This past weekend was quite a full one. I went to Alabama! A couple weeks ago, I realized my father's 60th birthday was fast approaching, and I decided to give him a special surprise treat - me! Unfortunately, I don't have any extra days off work, so I had to make it a quick trip - here's my recap:
Since I can't take time off work, I decided to make my trip from Saturday night until Sunday night. The first kink in my plans were that there are NO flights that go to Alabama that leave late enough Saturday night for me to get to the airport after Shabbos (that's because there are NO direct weekend flights to Alabama). The best I could do was get a flight to Atlanta, which is two hours away from Birmingham. So I decided my best bet was to fly to Atlanta, rent a car there and drive the two hours to Birmingham.
The next kink in my plans was getting to and from the airport. I was flying out of LaGuardia. In order to get to the airport in time, I would have to have a friend drive me from Passaic the minute Shabbos was over. I wouldn't have time to park my car AND catch my flight. The only problem was that I was scheduled to get back into NY very late Sunday night, and I hated to ask anyone to pick me up. Some brainstorming later, my friend who had offered to drive me to the airport came up with the idea that I should spend Shabbos in Kew Garden Hills, which is a nice 10 minutes from LaGuardia. Yay! Excellent idea. SaraK was contacted and kindly offered to host me for Shabbos. The SerandEz (and Elianna) family hosted us for a meal, I met lots of very friendly people in Kew Garden Hills, and got to the airport with plenty of time to spare.
Until I realized that I locked my keys in my car. Uh oh. Well, my friend who originally had offered to drive me to the airport has a spare key to my car, so I called and left a message explaining the situation and apologizing profusely that she would now have to drive to LaGuardia the next night, exactly the situation we had attempted to avoid, in order to help me unlock my car. I sat down at my gate about an hour before my flight was scheduled to depart and I called my dad to wish him a happy birthday, so that he wouldn't wonder why I hadn't called him.
As I sat there, waiting for my flight to board, I kept thinking about those stupid keys. I figured it was worth a shot, so I found the closest security guard and employed his help. I explained the situation and he told me that there is a BP gas station on site at the airport that does towing and will unlock cars for poor people like me. He wasn't sure how much they would charge, or their phone number, but he said it was worth a shot. I called information to get the phone number, the kind guard wrote the number down for me, and I called the BP station. While watching the minutes tick down until my flight was scheduled to depart, the guy at the BP station told me to go to my car and they would be there in five minutes (yeah, right, likely story). But they actually were! About three minutes after my call, they arrived at my car, and performed the complimentary service of unlocking my car. YAY! I had my keys!
I ran back to the terminal, went through security again, and arrived at my gate just in time to run onto my flight about five minutes before take-off. After an uneventful flight to Atlanta, I picked up the rental car and drove the two hours to Birmingham, where my mom was waiting for me. I gave my mom a hug and fell fast asleep.
The next day, my dad still none the wiser about my arrival in Birmingham, I coordinated with my three brothers (two of them traveling from Tuscaloosa, about 45 minutes away) to arrive at my dad's house for a delicious brunch prepared by my step-mom. We pulled up to the house and almost managed to surprise my dad, who saw us getting out of the car from inside his house. We walked in to a very happy dad who was shocked to see all of us in his home, a day after his birthday. You have to understand what an undertaking this is - the frequency with which myself and all three of my brothers are under the same roof at one time occurs approximately once every two years. It is quite a rare event.
We had a very nice brunch, catching up, taking lots of pictures and managing to be mostly civil to each other (come on, what are siblings for if not for the small teasing and taunting?).
We all then took a trip to visit my grandparents. We sat and chatted with them for a little while until my brothers visiting from Tuscaloosa had to return there. A little while later, it was time for me to go. I went back to my mom's house, picked up my stuff, and set back out for Atlanta. Drove the two hours back to Atlanta, returned the rental car, flew back into LaGuardia, where I was able to unlock my car, drove home in the snow, and was safely back in my own bed by 1:00 AM.
It was a crazy, fun, wonderful weekend - happy birthday Dad!