travels and travails

I asked the woman at the front desk (same one who checked me in on Friday morning) last night to call an airport shuttle for me for this morning. She insisted on a firm time like I was supposed to know ahead of time what kind of traffic to expect (though The Tampa Bay Times reported that there MAY be a downtown-airport Light Rail line in the distant future) or how bad the line at security will be (I’ve waited as long as 2hrs and as short as 15 minutes). When she pressed me, I ended up choosing a conservative number that assumed the worst of both numbers – 9am for an 11:40am flight.

When I came down this morning at 8:45am, the first thing I saw was the bright white cab sitting in the sunshine. “That’s YOUR cab,” the desk agent said as if I couldn’t see it.

“Wow, I wasn’t expecting it to be here” [as I was 15 minutes AHEAD of schedule].

“ARE YOU CALLING ME ‘INCOMPETENT?!’ YOU gave me a job – ‘call a cab for 9am’ – and I DID IT, and I am VERY good at my job.”

“I did NOT say you were ‘incompetent.”

“You didn’t NEED to – you IMPLIED it. It’s the same thing. Take the receipt – it’s YOURS, and your cab is STILL waiting.”

Traffic was heavy, but I still managed to get to the airport I approximately 15 minutes. The driver wasn’t all that talkative during the trip which is just as well since I’m pretty sure he understood me as well as I understood his heavy South Asian accent.

He pulled up to the U.S Airways curb, bolted out of his seat and around to open the door for me immediately putting his hand in my face. I don’t even know how much I’m supposed to give him yet and he’s already clapping the tips of his fingers against his palm.

“Youuu forgiiit my TEEP,” he said literally blocking the door with his body.

“All I have is $5.”

“AAAEEEIII Tay-git!,” he said snatching it from my hand.

Whatever, I don’t have time to argue with him, I go inside with my empty wallet and find a SunTrust ATM next to the Ron Jon Surf Shop. I put my card in their machine and read the display…

“$2.95? That’s highway robbery!”

It didn’t matter; I wanted to find someplace that had breakfast. There was a Burger King next to the shuttle to “Terminal F” so I went in there. They didn’t have the McCafe coffee I wanted (though the cashier assumed I was talking about Starbucks’ Frappuccino) so I bought a small container of chocolate milk instead.

Security was on the opposite side of the shuttle route, though I found it curious that they had a ticket checkpoint on BOTH sides of the shuttle. Interestingly enough, the line for the TSA screenings was almost non-existent despite it being mid-morning which gave me plenty of time to find a work\charging station which was (conveniently enough) located directly in the center of the waiting area for my gate.

There are two major problems with sitting in the last row of the airplane: Being the last to get on and being the last to get OFF (at least getting on, I can actually move about). Luckily, I was in the 3rd from last row on the second leg of my return trip.

My flight from CLT to BWI was delayed by “inclement weather” that the weather app on my phone said Charlotte wasn’t getting. This also led to severe turbulence on take-off, but once we reached our cruising altitude things smoothed out considerably. The cloud watching for the first half of the trip was absolutely fascinating.

The plane landed in Baltimore at 4:19pm, and it took just over 20 minutes for me to get off the plane. Fortunately, I was entering into Terminal D so it was only a five minute walk to the light rail station.

When I got to said station, the train was already there. I bought a ticket, boarded the train, put my stuff down on the first available spot and then quickly gathered them up again and bolted to the restrooms immediately inside the glass doors.

Naturally, when I came out again, the train was gone.It was a full thirty minute wait for the next one to arrive, but it still beat having to take a damned cab back to Bolton Hill…

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Categories: Baltimore, flying, light rail, Tampa, transportation | Leave a comment

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