Friday, June 26, 2009

The Journey to Portland...

I have been blessed for many years to be able to speak and preach all over the Nation, so I am certain that every 'road warrior' has a horror story about their travel and I am not exception in that I finally experienced mine about a week ago.

I was invited to be one of the Keynote Speakers at the Real Catholic Men Catholic Men's
Conference in Vancouver, WA.
(just across the river from Portland) at St. Joseph's Parish. What a wonderful time I had, but more on that later.

My flight was 'scheduled' to depart St. Louis at approximately 10:00 am St. Louis time, but I was advised that I should take an earlier flight due to impending weather issues in Chicago (ORD) where my connection was. Mind you this is
an Airline to which I have not flown in MANY years, so I was going to see just how Friendly the Sky's were. I boarded my flight to ORD at approximately 8:30am in St. Louis (STL) on a beautiful sunny and hot day. We backed out of the gate and proceeded to the runway for take off, or so I thought. During out taxi, the Pilot said we were going to a 'holding section' in the airport to await take off as everything had been shut down in ORD due to Lightning and Thunder Storms. Three hours later, a truck pulled up to the front of the plane and resupplied us with water and other needed items. About 10 minutes after this, we were told we were headed back to the gate, due to planes being diverted to STL from ORD, again weather related.

We get back to the gate and were advised to get off the plane, to which we did. I had time to run to the 'bucks' to get a Coffee and then heard on the loud speaker (10 minutes after we had gotten off the plane), we were again boarding, to which we did. We loaded up, the Jet Bridge was backed away from the Plane, but the front door of the plane remained open... yes again we were delayed. 30 minutes into this delay, a young man from the back of the Plane gets up, makes his way forward, backpack in tow and states to the Flight Attendant that he needs to get off the Plane. "Sir, I am sorry you cannot get off now", she states. "Lady yo
u don't understand, I MUST GET OFF THIS PLANE", he exclaimed. During this brief confrontation, (I was about five rows behind them and felt my Military Police Skills kicking protect), just as I loosed my seat belt to try to detain the guy, he shoves her to the side and jumps out the door! YES, he actually JUMPED out of the door of the Plane and hit the ground (about 10 feet) and began to run. We were amazed and needless to say, this caused yet ANOTHER 40 minute delay.

The Airport Police finally catch the guy and bring him back to the Plane for identification and then the Pilot says, "well, since we had a guest unexpectedly leave us, we have missed our departure time window and are now delayed for another hour!" You can only imagine how many happy people were on that plane now.

15 minutes after this incident a lady gets up from the back of the Plane and SHE says to the Flight Attendant that SHE wants to get off the Plane! I think to myself 'does the side of this Plane have Greyhound on it, or what?" The guy next to me says, 'Lady, if you don't sit DOWN, we are all going to throw you off the Plane!"

For you Reality Show fan's, I remember wanting to shout out, "I'm a Celebrity... GET ME OUT OF HERE", but I thought that would not work either. We finally departed STL at about 2:45pm, over 6 hours after we had initially boarded the Plane. We touch down in ORD and I not only realize I have missed my connection to Portland (PDX), but there were literally thousands of others in the Aiport who had missed flights and connections as well. The Customer Service counter literally had over 300 people standing in line to find out where they were going. Mind you my laptop crashed while in Houston a couple weeks ago, so just when I really needed security blanket was not there, thus began the mad texting to and
from my wife who was at home in STL. PDX Flight departing in an hour and a half from Gate C19 and I am in Concourse A. 30 minutes later I arrive at C19 and they say PDX departing from B10 in 45 minutes, so I run there. Then board says PDX departing from C29, so I run there.

I arrive at C29 and then again begins all the gate changes for all the flights, so I wait patiently. Finally PDX Departing C31 at 6:05pm, then 6:15pm, then 6:25, 6:35, 6:45, 7:05! Now mind you other flights are coming in and people are departing, well there is the infamous "Red Carpet" for you folk who fly a million miles a year and get special treatment! (you guys stink! (Smile)) Now those of us paupers, back of the Plane folk, are not allowed NEAR, let alone even think about stepping on the "Red Carpet" and the Gate Agent is literally screaming at people... "STAY OFF THE RED CARPET...GET OFF...DON'T STEP ON THE RED CARPET!" She is MAD for us 'Po' Folk' even getting NEAR the Red Carpet.

FINALLY, 7:15pm I get on a Plane for PDX and we back out and head for the Runway! I am looking out the window and see Plane after Plane after Plane sitting on the side of the Runways. You guessed it, soon as we get to our spot, "Folks, O'Hare Airport has just been shut down, due to weather and we are 20th in line for take off. We will be here for at least an hour and then 20 more Planes in front of us!"

We finally take off and I get to my Hotel room at 2:00am STL time. Lord have Mercy! You think this saga is over? NOPE! I have to preach in five hours and could not sleep! More in the next Blog!


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