Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


We got into our rental car and drove through storm ravaged streets to reach our hotel. Because of airline delays, we'd missed Bob's viewing, which was just as well given Calvin's reluctance of seeing the body of his friend, once a vibrant and jovial soul.

Other alumni of Calvin's high school class were flying in for Bob's funeral from Texas and DC. We'd agreed earlier to stay at the same hotel so we could also visit during our time there. We met the next morning for breakfast. We each had airline horror stories to share thanks to the system of storms that whipped through the southern states the previous day.

When we went to leave for the funeral, the battery on our rental car was dead. We ended up calling a taxi to get us to the church for the services.
Bob's widow had told me during a phone call the color scheme of the funeral was black and ivory, that friends and family were to wear either black or ivory. The color scheme also pertained to the flowers. Only black and cream flowers were allowed around the casket. Flowers of different colors were set to the side of the sanctuary. I confess to ignorance in this area, not knowing if this was a regional or racial preference.

As we sat, waiting for the service to begin, Calvin's hearing aide broke. Thus, he couldn't hear the sermon or any remarks made to honor his best friend.

That night in our hotel room as he tugged off his t-shirt, one of the ear pieces to his glasses broke off. There was no way we could repair them. "What else can possible go wrong?" he grumbled on his way into the bathroom. A few minutes later, the commode overflowed. Yes, folks, the trip had gone to pot.

The following day, when we went to check in at the airport to fly home, the lady at the desk said we still owed for our tickets. Thank goodness I'd printed ticket confirmation when I booked online. She pressed several keys and fiddled and fumed until she found her sought for information.

Unfortunately when she entered our information, she entered us as buying a one-way ticket minutes prior to boarding which sent up red flags to homeland security. They were waiting on us once we passed through normal security screening. I suppose the fact that I was leading Calvin around since he couldn't see well without his glasses only added to our plight.

No, this is not me!!

Security guards seperated us and began questioning. Now remember, Calvin's hearing aide was broken, so he could not hear what was being asked. And with his glasses broken, he couldn't even see the man's mouth move to know the man was speaking. At one point I heard the security guard scream, "What's wrong? Can't you speak English?" Calvin has a Masters in English and can speak it quite well, thank you very much.

Seeing that he needed help, I said to the guard questioning me, "Excuse me, I'll be right back." I left him to hurry over to the guard questioning Calvin to explain that without his hearing aide and glasses, he really was at a disadvantage. The rude guard looked at me as if I were insane.

Meanwhile, the guard I'd just walked away from must have thought I was trying to escape and he called for backup. Security guards, their hands on their sidearms, came running toward me as I tried to explain to Calvin's guard why he couldn't answer his questions. We were both slammed up against the wall and frisked. At the time, I was 60 and Calvin 76, neither of us had ever been frisked before. Suddenly, fear rushed in! OMG, we're grandparents for heaven's senior citizens. This IS America, isn't it?

Two security guards grabbed me and hauled me to the other side of the area. Calvin yelled, "Get your filthy hands off my wife." Probably not the wisest thing to say at this point, but one must understand my husband is very protective. He was once more slammed up against the wall and roughed up. I'm crying.

They tore the linings out of my new shoes, searched my handbag and, of course, raised their eyebrows when they found Calvin's insulin and needles. They threw away my lipstick--we all know how dangerous a tube of lipstick can be. By now I had images of being locked away--forever. We were shoved around, yelled at and repeatedly searched. Then, that suddenly, they said we were free to go and they walked away from us.
Calvin and I embraced as he kept saying, "My God, my God, I can't wait to see the hills of home." Over the intercom came our names. The airlines was holding the flight for us and this was our last call. We ran to our gate, fearful we'd miss our flight. Thankfully we made it. So, tell me, what's your travel horror story?


Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Oh, Vonnie. Yesterday's post made me laugh. Today's is horrifying. I used to travel extensively for my business career. I'm so glad that part of my life is over. None of my stories comes close to yours. :)

Lynne Marshall said...

Oh, Vonnie, I feel guilty chuckling, but this trip sounds cursed! After a while you just have to laugh about it, right? Or is it still too soon?
BTW, I want to tell you how intriguing your blurb for Storm's Interlude sounds, and the cover is great! Looking forward to its release.

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

Well, that was a memorable trip, wasn't it? My son's best friend is on dialysis, and his flight from Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon got diverted to Montana a few years ago. His bag of dialysis fluid was confiscated, but he thought he'd be home in a few hours, so he'd be okay. They put him on standby, but the woman at the desk said he'd have to wait until some kids going back to school after spring break got to their destinations. When he argued with her about the urgency of the situation, she called security and had him removed from the airport. He didn't get home for two whole days. His wife rushed him from the plane to the hospital, where he spent several days in intensive care. All because this woman didn't believe he had a medical problem.

