage there will be no showering.
4:50am Get to the lobby to wait for the shuttle. The shuttle seats 32 people and there are about 65 in line. NOOOOO. I ask the desk clerk to call me a taxi and head out side for a deep breath. I notice a man, regular looking business man, putting luggage into his trunk.
J: Hi, are you going to the airport?
J: Would you, I mean, do you think, um, could you give me a ride?
J: I LOVE YOU! Oh, and could you bring this guy I am traveling with?
5:20am We get to the airport, through security, and have an hour to wait for our flight which ends up being on time!! We get to the hotel around 10:00, just enough time for us to get cleaned up and over to the dental school. Eric - all the while, not knowing if he would even have another patient to work on. He was very happy to see us!
Now, our only other worry was if Desaree Dawn (45 year old Italian, WI native, also a smoker, only flown once before in her life, and has a Granddaughter named StarDayzia) would make it on her flight that leaves later that night. And she did.
9:00am Desaree Dawn goes back to be screened by the doctors to see if she qualifies to be a patient. The doctor is humming and haaing about whether or not she qualifies. She thankfully, turns on the charm, pleading with him that she really needs her teeth cleaned, that it's been 5 years and that she flew all the way from Milwaukee for this. Eventually, he says ok - but Eric thinks it's only because she pleaded with him. That could have been bad. Very bad.
There were so many BAD things that happened this past weekend it amazes me that everything went according to plan on Eric's end. If I had decided to stay home with the kids and just send the patients on their respective flights there would have been no chance of getting them there on time. Thankfully, Ed and Diane were gracious enough to come out and watch the boys so that I could be there to deal with all the crap so Eric didn't have to. I've realized that even if I never get the chance to be on the Amazing Race that I sure did get a taste of what it would be like, although I'm pretty sure I wouldn't pick Chris to be my partner.