social spark Aisling Beatha: March 2010


Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy your stay, however short, and find something that interests and blesses you.

The tabs just below will take you to posts of particular topics. So if you are looking for my posts on food, fitness or creativity, you will find them there. You will also find my posts on thankfulness or other more contemplative posts, as well as a set of posts with traditional blessings from a number of different cultures.

You can find posts with labels not included in that list via the labels list over in the sidebar.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Trip to America part 2

So let's see, where did I get up to last week? Ah yes, My friend Pat took me back to Washington Dulles to get the plane to Atlanta. On the way her husband stopped at a gas station to grab a drink. When he came back to the car he handed me two lottery tickets, heeheee. We checked them later in the week and I didn't win, heehee. I probably wouldn't have been able to claim it anyway if I had, something about needing to be a resident of the state because it was a state lottery.

Guess what, we were delayed again. But not for long and pretty soon I was in the air on the final leg of my journey. We landed safely in Atlanta and then came the job of finding my way to where my friends were waiting and the Continental baggage office, because one thing I forgot to mention last week was that Continental had tagged my hold bags all the way through to Atlanta and I had done this 4 day journey with just the supplies in my cabin bag.

I had landed in a different part of the airport than my friends thought I had, so I came into the baggage claim area before i got to them. I passed the Continental baggage office and spotted my case through the window. I went in and pointed at it. The lady was so pleased to see me. She said she had been tracking my flights and leaving messages for me to let me know my bag had made it safely to Atlanta. She said she hoped that my experiences would not put me off coming back to America some day.

Then I manged to sneak up on my friends, who were waiting at the top of the escalators from the air train, but I came up to them from the side. there was lots and lots of hugs and then lunch. Some of my friends had come down to near Atlanta to spend that weekend with me and needed to head home on the Sunday, so I only got to spend the time we had at the airport with them! I was so excited to get to spend even some time with them but so sad not to get to spend more time with them and to have missed out on all the FUN of that weekend together.

One of my friends is a pure romance consultant and she gave me gifties to take home. She said that this way my husband would be so happy he would HAVE TO let me come to America again!

So, some people headed home from the airport, and the rest of us headed back to my friend's house. Me, Dana, Skipper and Sara, and Dana's 3 daughters. We hit LOADS of traffic on the way back so Dana got off the interstate and let the Sat Nav (GPS) work it out! They had set their Sat Nav to a British accent in my honour and Dana's girls were practising their best British accents (learnt from harry Potter of course) all the way home.

I had just the one evening and morning with Skipper and Sara as they both had to head home the following morning. but that one evening was awesome, we laughed and talked and I so HOPE I get to spend more time with them one day. And all of those friends who didn't get to make it and the ones I was supposed to meet but didn't, I LOVE YOU ALL and will see you one day, I promise!

More of my trip next week.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thursday 13 - 13 People I Met On My Journey to America

