Traveling Blues

Greetings from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

I am way too early for my flight, but I didn’t want to possibly miss my flight after what happened at Islip-MacArthur Airport on Wednesday.  That day, my Southwest flight was at 7:00 a.m. Lexcie dropped me off at approximately 6:00 a.m., which is plenty of time if you need to check baggage and go through security. Well, usually enough time.

I immediately got on the curbside check-in line, which I usually do when checking baggage on Southwest. Twenty minutes later, I had only moved about 10 feet, and there were at least 25 people in front of me. Another passenger yelled to check baggage inside, because the line was going faster. So I go inside. Faster, yes, but still a slow line. By the time I finished checking baggage, it was about 6:35 a.m.

Now, for the worst part – security. Usually, you breeze through Islip. I’ve gotten there 15 minutes before my plane was supposed to board, checked my baggage, then went quickly through security. Not today. The line snaked around and only two security terminals were open. I was only a quarter of the way down the line when they announced my flight was boarding.  About 15 people who were on the same flight started raising a fuss, so TSA told all passengers on the 7:00 a.m. flight to get on a separate line. Well, you’d think they’d go through our queue first, but they continued to let people who had later flights through. Soon, I was hearing final boarding calls for my flight. TSA told us to go directly to the gate and not stop. By the time I boarded the plane, it was 7:01 a.m. I was the fourth to last passenger on. The only saving grace was that the plane arrived 20 minutes early, despite leaving eight minutes late.

Perhaps the only pleasant part of my trip were the folks at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Fort Lauderdale. Renting a car was a breeze, and the folks were so nice – carried my luggage, mapped out locations for me, and let me pick my car. I took a Pontiac G5. It was much different than the minivan, so I drove like a Florida granny all around the place because, I was afraid I’d speed.

I stayed at the Westin Diplomat, which is quite a nice hotel. Even though I enjoy staying there when I’m in South Florida, this time, they did not follow through with a request I made. Considering the price of the hotel, you’d think it would have in-room refrigerators. Not so – you have to request one. Usually, I wouldn’t, but I had liquid antibiotics that needed to stay in the fridge. I called the service desk to request one,  noting that I had medication, and the woman cheerily said, “Sure! We’ll have one to you right away.” Two hours pass, and nothing. In the meantime, I had put the antibiotics in the ice bucket.

About half an hour after that, the service desk asked me how I was enjoying my stay and if I had received the refrigerator yet. I told them no, and she said she’d put in another request. Five hours later, at 8:00 p.m., I called and requested one again, stressing that I had medication that needed refrigeration. “We’ll get it to you as soon as possible,” she said.

Next day, nothing. Called again. Nothing. Friday morning, nothing. I stormed down to the front desk and demanded to see a manager.  I told her that this was my fifth inquiry and I had medication that needed refrigeration. She called the refrigeration person, and she told me, “Oh, you’re on a waiting list.” I said, “Waiting list? Why didn’t anyone tell me before? I have medication, and I can’t keep checking the damned ice bucket.” She said, “I’ll move you to the front of the queue.” I asked why she hadn’t done it earlier, knowing I had medication, and she shrugged. Nevermind that I didn’t tell her what kind of medication it was – I know it was only antibiotics, but what if I had something more critical? Meanwhile, some stupid alkie probably had a fridge to keep his beer cold.

Conference was probably one of the better ones I’ve been to, and I met a lot of good contacts. However, the hotel struck out again with bland food and a horrible sound system.

The one saving grace was the hotel’s beach and pool. It’s hard to believe I was swimming in the same Atlantic Ocean – it was so calm and clear. I purchased goggles at a nearby Target so I could go diving for the better, more colorful seashells. The weather stayed nice throughout most of my visit, with the exception of this morning. So, no thunderstorms keeping me out of the water this year.

To add to my frustrations, I called David Bros. Car Service last night to request taxi from MacArthur to Islip. They told me to call back in the morning. I did, only to find out they had no cars to pick me up. So I asked what alternatives I had, and the dispatcher gave me an attitude and hung up on me. Last time I’m ever using them. I know they have a lot of Fire Islanders they need to take care of, but really – I did not need the attitude just because I wasn’t part of that elite fleet. I found a taxi through Lindy’s in Smithtown, and their service was much cheaper and more pleasant.

Flight is boarding soon. I can’t wait to get home. I’m tired of traveling.

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