Saturday, January 2, 2010

Picking up at the airport

I spent nearly eighteen years as a taxicab driver picking personal customers up from both airports. The procedure was always the same. I arrived early and filled out a personal customer pickup form ... airline, flight #, ETA, customer's name, my name and cab number, etc. Then I waited at a staging area nearby - never at the terminal - with the airport radio on to hear my cab number announced, that the customer was waiting.

Often my customers would call me from their cell phone as they were on their way out of the terminal. That way, less time would be lost waiting for me to arrive after they gave my cab number to the starter. It was a nearly fail safe procedure.

I say 'nearly' because twice during those years a potential personal customer forgot I would be picking them up and hopped in the first taxicab at the stand, leaving me sitting at the staging area waiting for someone who was never going to arrive and ask for me. Aargh!

This past Monday evening, I was scheduled to pick Joanne back up at Hobby. It was to be a late pickup, at best (a 10:45pm arrival), but I was all prepared. Had taken a nap in preparation for the late hour and was ready for potential delays due to weather or her connecting flight in Chicago having to wait for incoming flights from elsewhere.

Sure enough, both things happened, which was not surprising. Joanne hadn't called me from Chicago, tho, so I assumed she was on the delayed flight and I arrived at Hobby in plenty of time - now going on 11:30pm - and sat in a lot nearby to wait for her call.

None came. I waited some more. No call. Hmm! I called the airline again, expecting to hear that the flight was due to land 'any minute', only to learn that the flight had landed successfully almost 45 minutes earlier! What the devil?

I cruised on up to the terminal and drove very slowly past all of the exits. No Joanne. In fact, almost no people at all! The regulations at both airports do not allow unattended personal vehicles at the terminals, so I really didn't see how I could park the car even momentarily just to dash inside and see if Joanne was still waiting for her luggage, being attended to, or ... ... I could imagine all sorts of various scenarios.

I didn't know what to do. I didn't have her cell phone number with me, so called her home phone on the off chance that she was there, that we had somehow missed each other. Left a worried-type message on her voice mail

I decided to wait just a few more minutes and then go home. I mean, it was stupid to wait for someone who wasn't going to be coming in! By that time, I was in a small line of cars that were waiting for a flight coming in from Vegas. It was now going on 12:30am.

Just then my cell phone rang. I answered. It was Joanne. I asked, "Where are you?" "I'm at Hobby," she said. "Well, I'm at the terminal. Do you have your luggage? Are you all right? I'm been so worried!"

[In this post, I talked about taking Joanne to the airport and how we always had to get there early because of the amount of steel in her body, remember? And then, just a few days later, I was rejoicing over the 'fact' that my customers had made it to the airports on time and trouble-free. Well, Joanne missed her flight out. How did that happen? It seems she set off so many metal detectors that she kept getting delayed having to wait for another official inspector, and then .. .. when she was finally cleared to go, it was too late. Ugh!]

There were no such complications due to metal detectors and having to wait for official inspectors on her return to Houston. The delay at Hobby arose from Joanne having written my cell phone number down wrong - in two different places! She hesitated calling this wrong number yet once again and asking the very tired-sounding fellow who answered to once more verify the digits of his phone number, but was about to do so when she remembered that she had packed her address and phone directory in one of her pieces of luggage.

This sort of thing would never have happened if I'd been a cab driver. She still wouldn't have been able to call me (wrong #), but she could have walked to the cab stand and asked for me by cab number. If, for some reason, she had forgotten my cab number, the starter would have asked for her name and we'd have gotten together - eventually. (Now, if for some reason she'd forgotten her name .. .. well, we both would have been in trouble!)

[Also, the starter would have allowed me to leave the cab and walk into the terminal to briefly check on Joanne's whereabouts.]

I'm due to pick Beth up at IAH either Wednesday or Thursday. This pickup is very much up in the air. She's due to helicopter to Prudhoe Bay Monday - she is at Point Thompson, Alaska - and fly back to Anchorage on Tuesday, but weather conditions are very much a factor with this one.

I just now received an e-mail from her describing blizzard conditions. Yesterday, all operations were on shut down .. no flights, no drilling. She sent me a couple of pictures of the area, and I've tried to transfer them for you but I've got this new computer and things just don't work the same way. Anyway, you can find some info on this remote Arctic Ocean location here.

Says she'll be glad to get back home and be off for a few days. Perhaps she'll even take a few photos. (?) It's so cold there that the shutter can't be worked with heavy gloves on and - if you try to go bare-handed, your fingers quickly become frozen. Imagine she'll have lots of stories to share. I'm looking forward to seeing her again.

Anyhoo, a somewhat belated Happy New Year to you all. Julian and I played bridge New Year's Eve and were a little above average. We each made a couple of costly errors, but I had a good time - as always.


The Bug said...

I get so stressed in these situations - I'll spend vast amounts of time imagining all kinds of scenarios - most of which would involve the other person being infuriated with me. Sounds like you handled it just fine though.

Happy new year to you too!

Craig Peihopa said...

what a great post Goldenrod. Happy new year to you as well.

Jacky said...

So glad that you checked in!
What an adventure!
Hope the next pick up goes better.
Happy New Year to you!

steven said...

happy new year goldenrod! steven

Chuck said...

Hope the rest of 2010 goes more smoothly!

Goldenrod said...

I'll be leaving the house shortly to pick up Beth. She called yesterday afternoon to tell me that she had been safely helicoptered out of the Arctic Circle and was on her way back. Not much time now to add more in the way of a response. Have to get going. Love you all!