Business Trip from Hell

I just returned from a business trip to Kansas City, MO.  The trip itself was pretty good; my problem (because you know there is going to be one) is that my return trip sucked.  However, 90% of it is my fault – which only makes it suck even more.  I didn’t realize when I made my airline reservations that I booked a three-hour layover in Chicago for the return trip home.  It’s not like money was an issue since my work was reimbursing me for all travel expenses. 

Nonetheless, I had a layover in Chicago from 7:05 pm to 9:55 pm.  Both my flights were about an hour in duration.  Which is what misled me in thinking that my flight home would only be two hours total.  I have been to many of the major airports.  I really like Detroit.  Atlanta is big but easy to navigate.  Chicago O’Hare?  Not impressed.  For me it all comes down to the signage.  And how super cool their internal transportation system is from one terminal to another.  But in Chicago, I had to walk, like, 10 miles from C terminal to B terminal (Hello? Where is my super train transport? Thirty-four moving walkways are not equal to a tram ride).  

And of course I needed to be at gate B22, the farthest away gate.  So I walk.  I passed a nut shop and made a mental note as one of my other favorite pastimes is getting a large popcorn from the airport and taking it home. I don’t know why but airport popcorn is second best to movie theatre popcorn.  And I was also looking for a place to get soup for dinner. Which led me to one of the TWO restaurants I found on my long trek to gate B22.  The first was Chili’s – which was incredibly busy.  The other was some Tuscany restaurant.  Which seemed less busy and I figured they had to have soup there, right?  So I stood in line and got my single person table and ordered the minestrone soup.  Which was pretty good.  Definitely not worth the $6.68 plus tip I paid for it but since I technically wasn’t paying, it was good.  Even better was the eavesdropping on the table next to me between two business people who evidently didn’t care very much for their boss.  “She always has a major pine board up her ass” was how they described her.  Why pine wood in particular had to be defamed I don’t know.  I especially liked the story about how she “whipped” a sales person in front of the marketing department for choosing the wrong colors.  Wrong colors?  Were they not part of her color wheel?  Did they clash?  Did she provide detailed, exact directions on her expectations for color choices?  Alas, since I couldn’t ask questions I guess I will never know.

After the soup, and still having 1½ hours to wait, I decided to walk back to the nut shop for my popcorn.  Except they were closed.  This is Chicago, not Ohio and definitely not Las Vegas; where EVERYTHING is open ALL the time.  So no popcorn.  Settled for two pieces of chocolate from the We’ll Charge You As Much As We Want Because You’re Stupid To Buy It Chocolate Shop.  Which immediately went into my purse.  If my teenage son finds my expensive chocolate, it’s gone and not without a moment to appreciate the $8.18 cost.

Now all I have to do is go back to the gate and wait.  Except it is $%#!*& cold.  And I only have a sweater on.  I end up being so cold I seriously consider going and buying one of those 2 for $20 blankets.  Except I already have 9 of them at home and the airport store is closed as well.  So I try to walk and get warm.  Doesn’t work.  So for the next 40 minutes, I hunker down in the warmest place I can find: the far left hand stall in the woman’s bathroom next to Hudson News and look at my watch.  I thought about texting someone but decided that would be just weird.  Kind of like talking to someone on your cell phone while using the toilet weird. 

Oh, but it isn’t over yet.  Flight is on time (Yeah!) and we board and all is well.  Until our 9:55 pm departure time comes and goes.  Finally about 10:10 pm, the captain comes on and tells us that unfortunately there is no ground crew to push us away from the gate.  Their shift ended at 10:00 pm and they all left so we had to wait for the next shift to arrive.  Which tells me, 1) Kudos to the captain for not making up some story about “technical difficulties” for the delay and 2) United Airline workers have absolutely no pride in their jobs.  Then again, maybe it is just the Chicago O’Hare United Airline Workers.  Maybe they are embarrassed about not having that super tram internal transit system. 

My trip ended with a very long ride in an airport transport van around the economy long-term parking lot.  And the reason it was a very long ride was because one of the eight riders could not remember where he parked his car.  I thought the driver was very nice about it and was smart in requesting that the rider push his panic button for his car so it would light up.  Luckily I had written down “A-40” when I arrived at the airport.  I am definitely not going to call my husband again at one o’clock in the morning asking him where I parked my car at the airport.  He still won’t let that one go.

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