Getting There

10B, Middle Seat, SFO -> Memphis

Sandwiched in between Mr. “You Won’t Hear A Word From Me Until You Are Fast Asleep and I Want to Use the Bathroom” in the window seat and Mrs. “I’m An Old Lady From Memphis and I’m Going to Complain About Every Possible Thing I Can. Loudly.” in the aisle seat. It was a long journey.

Smallest Plane In The World

Memphis -> Charlotte

“No carry on luggage larger than a purse is allowed on board. All oversized baggage must be tagged and left at the end of the ramp.” My hair brushed the cabin ceiling as I made my way to my seat (and I don’t even have the traditional big hair so common to Southern women). Looking on the bright side, I wasn’t in a middle seat. There was no middle seat, each row only had two seats.

Are We There Yet?

CLT -> La Quinta Hotel

I simply wanted to get to the hotel and go to sleep. I asked the taxi driver if he knew the way to the La Quinta. “Of course,” he replied in a heavily accented English. I had deliberately chosen a hotel near the airport to avoid a tremendous cab fare. As he began accelerating, he asked, “How are you tonight?” I replied the generic, “Fine, thank you.” He nodded. Within minutes we reached the cluster of airport hotels. Marriott, Ramada, Comfort Inn, he drove past all of them. We arrived at the end of the road. He stopped the car and peered out the windows, confounded. He rubbed his chin then grunted, “Hmph. It must be the other road.”

I’m paranoid. Especially in unfamiliar situations. Was he really lost? Or was this a ploy? Was he about to abduct me?

He drove down the other road. We passed many hotels, but no La Quinta. Again he stopped and pondered. This time I spoke. “Do you know where the hotel is?” A stupid question, because obviously the answer was no, but the only thing that occurred to me. “Oh, yes. Right over here.” We turned around and headed the other way, down a dark, barely lit road. Suddenly he looked in the rear view mirror. “How are you tonight?” I’m exhausted, my feet are swollen, and we’re freaking lost. How the hell do you think I’m doing? roared through my head. “Fine,” exited my lips. He nodded.

We drove until we happened upon the FedEx distribution plant. We pulled into the dimly lit lot. Oh, my god, he is going to abduct me. I can see the headlines now:

FedEx. When the mutilated body absolutely, positively, without a doubt has to be there overnight.

I immediately pulled out my cell phone. If he was going to kidnap me, someone was going to hear it. I dialed the hotel. “Hi. I have a reservation there tonight. I’m in a cab and we can’t seem to find your hotel. Have you perhaps changed the name or the address?” A harsh voice barked at me, “No, we’re right here where we’ve always been. What kind of taxi driver don’t know where we are?” Obviously the one that’s driving my cab.

“Kin you see the Waffle House?”

“Well, sort of,” I began. “It’s kind of in the distance.”

“Well, you need to just git yourself back up the Waffle House. Lawd! I ain’t never heard of a taxi driver cain’t find a hotel. Who he think he is?”

After an eternity, we pulled into the driveway of La Quinta.

I entered the deserted lobby. Beatrice bellowed, “What kind driver gonna say they take you somewhere when they ain’t knowing the way? That’s a shame.” In a trance, too tired to even respond, I handed her my i.d., my reservation confirmation, and my credit card. She continued berating the taxi driver. “Lawd! He could’ve just said he don’t know the way. What’s wrong with him?” As I received my room key, Beatrice hollered, “RAY! RAY! Git here and take this lady to her room, number 151. She’s done been lost once tonight.”

Wait a minute, sister. I wasn’t lost of my own accord. I was lost because someone I was paying to know directions didn’t. Again, however, no words left my lips.

Ray lumbered over, his large frame struggling to carry his larger body. I smiled weakly; he grunted. He pushed the door open, made a left and walked straight down the sidewalk about 15 feet. He stopped and grunted.

Room 151. I couldn’t have NOT found it even if I’d been trying.

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