This past Friday was officially the craziest travel day I have had to date. I was originally scheduled to leave Oklahoma City at 7 AM, fly to Minneapolis, then fly to Peoria and be home by 11:30 AM. I woke up at 4:45 AM to get ready for my departure and simultaneously got a phone call from Delta. My first flight had been delayed by an hour and half (no reason?), and I was going to miss my connection. They had automatically re-booked me: Oklahoma City to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Detroit, then Detroit to Peoria, arriving at home by 4 PM. Although I was a little annoyed, my new travel schedule was manageable.
It was manageable UNTIL I got to Detroit and found out my Detroit to Peoria flight had been canceled! Do you know why my flight was canceled? The weather was fine. The plane was fine. But the pilot called in sick. Yes, seriously.
I headed to the re-booking area to see what they could do for me. In line, I met a few other people who were scheduled to be on my same flight from Detroit to Peoria. When I finally got to talk to the ticketing agent, the earliest flight she was able to get me on was 10 PM on Saturday night—a full 36 hours after I was originally scheduled to get home! This might not have been so bad if I wasn’t leaving first thing on Sunday morning for another LC visit.
Another guy who I had been waiting in line with me was equally as frustrated.
I looked at him, “Want to rent a car?”
Him: “How far away is it?”
Me, Googling it on my phone: “7 hours”
Him: “Alright, let’s do it.”
My new friend and I headed downstairs to talk to the baggage people and figure out what was going on with our luggage. Turns out, my luggage hadn’t even made the Minneapolis to Detroit connection. I had to laugh. At that point, what else could I do? They would have it to Peoria by tomorrow morning, and it would get delivered to my house.
We walked out to the ground transportation area to catch a bus out to the rental cars. Until this point, I had not really considered the fact that I was going to be driving at least seven hours with a complete stranger. We had been talking for half an hour in the re-booking line, and I was positive he was a genuinely nice guy. After all, he had been booked on a flight to Peoria too. We both got onto the bus, then my new friend stepped outside for a cigarette.
The bus driver, a 65 year old, heavy, and very friendly man, turned to me: “You know that guy?”
Me: “Well, we just met, but we’re renting a car and driving down to Peoria together.”
Bus Driver: “Pretty little girl like you, you need to be careful.”
Me: “Yes, thank you. I will be careful.”
Bus Driver: “Do you want my special pen?”
Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean?”
Bus Driver, pulling a decent-sized knife out of his pocket: “Do you want this knife?”
Me, completely shocked and taken aback: “Umm…no thank you.”
(WHAT??! DID THE BUS DRIVER JUST OFFER ME A KNIFE?!?! Let me be clear, this was not a pocket knife. It was a knife knife. I’m not sure what the laws are on concealed weapons in Michigan, but I’m almost positive that is illegal!)
Bus Driver, continuing to offer self-defense advice: “Well here, let me show you something.” He took the keys out of the ignition and put one key between each of his fingers and said, “if you hold your keys like this, you can really do some damage if you strike someone.”
Bus Driver: “Or just kick him in the balls and run.”
To all of my readers: Please don’t judge me for making a bad judgment call. My new friend was 45, dressed well, you know—business man-like, and he had actually been scheduled to go to Peoria on my same canceled flight.
Even though I had been fairly confident in my decision, the bus driver had seriously scared me. Did I just set myself up to be kid-napped, raped, and murdered?
When we got into the rental car place, there was a group of five who had also been in the re-booking line. There were three business women, an older lady, and a younger guy.
Me: “Are you headed to Peoria too?”
Nice business woman: “Yes. Is that where you’re headed?”
Me, with a presumably terrified look in my eyes: “Yes! Would you like to caravan with us?”
Nice business woman: “Absolutely.”
Her and I started exchanging contact information, then my friend starts bonding with the guy from the other group. Once both cars had been rented, I managed to pawn the new guy off on my friend and jump into the car with the four other women. No one seemed too upset with my switch. Our car ended up leading the caravan, and I was the official navigator. Navigating was actually surprisingly difficult because we didn’t want to take the most direct route—through Chicago, because we knew we’d hit terrible traffic.
The next eight hours were the most bizarre eight hours of my life. Here I was, with six random strangers, road-tripping from Detroit to Peoria because our flight had been canceled.
Our drive took longer than I originally expected because the drivers were not as lead-footed as I am, and we hit some heavy rain along the way. My mom met us at a gas station in Morton, IL along the interstate to pick me up, and I can honestly say I have never been so happy to get home.