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Oct 13 2008

Maverick Commuting Gems – Vol 1 Part I

Published by at 6:45 pm under Maverick Commuting Gems

Maverick here…writing this on my rest period…on a 747-400 from Fairbanks, Alaska to Hong Kong…

You may say Fairbanks…you guys go there…not really…it is an interesting story I will break up in two parts…

You see…I had a few days off and after seeing my kids for the weekend I decided to fly to San Antonio to check on a few things as well as visit a couple of business partners and the only good friend I have left from the Air Force, Tom and his new wife, Teresa.

Tom and Teresa offer to put me up and I accepted…

The flight to San Antonio was uneventful…I even got there before my luggage…yes you can do that when you fly standby and arrive at the airport too close to check your stuff…I got there 44 minutes before departure and the cutoff is 45 minutes before departure…talk about beginners luck…

This was on Tuesday…I was going to make my way leisurely to New York on Thursday nite where I was on reserve Friday and needed to be there…and had a firm flight Saturday.

The San Antonio visit went great…saw Tom and enjoyed meeting his wife Teresa…they look great as a couple…it is for both the second time around…visited Joe, another great friend and business partner, Howard, a silver commodities broker who told me good luck getting any silver right now…Mrs Catherine…an old friend of my moms…and Roy…another old friend from my Amway days…

Also visited the Greek monastery 45 minutes north of San Antonio…the Abbott there is a good friend and it is so beautiful and serene there…next time I will stay longer.

The weather was fantastic…27C/80F and sunny both days…but something was not right on Tuesday nite when I checked the computer to see if there were any changes to my schedule…and there is the proverbial “Ding” as I sign in warning me for a change…

There goes my Friday on Reserve…I had to go to NYC on Thursday morning to fly out of there Friday morning…to go as a passenger to Anchorage to pick up an airplane and fly it to Hong Kong…there also goes my nice first class flight to Hong Kong full of great food, movies, sleep, and nice smiling flight attendants taking care of me….

Doing a little thinking and trying to save some time and inconvenience…I love adventure but not abusing myself…having to fly all the way to NYC from San Antonio (connection through Dallas) and then as a passenger to Anchorage looked like a great waste of time for me…there had to be a more direct way…

EUREKA…our freighter stops through Dallas every day and goes to Anchorage through Atlanta…I got on the phone and convinced our schedulers to change it…why would they not…I saved them $563 on an airline ticket they did not have to buy…

So now…Thursday at midnite I have to sign in at Dallas Fort Worth Airport (DFW) to fly on the freighter to Anchorage…so as any diligent person would do, I show up at San Antonio airport Thursday afternoon to catch American Airlines up to DFW (short 45 min flight). I would have a few hours there…could play with my computer…do a little reading….and change and show up to sleep (as a passenger through the nite – departure 0130, what else would I do?)…

Well…as we say back home…I was planning without the hotel owner and the excitement was about to start…American had cancelled a couple of flights to DFW in the morning and the status of the flights for the rest of the day went from plenty of seats to overbooked with 27 people on the standby list…

And…since we have no Jump Seat privileges as we are a foreign airline (Jump Seat means you can go in the Cock Pit if the flight is full and get in anyway)…it sure looked like I would be stuck…at San Antonio…for the rest of the day…not good!

Four options remained: walking (no thanks plus I would not get there in time), buying an American full fare ticket (no thanks they were all full anyway), buying a Southwest full fare ticket ($134), and looking to find a car to drive (it is 280 miles, about 4 ½ hours of drive).

The fourth option looked more realistic, as I did not want to go to the different Dallas airport Southwest flies to and have to make my way to DFW…and I also had a very important call (more exciting news on what happened on that call in a few months…) at 7pm which would be a lot easier to listen to from the car…I just had to find a reasonable deal.

The best place to search I have found out if you get in a bind like this is Orbitz…I have found incredible deals and they are one of the very few sites that will give you one-way deals…all the other, Priceline, Hotwire, etc will not do one ways…

The spirits were with me…I found a deal for less money than the Southwest ticket through Avis…for a very small car…good news for gas!

Maverick on the road again…not the first time I have had to drive…and not the last time…I was determined to make a good fun of it…

Took almost 45 minutes to get out of San Antonio (after 3pm it gets kind of busy on I-35) and another 75 minutes to get out of Austin (kind of busy on I-35 at 5pm) but…here is the great serendipity…I got to make some very important business calls and also got to meet Toby, a good friend of my buddy Brad Weinman…

Toby and I have a lot in common as we have dabbled and learned a lot in the Forex arena…and he is an outgoing pleasant personality with the most important ingredient present: A sense of humor! We both learned a lot from each other and two hours passed (and two cappuccinos at Starbucks) before we even realized…what happened…and I had to get on the road to make my sign on…

The spirits were with me today…as I left Temple at 2130…where Toby lives…and had two more hours to drive to DFW…there was a huge traffic jam…over 15 miles with some construction…but I avoided it…it was in the OTHER DIRECTION!

The excitement is not over yet…I called American to see where my bag would be for me to pick up at DFW. I had already checked it in, it was going anyway…and it had something very important in it…my uniform!

Did talk to them at 1530 and they said to call back…because the flight from San Antonio had not landed yet…the lady I talked to on the phone told me not to worry because the baggage office in DFW was open 24 hours…so I had all the time in the world…

Different story when I called back at 2135 as I left Toby…the lady I talked to then…said the baggage office in terminal C, where the San Antonio flight arrived, was already closed…

You can imagine what I am thinking…cool…I get to be the first person to fly in brown jean dockers and a real nice yellow Jim Thompson T-shirt!

Not really, I was royally pissed…but I did not show it…it took about 35 minutes on the phone trying to ask the same question about 7 different times and then talking to a wonderful supervisor who located someone that she made stay at the baggage office until I picked up my bag…

That confirmed one of the biggest lessons I have learned in life…are you ready? If you are not happy with the answer to your question ask again…or ask a different way…or another different way…or another person…or call later…just don’t quit…I would just not accept the fact that they had my bag there and the office would be locked…specially when I was told before it would be open 24 hours…you could probably use the word persistence but it is NOT enough!

What the afternoon lady had missed…not on purpose of course…is that it was the International Terminal that was open 24 hours…OOPS…

Just because I did not lose my cool and explained what I needed in a calm and collected fashion (still learning to do that) not only did I get my bag…but the supervisor even called me back to check that I got it and even gave me her personal extension (they never do that) to call back if I had any more excitement developing.

There was one more really funny thing happen…the guy from my airline that came to pick me up from the rental car center at DFW…could not find me for over 30 minutes…I just could not help it…I started laughing so hard…of course he finally found me…got me to the airplane…and we left on time…barely.

My airline buddies have told me I have enough commuting stories to write a best selling book with each story as a chapter…who knows…does not sound like a bad idea…but not before I complete my first and most important ultimate goal…if you have not seen it…you should…you may all be part of it in one way or another…

The story does not end here…there is a Part II in the airplane…stay tuned and…Check Six!

The Maverick

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