Writer’s Workshop: Meet Me In St. Louis

Image by Elsemargriet from Pixabay

So, the prompt I’ll use this week is “Write about a time something went wrong while you were out of town.” I used to travel a lot for work, and with traveling for work comes horror stories of things that happen, some of which I’ve told here.

One year, I was sent to Burlington, Iowa the week before Christmas. If it hadn’t been winter, I might have tried driving there, but I didn’t want to take the chance of being marooned somewhere, so I flew from Chicago to Burlington Municipal Airport (two runways, no waiting) on Sunday.

The installation I was to do was one of those where it was an unfamiliar product in an unfamiliar environment, so I anticipated that I’d have some trouble, but I figured I’d be working with someone at the client site who knew what he was doing. Instead, I was working with a guy who had just started there, and he was even greener than I was. Not to worry, I said to myself, we’ll muddle through this somehow.

And we did, sort of. Worked some late nights, and I went for several day without eating (which I talk about here), but by the end of the week I had gotten the software installed. And we tried it, and, well, it didn’t work. The batch jobs worked fine, but we were having trouble with the online. I called my manager about an hour before I was to leave and asked what I should do, and he said “come on home, and we’ll figure out what to do next.” I explain the situation to the guy I’m working with, and he’s cool with that, as is his manager.

So, I leave for the airport, and of course I’m running late and the streets are icy, but I got to the airport in enough time to turn in my rental car, check in, and head to the gate (of which there was one). And I find out when I get there that the plane that was to take me to St. Louis (where I’d make a connection to a flight back to Chicago) hasn’t arrived in Burlington from wherever it was coming from (Minneapolis sounds about right). So I find a place to get coffee (there was a machine pretty close by) and go back to the gate.

I sit beside these two high school girls (there was a boarding school there), who evidently are also on my flight and were both upset that the flight to St. Louis was delayed. (Things like that apparently never happen when you’re in high school. There’s a law somewhere, I guess.) So I talk to them and assure them that we’ll get there, this happens all the time, you just have to roll with it. By the time our plane (a 10-seat Beechcraft) arrives, it’s 90 minutes late, and now I have to wonder if I’ll be able to make my connection. A quick consult with the OAG tells me that, if I miss my connection, the earliest I can leave is at 9 the next morning.

Long story short, we ended up leaving Burlington at the same time my flight to Chicago was leaving St. Louis. My two little friends had a happy reunion with their parents in St. Louis; I, meanwhile, called the Marriott St. Louis Airport and reserved a room, fetched my bag, and caught the shuttle.

I checked in and went to my room, called Mary to tell her where I was, called our emergency travel agent and booked a flight, and went off in search of alcohol. I got to the bar and was surprised there were so many people there (hotels, especially airport hotels, tend to be pretty quiet on weekends). Turns out I had walked in on the employees’ Christmas party, which I learned when I tried to pay for my drink. Several free beers later, I didn’t care about anything.

So, all’s well that ends well.

10 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Meet Me In St. Louis

  1. I love your work stories, you have experienced it all. Crashing someone else’s work party and cashing in on the complimentary booze has to be the best way to spend a delayed flight.


    1. There have been a couple of times where missed flight = free booze for me. Sometimes it’s worth it… but as I recall I really wanted to get home…


  2. HAHAH! Oh that is epic! I mean I love that you went in search of alcohol and what are the chances that you walked right into a Christmas party. That is the best ending.


    1. Considering that it was the week before Christmas, there was a pretty good chance, but then, you don’t expect to walk in on it.


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