13 people I met on my journey to America
If you haven't yet read the story of WHAT HAPPENED to make the journey so eventful, check out this post.
  1. When I got off the plane in Newark, got through immigration and then made my way to the Continental desk so that we could sort out what was going to happen next since the onward flight had been cancelled, there was a lady who was a continental member of staff on the phone. I could hear everything she was saying. Apparently some member of her family had already missed out on some physical therapy sessions and was going to miss out on more unless the person on the other end of the phone could send someone to fetch this person. She was not a happy lady!
  2. Another not happy lady was the Continental member of staff who arrived at this point and sat at the desk next to the one I ended up at. She was seriously in a bad mood. She moaned to one of the other staff members "I don't know why they send these people when they know the weather is like this." Hopefully she wasn't grumpy with any customers, cuz you know, OK her day sucked a bit, but I reckon ours sucked more!
  3. While trying to sort out where I was going to stay for the night I needed to get change for the phone so went to one of the news stand to buy a kitkat. The lady was very nice and kind, and was obviously new, because a more senior member of staff was showing her how to work the register.
  4. The Howard Johnson mini bus driver was awesome! I was cold wet, fed up and he smiled and took my bags and was just so friendly that it cheered me up. He drove carefully and got us safely to the hotel! And was just as cheerful at 4am the following morning.
  5. When we were all sat around waiting to see if our flight would be leaving, there was a man who was working at the little kiosk there, selling overpriced dried fruit and stuff like that. We were right opposite one of the banks of departure arrival monitors. As more and more flights began to be cancelled and turned red on the board, he would occasionally talk to those of us who were waiting and when eventually they decided that no flights were leaving until 2pm he said that he had NEVER seen THAT MUCH RED on the board, EVER!
  6. One of the guys who should have been on my flight was trying to get somewhere to watch his son play basketball with his school team. His son was then to separate from the team and travel somewhere else with his dad, this guy. He was making phone call after phone call, trying to find out what the team was doing and trying to convince his son that staying there and waiting for his dad really was NOT a good idea, because it looked like he was going nowhere. I think, that in the end he managed to convince him and changed his flight plans to just head home and his son would head home with the team.
  7. There was another guy, obviously well educated, well paid, etc travelling with his son who must have been around 12 years old or something like that. When our afternoon replacement flights got cancelled as well he was messing around on his laptop and just decided that he would spend another $800 and go get flights with Delta instead! Oh to be able to make decisions like that.
  8. There was a lady with a Kindle, at the waiting area by the time we got to the afternoon. She was happily passing it around to other people who had never held one to give them an idea of the weight and what it feels like to use one. Apparently this was her 2nd Kindle because she had trodden on her first one and bust it!
  9. The lady who had helped us in the morning at the desk at the gate turned out to be the same person who helped me up at the main continental desk when the afternoon flights got cancelled. She was so nice, so kind, and friendly with it, and she managed to work out that she could get me on a flight to Cleveland and then from there onto Atlanta that day. She was a bright spot in that day, really.
  10. I felt so sorry for the young lady who was our flight attendant on the flight to Cleveland. I was right in the back seat by the galley on this smaller plane and heard every interaction she had with the ground crew who were bringing stuff on through that back door. She realised we had got no sugar and asked the ground crew to pass her some, this turned into a major hoo ha and they wouldn't let us go without it, she was desperately trying to tell them it was OK, that we would manage, but they insisted. THEN they realised we didn't have a container for the waste bag to sit in. She tried to insist it was fine that she was perfectly capable of using a waste bag without a container to stand it in! She was trying so hard to get us to leave.

  11. On my way to the Holiday Inn at Cleveland airport I met a lady who was going to be speaking at a training session in one of the ballrooms at the Holiday Inn the following day. It was a session for home daycare providers. She was pregnant and hoping she would get enough sleep, but aware that she still needed to check out the ballroom etc before she could head to bed.
  12. When I got to Washington, I knew I was having another overnight layover and I knew that that was OK because one of my friends was coming to get me and take me back to her house. Oh Pat, it was so good to see a friendly face and you were SUCH a blessing to me! We talked and talked, well, until I fell asleep on the recliner!
  13. Finally, 4 days after leaving home I got to Atlanta airport! On my way to find my friends, I passed the Continental baggage office and spotted my case. Yes, my case had made it there without me, as it had been tagged through to my final destination and I had done those 4 days with JUST my cabin baggage office was so friendly, she said she had been tracking my journey knew all the places i had been and had been leaving messages for me all over the place to say that my bag was safe and in Atlanta! She was so sorry for all I'd been through and hoped it wouldn't put me off coming back to America!
If you want to read more Thursday 13 posts, head on over to Thursday 13 by clicking on that banner at the top of this post!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Trip to America

I've been out of the loop with the company girls for almost a month now. There were the two weeks I was in America and with getting ready the week before and recovering the week after, I'm just getting back in the loop today.

YES, I went to America! And I saw far more of it than I had ever intended to.

The plan was to fly from Birmingham England to Newark and then after a 4 hour layover, fly on to Atlanta! We had seen the weather reports, we knew there was some snow, so I was expecting to have SOME delays. I was not expecting what then happened! We knew when we got off the plane that a lot of flights had been cancelled and sure enough after going through immigration had it confirmed that the flight was not going.

The ladies at the Continental desk were helpful but not particularly friendly. Said she could get me on the flight the following morning at 6:25am. She asked if I had anywhere to stay and when I said no she just said "Oh well, you'll have to stay in the airport then". Basically if your delays are due to weather the airline has zero responsibility to house or feed you. BUT the following day during further delays I clearly heard other people being given at least the information on where to go to organise yourself a room! I didn't even get that. Through sending text messages to my husband back in England and my friends who were expecting me in Atlanta I got the phone number for a hotel near the airport and booked myself a room.

