Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Need a ride, Lady? (AKA: The Dumbest Thing I've Ever Done)

Some of my fellow bloggers have been featuring stories about the dumbest thing they've ever done. Annabelle accepted a pill and a party invitation from a virtual stranger.  Pickleope assisted the getaway of a possible mental patient.

Like most people, I've done a lot of truly dumb things in my life.  Things that have cost me friends and boyfriends.  Things that have put a serious strain on my ties to my family.  But none of those things are my biggest, dumbest, most shameful accomplishment.

This is:

Many years ago when Jeff and I were newly engaged, he traveled to Kansas City for work fairly frequently.  This was during the early days of our relationship, when everything was shiny and new and spending time together was one of the four basic needs.  You know: food, water, shelter and getting your freak on.  The need for warmth doesn't occur until later in a marriage.

One of his trips required a weekend stay over, and we decided I'd head up to Kansas City for a visit.  So far, so good.

Just before my planned travel, the weather in Kansas City took a nasty turn and an ice storm blew through.  The whole city was frozen.  It was so bad that the power went out in Jeff's hotel and he had to move across town.  Naturally, we didn't think this was any reason for me to cancel my trip.  We were young and in love.  What could possibly go wrong?

We arranged for me to fly in on a Saturday morning, take the hotel shuttle from the airport to his hotel and then check into his room and wait for him to get off work and meet me there.   Pretty simple plan.

As my flight approached the KC airport, I looked out the window and noticed that there wasn't much action occurring on the ground.  The airport looked deserted and the surrounding parking lots were empty and frozen over, but I didn't think much about it.  The flight landed without incident and when I got off the plane I noticed that the terminal was deserted.  I figured may be the ice storm kept people home.  I headed out to meet the shuttle, which the hotel said came every 15 minutes.

As I exited the airport I was hit by a blast of arctic air as I slipped and slid my way across the ice to the shuttle stop.  Thank God I'd only have to wait 15 minutes for a shuttle! Famous last words.

So I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  No shuttle.

I went inside and used the courtesy phone that connected to the hotel.  They said there was only one shuttle running due to the weather, but it was on the way.

So I went back outside.  And I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  No shuttle.

About this time, a beat up old green van pulled up in front of me and slowed down.  The big, hairy, nasty driver stared at me a minute and then accelerated and drove off.  My first thought was "Helloooooo, child molester!  Move along.  I'm too old for you."

Still no shuttle.  I went back inside, found the courtesy phone for a cab company and called a cab.  The dispatcher said they'd send someone in about 15 minutes.  I was starting to think that the KC airport had some kind of bizarre geography that placed it 15 minutes away from all forms of transportation.

I went back outside and noticed that the hotel shuttle had just passed the stop and was driving away.  Crap.  I jumped up down, waiving my hands to try to get the driver's attention to come back for me, but no luck.

Meanwhile, around came Chester Molester in his green perv van for another look at me before he drove off.  Awesome.

I was getting irritated and more than a little spooked, but I couldn't call Jeff because he was teaching a class and I knew his phone was off.

I walked over to the cab stand and waited. And waited.  And waited.  No cab.

At this point, I had been back and forth between the airport transportation lobby and the arctic tundra of the shuttle stop/cab stand for almost 2 hours.  My feet were freezing, my head was killing me, there was no one in sight and I was pretty sure I was stuck in some kind of existential hell.

Then Chester Molester drove by for round three.  And he stopped in front of me.  He rolled down the window and said "Ma'am, if you're waiting for a cab you might be here awhile.  The streets are so bad that most drivers stayed home today.  Can I take you somewhere?"

That's right:  Chester Molester wanted me to get in his green perv van for a ride.  My brain was screaming "Don't even think about it LAB.  You'll be turned into a skin suit for sure!"  My feet, on the other hand, were so cold that they were no longer speaking to me.

I noticed that there was a meter on the dash of the van, which for some stupid reason made me think may be Mr. Molester was OK. Obviously my brain was frozen.

And here it comes, people....the dumbest thing I've ever done:  I. Got. In. The. Van. May be being turned into a skin suit won't be so bad!

Turns out Mr. Molester had a gypsy cab business, and he figured he'd make some easy cash by working the airport after the ice storm while the regular cabs stayed off the roads.  All I could think about the entire time I was in the van was Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs: "It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again".

I was terrified the entire drive.  I didn't know the city so I had no idea if we were headed in the right direction, and nobody knew where I was. When I make a bad decision, I go all in. As the the drive continued, I started envisioning the headstone on my grave "Here Lies LAB.  And this is why you don't take rides from strangers."  Eventually I looked out the window and saw the Marriott in the distance.  I was gonna live!!! 

I was positively giddy when we arrived at the hotel.  I channeled my inner Blanche DuBois and turned to the driver and said  "Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."  Chester Molester looked at me like I was insane.  He may have been right, but it was still better than being a skin suit.