Remember That Time I Went to Newark Airport

And a calamity of disaster ensued?  No?  That’s probably because until now I had never got around to telling you about it.

Well grab a snack and get comfy because here it comes…

It was July 31, and I was on my way to Blog Her 2012.  I was meeting Jen (The Fit Housewife) at the Newark airport.  We had arranged it so that our flights landed not long apart (about 30 minutes I believe) and then we could travel to our hotel together to split the cost of the taxi.

Jen and I have been blogging buddies for over 3 years but since she lives in Alberta, and I in Nova Scotia we had never met in real life.  It’s always a bit un-nerving to meet someone in real life for the first time so I was a little nervous.  What if she hates me (we were rooming together for nearly a full week)?   What if we don’t get along in real life?

My plane landed and I headed towards the baggage claim which is on a lower level.  I stepped on the escalator and saw her standing there waiting for me.  I felt like I was about to play out a scene from a romantic movie.  I didn’t know if I should just wait for the escalator to take me to the bottom, or if I should walk down it to get there faster or what.  I almost felt like someone should be there recording the first meeting, but alas we are not nearly important enough to warrant such a reception.  Amazingly (as least in my mind) there was very little awkwardness at all.  We started right in talking like we hang out all the time.  Phew.

Jen said she was going to go call the car service while I collected my suitcase so we could get going.  I went to baggage claim and waited with everyone else.

Everyone else collected their bag(s) and left.  I was still standing there.  Waiting.

Jen came back from calling for the car, she had told then we had our bags so they would be right over.  I stood there for 5 minutes more waiting in case there were a few late bags.  

Nothing.

There was a British couple who had been on my flight who were also waiting for their bag.  A few minutes more passed and we decided it was time to report the bags as missing.  

The British couple made it to the airline desk before I did and had already discovered their bag had been left behind in Philly (where we had both had, had layovers).  They were starting the process of filling out the lost baggage claim thing when I arrived at the desk.  There were two women “working” behind the airline desk.  One was helping the British couple,  the other was sending text messages.  I said to the later, “My bag seems to be missing too,” to which she responded, “I can’t help you, you’ll have to wait until they are done.” And then continued sending text messages and/or watching the other woman do her job.

By now the car service had arrived and was waiting for us.  Jen went out to tell them we’d be a couple minutes but to wait.

I’m not sure who was more useless, the people behind the desk or the British couple. 

“What colour is your suitcase?” 

“Grey”

“Is there anything inside of the bag that would make it stand out as yours?”

“No….well there is a tin of loose tea.”

“A tin of what?”

“Loose tea.”

“Tea bags?”

“No.  Loose tea.  It’s like tea bags but without the bags.”

“Anything else?  Like a pair of red sneakers, or any other personal items that most people wouldn’t have?”

“No.  There is a pair of sneakers but they look perfectly standard.  Certainly not red.”

“Okay, what is the address and phone number of the place you are staying?”

The couple proceeds to list of the address and about 4 different phone numbers.

The airline lady had finally finished filling out the online claim form and hit submit – and it disappeared.  So they had to do it all over again.  

So she asked them again, “What colour is the bag?”  

“Grey.  Or navy blue.  What do you think?” he said turning to look at his wife.  WHAT!?!?  Are you kidding me?  Am I on candid camera?  The bag is either grey or it’s navy blue.  Those aren’t colours you get mixed up.  His wife declared it to be grey and they continued on answering the same questions all over again.

When it got to the address and phone numbers of where they were staying she passed him a pen and a sheet of scrap paper and asked him to write it down to save time.

He didn’t like the looks of her scrap paper.  There was writing on the other side.  He asked her if she had a clean sheet of paper, she replied that it was just for him to write down the address so she could enter it faster, it didn’t need to be on a new piece of paper.  He was still unhappy with this and said, “Let me just get a fresh sheet,” and proceeded to dig a notebook out of his carry-on.  She insisted it wasn’t necessary, that it was going to go in the garbage anyway, but he continued digging around until he found it.  Clearly they were in no hurry.  

