Couple days ago, all the BP's received a request from Jenny, the Beeson Center secretary, for a person who'd be willing to go to the airport to pick up our director, Randy Jessen, who was returning from Colorado where he'd fulfilled his duties as a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry. Randy is one of my advisers (the "Second Reader") for my dissertation, and since I'd just fired off a copy of my Chapter One, and he'd already left me a phone message that he had a few thoughts, I figured I could use the time in the car coming back from the airport to hear what he had to say (since Chapter 1 and 2 are due next Thursday). So, via email, I offered to pick him up.
Jenny responded with a thank you, gave me the name of the airline, the flight number, the time it was arriving, and that the flight would be through Cincinnati.
Cincinnati is pretty far (hour and forty minutes, give or take), but Randy's a good guy. You always learn a lot listening to him. I admire him because in stressful situations, his first inclination is to chill, while mine is to panic, so hearing how he thinks has helped me quite a bit in thinking differently. That, and my dissertation needs some help.
I emailed back... consider it done.
So yesterday evening, I go home, eat dinner (a Cajun turkey sandwich with Chicago Fire mustard), watch the Muppet Show with the kids (who are getting tons of screen time right now cause Xavie has strep throat), checked Delta.com to make sure the flight was on-time (it was) and headed out to my car at 6:15 to head up to Cinci. Including a stop by my carrel (to pick up a CD I had burned for the occasion) and the gas station, I was standing in the baggage claim area by 8:20pm.
On the way up, though, I realized I had a problem (the first of many, you'll soon discover). That day we were expecting a phone call from home, and because I had given this person my cell phone number, and my cell phone doesn't work anywhere in the Beeson Building (especially in my study carrel), I left it with my wife all day. That I did not have it, is not all that unusual. I'm kinda "out of sight, out of mind" as far as folks in Lima are concerned, so I don't receive many phone calls..... and the phone doesn't work in the place I spend most of my time, thus a good many days have gone by where I leave my phone on the charger, and go about my business.
Probably not a good habit to get into.
About the time I hit Erlanger, I realized I was phoneless. Since it was more than 2/3rds of the way to the airport from Wilmore, there wasn't much I could do, so I just put it in the back of my mind.
"What did they do before they had cell phones?" I thought. "Everything will be fine."
When I arrived at the airport, (remember it's about 8:20), I checked the arrival board, and Flight 5015, it said, had landed. Ten minutes later, it said it was the gate.
Now, if you've ever flown Delta in Cincinnati, you know that more likely than not, you'll be flying a small jet into the Comair hub, which is part of Terminal Three. To get from that Terminal to the baggage claim area you have to take a bus and a train. Throw in a quick trip to the bathroom, and it can take awhile.
8:40 - Randy's not there (no big deal)
8:50 - Randy's not there (probably just getting off the train)
9:00 - Randy's not there (must have sat at the rear of a full plane... no worries he'll be here soon
9:10 - Randy must have stopped for a cup of coffee
9:15 - Randy must have stopped for a sandwich
9:20 - I must have missed Randy, and he's waiting by the baggage carousel, so I'll check there, and outside to make sure he isn't waiting for me, AND page him.
9:30 - Randy has been eaten by marauding wolves.
Now remember.... my cell phone, which has his cell phone number programmed into it, is in Wilmore. I have some money, but no change for a pay phone, and by this time, the merchants in the airport are closed. I haven't used a pay phone in twelve or thirteen years, and the calling card number (the one I used to call Aimee from seminary fifteen years ago) is long since forgotten.
I figured I had to call someone collect to get a little help. Who's number do I know? Well, I know Aimee's number. I went through the rigmaroll of dealing with an automated operator, I heard the phone ringing, silence, and the computer tells me she's denied the charges.
Great. I must have gotten her voicemail. No way she heard the phone. She's upstairs asleep, the fan is running (cause 3,457 trains go past our townhouse and everyone of them likes testing their horn between 1 and 4am, so the fan drowns them out), and her phone is charging in the kitchen.
Who else's phone number do I know?
When you have a cell phone, you don't need to remember phone numbers. You just find the name, point, and click, and ten seconds later they're on the phone. Now, I found myself realizing that I didn't know the number for my parents (they dropped their landline, and each have their own cell phone), my brother (# is in cell phone), any of my coworkers at Shawnee (#'s in cell phone), any of my friends (are you getting the picture?), or any of the Beeson Pastor families (we live in the same complex....I just go knock on their door).
