Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Plane Ticket, a Name, and a Number

The phone rang.  I saw the name of my internship supervisor on caller ID.  I assumed I was about to get another all-access pass to a concert.  God, I love this gig.  Who will I get to meet this time?

“Rick, I need a huge favor,” she said.  She was always a fast talker, but this was valley girl speed.   “My husband injured his leg, and is supposed to drive his parent’s Cadillac up from Florida tomorrow.  Could you get to O’Hare in two hours?  I’ll have a ticket waiting for you.  My son, Bryan, will pick you up in Fort Lauderdale.  He’ll be driving another car up for us as well, which you’ll follow behind.  I’ll text you his number.”  She also offered me $300 cash.  I was broke, and had just been told the summer job I had lined up fell through.  I’m the kind of person that would have said ‘yes’ to the proposition anyway, but that definitely sweetened the deal.

So, with a ticket waiting, a name, and a phone number, I packed my bag, kissed my girlfriend, and headed outside to hail a cab.  It was May, but still cold in Chicago.  Florida sounded nice.  My mom happened to call while I was waiting to board the plane.  It wasn’t the first time she unexpectedly heard I was traveling on short notice.  She gave the usual ‘be safe’ reply, and then my boarding announcement came over the loudspeaker. 

Sure, there was nothing that unique about my situation, but I still felt like I was in a movie.  I had my orders: my employer had made the travel arrangements, I was to make a phone call upon landing in a new city, and a stranger will be waiting for me… in a new Cadillac.  My Cadillac.  Mine at least for the next 1400 miles.  It was a Hell of an upgrade from my bicycle, and I was looking forward to it.

The whole thing went off without a hitch.  The airport was empty that late at night, and Bryan was easy enough to find.  The next morning I ate breakfast overlooking the harbor that Tiger Woods’s yacht was anchored off of.  It was huge.  I looked for manatees in the water, but it was too cold for them.  It felt great to me.  We stopped in Atlanta around 6pm that night to grab some Mexican food, a few beers, and check out a show at the local House of Blues.  The drive had been great that day.  I love driving through the South and watching the billboards alternately advertise for strippers, religion, porn, peaches, religion, strippers, religion, peaches.  It’s an interesting culture down there.  Sin, redeem, sin, eat, redeem, sin, redeem, eat.  Deciding on an exit is more introspective than it should be.  We decided to go with the peaches.

Aside from just missing a tornado after a lunch stop in Memphis, and hydroplaning through a flooded section of highway, the second day was uneventful.  I was home by 11pm.  The whole trip took less than 72 hours.

So, why share this story?

There's an old Mark Twain quote I like.  He states, “the thing that separates the lucky from the unlucky, is the willingness to take Lady Luck for a ride.”  It sounds like a fortune cookie, but hey, he's got a point.

The day after I returned home I hit the job boards again.  I had an extra $300 in my pocket, but I still needed to find some steady work.  My internship supervisor called to say ‘thanks again,’ and that she also had a summer job for me if I wanted it.  Luck prevailed, but only because I was willing to go for the ride.

- RA

No comments:

Post a Comment