Thursday, May 12, 2016

If You're Going to Travel, You Might Want to Go Without Me.

We've been talking about traveling off and on at The Roses of Prose lately. Yesterday's topic was a new kind of driver's license that one could use to travel from Canada to Mexico to the Caribbean and back home to the States again, eliminating the need for a passport.

I've been fortunate to travel to a lot of places, both as a single woman and in the thirteen years Calvin and I have been married. Some trips were trouble free. Some were not. A couple remain practically unbelievable. However, if you know me--the magnet for the absurd--you'll understand situations like this really could and did happen.

In 2000, I went on a 7-day cruise to the Caribbean with another single lady from my church. We flew to Florida to meet our ship. Unbeknownst to us, our luggage flew to Costa Rica for a sight-seeing trip of its own. Although we each had a carryon, I'd never traveled like this before and I'd used mine for all the things I couldn't cram into my suitcase. Like two nightgowns, a swimming suit, my jewelry, make-up, camera, three books, and five pair of shoes. Hey, don't judge.

We stood in our cabin waiting for our luggage to arrive. As the shoreline began to fade, we knew we were in trouble. So we hurried to the office to ask if they knew where our luggage was. No, they didn't. After much discussion, the ship gave us new luggage and a $200. onboard stipend to buy some new things. As a plus-sized woman for eons, I can assure you there was nothing in the ship's stores to fit me since the largest size they carried was a size 6. Even my earlobes are larger than that! I bought men's clothes much to my chagrin.

As for lingerie, I hand washed what I'd worn that day in our sink every night and hung it on the towel rack. What parts weren't dry by morning got singed with the blow dryer.

Anytime we went on shore, I bought t-shirts, bright scarves, and gauzy skirts. I looked like a flea-market gypsy.

At the end of the cruise, we flew back to Baltimore-Washington airport. Our new luggage flew to Portland, Oregon. So, we literally lost our clothes coming and going. A couple of weeks after I'd gotten home, the airlines dropped off my travel-weary suitcases at my front door. The attached tags told of their journeys. Too bad they hadn't taken any pictures, but then I'd packed the camera in my carryon.

After Calvin and I married, we traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana several times to visit his best friend since the second grade, Robert or Biscuit, as he was called. Biscuit passed of a massive heart attack while talking to his mother on the phone. He called her every day. We were shocked by the news and Calvin took it especially hard.

There were so many memories. The two had boarded the bus together to leave for the Army after they'd gotten their bachelors and the draft hung over their heads. Once their enlistment was over, they pursued their Masters at Howard University. Calvin in American Literature and Biscuit in Biology. They lived in a house in Washington, D.C. along with 2 other men. Enter visions of Animal House. So, Calvin and Bob had a long history. Calvin went on to teach English for 40 years. Bob eventually headed the Science and Biology Departments at Southern University. The two talked weekly by phone and laughter filled the house. Bob could have you laughing at hello; he was that kind of man.

Making last minute flight arrangements had us flying from Lynchburg, VA, to Charlotte, NC, to Memphis, TN, to Baton Rouge.  Heavy thunderstorms kept our plane on the tarmac in Memphis for 4 hours--with no air conditioning and no operational restrooms. Mention no available bathrooms and my bladder rears its nervous, ugly head.

When we finally took off, a planeful of sweaty passengers applauded. We arrived in Baton Rouge to a semi-dark airport. The huge storm had knocked out the power and the airport's interior was nearly dark. My bladder was in major panic mode! Stiff from sitting so long, we hurried off the plane and through the concourse lit by emergency lighting. Believe me, my night vision can find a restroom in darn near total darkness!

Locating the car rental agency was another matter. With the mass power outage, there was no record of our online rental agreement. Thank goodness I'd run off copies of everything, showing our credit card was indeed charged. We traveled to the hotel, having missed Bob's viewing with the flight's delay.

Did I mention our luggage never arrived? Oh yeah. We had a color-coordinated funeral to attend the next day with zero clothes. We were told everyone was expected to wear either ivory or black. No flowers were to be ordered unless they were ivory or white. Any colored flowers were set off to the side so as not to ruin the color scheme.

