Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Voyage Home

It all went swimmingly until we got to Seattle. But there were hints of what was to come. Call them warnings. Call them foreshadowings.

Here's a hint - all the LJs I pay attention to in Seattle are talking about snow. Here's another, the Seattle Times states that we should expect "snow showers" - wonderfully understated and clueless. And here's the big one - getting off the Skylink in Dallas- Fort Worth (an beautiful piece of machinery designed and built by my brother and the fine people he works with), and I pass the Monday Night Football game on a flatscreen. And I think "Hey, I didn't realize that the Seahawks were playing the Packers in Green Bay", because you can hardly see the field for all the white stuff.

And then, if it were a movie, the camera would hang on the screen as in the background I present my ticket and get on board the plane. And it would be revealed that we were looking at Qwest Field in downtown Seattle, covered with snow.

And even at the end of the flight, when we came in through low, heavy clouds, and ice was building up on the wings, did I not realize what I was in for. Not when I got the bags in the crowded terminal. Only when the Lovely Bride and I stepped out to the taxi stand to get a cab home.

And there were four hundred people in line. At least in our line. I heard the other line was worse. The rental cars already gone. The limosines all taken. The Shuttle Express overwhelmed. The traffic was murderous. the roads were ice. And most of the STITA cabs were apparently staying home.

Mind you, STITA EXISTS to serve the airport. They have the plum position. But only a few STITA cabs were running, one showing up about every five minutes. Then every ten. Then, around three in the morning, not showing up at all. The only cabs that showed up were Yellow Cabs. And they would only drive people downtown.

Now, knowing what the roads were like (now), I don't blame the Yellows for being, well, yellow, and wanting to keep on the overstuffed but generally safe highway. But every STITA cabbie who was not out on the road last night deserves to have his medallion pulled. Period. And the Port Authority should examine the sweetheart deal that gives them the lion's share of the work, if they're going to step up to the plate when they're really needed.

It was bad. It was beyond bad. It was a thousand people trying to get three cabs that show up in a half hour. It was a poor STITA expiditer (none of her cabs showed up, why was she there?) begging the Yellows to drive someplace else, passing out blankets to underdressed civilians back from Hawaii (did I mention the cab stand was in the sub-zero garage?), and giving priority to families with kids who had been standing there for over an hour. Finally, after THREE Hours, we found a Yellow driver who was willing to go into Renton, though not up the hill, to where we lived. We figured a warm hotel beat a cold parking lot and piled in with three other people.

And we understood why the yellows only wanted to drive downtown. It was a nightmare, as both our roads and our drivers cannot handle snow, and what hit the Renton/Kent area was a snow that would give a Pittsburgher pause. The cloverleafs were like day-old demo derbies. Cares were abandoned where they drifted off the asphalt. Still, he managed to snake down the backroads, avoiding the crashing on the main highways, and dumped us at the Holiday Inn we asked for.

Did I overtip him? Damn straight I overtipped him. I was losing sensation with my toes before he showed up.

And the Holiday Inn in Renton, where we ended up, needs to be commended for its actions above and beyond the call. Yeah, we're full up. A lot of folk are crashing in the lobby. Here are some pillows. A while later someone stopped by with a blanket. We slept for a couple hours, had a good breakfast at the Yankee Grill and then walked home (because the roads are still as slick as, well, ice). Yay, Holiday Inn! They were there when we needed them, when they could have just shut down the desk and wandered off.

Oh yeah, we walked home. The Holiday Inn is storing our bags (mind you, we are not paying customers - we crashed in their lobby) and we set out (no cabs still showing up, though daybreak has hit). We walk up Benson to the top of the hill, entertaining the idea that eventually a bus will show up going our direction. One finally shows up, when we're about a block from our turnoff. Aw, well, at least all my walking in Germany prepared me for this pass. I think it was two miles. The Lovely Bride, who is usually right about such things says it was four miles. Uphill. In the snow. Both ways.

Ah now, after spending nine hours en route from Pittsburgh to Seattle, and ANOTHER nine hours getting from SeaTac to my door 15 miles away, the Lovely Bride and I are home. And the sky is blue and the snow ( about 2-3 inches in the backyard) looks pretty, and there are no cars on the road right now, because nothing can get up the slight hill we're on.

It should surprise no one that I am not coming into work today. I need to sleep THIS little adventure off.

More later,