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Today's Think Kit prompt:
Weird. Wild. Wacky.
Time to get weird. We want to hear your strangest story from the last year (or more). Will it make us raise an eyebrow or three? That's what we want. Whether it's a tale of colliding coincidences, a strange Saturday you just can't shake, or if it makes you squirm just to remember: get weird.
It always bugs me when people say that something "restored their faith in humanity."
My faith in humanity is firmly in place, thank you.
Although I do enjoy an occasional fabulous reminder.
This story starts with a trip to Florida for the wedding of one of my godchildren. Dad was generous and sprung for the airline tickets and hotel.
We flew out early on a Sunday morning, which was perfect for me. I worked at the Red Key on Saturday night, got home at 3:00 am, showered, zipped up the suitcase, and left for the airport. Sweetie and I rode together and parked in the long-term parking.
I sent sister Beth a text letting her know we had arrived. She said that she and Dad were still at the Farm. I was getting a little worried, but figured they had it under control.
S. and I took the shuttle to the airport, checked our bags, and had breakfast at Cafe Patachou. Beth and I had been texting back and forth but I assumed that they were in route. I asked Beth how far away they were and she replied that they hadn't left yet. I started to panic. It was now 5:30 am and our flight was at 6:40 and they were 45 minutes away.
Side note - I think the airline tickets should reflect what time they want you at the gate. I've found that boarding typically starts at least 30 minutes from the flight time.
Anyway, back the Farm, Beth insisted that Dad hustle it along, that they had to leave. Right now.
They parked in short-term parking and made it to the gate - they were the last ones on the plane, but who cares!
The flight had assigned seats. Dad was by the window, I was in the middle, and a poor man that weighed at least 350 pounds was in the aisle seat. Beth and S. were behind us.
As you can imagine the man in the aisle took up all of his seat and then some. Dad isn't a big man, but he's one of those guys that sits with his knees wide apart and elbows out. I tossed my messenger bag under the seat in front of me and only opened it to get headphones for S. I had to sit with my arms crossed and my hands gripped to the sides of my thighs to keep myself squeezed together. .
I tried to fall asleep - I'd been up almost 24 hours at that point but kept getting jabbed by elbows and knocked by knees on either side. I even suggested to Dad at one point that I thought it was in good form to let the person sitting in the middle to have use of at least one of the armrests. He didn't take the hint.
I'd just dozed off for about the tenth time when Dad started throwing his elbow in earnest, rooting around in his pocket for something. I had to squeeze myself closer to aisle guy while Dad dug around in his jacket. He finally found what he was looking for.
A hard-boiled egg. Already peeled and salt and peppered.
And smelling like a hard-boiled egg that had been in his pocket for a couple of hours.
He finished the egg and handed me the paper towel that he'd stored it in. And started the digging though his pockets dance again.
He kindly handed me the peel when he finished. By now people are looking around to see where the smells are coming from and I'm sitting there red faced and red handed with a banana peel in my hand.
Finally the flight is over and aisle man attempted to get up (did I mention that his wife didn't sit next to him, but was in the row in front?) and planted his cane firmly on my foot. I yelped and he crashed back down. I wound up pushing on his bum to help him to his feet. After he was safely out, I looked over to see Dad struggling with his shoes. He'd taken his penny loafers off and was having a hard time getting them back on.
Since we were the last people on the plane I suggested that he just carry the shoes and we'd deal with it in the airport. We deplaned, found the proper baggage carrousel, and I planted Dad in a chair so he could put on his Birkenstock sandals. The fact that he brought two right shoes is the story for another time.
My friend Ann (mother of the groom, daughter of this guy) picked us up at the curb. I was sitting in the way-back (third row) of the beautiful van she'd rented listening to the chatter and felt myself relaxing. It was a beautiful morning and all was well.
I saw the toll bridge ahead and I reached into my bag for my wallet. I had plenty of cash. I'd stopped at the bank machine the day before and it had been an exceptionally good tip night at the Red Key.
My wallet was not in my bag. MY WALLET WAS NOT IN MY BAG!!!
I tried not to freak out too much in my way-back seat. Maybe I'd dropped it in the van while climbing into the seat. No such luck.
We arrived at the cute independent hotel and while the rest of the group headed to the beach I dumped my bag in front of the office. Lip balm, Kindle, camera, phone, the bag of plugins and cords, tissues, coins, lint, everything but my wallet landed on the steps.
The last time I remembered having it was going through security in Indianapolis. I called the lost and found in Indy and they connected me with TSA - no one had seen it. I called the Tampa airport and they hadn't found it either, but told me to keep calling.
The only way to report it to the airline was via an online form which I was attempting to do on my phone. I submitted the report and got a nice auto-reply that they would contact me if anyone turned it in, but they were not looking for it.
How the heck was I going to fly home two days later with no ID? How was I going to eat and shop with no money or credit card? And most importantly, how the heck was I going to have a drink on the beach with no cash?
I calmed down a little bit remembering that I had a passport at home that could be FedEx'd to me - after I got someone to break into my house, of course. I checked the TSA website and learned that they can make exceptions for folks that have lost their ID. It is helpful if you have someone traveling with the same last name (yay Dad!) or have a web presence that includes your photo (yay for the uncommon name of Nora Spitznogle!). And I realized that I could access the scan of my passport that I'd sent to my godmother.
I joined the group at the beach lamenting that I didn't have any money to buy a beer, but it turned out to be too early to drink anyway (not in my mind, but Florida law doesn't allow sales before noon). We took a walk around the neighborhood and Dad slipped me some cash to tide me over.
The four of us wound up at the delightful Tequila Mockingbird, the guys at the bar watching football, Beth and I soaking in the sunshine and a cocktail outdoors. I was flipping through facebook on my phone and saw that I had a friend request from a woman named Danielle. We didn't have any mutual facebook friends but she looked like a real person and I somehow thought that she was the niece of one of my Philadelphia friends so I accepted her request.
Lynn and Karen, two delightful women that were also there for the wedding, joined us and we had fun laughing with our new friends in the sun.
I popped inside to check on Dad and S. and visit the washroom. I met Beth on the way back and she said that she had exciting news to tell me when we got back to the table. I walked outside to Lynn and Karen laughing and telling me how exciting it was that my wallet had been found!
While I was inside, Danielle had called Beth to tell her that she had found my wallet!
Danielle found me on facebook (another yay for the uncommon name of Nora Spitznogle) saw that I was in St. Pete's Beach -- Beth had tagged me in a photo -- and messaged me to say that she had my wallet. But none of the messages showed up on my phone so she contacted Beth!
How amazing is that? We made arraignments to meet in a Publix parking lot the next day.
Her story about finding the wallet was even more wild. She was on the next flight after ours. Her seatmate found the wallet (the same color of grey as the carpeting) and after determining that it didn't belong to any of them stuck it in the seat pocket. Danielle peeked in the wallet, looked at my name, and saw all of the cash. She gave it to the flight attendant, who put it in her pocket.
Danielle Googled me using the in-flight WiFi and saw where I was - her home town. She asked the flight attendant what would happen with the wallet and she explained that she would take it to her home base and it would get mailed from there. Danielle told her that she was heading back the next day and could deliver my wallet in person and the flight attendant gave it back to her!
How wild is that? She was able to get my wallet back to me much quicker than if it would have gone back to Pittsburgh (or wherever).
Danielle was as sweet in person as she was on the phone - I can't express how grateful I am to her!
I picked up a little token gift and I intended to give her some cash also, but she wouldn't take it.
I hope that I can do something just as amazing for someone soon.
And in case you're wondering, I ditched the grey wallet for a bright red one.