On the broken glasses, I used to carry tiny safety pins for such emergencies. When the screw falls out, the safety pin will hold it together until you can get it fixed.

Jennifer Jakes said...

Well, I've got nothing to compare to that horror. I just cringed as I read how security treated you guys.
Anyway, my story happened before 911 so......
Our travel agent booked our flight for the day AFTER the cruise ship left. So here we are waiting for the Carnival people at the airport but none of them were holding the sign that had our ship's name. "Yes, sorry ma'am. That ship sailed yesterday."
We sat 8 hrs in Tampa's airport with a 3 yr old. Nice clean airport BTW - if you have to be stuck some where.....
Anyway, finally I was told there was another ship leaving early the next morning from Miami and if we could drive there, we'd be put on that ship. Sure. Easy, right? Just drive into Miami and find the port. Hmmmmm.
So hubby was so mad he just wanted to fly home but I REALLY wanted to take a cruise.
Now the drive was pretty easy - tho' we had no time to stop or even slow down -- until we got to Miami. I couldn't find the port. But I did find the airport. So figuring Carnival reps would be there also, I took a chance. Of course I had to run the length of the airport as I went in the wrong section to access Carnival offices. BTW, Miami's airport (at that time) looked like a drug deal scene from Miami Vice. I expected Crockett and Tubbs to leap from behind a pillar at any minute and open fire.
But once I got the directions to port, the woman added, "You know the ship leaves in an hour."
Surprisingly, I did not get a speeding ticket. We managed to make it to port, and find the right person to talk to. BUT WAIT.......
When the Carnival rep in Tampa said we could board THIS ship, she meant IF we paid for tickets. SO WE HAD TO BUY ANOTHER CRUISE! Can you picture my husband's blood pressure now?
OK, well, I'd drove like a maniac across Florida to get there so by golly we were going. Paid for another cruise, screeched across every speed bump in the port parking lot to get the rental car returned and made it back to the ship 15 MINUTES before it sailed.
By then I had a pounding headache. We hadn't eaten --remember no stopping during the high speed drive. And I still had to call our travel agent to share some choice words and call the airline to re-book our return flight home. Ooops. To use the ship to shore phone was like $9 per second. "Ma'am, you can call from our first stop. Key West."
OK, I'm sure Key West is beautiful. But I can't be sure. I spent our short 4 hr. stop on a pay phone with the airport and then the secretary of the travel agent who conveniently couldn't come to the phone.
It does have a happy ending. The agent got fired and the agency paid for us to have another cruise (to reimburse us for the first one we missed) the following winter and cut us a check for the extra expenses we'd incurred.

Calisa Rhose said...

Oh Vonnie! I'm sorry I laughed! I know it wasn't in the least funny. But at the same time, I was horrified the airlines would put you and your husband through that horror!

A few years ago (2004) we made a trip back to OK to visit (we've moved back permanently since). Everything went wonderfully for the two weeks. Except that the radiator went out on the van. We had friends in good places and were able to get it fixed quickly. But the trip home? Not so good. We were half way between Gallup and Grants, New Mexico when the van died a shuddering death. Blew the motor. And I'd just put in a new transmission 6 months prior. If you've never been through NM, it's 51 miles of raw desert between those two towns. Not even a spec in the road to get gas, water...just. desert. We broke down 25 miles from Gallup, 26 miles past Grants. Our three daughters were with us. All still teens at the time. We had 5 small dogs with us, two were just puppies weeks old. I volunteered to remain at the car while dh and oldest dd tried to catch a ride on into Gallup. They were fortunate two older women picked them up. No rental cars available, did I mention this was July 5th and everything was closed for the holiday? They caught a return ride to our 'camp'. In the meantime a highway patrol had stopped and visited with myself and other two dds. There is only one officer on duty in the fifty mile area, but if we needed help we could call and someone would come out. As soon as they had a free moment to go into the desert! I told hubby and he called them. He had to get to Grants (the larger of the two small towns). Once again, and two hours later, he and oldest left, with a HP. They said that man drove 110 mph all 26 miles because just after they got into the car he got a call! In Grants hubby was able to rent a vehicle and came to save me and dds. We went on into Gallup for the night, called family and was able to become Ryder truck transporters for his aunt. Yep, we gave the van to a local, packed into the Ryder truck the next day and headed home. While loading our belongings into the truck we got a phone call that hubby's grandmother had died and the funeral was in two days. We 'hurried' home to mid-California in the moving van but had no vehicle once we turned it over. I was able to go to a friend and buy another vehicle that same day, made the funeral the next morning, and we were on our way to normal again. A horror trip? The vacation from hell? Two younger daughters and I sat on the side of a desert freeway in 90 degree heat with nothing but snack foods and 5 dogs while hubby and older dd risked their necks- for 5 hours. To this day we call that our Great Family Adventure. lol Anyone can have a bad trip. We chose to look at the bright side. It was fun.

