One of my long-time taxicab customers called me a couple of days ago. She wanted to know if I might be available to pick up her sister who was coming in to Hobby Airport Tuesday afternoon (today). She said she'd heard from a mutual friend that I had retired but was still driving 'regulars'.
I said that I would be available, and asked why she wouldn't be picking her up herself. She told me that she'd just had knee replacement surgery (Ouch!) and wouldn't be able to drive for another month or so. I asked her to have her sister call me so that I could get flight information, etc.
Well, Joyce called the next day and I got all the info I needed. I asked her to call me on her cell phone when she was about to walk out the door with her luggage and let me know what she was wearing. I told her I'd be parked in the shade just off the airport grounds, and it would take me only a minute or two to get there. I told her I'd be driving a blue Buick LeSabre. Everything seemed to be all set.
This afternoon I was parked as I'd said, in the shade, working a logic problem, when the phone rang. It was Joyce. She was at curbside already, and would be the one wearing a red blazer with black slacks and sporting white hair. I said it'd be only a couple of minutes.
The closer I got to the terminal, however, the slower the traffic moved. The southeast part of Houston had experienced pretty good-sized storms earlier today (my house might have received a drop or two), and many flights had been delayed. And now, it seemed that all of the delayed flights, in addition to those normally scheduled to arrive, had landed all at the same time. Well, shoot!
I tried to call her back when it became obvious that it was going to be longer than two minutes, but she didn't pick up. (I wish I had anticipated that before we hung up on the call just a touch earlier. Hindsight, right?)
Anyway, in the hope that she might notice she had a message waiting on her cell phone, I left a message saying that I was at the terminal but traffic was moving very slowly. I told her voice mail dealiebop what make and color of car I was following. We inched along.
Airport security personnel were doing their best to move vehicles who weren't actually loading to the outside lane, where they would be forced to circle. I stayed with the turtles. Then, all of a sudden, there she was -- red blazer, black slacks, white hair and all.
She said she had been just about to call me to see where I was when I pulled up. I told her I was sorry I hadn't advised her to keep her phone on, and she said, "It is on!" She reached into her purse and pulled it out. Sure enough there was a message on there. We both thought that the reason she hadn't heard it ring was because of all the noise at the pickup area. Anyway, off we went.
She's a talker. Had a lot of interesting things to relate about her visit to California. I felt exhausted just listening to what all she had done while there! We talked about her sister's surgery some, and I related a story about her sister forgetting to take her cane with her on one of her trips out of town. It wasn't discovered until we actually got to the airport and we didn't have time to go back and get it. Well, when I picked her up from the airport a week or so later and we got back to her apartment, there the cane was, right where she'd left it, propped up against a table on her patio!
Joyce giggled about that, and told me one about her husband forgetting to take his luggage to the airport. I said, "No! How'd that happen?" It seems that he had decided almost at the last minute to repack his change of clothes, shaving stuff, etc., into a much smaller bag than normal. He was only going to be gone for one night, he said. Then, afraid that he might forget to grab it on his way out, he set it right in the middle of the living room where he'd almost have to trip over it.
Well, the time came to go. He went into the kitchen for something or other, grabbed his briefcase on his way out the door (as per usual on a business trip) and left. Didn't realize he'd forgotten the small bag until he was at the airport.
We were still chuckling over that story when I remembered a time I was dispatched to pick up a gentleman late one night, 10:30, to go to Hobby Airport. I wondered to myself, "Gee, I didn't realize that flights took off from Hobby after 11pm." But then I thought that he was probably going to one of the rental car places, which are open late at the airports.
When I arrived at his townhouse, he was waiting outside with no luggage. I asked, "Going to pick up a car?" "Yes," he answered. He seemed like he was in a really frosty mood, so I didn't initiate any further conversation.
About 2/3 of the way there, I asked which rental car place he was going to. (That would make a difference in my route.) He responded that he wasn't going to rent a car. He was going to pick up his car!
In an attempt to get him to feel a little better about his circumstances, I told him that I'd driven lots of customers to either IAH or Hobby Airport to pick up their cars. Normally, they'd have driven to one of the two, anticipating a return to the same airport, but scheduling changes, flight delays, whatever, had interfered with their plans and they'd been forced to either try and get a friend or co-worker to give them a ride back to where they'd initially parked their car -- or, as in this case, hire a taxicab.
He snorted and said, "Well, that's not what happened to me!" It seems that he always takes a cab to and from the airport, ALWAYS! Well, that morning he decided, "I'm only going to be gone for half a day. Why am I wasting the company's money taking a cab?" And so he decided to drive, feeling quite righteous all the way.
When he returned, three or four hours later, he jumped into the nearest taxicab (as per usual) and went home. He checked his mail, returned a few phone calls, and then decided he'd like to go out for dinner. He hopped in the shower, dressed, and then went out to the garage. His car wasn't there!!
He called the police to report a stolen car. He alternately sat and then paced in his townhouse, fuming! There didn't appear to be any signs of breaking and entering. How could this have happened?!?
Well, a couple or three hours later, he remembered that he had driven to the airport. His first phone call was to the police, to "unreport" a stolen vehicle. His second call was for a taxicab. And that, of course, is where I came in.
I couldn't help myself. This story was so funny, a small giggle escaped. At first he looked at me somewhat angrily, but then he started to laugh. By the time we found his car we were both laughing almost hysterically.
Have you ever had 'stuff' like that happen to you? I have, but most of the time I don't find it even the slightest bit amusing until much later, sometimes even years!