Post-Guatemala Update: 1 of more

Yes, I made it back. Sorry it took so long to compose an update. I’m going to start hammering it out now so as to avoid being harassed any longer.

I’m looking at you, Miss G!

I packed one suitcase and one carry-on for the trip. That took some doing because I had to fit my stuff in around a set of DeWalt battery powered tools and a set of wrenches for a friend in Guate–the Mennonite Postal System at its best.

Despite a full case, I managed to take an alarming quantity of pain killers and antihistamines. One never knows when one might have a week-long migraine brought on by incessant allergy attacks.

I needed to take three sets of dress clothes for the meetings, plus a spare for when I would inevitably spill something all down my front had I not taken the spare set. I also packed a set of work clothes in case I was called upon to work that would not befit my dress clothes. (I have no idea what that would have been…)

I also packed a complete set of dress clothes in my carry-on in the high-probability event that my luggage would end up in Beijing rather than Guatemala City. Besides pjs, I neatly set out my clothes for the morning of the flight because I was leaving at 2:00am from the house, and I cannot be counted upon to make solid choices in regard to wardrobe at that hour of the morning… night? Something.

But when I went over my checklist the night before, in other words, when I told Stephanie to quiz me on all the things I would need, somehow my flight clothes had been packed, so I ended up with an extra set of normal wear. And wouldn’t you know, when I got to the meetings and went to unpack some things (turns out my suitcase made it after all!), I found I had miscounted and had brought an extra set of dress clothes.

So I ended up with nine sets of clothes for the three days of meetings. Better safe than sorry!

I do not enjoy traveling because it always turns into an adventure, and I prefer my adventures to stay firmly between the covers of books, like any respectable adventure should. Part of the trouble with me is that I am gifted with the skill of being directionally challenged. If I ever ask directions of you, it would be wise for you to grab me firmly by the shoulders and turn my body physically in the direction it should go. That increases the chance for success up to 50%.

Things went well getting through customs. (Thanks, Bradley, for dropping me off at Dulles!) But getting from there to my gate turned out to be more difficult. First of all, I got onto the wrong train, but thankfully there was a very grumpy civilian man who was bellowing at the back of the train. (Why was a civilian barking out orders?)

When it finally sank in that he was angrily saying something about “no B gates,” I asked him to please repeat himself. So he even more grumpily bellowed, “This train goes to no B gates!” I jumped off just before the doors shut because I could not remember whether my gate was given a letter determination. It was: B-18.

In my jumping, I had jumped out the back of the train, rather than the front, so I could not see any signs saying where the B gates were. So I went up an escalator and down an escalator and found a train that looked just like the one I had come from (it was), that said the next train was going to the B gates. Yay!

I got to a hall that said “B gates this way” and went this way. Coming to a T, I turned right–I think–and started trailing down the hall, counting the gates as I went: “B-13, not mine. B-12, not mine. B-11, nope. B-10, uh-uh.”

It wasn’t until I got to B-9 that I realized I would never get to B-18 going this way. It was also then that I determined I should never travel alone internationally again.

Finding myself in the right concourse, I realized I still had plenty of time before take-off, and I realized I needed to find a men’s room. I saw a restroom sign with an arrow pointing Up outside a small hall with an elevator, and I thought, “Don’t mind if I do.” There was a kind Delta flight attendant getting on the elevator who asked if she would hold the door for me, which I thanked her for.

She was kinda chatty. Where was I going? Guatemala. For what? A conference. Where had I come from? I live in Virginia. What was my name? (That’s odd.) Shawn. Who was I going to see? I don’t know anyone at the conference. Do I work here?

The last question was asked as we both stepped off into a Delta lounge for “Authorized Personnel Only.”

“Am I in the right place?” I asked.

“I’ve been wondering the same thing,” she said with a nervous laugh.

“I just need the restroom,” I murmured, as I hurried back onto the elevator. “Have a good day!” I was thankful to be the only one in the elevator who could hear my crazed laughter.

Turns out the Up arrow meant up the hall, not up the elevator. Who knew?