Howard Johnson at Newark airport. The rooms are fine, great, but the communal areas left a little to be desired. They did appear to be doing a lot of work on those communal areas, but still, I wasn't too impressed with that part of it. But a room is a room and since I have sleep apnoea I absolutely needed somewhere to sleep safely and plug in my CPAP machine.

Because the flight was due to leave at 6:25, I needed to be at the airport by 4:30ish. YES, in the morning! Yuck, I was awake and unable to sleep any longer at 3am! I looked outside the window and there had clearly been at least 4 or more inches of snow overnight! So, with a heavy heart I headed back to the airport!

Sure enough my flight got cancelled, in fact, so did pretty much EVERY OTHER flight until 2pm, although we did begin to see flights leaving from around 1pm but only a handful! There was a kind of camaraderie building up in groups of people who were sitting near each other and we would watch each others stuff while someone went to the Continental desk to find out the latest, or went to get food, or whatever.

The snow was incredible, I have NEVER seen anything like it. I found out later they had over 20 inches in 2 days! It wasn't the snow on the ground that was the problem for the planes, it was the blizzard conditions with which it was coming down, they literally could NOT see to take off! If you have ever been in terminal C at Newark airports and looked out from one of the arms of terminal C across to one of the other arms, you will understand how bad it was when I say that you could ONLY JUST see the other arms from the windows of the middle one! Seriously!

When it had become clear that the 6:25am was going NOWHERE, I had been put on standby for a 3:50pm flight to Atlanta and confirmed on the 6:30pm flight.
HA! Neither of them went anywhere! We knew by about 3pm that that was going to be the case, but not because anyone on staff had told us, no, we had to find out from each other and other passengers. Having said that the ladies on the Continental desk this day could not have been more helpful and kind and were just fantastic. The lady who helped me in the afternoon said there was no space on any flights to Atlanta now until the Monday (this was Friday!) but there was a flight to Cleveland leaving in an hour or two and she could get me on that with a connecting flight to Atlanta that evening. Cool, we knew a flight had already successfully gone to Cleveland, so that was good.

Off I went onto a plane to Cleveland. oh my word, delay after delay, some of them for stupid things like we had no sugar. The cabin assistant wanted to leave without it as it is only a short flight but the ground crew wouldn't allow it! For crying out loud, SUGAR! And sure enough we landed in Cleveland too late to get the connecting flight to Atlanta! Apparently they were taxiing as we landed! I learnt later that the snow started falling again just after we left Newark and that the whole place closed down again as far as outward flights were concerned.

So, another queue, another Continental help desk and another kind, helpful lady! By now I was on the phone with my friend who was supposed to meet me in Atlanta going through a list of other airports to see if they could get me there, but nothing, and again no spaces on flights to Atlanta until Monday! BUT I have a friend who lives close enough to Washington to come get me if I could get there! So they managed to book me on a flight into Washington Dulles on Saturday with a flight from Washington to Atlanta on the Sunday!

This time, although there was no obligation to provide accommodation or food, they did at least give me a hotel discount voucher and so I headed off to the Holiday Inn at Cleveland airport. Gorgeous hotel, fantastic facilities, apparently the bar is one of THE places to be seen in the area because it was PACKED! Thankfully my room was up on the 5th floor so I didn't hear a thing! The floor in the foyer is a bit slippy in the wet weather, but I managed to stay upright! The restaurant was fantastic and I ate my first proper meal in 3 days! I had a gorgeous room!
At some point during my time there someone suggested that if I got stuck the following day as well I should head on out to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I asked if that was all there was to do in Cleveland and she said "pretty much, yes!"

In the early hours of the following morning I got a message from my husband to say that our bank had stopped my card because of an "unusual spending pattern"! OK, so they were doing their job and trying to protect me, so that is good, but it really was the final straw when I could not get through to them on the phone number they had given my husband! OH MY WORD! I just broke down and cried for a while. Eventually I phoned my husband and got him to get them to phone me in my room! They did and it got sorted, but it was another night with as not as much sleep as I needed!

Another day, another airport, and another time to go through security, hey, by now I was getting used to it!
The flight to Washington went fine and my friend came to pick me up! The relief at seeing a friendly face was immense! It felt so good. They took me home to their house, we ate and talked a lot and then I went to bed after I fell asleep in the recliner more than once! I do need to ask her about that mattress because I had the most awesome nights sleep I have had in months and months!

Sunday morning she drove me back to the airport and I headed on to Atlanta!

This post is mega long already, so I think I will save the stories of my trip and the return journey for next week!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...