Monday, February 25, 2008

Kirksville, the whole sordid tale

All right. My coworker told me that I should tell the entire story. It's messy, and will last a long time, so buckle down. All ye who feel up to it will at least get a good story. Or a story at least.

The trip was actually two trips. My first trip was in August '06. I had never heard of this place, and had actually never been to Missouri before. So, I got on the plane in Cleveland and flew to St. Louis. We were in a small little plane on the way to St. Louis, so I wasn't prepared for what came next. I sat in the airport for 3 hours, waiting for my flight to Kirksville. I hadn't been given a choice between flying to Kirksville (the long wait for a 45 minute flight) or driving to Kirksville (a 4 hour drive) but I don't think I would have chosen the flight if I had known what actually had happened in the past. You see, the previous year, a group of hospital administrators had been on the same flight, and their plane crashed. Many of the people on that flight did now walk away from it. This was a tragic event, and easily repeatable because of the flight itself.

So, I finally got on my flight, but it ende up being a little prop job where the pilots actually also loaded up the luggage on the plane. I was already a little scared at this point. We get on the plane, and there is a curtain separating the passenger area from the cockpit. A curtain...really. This was ridiculous, but we weren't done. The plane took off, but we weren't able to climb very high since it was a two propeller craft. As we got close, we were told that the approach might be a little the last 40 minutes when we were getting knocked around in a washing machine weren't bumpy?

I got off of the plane, to be greeted by the baggage handler/co-pilot/ticket counter/security guard. The entire airport was about the size of my car...the Buick 'Nation. I was also supposed to pick up my rental car there, or so I thougth. Turns out the Enterprise place was 7 miles up the road in town. One of the passengers on the plane offered to drive me into town, so I took them up on the offer. She worked at the university where I'd be teaching the next day, so that was convenient. She was nice and just a pleasant person to talk to so we enjoyed the quick little drive into town.

When we got there, she dropped me off at the Enterprise center. As we were driving up, I saw that there were only a few cars on the lot. One was a little Impala and the other was a big black mazda minivan. I was hoping against everything that I wouldn't get the van...but that's what I got. My hotel was literally about 100 ft from the Enterprise rental agency, so that was not an issue that day. I went to the hotel, checked in, and went to my room. I had an appointment to meet a few of the clients for dinner that night. So, the client picked me up at the hotel and we went to dinner. I answered a barrage of questions from the Associate Dean (you know, I thought they were already a client, but it felt like I was getting interviewed that night). After answering all of the questions, I was left on my own the rest of the night.

The next day I went to the school to begin the training. The first day was painless, but I noticed that my tire was a little low that night when I was getting ready for dinner. I made the mistake of going over to the Enterprise place to let them know about the car. The guy working there said that the mechanic had already left, and that he couldn't go out and diagnose the problem. I told him that the tire was flat, and needed a new tire or help. He said, "Hold on a minute...I'll be right back." He proceeded to walk to the back of the office, and came back out with a roll of quarters. This roll was handed to me with this caption "Drive down the street and use these quarters to fill up the tire with air." You're kidding right? No? Ok then. So I drove the van on a flat tire down to the gas station, filled the tire up, and went to dinner. I then went straight back to the hotel for the night. The next morning, I went back out to the van, and the tire was flat again. Not to be outdone, I drove it back over to the Enterprise place. This time, the mechanic drove up and gave me his diagnosis. "You've got a flat tire there"., I'm not a mechanic, and I don't even play one on TV. (on a side note, I actually haven't played anything on TV yet) He proceeded to drive me to the school, and said that they would call me later in the day to let me know what was wrong with the car and if they could fix it. I waited around, and didn't hear back from them. So I called the place just to hear "Yep, we've got a problem with the tire so we're going to have to give you a new car for the night. We'll be down to pick you up in a few minutes." So, now I'm waiting for them to pick me up...10 minutes later, this gigantic white 4x4 Hemi powered Dodge Ram 1500 turbo pickup comes around the corner. His question for me was "Is this going to be big enough for you tonight?" I didn't give him an answer. He has me drive him back, and I get the truck for the night.

Well, what does a guy do who has a truck this size for the night? I went off-roading of course...lots of room to do that up in the corner of Missouri. The following morning I drove the (now dirty, real dirty) truck back to the Enterprise place, and they drove me up to the airport. I waited there for my plane, and finally got home. Tomorrow, look for part two of this story.

That is all, thank you.


Doc said...

Excellent tale! I'm looking forward to the rest.

Jeff said...

Doc...thank you. I am writing it even now.