I'm not saying you should or even could look at your trip that way. I doubt I would. You definitely win the horror badge! I'll keep my adventure.

I'm just glad you made the funeral and got home safe.

Mimi Barbour said...

Even if I tried, I couldn't come up with anything close to what you went through on your trip. They should make a movie about these two days.
Thanks for sharing....

LaVerne Clark said...

OMG!! This sounded so awful it shouldn't be a true story! You poor things!

My story doesn't even come close. Suffice to say I had a few troubles with someone's hearing-aid not working (my then 92 year-old great Grandmother)on a trip to London and France. Losing her in the middle of London! Getting shut out of our room (she had the key and couldn't hear me and the staff weren't around), the hotel lost all details of a Broadway show we'd booked and paid for, and finally, our plane got hit by lightening shortly after take-off and we plummeted 200mm very fast before it recovered, and as Nana wasn't wearing her hearing-aid (again!) she yelled out very loudly, "Was that a bomb?". Hehehe - funny to look back on now though.

P.L. Parker said...

Had to laugh - how totally frustrating. My worst travel nightmare happened when my oldest son was 6 months old. My then husband and I were going to drive home in January from Texas to Idaho, through Wyoming. I had terrible dreams right up to the time we left. The drive out was okay but coming home . . .We bought gas in Montpelier, it was later in the afternoon. On that long stretch between towns, the car started choking up, and dying. We'd get going again and then the same thing happened. By the way, a raging blizzard was going on at the time. Visibility was almost nil and we heard that they'd closed the freeway behnd us. Remember, I had a six month old baby with me. We finally made it into Laramie and found out the car had a bunch of sludge in the gas tank. This was 11:00 p.m. at night. They flushed the tank and I begged my husband to stay in Laramie but he wouldn't hear of it. We had to go on to Denver. The car kept stalling. Between Laramie and Denver, at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, the car broke down and froze up. It was 20 degrees below zero outside. It was horrible. I was so afraid my baby would die of exposure. It was so cold. A trucker stopped and offered us a ride to the next town, but noooooo, my husband wouldn't hear of it. I put the baby inside my light jacket (we didn't have coats). Fortunately, one of my friend's grandmother had made me a baby quilt so I had that to wrap the baby in. I put him against my chest and put my little poodle in there too. Figured perhaps the dog would keep the baby warm even if I didn't make it. It was the most awful night. Several hours later, way down the road, we saw lights so we got out and walked. It was a small cafe. They hadn't officially opened yet but they let us in - even the dog. I am not married to that man any longer - can you guess why?

Ilona Fridl said...

Holy S***, Vonnie, your story makes my travel horror stories look like bunnies and kittens playing. So glad I never had to go through that and hope I never will!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Vonnie, NO ONE can match your horror story, thank goodness. We've had numerous bizarre things happen on our vacations. Our scariest travel was being on a three-week tour of Ireland and the UK in 2001. We were in Edinburgh on 9/11 and learned there were no flights to the US. We still had over a week left of the tour, but were coming up with contingency plans in the event there were no flights when the tour ended.

Our nephew lived in NYC, and our daughter was able to contact him and learn he was all right.
Then, when we were in Grassmere, England, we attended a church service held as a memorial to those who died in the twin towers,etc. Harrier jets flew low overhead. We tourists thought somewhere in England had been attacked, too. No, we were near an air base and they were having maneuvers. Scared us, though.

Even though we were perfectly all right, it seemed wrong to be enjoying ourselved in the UK when our country had been attacked. We were relieved to come home. Then, because we had been in England during a hoof and mouth outbreak, we had to go through "special" security to be certain we didn't carry the disease on our shoes.
Welcome home?

Vonnie Davis said...

Ladies, thanks to all of you for sharing your stories. The funny thing is, if we put one of these stories in a manuscript, an editor would frown and say, "Hah, this would never happen," and make us rewrite it. While I enjoy traveling, I also enjoy coming home. Thanks for stopping by!!