Our plant Buyer Stranded by Superstorm Jonas

I was once asked, "If there was any place in the entire world you could go, where would you go?"  I thought for a moment and answered, "No where..."  You see, I don't travel well.  I'm not into that whole airport, hotel, living out of a suitcase sort of thing.  So last year traveling to the TPIE (Tropical Plant Industry Expo) in Fort Lauderdale with my boss, Lenny, was a big deal.  And this year, traveling there by myself was an even bigger deal!

I am the greenhouse manager at Hillcrest Garden and truly enjoy visiting the TPIE show, gathering all the pictures and materials from perspective new vendors and meeting so many people in the same industry. (I just wish it were in New Jersey!)  So, reluctantly, off to Florida I went!

While in Florida the record breaking blizzard in our New Jersey area was brewing; all of the news channels were buzzing and although I was a thousand miles away I was keeping my eye on it!  Luckily my flight was booked for Monday morning so the Friday / Saturday snow storm would be over and would not affect me, so I thought!  Late Sunday night I received a text message that my Monday morning United flight was cancelled and rebooked for Tuesday morning.  Again, I don't relish traveling, so it was a bit uncomfortable changing my plans, booking another hotel room, etc. but I managed.  After getting up early and on time, which is a feat in itself for me (I don't have a good relationship with punctuality!) I received another text message that my Tuesday morning flight was also cancelled and rebooked for Tuesday afternoon.  I went ahead to the West Palm Beach airport early anyway, just in case. 

Upon my arrival I checked my flight status only to find that the afternoon flight had also been cancelled.  When questioning the attendants at the United counter they found that I had been bumped into oblivion!  My name was no longer in the airline's computer!  I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when they told me to come back on Thursday...  "The wizard cannot see you today, come back tomorrow..."  Huh??? 

While having a slight melt down at the counter, I overheard families begging for flights, they had been at the airport since Friday and it was now Tuesday!  A young woman was literally sobbing, trying to get home to her children in New Jersey.  (The United attendants eventually handed her a box of tissues!  Who says they don't have a heart at the airport?)  There were several seats on a Thursday flight and within minutes those were gone and the next available flight was Friday! Again, it was only Tuesday!

I frantically began checking with other airlines.  No one could get me to Newark airport!  I was settling on an arrival in an airport in Philly when some kind stranger told me to check into a Southwest flight to Nashville and then a flight from there to Newark...  Yes, there was a seat!  The only problem was the flight to Nashville took off from a different airport!  Now I had to find transportation from the airport in West Palm Beach to the airport in Fort Lauderdale.  I summoned my friends who had just dropped me off and begged them to turn around and come back, which they did!

Upon arriving at the Fort Lauderdale airport I set up camp, I had many hours to kill.  I ate, then ate again, then had a couple of snacks, recharged my cell phone and ate again. Finally, after checking my flight status at least a hundred times, I was able to board!  Nashville here I come!  Everyone on the plane was so upbeat, smiling and talking.  After all, we had been commiserating for hours about our being stranded in the airport.  When we touched down in Nashville everyone scrambled to check on the flight status of our Newark trip, which was still scheduled to take off, hurray!  We only had a short layover at the tiny airport in Nashville, but it turned into the highlight of my trip!  There was LIVE music at the airport bar!  (I am a singer performing with a 3 girl group called The Jersey Girls in venues all over New Jersey - free plug for my group!)  I had a glass of wine and listened to a fabulous duo, a girl playing fiddle and a guy playing acoustic guitar, both with perfect vocals.  I was in my glory!  I was already a big fan of country music so this was a real treat!  Suddenly reality, I heard my name over the loud speaker!  I had to run, yes RUN, to board my plane!

I did get to Newark airport in one piece and actually found my luggage which was also a fear weighing on my mind; I got shuttled to my car at a nearby parking lot and was pleased to find it cleared of the 3 feet of snow; I then pulled into my snow covered driveway at the crack of dawn and dragged myself into the house; I was home!  Again, feeling like Dorothy, I kept saying "There's no place like home, there's no place like home..."  Next trip I'm definitely bringing along my Ruby Slippers so I can simply click them 3 times and get the heck home!