Indianapolis, IN – It was meant to be a quick trip. Overnight in Philadelphia on Monday, attend a two hour meeting in Trenton, New Jersey on Tuesday and fly home that afternoon.
It started out fine. With my TSA Pre-check “keep your shoes on” security status, I breezed through airport security and caught my on-time flight from Indy to Detroit, no problems.
My connecting flight to Philadelphia was running a little late. Once on board, I took my seat in first class, I received a complimentary upgrade and immediately heard two passengers talking about the recent plane crash in San Francisco. Like yelling fire in a crowded theater, it’s bad form to talk about plane crashes on an airplane. Oh well.
I was on board a Canadair Regional Jet C700 that carries 65 passengers and has a top speed of 515 mph. We taxied out towards the runway but pulled off to the side and parked. A seasoned traveler knows this to be a bad sign. The Captain announces over the intercom, bad weather in Philly, airport temporarily closed.
It’s hot outside in Detroit and the plane starts to warm up. I’m happy to be up front on this occasion where there’s a little more room.
After two hours, the Captain asks those passengers who wanted to return to the terminal, to hit their flight attendant call button. The buttons were lighting up in coach, no one pressed their button in first class; a matter of perspective. The flight attendant determined the ayes had it and we returned to the terminal.
After an hour, we re-boarded the plane and left the gate. After a short wait on the tarmac we take off for Philly. It wasn’t thirty minutes into the flight when the flight attendant spilled a half filled can of Diet Coke onto my slacks and shoes. Geez, I was travelling light and had only brought the one pair of slacks and a fresh shirt. I managed to soak everything up and returned to reading the new Dan Brown novel, Inferno. Not bad read if you want to learn all about Dante Alighieri.
I finally arrived in Philly at 8pm, six hours after my original arrival time. The day was shot but my meeting wasn’t until 10am the following morning. Hertz had upgraded me from a Toyota to a silver Chevy Camaro convertible. There wasn’t much use for a rag top in Philly when it was 90 degrees outside.
My hotel was located in Chinatown in downtown Philly. At check-in I showed my ID and the clerk smiled and pointed to the sign on the wall. There was my name, Michael Whitlock in capital letters, I had been selected Guest of the Day. That was nice; could I have my room key please?
It was 9pm by that point and I had yet to have dinner. I dropped my bags off in my room and headed outside to Chinatown to find a place to eat. I didn’t see anything I liked so I walked two blocks over to Maggiano’s Little Italy and ordered Veal Marsalis and a glass of red wine.
The next morning I got up early and headed for Trenton in the rag top to attend a meeting of New Jersey bail agents to discuss, what else, the ill-conceived expansion of public pretrial release in The Garden State.
After the two-hour meeting, I followed Nick Wachinski and Dave Hyatt, fellow road warriors, around Trenton to find a place for lunch. We ended up at Café Antonio just across the Delaware River in Morristown, Pennsylvania. We toasted the late James Gandolfini and I ate a plate of spaghetti.
From there I headed to the Philadelphia airport to catch my 4:45 flight. Unfamiliar with the city, I crossed the bridge over the Schuylkill River twice before I found a gas station. The iPhone map failed me again.
My flight to Atlanta was delayed so they put me on the flight through Detroit. It was a seat in coach this time around, another commuter jet. We taxied and parked on the tarmac. Here we go again. The Captain announced Detroit Metropolitan was shut down due to thunderstorms. We would be sitting for a minimum of one hour.
The temperature inside the plane was heating up. To stave off an attack of claustrophobia I put my ear buds in and turned up “The Once and Future Carpenter” by The Avett Brothers. The hour turned to an hour and half and this time I was pushing my flight attendant call button, voting to return to the terminal, a matter of perspective. As we pulled up to the gate and I saw my original Atlanta flight backing out. I picked the wrong horse.
The gate agent was giving me some options. Stay another night in Philly and catch a flight in the morning or continue to Detroit and take my chances there. Get me to Detroit; I’ll drive to Indy from there. My Detroit bound flight finally took off at 8:00 PM. I had already reserved a car from Hertz and was psyching myself up for the four-hour drive.
When I landed in Detroit at 9:45 I had a text waiting for me from my wife, my original connecting flight was delayed and would take off at 10:15pm. I scurried down to gate A15 and secured a boarding pass. Naturally, that flight was delayed, again. While I waited, I got a burger from Wendy’s minutes before they closed and managed to lose, and find again, my cell phone.
I finally landed in Indianapolis at 11:30pm. My beautiful wife Marcia, the trooper that she is, was there to pick me up. I said to her, I’m going in late tomorrow. It was not to be, I was at my desk by 8:15am.
It was supposed to be a quick overnight trip to attend a two hour meeting. As the Good Book says, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plan.