It’s been at least 20 minutes by now.  Jen now says to the texting woman, “We’ve got a car waiting for us, can’t you help us?” “No.” was her only response

Now I need to back up a tiny bit.  You may recall that my trip to NYC was only a few weeks after returning from Florida, and I was dealing with a retracted ear drum on my right side.  It wasn’t painful but I couldn’t hear out of my right ear.  Jen, was standing on my right side this entire time.

When the texting woman refused to help us Jen turned to me and said, “Do you want me to tell the driver to go and catch a taxi?”  I nodded yes, and off she went.

Finally they got the British couples claim submitted.  She printed it off and gave them a copy.  They looked it over with a fine tooth comb.  The wife noticed the phone numbers were wrong.  She listed off what they should be, the lady behind the desk referred to the notes the man had written for her, apparently he had given her the wrong numbers.  She corrected the phone numbers on the electronic claim and told them that she couldn’t print off a revised copy for them, but she had corrected it.  

“Are you sure they are right now?”  The British woman asked.  “I’d feel better if I had a corrected printout.”  So the lady behind the desk spent the next 5 minutes figuring out how to print off a copy of the corrected form to appease the Brits.

She did it.

They FINALLY left.

Jen has still not returned.

Having already heard all of the questions asked to the Brits twice, I was well prepared with my answers.

“What colour is your bag?”

“Purple”

“Is there anything distinctive about the contents of the suitcase?”

“Yes.  There is a pair of bright purple Nike sneakers with hot pink shoe laces.”  To which she laughed (remembering how she had asked the couple if they had anything in their bag like red sneakers).

And then, she asked me how to spell NIKE.  One of the most well known brands in the whole world.  She said, “it’s N-I-C-E right?”  That would be a no.  I tell her it’s N-I-K-E.  Then as she begins typing in the pink shoelaces, she stops and asks me how to spell laces.  I kid you not.  

My faith in humanity is dwindling by the second.

Finally she asks for the address of where I’m staying.  Somehow I have memorized that the Hilton New York is at 1335 Avenue of the Americas New York, New York.  But that’s not good enough.  She needs a ZIP Code.  The computer won’t let her submit without a ZIP Code. She has a computer right in front of her that I assume has the internet on it.  I am a Canadian in the US with my iPhone without any US Data package.  She doesn’t even attempt to help me find the ZIP Code while I frantically go through all of the emails on my phone praying that the ZIP Code is in one of them. Miraculously it is.  Thank you God.

She prints out my form, the info is correct.  I turn and leave the airline office to find Jen who I assume was tired of standing and went to sit in the waiting area.

She isn’t.  I can’t find her anywhere.  I walk around the whole floor, go outside, nothing.  I look for a few more minutes but by now I’m so tired and frustrated I just want to sit down and cry.  

Jen has her phone turned off (again that whole Canadians out of Canada situation) so I can’t call or text her to find out where she is.  

This is when I decide I must have heard her wrong.  She was standing on the side I can’t hear well on, she must have said, “Do you want ME to go and you can just grab a taxi?”  That seems like an odd thing to do, but she clearly isn’t there so that must be what she said.

It just must be.

But what if she is here somewhere and I just can’t find her?  I can’t leave her here!  But I can’t stay here all day either.

Suzanne.  You’re both adults.  No children are missing, you can both find your way to the hotel.  You’re both adults. 

How the f do I get a taxi?  I’ve never been in a taxi let alone called one.  There must be phone numbers for taxis over by the pay phones. Nope.  How the hell do I get one? Then I noticed the sign hanging from the ceiling that says Taxi with an arrow.  Thank goodness.  I go outside, look everything over one more time for Jen (just in case) and then get in the line. That’s when I noticed everyone paying for their taxi using a credit card machine that accepts MasterCard, Discovery and American Express.   All I have is my VISA and cash.  Surely they must take cash?  But nobody is paying with cash.  Don’t tell me I can’t even pay for a freaking taxi to get to the hotel!?  It’s okay, they do take cash.  Phew.  It’ll cost $60 plus $17 for tolls to get to the hotel.  Okay.  That is straight up crazy town, but okay.

