Ah, the Red Neck Riviera - one place I was truly under dressed. I was part of the 5% not sporting a serious tattoo. And I am not referring to a small rainbow on your leg or daisy on your shoulder. We are talking copious quantities of ink covering the real estate on the skins of people's arms and backs. But I digress.
The week was going swimmingly when it came to an end and the party was over. It was time to pack up and go home. Try as we might we were unable to consume all the adult beverages we had with us. Instead of throwing them away, we decided we would leave them in the cabinets of the condo as a nice surprise for the next guest, assuming it was not going to be a card carrying Baptist minister and his family. In that case I feel certain an exorcism and a prayer chain would be involved, but that was their problem, bless their hearts.
When I checked in at the kiosk at the Delta counter I saw that foreboding message on the screen, short of the blue screen of death, something no one wishes to see; "Please check with the ticket agent, your flight itinerary has changed." All four of us were flying on the same flight to Atlanta but the other three were heading on to Richmond as I would be on my way to Charleston. I looked up to see they had received the same news but were able to check in. They were not blessed with the message. Best case scenario I was being upgraded to First Class - in my dreams.
By the time I reached the counter my friends were behind me - esprit de corp. I was told there was a delay in the flight to Atlanta that was going to cause me to miss my connection to Charleston and the next flight to Charleston was overbooked. The agent was frantically typing trying to find me a way home ( I assume) when I saw the board above him change and show that our flight to Atlanta had been cancelled. "Ooh," he said. "Now the flight's been cancelled."
That one sentence put all four of us in the same boat (and without a plane). Seems rough weather at Hartsfield (the Atlanta airport) was causing most flights in and out to be delayed or cancelled. "I don't think I can get you in there tonight. It will be tomorrow morning at best."
"Well, then I am assuming Delta will give us vouchers for dinner and a hotel tonight."
"No, I'm afraid not. Since it is a weather related problem we don't do that."
The young man could not answer our next three or four questions so he found a supervisor, an older gentleman who immediately went to work on our problem. I have traveled enough to know this is part of the game and one has to roll with it.
I can remember being on the last flight before they closed National (the airport out of Washington DC) one evening in a bad snow storm. They had to de-ice the plane twice before we could take off. (That was when you questioned how much experience a Washington DC ground crew had with the de-icing equipment and wished you were flying out of Fargo where they could do it in their sleep.) Or the night in Atlanta when a mechanical issue followed by the inability for USAir to get a fresh flight crew in sent all the passengers to a hotel with only vouchers for dinner and hotel stay as well as toothbrushes issued by the airline since our luggage could not be located.
Looking at the long line impatiently forming behind us I was reminded why I have this insane habit of always arriving at the airport early. This was not my first rodeo. Any who, long story short, we were booked on a 4 pm flight the following day, went back to Hertz to get another rental car, and left the airport in search of accommodations.
As we contemplated a plan, one of my friends lamented that it was a shame we had left all of our adult beverages in the condo. I thought for a moment. "Wait, check in for the condo was not until 4 pm, it is only 3 pm now. If the maid service is cleaning I bet we can go in and get it."
"And what explanation would you give them?"
"We left it by mistake?"
"What if the next guests have already moved in?"
"Then I'll act as if I am at the wrong condo, step back look at the number and say something like, 'Oh, I am so sorry I am at the wrong condo this is 109, I thought I was at 110. I did not mean to disturb you.' "
It was worth a try. The condo complex did not use keys, but rather combinations. However, the units had timers and no doubt the timer changed at check out time. Our condo happened to be on the bottom floor (of a large complex) with the door facing the parking lot.
As we drove up, we saw the door was open and the maid's cart was in front. There was a God. I got out of the car and casually walked up to the unit. As I got to the door the maid, a middle aged Hispanic lady, was coming out. I casually explained that we had checked out earlier that morning but realized we had left some liquor in a cabinet in the kitchen and wondered if it was still there.
"Yes, eet is in the cabinet. I left eet there. But, I took the beer, eggs, and butter from the refrigerator," she said hesitantly. "Do you need those also?"
Having forgot all about those items, I quickly smiled and said, "No, I did not even realize we left all that, you are more than welcome to those."
"Oh, thank you so much. I can use them."
With that I walked in, retrieved our goods from the cabinet, wished the maid a good day, and got back in the car as the hero of the day.
Now we just had to find an affordable place to stay. But we had our priorities straight.