I'm going to jump right to the end of the story so that you can see exactly what I went through yesterday. It was just one of those days right from the very beginning ... wait, no. There has never been a day such as this in my life. I swear I couldn't have even imagined this ...
First of all, I was out of town for the long weekend. Four days off and I decided to fly to Florida to spend them with my daughter. It was also her 22nd birthday. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. No husband, no work, no responsibilities. No money either, but that's what credit cards are for.
So anyway ... I had chosen to fly home on Tuesday morning instead of Monday night so that I could spend the entire day prior with my daughter on her birthday. It didn't seem right to have to make her take me to the airport on her birthday, so I stayed until the very last minute. And that minute came very early on Tuesday morning. We were slated to get up at 5:00, to leave at 6:00, to get me to the airport around 6:30, to fly out at 8:00, to arrive in Dallas at 10:00 and thus have me arriving to work around 11:00 or 11:30.
The best laid plans.
So ... LONG before the 5 AM alarm went off I'd already had trouble sleeping. As near as I could figure, the Tylenol PM I'd taken to help me sleep was not really a Tylenol PM. I would later learn that it was an Excedrin, chalked full o' caffeine to help you, what? Stay awake? It worked. So, just as I was close to falling asleep, that dang alarm rang out. Loud and clear. And I yelled to Elizabeth to TURN IT OFF! THAT'S WAAAY TOO LOUD!!! Elizabeth opened her eyes and glared at me like I was nuts.
"That's not my alarm. Must be your alarm."
"Whose ever alarm it is, TURN IT OFF!"
"Cause it's a fire alarm. Must be a fire drill." And she rolled back over.
** blink blink **
A fire alarm? In a hotel? What? Huh? Then ... "GET UP!!! THE HOTEL MUST BE ON FIRE!!!!!"
Know what my dear, darling daughter said? "Nope. I went to school in the public school system. I know a fire drill when I hear one and this one's fake."
Say what? But, my fervor and panic started getting to her and she began to shake and panic as well. Fair is fair, you know.
Knowing that IF IT WERE indeed a real fire, we would NEVER get back into our room and ... hello! I had a plane to catch! So Elizabeth and I grabbed all of my belongings and shoved them under each arm and staggered out the door. Well, I staggered out the door. Elizabeth had decided that she WOULD NOT go out into the hallway in her pjs, so she sat down and got dressed. Yes, she did. She got into her jeans and the cutest t-shirt she could find in record time. Me? I had slept in my clothes. I was too exhausted from the night before to bother with pajamas. So, I was good.
And as we finally got out the door lugging luggage and loose stuff under our arms, Liz let the door slam shut behind us. And then she panicked.
"I LEFT THE CAR KEYS INSIDE! YOU RUSHED ME AND I DON'T HAVE THE KEYS NOW!" (I rushed you? I think a fire alarm helped.)
I just looked at her and smirked, showing her that I had grabbed the door key ... and near as I could figure, it would still work. Yes, it would, and the keys were retrieved and the two of us headed out into the hallway to join the other latecomers who were rushing outside, in the dark, to await their fate. Except Liz and I didn't stop once we hit the outside. We jumped into her car and took off for the airport. The fire trucks were starting to arrive and even though curiosity was bubbling over in us ... we took off and got outta Dodge before we were blocked in. And, yes, I made it to the airport in plenty of time. I slept on the plane, too. Something I never do but my eyes were failing me.
So ... is that what made it a most unusual day? Of course not. The day was only just getting started.
Approximately two hours later, I arrived in Dallas. A few of us deplaned and the rest stayed on and headed to Vegas or somewheres else to finish their journeys. My trip ended here though, or so I thought. In reality, my trip was just beginning.
I claimed my two suitcases (one for me and one I was carrying home for my daughter) and headed to the exact spot I'd left my car in four days earlier. I was so proud of myself for remembering exactly where I'd placed my car. Yes, I was gonna show the world that I had a great memory.
'Cept, something looked different.
*** To Be Continued ***