Wednesday, November 07, 2001

A Weekend in Blacksburg: Part I of IV

I got to Tallahassee Regional by cab around 1:30 on Friday afternoon. After breezing through the security checkpoint (complete with the two National Guardsmen that are now fixtures in every airport), I ended up sitting around the empty airport for about two and a half hours before my flight arrived. In Atlanta, I had a quick meal and sat around for a couple more hours. I sat next to a guy from Bermuda who was apparently heading for Covington, Virginia. His accent was so thick that I could barely understand a single word, but I think we talked about being a chef, playing in a band, and time zones.

Right before my connection flight left, I was paged to the counter for a full baggage search (along with a couple other folks). Either they were instituting random searches, or I looked seedily foreign. The agent looked a little leery about my styrofoam-filled box (which I used to keep my gift of a horseshoe crab shell intact), and seemed confused that I'd brought along a bag of Scrabble letters and the game board, especially since the bag was rolled up in my shoe. I guess efficient Scouting packing habits die hard. She mentioned that when Christmas time came around, they had orders to actually unwrap presents and to have people arrive more than two hours in advance.

I arrived in Roanoke early, around 8:10 PM, and went to the Hertz rental car desk to deal with the stereotypical inept-old-lady-agent who took over twenty minutes to confirm the reservation I'd made over six weeks ago in September. After punching in the credit card number and physically giving me the key, she suddenly had the epiphany that I was under twenty-five years old (which I'd said at the very beginning of the interview) and took the key back, saying that Hertz didn't rent to people under twenty-five. Couldn't that have been said weeks earlier when I made the reservation? All the other rental booths were out of cars, but luckily Philip was willing to make the seventy mile round trip from Blacksburg to pick me up. I finally left the airport around 9:45.

By the way, gas at my perennial favourite, Sparky's in Salem off exit 137, still has cheap gas. It was 99 cents a gallon that night.

To be continued tomorrow...

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