I never expected to get stuck at the airport

The alarm went off at 4:30am and I jumped up. It was the day after Valentine’s Day, and I had the perfect one- a day at Disney- so there was no need to complain about an early alarm.

My flight took off at 7:30am without a hitch, headed from Orlando to Detroit. I pulled out my laptop and got so much work done. When we landed, I asked the passenger next to me if she was getting out at the Chicago stop or if she was headed to Detroit, too. That’s when she broke the news to me. “Honey, we’ve stopped in Louisville. The fog is too thick in Chicago to land.”

Mimosa, anyone?

I didn’t have a reaction because I travel so much for work that I figured I would be an hour or two late. I was looking forward to spending time with some movers and shakers in the Motor City, so a couple of hours was no big deal. It was 10am, but at 11am Southwest broke the news to us that they were unsure if we would take off.

Mimosa time! I returned some phone calls and enjoyed a mimosa. I also grabbed a salad just incase I would be on the plane at lunch time. At one o’clock, I decided to buy a flight on another airline because it didn’t feel like Southwest was flying anywhere that day. Two o’clock, it was time to get ready for my 2:30pm flight. 2:40pm and we weren’t on the plane, so I started to think something was wrong. I’ll spare you the details, but for the next five hours we sat through Delta saying our flight would go only for it to be cancelled.

I raced to the counter to get a new ticket, and the lady in front of me was trying to decide if she would take a flight from Louisville to New York to Detroit the following day. A man off to the side says, “I guess I’ll take that rental and drive five hours home.” Somewhere in between, the lady’s boss asked the man if she could ride with him to Detroit. I had a moment, and you know I think leaders turn those into movements. Well, we started our own airport movement. “Can I go, too?” I asked. The guy turned to a girl behind him. “There’s room for one more. Do you want to go?”

Can I Get a Ride?

We took off as four strangers not even knowing each other’s name headed to the Avis counter. There was no time to text anyone to let them know where I was going or my decision. We then took a moment to shake hands and introduce ourselves. Shelly, April and Craig instantly became my new friends. After all, who travels with strangers?

After telling our family and friends, we got a barrage of questions. From “what the hell are you doing?” to “please send a picture of his driver’s license,” to “I’m running a background check.”

Craig was patient with us, and we laughed about it. He handed over his business card so we could text it to our families. The best part was when my Mother tried to recall the app my late Father put on her phone to check on her. Well, she figured it out and made me download it…two hours into the ride.

We had fun conversations and talked about life, as well as family. When we were walking to the rental car, I mentioned that I was hosting elected officials at a luncheon and needed to get there. Craig asked me which side and joked that he might not let me in. Once we were on the road, he asked again and I shared. I didn’t get kicked out of the car, so I guess I answered correctly!

We stopped at Chick-fil-A before we discovered there was a flood warning in Dayton, Ohio. The rain was awful but Craig drove with precision. I won’t lie, my brain recalled the many stories of serial killers that I wrote as a news producer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I’m not sure if it was the many prayers of my family and friends (there were many keeping tabs on me) or my heart, but I knew I was safe and near no harm.

After Midnight we made it to Detroit, Shelley’s husband waited for her, and they insisted on driving me to my hotel so I didn’t have to Uber so late. April and Craig pulled off. They both had another 90 minutes to drive. April to Canada and Craig to a city near Lansing. We said our goodbyes, and I said a prayer of thanksgiving. Not only for making it home safe but for a reminder that there are good people in the world.

I checked into my hotel where my Sorority Sister and work colleague was waiting for me with a smile. She had to be up and ready for an event  in just a few hours, yet she wanted to make sure I was okay.

I’m not an adventurous person, so I’m not sure why I asked for a ride or if I’ll ever do it again. I do know that Michigan raises #Firestarters and people with big hearts. I’ll always carry that with me and pay it forward. That, and I’ll probably always cross my fingers that my flights run on time. 

Since I don’t ride with strangers, they’re now like family. I believe you should always share cool things that your family and friends are doing. Craig’s wife, Brooke has a pretty cool blog that’s called, #ACasualMom. Check her out on WordPress and Instagram!


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