One day earlier, I had gotten a call from my brother, small business owner of an award company. A shipment had gotten lost and an important account needed to be saved. By making an emergency trip and driving the found shipment to its destination on a tight schedule, I had myself a fun adventure.
On Thursday last week, I took the two hour drive to the economy parking lot of Orlando International Airport. Memorizing my spot under a tree, I took the shuttle to the departure area and found my Frontier flight.
It was only two hours but I got some reading done on the way. We arrived in Memphis earlier than scheduled, around 3 pm, and I walked (fast) to the Alamo car rental desk. In no time at all I was choosing my mini-van, a Dodge Grand Caravan and putting the address of the shipping company into my phone navigation app. It’s a little disconcerting when you get no service when in the parking garage. I had to drive out, not knowing where I was going, and find a street to park on while my directions loaded and I got my bearings.
The van was pretty sweet – leather seats and all the latest gadgets. I love driving and especially love a comfortable car, without a lot of road noise. My payload of 1200 pounds was going to make it a little heavy in the back but it would be driveable.
The shipping company was only a few miles away, in a very secure, fenced yard with a guard. He directed me in, after I gave him my “story”, and told me to go to the dispatch office. I was famous before I even arrived. They all knew about the “Orlando shipment” and told me some workers would be out with the pallet of goods immediately, and would even load it for me.
It was only 4:30 and I was loaded and on the way out of Memphis. Fortunately, the airport was on the outskirts of the city and I had very little rush hour traffic to contend with. I drove for several hours after dark, meaning to get to Birmingham before stopping for some food. I really hadn’t had time to be hungry since breakfast. My brother checked on me by phone, my husband checked on me too, and I had a long conversation with a friend. All that, plus running my GPS, was getting me pretty low on phone battery.
Birmingham was the closest thing to a problem that I had the whole trip. It was foggy. I stopped to figure out the navigation program on the van but I didn’t like the way it looked so I kept the phone on too. For a while I had two different devices telling me directions. which would have been great if they had been on the same route. I also got another phone call and missed an exit I was supposed to take. The good thing was I got some dinner. All this to say that Birmingham is a little confusing and I got on a different road than intended. Since it was an alternate route I decided to take it rather than back track. The new road was going south and that was the right direction.
My travel philosophy is connected to the faith I have in God to handle details – like maybe the route I take? Heading south on I-65 to Montgomery was a lot different than heading east on I-20 to Atlanta but I figured it must be the best route for reasons I didn’t know. Turns out I got to Montgomery at the right time for getting some sleep and was able to find a motel easily. I had six hours to rest up and get ready for the next day.
I was on the road by 6:30 am and although it was still foggy for quite awhile it was the most beautiful drive south I’ve seen in a long time. It was the right route for me. I was across the Alabama/Florida line by 10. The time zone change made it 11 am. I heard from the customer in Orlando and he was really hoping for an earlier ETA than I had told him. I wanted to do a good job. I wanted to hurry, but you can only go so fast and that’s how fast I went.
I-10, I-75, Florida Turnpike. All I can say is that there are too many toll stops on the Turnpike. I used all my cash and there were still more. Sometimes they don’t even tell you how much to pay, there’s no person at the booth, and the only choices are pre-paid tolls (nope, not in a rental car) or exact coins (nope, I’m out). I threw my last 30 cents in one of them and drove through anyway. Ha ha.
The customer was on the phone with me as I neared Orlando, and was actually waiting on the sidewalk to direct me to the loading dock where my cargo was going. It was in the thick of the city and there was a lot of construction. Orlando is a big city, but being at the end of my trip, I didn’t care how it strange and busy it was. I was relieved to be there and get the apples unloaded. The only person more relieved than me was the customer. Diego was a nice young man and I guess he had a lot of work to do getting all those awards ready for the presentation. He said he was going to start putting the labels on them right away so I left and let him get to work.
I drove to the airport, turned in the rental van, found the shuttle to economy parking and my car, under the tree where I left it. A few hours, and a couple of rush hour traffic jams leaving the city, and I was home. The “crazy train”, Apple Award rescue mission was over and it was a success.
So, what’s next?