The next morning, we were up early with directions to a nearby mall and a rental car with a dead battery. We called a taxi, paid it to wait while we ran in, bought new clothes, kept them on, rushed out, tearing all tags off each other, and hopped in the backseat for a fast ride to the church. Calvin's hearing aid broke in the taxi. He couldn't hear the service. Back at the hotel that night, exhausted by the heat and humidity of Louisiana in May, Calvin was trying to get out of stiff, unwashed new clothes to shower. His glasses broke in half. Poor, typically calm guy yelled, "What else can possibly go wrong?"

The commode overflowed in our room.

Our rental car with the dead battery was finally replaced with another. We drove to the airport the next day with our new things in a shopping bag. The lady at the check-in counter at the airport told me we still owed over $800. for our flight tickets home. Remember that huge power outage at our arrival? All computer records were supposedly wiped out. So I showed her my printed copies of plane reservations and payments. After keying in information, she finally found our paid records. We were good to go. At last!

Not quite...

Unfortunately, she'd keyed us in as two travelers, with no luggage, going one way, and purchasing our tickets  within an hour of departure. Red flags went off to Home Land Security. We passed through normal security with my leading Calvin by the hand and repeating everything the security people asked him.

We were told to step to the side where we were slapped against the wall and frisked. Then we were separated. I was questioned on one side of the corridor by an armed guard. Calvin was questioned, too, on the other side.

Now, remember, his hearing aid is broken so he can't hear and with no glasses, he can't even see the security guard's mouth move to realize he's being questioned. The security guard yells, "What's wrong? Can't you speak English?" Oh, this isn't good, thinks I. Calvin needs help. So I patted the arm of my interrogator and said, "Hold on, I'll be right back. I need to go help my husband."

I hurried over to tell the man with Calvin that he couldn't hear or see because both his hearing aid and glasses broke during our two-day trip. I laughed. "What are the odds of that? Right?" The man had zero sense of humor. In fact, he scowled at me as if I were daft.

Meanwhile, the officer I'd walked away from thinks I'm up to something evil and calls for backup. More Homeland Security guards come running with guns drawn (I'm not making this up, folks!). Four men grabbed me. I beat them with my purse and may have questioned their paternity status which they seemed to take offense to. And all the while I kept thinking this can't be happening! We're in the United States! We were born here. Have never committed a crime... Wait, does beating an armed security guard about the head with my purse constitute a crime?

Calvin's eyesight was just good enough he could make out that shadowy male figures are shoving his wife around. He yells, "Get your filthy hands off my wife!" Which might not have been the best thing to say at the moment.

We were slammed against the wall again. Frisked for the second time. Our shoes removed and the linings cut out. My purse was emptied. My lipstick--a most dangerous weapon--was tossed. So were pens, batteries from my camera, make-up, and then they found our medicine bag. Calvin is an insulin dependent diabetic, so I had to produce documentation as to what all the medicines were and their use. Thank goodness I had that with me.

Two Dangerous Terrorists
Finally, all at once, the guards all walked away. Calvin and I embraced each other in blessed relief. One man spoke over his shoulder, "You're free to go."

Where? We'd missed our flight!

There are more stories and I won't bore you, but if you're planning a trip, you might want to go without me.

If you'd like to read more stories--fictional, this time--from Vonnie Davis, go to her Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Vonnie-Davis/e/B0059HUKMC/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1462844663&sr=1-2-ent

26 comments:

Liz Flaherty said...

That is unreal! And--in retrospect--hilarious. I would still travel with you (as long as I had plenty of documentation) just for the humor part.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Yes, I can laugh about things now, but at the time not so much. Every time we get ready to travel, Calvin says, "Whatever happens it can't be as bad as Baton Rouge."

Margo Hoornstra said...

Yikes, Vonnie! You had me laughing and crying at the same time. What an adventure. It might be exciting to travel with you. As long as I had all necessary printed information strapped securely to my body. Unbelievable!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Margo, my kids have always said, "Mom, if anything crazy is going to happen, it's going to happen to you." And they're often quite right.

Diane Burton said...

If your stories were in a novel, nobody would believe they could actually happen. I never thought of making copies of everything before a flight, although I think Hubs does. Your poor Calvin without his hearing aid and glasses.

When you think about it, Homeland Security was doing a great job. As you said, the terrorist flags were there. But who would believe an older couple could be terrorists? Remember the 1984 movie "Cloak & Dagger"? Anything is possible.

Traveling with you would be a great adventure. Any time, Vonnie.

RE Mullins said...

You win. Hands down.

RE Mullins said...

