Sunday, March 25, 2007

From Lemons to Lemonade

  ost of the work I've been doing lately is under NDA, either with clients or partners, and I haven't been able to blog much about it. But a snowstorm in Boston last weekend that led to an impromptu night of partying in Vegas seemed worthy of a post.

Last week I was in Boston at the Microsoft Technology Center sitting in on an Architectural Design Session (too bad I can't write about that--some very exciting stuff). After arriving in Boston on the redeye Thursday at 6:00am, I was scheduled to leave out of Logan airport Friday at about 7:30pm and land late that night in Oakland.

As luck would have it, Boston's second blizzard of the year hit Friday afternoon. When I left the MTC at around 4:00, the parking lot was empty save for 4-6" of new snow, and a snowplow vainly attempting to clear it. Before leaving, I called JetBlue to ensure that my flight was still scheduled to leave on time. Despite the fact that all flights up and down the east coast, the flights headed west were still reported as scheduled to depart on time.

So I left the cozy confines of Waltham, MA and headed to Logan. The 30-minute drive took about an hour and a half with the crappy conditions, but I made it in plenty of find that my flight had been delayed.

After an hour or two delay, they thought they had a departure window. To cheers from the waiting area, they announced the impending departure of our flight. We gathered our carry-ons, scurried aboard...and waited. And waited. The snow turned to freezing rain, and the FAA delayed us some more. They opened the door and let anyone who wanted to leave. The captain came out to visit with the passengers to answer questions. And finally, about 11:00pm, they canceled the flight.

As soon as I could fire up the EVDO card and my Skype headset, I learned these things: every hotel within 10 miles of the airport was fully booked, JetBlue was sold out for days, and my weekend looked like it was going to be full of lemons.

Within minutes, though, things were looking up. My wife was having dinner with my good friend (and great travel agent) Celia Coene, and they quickly found me a hotel in Cambridge, a flight the next morning out of Providence RI, and a (rental) car to get there.

More lemons in the morning, as I realized that I had no cash and had no idea what the PIN for my brand-spanking new ATM card was. My phone call to Cindy came about 6:00 AM Saturday PDT, waking her up--but she quickly ungroggified herself enough to dig up my PIN so I could get enough cash to get myself to the airport.

A little while later, my ATM card misfortune started to turn those lemons to lemonade. Unable to go back to sleep, Cindy had gotten online and noticed that Southwest had one earlier flight from Providence to Oakland--one that would get me home about 6 hours earlier. She couldn't get me a seat, but she suggested I call and find out if it was possible to get on that flight.

I called Southwest, and after 30 minutes on hold (nearly killing my cell phone), I finally had some good luck: I got the last seat on the flight. I barely had time to make it, but I sped up and got there just in time.

I got through security almost exactly at the departure time and learned that the flight was slightly delayed--I had about 10 minutes to spare!

My phone rang. It was Cindy. "You know you're flying home through Vegas?" Um, not really. "Did you know that Chevelle is playing in Vegas tonight?" (Loyal readers will remember that I was the tour manager for Chevelle in 2002 and 2003.) "How about I meet you in Vegas?" My wife is a genius.

Suddenly, this lemonade was tasting wonderful indeed.

We had 10 minutes to take care of the logistics--change my flight, redeem a Southwest coupon for Cindy's flight, and book a room at the Palms. Chevelle and Evanescence were playing together at the grand opening of Pearl, the new venue at the Maloof brothers' hotel and casino.

With two internet connections, two phones, and a helpful Southwest worker, we did it.

Six hours later, Cindy and I were having dinner at the Second Floor Cafe with Pete, Sam, and Dean. The guys were great, the show was a blast, and the weekend was saved.

That was some sweet lemonade indeed!

Photo credits: Jane M. Sawyer, Dawn M. Turner, and Cindy Ciruli