Off I go with some big fat dude.  I throw my bags in the trunk.  I have my money in my hand to pay him since I’m not sure when you pay (since all the other people we paying at the start of the trip).  I get in the mid 90′s Crown Victoria we take off.  Just as we are pulling out of the airport I look over my shoulder once last time and see a girl that looks just like Jen standing there on the sidewalk.

Surely that was my eyes playing tricks on me.  SURELY I didn’t just leave the ONLY person I know at the airport.  Please God, let her be at the hotel when I get there.  PLEASE!  

Both front windows in the taxi are down all of the way.  He’s driving like a bat out of hell and I’m clutching onto my money with a death grip.  The last thing I need is for it to go flying out of my hand and out the window.

This driver barely breaks for tolls.  He swerves in between 18-wheelers and people on bikes.  I was sure we were going to kill someone.  

Please God, let Jen be at the hotel when I get there.    

I see the Statue of LIberty for the first time in the distance, but I am too stressed to care.  

The Holland Tunnel is coming up.  I hate tunnels.  Just before we reach the tunnel Jewel’s “You Were Meant for Me” come on the radio.  He cranks the volume.  What?  What is going on here?  Who cranks “You Were Meant for Me”?  We make it through the tunnel, Jewel’s song ends, he turns the radio back down.  

We start weaving in and out of traffic, I’m following the road signs since I know my hotel is on the corner of 6th and 54th so I can at least tell if we are getting closer.  We are.  We go down roads with all of the store fronts boarded over and graffiti on them.  Where is he taking me!?  Why are we on these roads?  Please God, let Jen be at the hotel.  PLEASE tell me I didn’t just leave her at the airport.

Then it happens.  We arrive at the hotel.  Yes!  I may not have my suitcase or Jen, but at least I am at the correct location.  I need to tip the taxi driver.  I’m afraid that if I don’t he’ll drive away with my belongings in the trunk.  I’ve watched a lot movies you know.  What is an acceptable tip?  If the trip cost $77, surely he’ll be happy with $90.  Man, that’s a lot of money.  But I’m here.  I give him the $90, he gets my stuff out of his trunk.  I go inside.

No Jen.

The hotel reservation is in her name.  If she isn’t here I still have nowhere to go.

I go to the reservation desk and ask the man, “Can I ask you a question?  Though I think I already know the answer.”  

“Oh?” he replied, “what’s the answer?”  

“The answer is no.  She hasn’t checked in because I just left her at the airport.”

“Oh…..so what’s the question?”

“Has Jennifer ——- checked in yet?” 

He looks it up, “No she hasn’t.”

“See?” I say, “I left her at the airport.”

I go try to find somewhere to sit down and have a small-medium panic attack.  

I tell myself again, “We’re both adults.  I found my way here, she can too.  We’re both adults.”

45 minutes goes by when my phone beeps, “I’m at the hotel,”  

{cue angels singing in my head}

I was in such a state that I didn’t even see her come in.  She tells me the room number and off I go.

I’m now dreading seeing her.  I just paid $90 to get her, so that means she did too.  She must be so mad at me.  Ugh.  Within 20 minutes of meeting up all of this craziness goes down.  We are certainly not off to a good start.

I get upstairs, she opens the door.  She’s not mad at all (thank goodness).  

When she left me to tell the driver to go, he was getting yelled at by the cops for the car sitting in a no parking zone.  He told her to get in and they would drive around the airport until I came out.  She didn’t know what else to do so she got in.  They drove around for a while and finally she said she was going to have to get out and we’d get a taxi, but he wouldn’t leave since he’d been there for half an hour.  So she paid him $20 to leave and then got out and discovered I was missing.  

She asked the woman at the taxi stand if she had seen me and the woman said, “Oh yeah, she left a LONG time ago.”  Great.  So Jen caught a cab and got to the hotel.

Interestingly, her taxi driver too had his windows down the whole time, but we clearly took different routes as she said she went by Radio City Music Hall, “didn’t you?” No.  I instead took the scenic route down the graffiti filled scary roads and listened to Jewel cranking out of the radio.

But we made it.

My suitcase showed up the next day, and all was well.

Until I returned to Newark Airport that Sunday to come back home.

But that, is a story for another week.

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