And what I discovered is that the only other phone numbers I know besides my wife's are the church's (nobody there at 9:30pm), Jason Reeves (my best friend when I was a kid living in Charleston between the ages of 2 and 10 years old.. I memorized his phone number for a homework assignment we had in the first grade, and still have it up there in the ol' vault), and my grandmother's.
I go back to the pay phone, navigate the automated operator again, and lo and behold, my grandmother not only answers the phone, but accepts the charges.
"Grandma? Man am I glad to hear your voice. I really need a big favor. You see I forgot my cell phone, and I'm airport in Cincinnati to pick up the director of our program. I need to get ahold of his wife to see if he's OK, and if you could....... click click click click click... Hello? Hello????"
The phone is dead.
Sigh. Now I have succeeded in panicking my grandmother.
Let's check the scorecard now, shall we?
Problem #1 - No Cell Phone
Problem #2 - No Randy
Problem #3 - No calling card
Problem #4 - Worried Grandmother
I don't want to call The Great One again, cause that would just mean another collect phone call, and besides, really that plan was pretty stupid from the beginning, because (it is beginning to dawn upon me) you could probably make a call using a credit card to information and call Jessen's direct. They've probably developed that technology since 1993.
EUREKA (part 2)!!!!
I beat on the phone this time until I get a live human operator, who does in fact make the call for me using my credit card (which I expect, given the reimbursement I owe The Great One and the cost of this call have probably just devoured my pension), and I get a hold of Sue, Randy's lovely wife.
"Sue! It's Bryan Bucher. I'm here at the airport and can't find Randy anywhere. Is he OK?"
"Well," she replied, "he's a lot more better off than you. He's at the airport here in Lexington."
Remember when I said that Randy's flight was THROUGH Cincinnati? That's true. It was. It landed in Cinci... and then made it's way to Lexington.
Let's go back to that email from Jenny the secretary, shall we?
Flight Number : 5015
From Cincinnati... not To, but From. The place of final arrival, Lexington, wasn't ever mentioned in the email, because Jenny assumed that a doctoral student could A) read, B) put all the pieces together, C) execute something as simple as picking up someone at the airport.
Problem #5: Beeson Center Director, Randy Jessen, stranded at Lexington Airport
Problem #6: Idiot who is supposed to pick him up is discovering this one hour after Randy's landed... and he's in Cincinnati
Apparently, when he landed, upon my not being there, Randy had called my cell phone and received no answer (Aimee was upstairs getting Eli ready for bed). Then he must have called a number of the other BP's until he rousted up Trav Wilson, who went over and banged on the door of our Townhouse, where Aimee told him I was at the wrong airport and had no cell phone on me. Thus, Trav drove to Lexington to get Randy. No one was upset or angry. Everyone was understanding, and just worried about me. It's good to have loving, forgiving friends who understand that mistakes, even stupid ones, get made by us all. Everyone just wanted me to get home safely.
I asked Sue to call my grandmother (I didn't want The Great One to worry), hopped in my car, paid the parking tab (after inserting my debit card into the machine wrong about eight times... it was that kind of night), drove straight home, to find my wife there waiting up for me.
All that said, here now are all the apologizes.
Randy: Sorry to leave you stranded at the airport. I really did try to pick you up. I hope you can forgive me.
Jenny: I'm sorry I apparently don't know how to read.
The Great One: I'm sorry you incurred a $10,000 charge on your phone bill and that I wrecked your serene evening because I'm too dense to realize that in 21st century, phone companies take credit cards. I promise to pay you back (in installments), and will buy you a Kewpee so we can laugh about it when I get home.
Sue: I'm sorry for leaving your husband stranded and making you worry about my welfare, when really you should have been planning how to wring my neck. Thank you for calling The Great One.
Trav: I'm sorry you ended up getting dragged out of your warm townhouse, away from your lovely wife, to pick up a worried/probably slightly ticked off Randy Jessen. Thanks for covering my back.
Aimee: Sorry to make you think in the moment after our phones both ring, and a knock at our front door that I was dead. I'm sorry that when I got home I was in a less than joyful mood.
To The Owner of the Payphones In The Baggage Claim Area of the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati International Airport: Sorry for the wear and tear on the receiver from when I beat myself in the head out of frustration.
To My Congregation: Better bring your Bible with you to worship... you never know what I might have missed.
To You, The Reader: I'm sorry you wasted the last five minutes reading this... but I hope it gave you a laugh.
Forrest was right.... stupid really is, as stupid does.