I should also add this isn't a contest I want to enter.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh, Diane, my "baby boy" as I still call my 43-year-old, body-builder son got so incensed I was manhandled like that he was ready to call his senator, Homeland Security, the airlines, the airport, and on and on. No one messes with Mom.

Jannine Gallant said...

I'm late taking Kristen to school because I had to finish reading this. Only you, Vonnie. Only, you...

Brenda Whiteside said...

Will never travel with you. LOL My lost luggage stories can't hold a candle. And, really, you tell a tale of what this country has sunk to. Funny and sad at the same time.

Alison Henderson said...

That tops every story, ever. It's a testament to your resilience and sense of adventure that you're able to summon the nerve to leave the house at all.

Alison Henderson said...

Vonnie, I just shared this with OG. He said to tell you and Calvin he wouldn't give your troubles to a monkey on a rock. LOL

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh, R.E., it's not one anyone should enter. What experiences--both times. The second was the worst because Calvin was so lost over the lost of a childhood best friend who was like a brother to both of us. His laughter was just infectious.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

My friends have always told me that, Jannine. Like the time I was "flashed" by a guy on my way to work. I'd parked in front of his house and he was inside his glass storm door, naked and...and...well, that's a story for another day. I hope Kirsten wasn't late for school.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Brenda, I'm not insulted at all that you'd rather not travel with me. My kids get tense every time I tell them we're going on a trip.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Tell OG the monkey would throw them back at me. LOL Traveling is stressful under the best of circumstances. Although our trip to NYC for RWA last summer wasn't too bad except for the taxi driver who cupped my behind as I was trying to get in his tall SUV taxi while I was wearing heels...and then had the nerve for charging us for "extra handling"!!! Hell, I never asked him to cop a feel.

Abigail-Madison Chase said...

Goodness you had a very interesting trip..

Mackenzie Crowne said...

LMAO Only you, Mama V! Did you notice your pink boa and baffies arrived with your luggage in Manhattan last summer? That's because I'm your good luck travel charm. :-)

Leah St. James said...

Oh...Vonnie. I shouldn't have read this. I'm about to get on an airplane later this month for the FIRST TIME IN FORTY YEARS. Literally. I have vertigo so have avoided air travel for FOUR DECADES. I keep telling myself all will be well. The medicines I got (two of them) will work. I won't embarrass myself or inadvertently do anything (either physical or otherwise) to another passenger. NOW I'M TERRIFIED AGAIN.

Did I mention that I'm flying through Atlanta which my sister, a frequent traveler, tells me is the WORST airport to make connections? Now she and her husband want to give me training on how to make my way from one plane to another! (I know I'm getting up there in years, but really???)

Maybe you should come with me. At least you're experienced. :-) So glad you can look back on it all with a sense of humor.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Yes, Abigail, our trip was beyond interesting. It is known in our house as The Trip From Hell.

Vonnie Davis said...

Mac, your pixie dust worked well. We had a great trip. But then we'd taken the train instead of flying.

Vonnie Davis said...

Atlanta is a big airport. The only trouble we've ever had there was "time related." It's always a hustle to get from point A to point B involving an underground, fast-moving metrocar. Just male sure your have a good grasp of the over-hanging strap. You'll be fine.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Vonnie, I laughed all the way through your travel trials, the whole time crossing my fingers these things won't happen to me on my next trip. But travel today is hard on everyone...I read that there's a huge turnover of the security people because it's such a stressful job...and because this summer is going to be high-volume in the airports, that they'll be short of TSA folk and the lines will be even longer and the stress, therefore, even higher...for everyone. The only alternative is to laugh...or use the experience in a novel!

Vonnie Davis said...

Rolynn, if I put our experience in the airport in a novel, reviewers would accuse me of writing non-believable fiction. We're flying to our granddaughter's wedding in less than a month. Keep your fingers crossed our luggage arrives. Grandma can't show up at the wedding in capris and a knit top!!!

andreadowning.com said...

Vonnie, I CANNOT believe that all this has happened to you. I travel really frequently and a few cancellations or late planes, 1 lost bag (My daughter's when she had all her study materials for upcoming exams--but it made its way to us in 2 days), and the removal of riding crops on a plane so we didn't whip the pilot into submission is all I've suffered. What's your karma, pal?

Alicia Dean said...

OH my gosh, this is horrifying and hilarious at the same time. Mostly horrifying. I hate the thought of sweet Calvin going through that. Oh, yeah, and you too, Vonnie. ;) Wow, you are a bad luck travel charm!