Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I sleep around... and with strangers

I spent a good portion of Sunday afternoon cleaning out my closet. You may wonder what I could possibly have left after the famous Purgefest 2010, but I still found enough crap for one bag of trash and another for Goodwill. Aaah... it feels great to get rid of stuff.

In one box I found a pair of antique brass candlesticks I'd all but forgotten about. There's a story behind them.

Back in 2001 I was working as a contract trainer for Fleet Bank. To this day, that was the best job I ever had. I not only loved training, but I worked only 15 days a month and had the remaining week off.  And I was paid $425/day. I haven't been able to find a job like that since.

Anyway, I was conducting a training session down on Long Island.  I woke up that Friday morning--the last day of the training--with a wicked head cold. You know how some days you're not even out of bed and you're already counting the minutes until you can get back under the covers? Ugh. It was going to be a long friggin' day and on top of it, that evening I had to fly back to Buffalo, where I was living with B.H.

I somehow got through the training, sniffing away the whole goddamn day. I was so happy when I finally dropped off my rental car at MacArthur Airport--soon I'd be on a plane and would at least be able to close my eyes for a while.

But no. When I checked in I was told my flight to Buffalo was canceled and I'd have to take a shuttle to LaGuardia Airport, where I'd be able to catch another flight. I couldn't believe it; I was ready to cry.

The "shuttle" turned out to be a taxicab, which I shared with two other women who were traveling separately to Buffalo. They were maybe 10 years older than me. Both of them were nice enough and I forced some small talk, but I was feeling absolutely miserable. Plus I felt terribly guilty that they had to ride with grumpy old me and my disgusting runny nose and Kleenexes full of germs.

We checked in together at LaGuardia and went our separate ways as we finally boarded the plane. Hallelujah, I'll be home soon, I thought as I settled into my window seat.  But about forty-five minutes outside of Buffalo, the pilot announced that we were unable to land because of fog we'd be turning around and heading back to LaGuardia.  We'd have to spend the night there and we'd all be booked on flights departing in the morning.

OMFingG, I had all I could do to not burst into tears.  From the moment I woke up, I couldn't wait for that day to end and now it was getting even longer.

I met up with my two lady friends at the U.S. Airways ticket counter back at LaGuardia.  We were all reassigned to flights departing in the morning; they opted for the first flight out, but I wanted a later flight so I could sleep in a bit.  We were also informed that the airline would not be putting us up for the night; we were on our own when it came to that.

A look of despair came over both of the ladies' faces.  Who could have predicted they'd be stuck in a big New York City airport?  "What do we do now?" one of them asked.

"I have an expense account for work," I said. "You can stay with me."

And so we hopped on a shuttle to the nearest Marriott, where I got us a room with two queens and a roll out bed.  At eleven o'clock at night, they treated me to a snack in the restaurant (miraculously, I was starting to feel a little less stuffy) and then the three of us, three women who were strangers just a few hours before, headed up to the room for our little pajama party.

I slept soundly and barely managed to raise my head to say good-bye when they tiptoed out of the room early the next morning.  I woke up feeling much better for my eleven o'clock flight back to Buffalo.  It was uneventful, thank God, except for the fact that Hillary Clinton was sitting in first class.

A few weeks later I received a package in the mail.  One of the women sent me a lovely note and two brass candlesticks from her antique shop.  I displayed them for years and then somewhere along the line packed them into a box.  When I came across them on Sunday, I had to smile.


Barbara said...

Linda Lou, you are one in a million, we need a million more of you to spread the love and make more people laugh, smile and feel good!

Mimi said...

That is such a sweet, sweet sotry Linda.
I feel terrible saying this, but I don't know if I'd have the courage to invite 2 total strangers to share my room. Yet it did you no harm. i can just imagine how I'd feel being one of them!
I'm really glad that they appreciated your kindness.

Liz said...

What a great story!
I hope you can find a place for these in your new house. I'd love to look at them daily and remember such good things.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm....could you elaborate more about the pajama party? Uh huh huh huh huh huh ...

Fragrant Liar said...

What a great story. Renews my faith in strangers: the kindness of them and our ability to all just get along, especially when things are tough. Glad you found your brass balls. Oh wait, you said candlesticks.

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

You never cease to amaze me. Your life is so very unpredictable and REAL.

SassyModernMom said...

You my dear are a SWEET person!! I can just imagine being one of those women and suddenly stuck with the prospect of having to find a hotel in a strange city and not a clue what to do. Thank goodness for good people like you. Love this story.