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04 December 2011


Or -- How Thanksgiving Almost Really Sucked But Then Didn't

Yeah, I know, Thanksgiving was over a week ago. I know. I know. But we were out of town and I have a story to share so whatever.

See, we went to see my husband's parents for Thanksgiving. We hadn't seen them since Christmas last year, so this was kind of a big deal. We'd been planning on it for months. We booked the air tickets and doggy hotel and rental car as early as we possibly could. We made arrangements for the cat and managed to keep our suitcase under 50 lbs and made plans for family visits. We did everything right. Or we thought we did.

We got up early on Thursday morning and made our way out to the airport. We were planning on getting there about an hour and a half prior to the departure time, which is about half an hour earlier than is typically recommended, but we figured on fighting crowds and we didn't want to chance being late.

So we get to the airport and follow the signs for parking...


The garages were all blocked off. The outdoor lot is full. The private garages and lots, where they can charge like 3 times as much as the airport charges because people are so freakin' desperate, are all packed, too. One of the security guards we talked to said she'd called all of the other parking services in the area and all of them -- all of them -- were filled.

Apparently people had been reserving parking spots weeks in advance. Apparently this is a thing. We were not aware that this is a thing that people do. Surprise!

So we're driving around for like 40 minutes, trying not to panic, searching unsuccessfully for a big Wal-Mart lot or something, when we notice the field. The field packed with cars, right outside the gates of the last public parking lot on the street. The field where everyone else has left their cars because there is nowhere else to leave them. The field with a faded but still very noticeable NO PARKING: TOW-AWAY ZONE sign in front of it.

So we have a choice. Park the car and risk it getting towed, or miss our non-refundable flight and associated reservations completely. We knew we were screwed either way. So we parked in the field.

And now we have to hoof it back to the airport, which is about a mile and half away, maybe more. I have to stop briefly to take off my sandals -- the sandals I was wearing with the expectation of having to slip out of them quickly at the security checkpoints, not with the expectation of having to GO FOR A JOG. So now I'm going as fast as I can in bare feet down a sidewalk that is littered with evil little acorns.

Enter Holiday Spirit Club Member #1! Some random old minivan stops on the sidewalk in front of us as it is leaving one of the full lots after having been turned away. The driver rolls down his window to ask if we're coming from a parking lot further on. Gary shares the bad news. The guy makes a quick decision: he will drop his kids off, and he'd be happy to drop us off as well if we need a ride. YES WE DO NEED A RIDE. Thank you, kind stranger!*

*Don't get into random minivans, kids. We are not role models.

So we make it to the check-in counter. At this point, our flight is leaving in roughly 30 minutes. The check-in guy says, "You're checking in late." Yes, thanks for sharing your astute observation, check-in guy, we are indeed late. He puts a big LATE CHECK-IN sticker on our bag so that the other bags will know to keep away from its bad influence, and we're off to the gate.

By the time we make it through security and obtain our boarding passes at the gate, the last group of passengers is getting on the plane.

We're silently panicking over the situation for the whole 2 hour 40 minute flight. By the time we land, we've come up with a plan that is rather ridiculous but hey it might just work.

Enter Holiday Spirit Club Member #2! I call a coworker who is the only person I know who didn't leave town. I pathetically beg her to rescue our car. She takes pity on us and offers to do it! But first she has to pick up the house key from our neighbor, who is keeping an eye on the cat while we're gone.* BUT. The neighbor is not home! Oh, no! Oh, well. It was nice of my coworker to try, anyway. She promises to try again tomorrow.

*You'd think we could have just called the neighbor in the first place, but we somehow forgot her phone number, so you'd be wrong.

We obtain our ostracized luggage and our rental car and head on out to Gary's cousins' home where everyone is meeting for the Thanksgiving feast. We manage to find the neighborhood but then we get hopelessly lost. We were lost because these neighborhoods are specifically designed to make people get lost. It is supposedly a security feature. Generally it results in outsiders driving around in increasingly forlorn circles until some kind soul takes pity on them and tells them how to get out of the maze.

Enter Holiday Spirit Club Member #3! We're sitting in some little cul-de-sac poking ineffectually at Gary's supposedly "smart" phone, wondering why the hell the GPS app took us back here, when a family comes out and starts packing up their car with casseroles. The dad/uncle/"uncle"/adult male of the group notices our distress and helpfully whips out HIS fancy-pants smart phone with a working GPS app and sends us on our merry and ultimately more accurate way. Thank you, random cul-de-sac person!

We have a delicious but relatively uneventful dinner with Gary's extended family. And then we go home and go to bed. We both have nightmares featuring tow trucks. I wake up early for a very important phone call.

Enter Holiday Spirit Club Member #4! The aforementioned coworker managed to get a hold of another coworker and the two of them managed to get a hold of our house key. And then they managed to get a hold of the car keys and then... wait, where is the car?

... ... ... Oh, hey there it is! And then they managed to get a hold of the car and took it home for us. Thank you, awesome coworkers!

The rest of the weekend went by in a blur of food and family stuff. We made it home safe. The dog had a good time at the boarding place. The cat was happy to see us. And all was well with the world again. The end.

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