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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Two notes to self:

1) When the car service driver calls you and is lost, you should cancel the pickup and drive yourself to the airport

I love Great Bay Limo - they've been my car service for a few years now. So when I booked them for my trip to Atlanta, I asked for a pickup at 7 am because I was flying out of Boston and I was worried about the security lines, etc. My flight didn't leave until 10:16, but you never know.

So I'm packed and ready, having gotten up at 5:30 am to do last minute packing, showering, letting the dogs out, feeding Chippy, etc. At 6:50 am, the phone rings. It's the driver. He said he'd done a drop off at Manchester's airport and there was a car accident, so he'd be about 10-15 minutes late. No problem.

At 7:30, the phone rings again and the driver asks where off of Route 1A our house was. I gave him directions and he asked how far off Congress Street we were. Huh? Turns out he was in Portsmouth, NH, about 20 minutes away.

I patiently gave him directions and waited.

I had my luggage in the driveway and when I saw the car come, I said goodbye to the dogs (it was now 8 am) and ran out. He drove by the house. Then he came back. He gets out of the car and I hesitated. He was wearing black pants like the drivers usually do, but a normal striped shirt. The drivers usually wear a "uniform" of sorts - black pants, white shirt, tie and black jacket. Hmm. I practically threw my bags in the trunk, hopped in and we started off.

Next thing I notice is that the cooler with juice/water and snack basket are not in the back seat. No, I'm not spoiled. This is part of the service they offer and I usually grab an OJ to drink. I notice he doesn't call into the car service to let them know he picked me up, which the driver usually does.

So I ask him how long he's been driving for them. He doesn't. He was borrowed from a Massachusetts car service that the owner is friends with. Okay. Makes sense. I guess one driver was fired and another was in the hospital, so the owner of Great Bay asked his friend to let him borrow a driver or two.

I called Delta to see if my flight was on time. It would be five minutes late. No biggie, but I was worried about getting to Boston in time.

So we get on the highway and suddenly the driver leans forward on the steering wheel and stares, like there's something on the hood. He squints, opens his eyes, squints, opens his eyes. I think there's a bug on the hood.

But then the car starts drifting into another lane. I asked him if I'm his last run of the day, thinking he was a night shift driver and was tired. Well, I had no idea just HOW tired. He had been driving airport runs since 2 pm the day before. With only one hour of sleep.

Honestly, I panicked. He did the leaning forward, squinting thing and I realized he was trying to stay awake. I have never been so frightened in my life. But by this time, it was too late to turn around, go home and drive myself (and I don't know the way to the airport well either). So I started talking with the driver to keep him awake.

There were a few close calls where he almost hit someone in the rear, swerved into another lane and almost hit a truck. I was literally hanging onto the armrest the whole way.

We get to the airport and I swear to God I almost kissed the ground when I got out of the car. I got to the Delta desk and my hands were shaking. The Delta employee asked if I was all right and I told her about my nightmare ride to the airport. She patted my hand and told me I was safe.

I have never been so happy to be in an airport in my life.

I called Great Bay and told the receptionist what happened. She kept gasping and saying she was sorry, but now that I can laugh about it, the thing that horrified her the most was that he was out of uniform.

So she had the owner call me, who apologized up and down and didn't charge me for the ride (if he had, I would have disputed the charge). He told me he had been thinking about hiring the guy, but this clinched it. No go.

I made it to Atlanta safely.

2) Don't listen to comedy on the plane or in the exercise room.

I downloaded PBS radio's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me! to my iPod. It was hard not to burst out laughing on the plane. As it was, my stifled laughs caused the guy sitting next to me to look at me curiously. When I was on the treadmill in the exercise room at the hotel this morning, I did burst out laughing and both girls in there looked at me curiously.

I'm off in a bit to speak at the Cox Communications security conference.

BTW, Chris tried to take photos of Chippy eating out of my hand on Sunday, but of course he didn't show up on the porch. But Chippy did come out yesterday while I was waiting for the crazy driver. Chippy is too smart.

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