Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The bad week

One week into the new year, the flu descended on our house.  Bella was first to go, flush with a fever, home sick from school.  Pamela followed two days later, hit with a wrecking ball and knocked right out.  The boys were all doing well and feeling strangely immune.  Sunday came around with some hard news:  I had to leave town for one night, then 2 more nights - Pamela still sick (3 days into it), and a (I thought) immoveable client meeting.  I bid my sniffling girls farewell Sunday afternoon.

At the airport just before boarding came the text:  ISAAC HAS THE FLU.  He got a fever spike not 90 min after I left the house.  Oh boy.  I should mention here that I am also flying my non-preferred carrier - Delta has ridiculous prices out to the east coast, and I was saving almost $700 by doing a connecting flight via American.  The meeting was to be 10-noon on Monday, so I had to fly Sunday night.

On American, I have no status.  I fly coach, and I board last.  They are also not particularly incented to do me favors in a bad travel situation.  Oh, wait, now I remember, this isn't even a fully American flight - it's United to Chicago, then American to LaGuardia.  One of those Orbitz Specials.

Got to Chicago safely - no drama there.  The flight to LGA was delayed just a bit, but we boarded.  The passengers seemed anxious and I soon learned why - LGA had been backed up all day, and many of them were supposed to have flown on 3 and 5pm flights, and were now hoping this 8pm flight got them there.  

Pulled back from the gate and...   Announcement - LGA is still backed up, so we're going to sit HERE for an hour.  BUT PUT AWAY YOUR ELECTRONICS!  The flight attendants paced the aisles like prison guards yelling at anyone who had a device out, despite the fact we were not moving, nor DUE to move for a good 45 minutes.  RULES ARE RULES.  I did not break the rules, I napped.

When we finally took off, the captain perhaps ominously said "there are still backups out there, but don't worry, we took on extra fuel".  The flight progressed, but then we started circling.  For an hour, and then we were abruptly told:  "we're out of fuel, and we're diverting to Pittsburgh.  There will be a ground crew there who can gas us up, and we still hope to hit LGA by 2am".  The passengers were abuzz - flight trackers saw that the flight that left just before us had landed.  THEN we saw the flight that left just AFTER us had landed.  Why were WE diverted?

We landed, and nobody got up...  we all thought we were refueling.  30 minutes we sat on the plane, and the without warning they said "sorry folks, the crew just timed out, and we need to spend the night here.  We'll be leaving at 10am tomorrow".  We filed out of the plane and found the line for re-booking and hotel vouchers.  We were lined up in plane order, so I was right in the middle.  After waiting for 10 min and noticing the line was not moving, I called Orbitz.

Over the next 45 minutes, I patiently explained to the man at Orbitz that my flight was in Pittsburgh ("what, did you change flights?"  The computer still showed the plane was refuelled and due to hit LGA that night).  No I did not want to go to LGA anymore.  My meeting is at 10am, and the flight wouldn't land until 12.  Could they just send me HOME from Pittsburgh please?  It took the whole 45 min, and explaining the whole situation to him twice and the lady from American he finally found once... and I got rebooked.  And in that time, I had moved 15 feet ahead in line.

I called Marriott, found the closest hotel, called them directly and had them come get me.  I wrote to my client and explained I'd be on the phone.  My head hit the pillow at 3am.  The next morning, I had a good breakfast and headed to the airport - might as well do the call from the airport.  Took the call, and it all worked out fine.  Headed to the gate and ran into the flight crew from the night before.

Turns out the gate agent had no idea how to rebook or how to get hotels:  They didn't get to their hotel until 345.  They were royally pissed about the whole divert and refuel thing.  And they were mad they were in Pittsburgh to boot.  (Let me take a moment to mention the Pittsburgh airport - apparently they used to be a hub for someone and built a massive almost Atlanta-sized airport with a tramway, out in the middle of nowhere.  Then the hub left, and the airport is a serious ghost town.  It was sort of spooky to have such a huge facility looking SO empty)

The flight home was uneventful, really...  except for the mild scratchy feeling I was feeling in my throat...  uh oh.  By the time I hit Minneapolis again, it was pretty obvious - I was going to get this Flu.

My next 24 hours were like a man with a death sentence - I worked my tail off getting things arranged at my clients, canceling my second trip of the week, shopping for groceries, getting the bills paid, finishing my presentations, running errands....   Tuesday I woke up with a cough and the sniffles, and I knew this wasn't going to be good.   Pamela was still floored too - I'm not sure how she would have survived my trip, actually.  Bella was glazey.  Isaac was a zombie, and there were mountains of kleenex.

Wednesday hit, and I had one thing I had to do:  I had to LEAD a 1 hour presentation for a room full of doctors in Michigan.  I slept until 30 min prior to the meeting, got up, caffeinated, brought my a-game, then zonked out for the rest of the day.  DOWN FOR THE COUNT.

Thursday:  I had 3 conference calls scheduled that I had hoped I'd have the presence of mind to attend:  I woke up 2 minutes before the first one, and wrote the following message to my team:  "I got worse".  I stared at that message for a minute, wondering what else I should write, and my brain said "that's all you need to say".  I hit send and passed out for the rest of the day.  A migraine decided to move in early afternoon, and by the evening, Pamela had to head out, so I crawled downstairs to monitor the still-barely-moving children.  My eyes went to the TV and the flashey-flashey triggered a violent reaction - I moved faster than I had in 2 days, and lost my meager lunch.

Friday was similarly lost, but I was able to function for almost 2 hours of it.  By Saturday, I felt almost on the upswing, and Sunday one could actually say I was better.  Pamela was still suffering, Bella had good days and bad, and Isaac, well he's the king of dancing around the room laughing while his nose runs like a faucet, so he was just HIM.

It's now Wednesday, and everybody has a clean bill of health finally...   I went back to work Monday, and by Tuesday, one could even say I had my traditional chipper energy back.  And I needed that because the down week put me behind at work...   working hard to catch up.

And that was the week that was.

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