I hate going to the airport.
No, let me re-phrase. I EFFING HATE GOING TO THE AIRPORT.
I especially hate it when people are all, "Oh, but Airport XYZ has good food and they have easy access to terminals, and, I dunno, I just really do enjoy flying." To me, this is just code for, "I Don't Travel Very Often So Every Plane Ride I Do Experience is Like Recess on Steroids".
I travel pretty often for my job and let me promise you, there is nothing fun about airports. They're smelly, filthy, loud and most importantly, confusing. I mean, you get off of a flight and then you have to be all, "Okay, where is my connecting flight? And how do I get there? Do I hail one of those little cart things? Do I walk on the weird escalator that doesn't go up? Should I stay to the right? Where's the potty?"
This week, I had to fly into Chicago. I'm there often enough to laugh at people that are lost and feel confident that I'm a savvy traveler. In a lovely and strange twist of fate, my good friend J was also flying into Chicago on the same night as me, at the same time. That's just amazing.
Because we both hate the airport equally, we decided to celebrate our survival of yet another trip by meeting at the airport and sharing a cab downtown for drinks and general merriment. Sweet. My flight arrived into Chicago at 7:30, hers at 7:15. We were set.
And then it all fell apart. Here's how it went down
Text Conversation -7:15 pm
J: Hey Lady. Just landed. Call me when you get in. So hungry!!
Me: I just landed too; a few minutes early! Meet you at baggage claim? I'll be off the plane in 5. I am going to die of starvation.
J: Me too! I'm going to baggage claim and I'll tell you where I am.
(three minutes later)
J: I'm in terminal 3. I flew Virgin.
Me: Um, I don't know where I am.
J: Haha. Just come to baggage claim we'll figure it out. I'm at baggage claim 5.
(Ten minutes pass. I arrive at Baggage Claim 5 and claim my luggage. No J to be seen. I text her quickly as my stomach grumbles.)
Me: I'm at #5.
J: Where? Can you see what terminal? We might be in different ones?
Me: I think 3??
J: Um, I'm at Baggage 5. Where the hell are you? Are you in Terminal 3?
Me: (looking around hastily) I don't see you anywhere. And I'm at Baggage 5. Like, over by the rental car stations. There you are, I see- oh wait, no, that lady's 50. False alarm.
J: Um, I think we're in different terminals. Maybe Virgin flies into somewhere different than Southwest?
Me: Really? I've never seen any other terminal when I've flown here before. Okay, wait, let me look at the sign above the doors. (walks over to doors) Okay, the doors say "3 LL". What do your doors say?
J: (pause) Well let me look. (pause) Mine says "3 GL".
Me: AHA! Okay so, obviously, you're in a different building. I need to figure out how to get to GL, whatever terminal that is. I don't see any signs directing me to terminal G, though. Do I have to take a cab to you?
J: Hold on, I'm just going to ask this guy. I'll call back. (click)
Determined to find the solution to the problem before J does, I decide to do some detective work of my own.
Avis car rental. Surely they can help. I approach the desk.
Avis Rental Guy: How can I help you, Miss?
Me: Hi. Which terminal does Virgin fly into? I'm trying to meet a friend, and we can't find each other.
Avis Guy: Um, I don't know. I just rent cars.
Me: What a great help you've been, thanks so much! (eye roll. This guy works at the airport and can't direct me to the right terminal? How lame. Loser.)
Me: Okay, figure it out? (scoffs) The people at the rental place are totally worthless.
J: OMG, I KNOW! I can't get an answer here, either. People keep telling me we're in the same terminal, but we aren't! UGH!
Me: That's it. I'm going to go talk to Southwest upstairs. I'll call you back. (click)
I ascend two flights of escalators to the flight check-in portion of the airport. I confidently stroll over to the Southwest counter and wave down an employee who has clearly just ended her shift and is wanting to go home.
Me: (flailing arms widly) Excuse me, miss? I need help and the rental people are sooo clueless. Haha! What terminal does Virgin fly into? (stomach growls)
Southwest Lady: (eyes me strangely) What do you mean? There's only one terminal. This is it.
Me: (pointing downstairs) No but, see, my friend- she's flying in on- (phone rings). Hold on, this is her. Maybe she figured out where she is.
Southwest Lady: (walking away) Have a good evening, ma'am.
I put down my bags and and just as I go to answer the phone, I have a revelation. I've got it. We're on different floors! Maybe Jolene is on the middle level somehow. Is there a baggage claim on the second floor? Surely that's it. Happy with myself for figuring it out, I answer.
Me: Hey! We are morons. I was thinking about it and...
J: Um, what airport did you fly into?
(You know that sound that happens in the movies when the music stops and everything grinds to a halt? Whatever that sound is...totally happened.)
J: (snorts) I'm at O'Hare.
Me: Ho. Ly. Shit.
J: (erupts with laughter) Oh my God, Kim, we are so STUPID. How did we not think to ask which airport the other was flying into?
Me: How did you figure this out?
J: I asked someone what terminal Southwest flew into, and they looked at me like I was crazy and told me Southwest doesn't fly into O'Hare.
Me: (sighing) So...yeah, we're idiots. I was really mean to the Avis rental guy, too!
J: Guess we're not sharing a cab to downtown, after all. I'll just have to meet you at my hotel.
Me: Well, look at it this way. It's 8:15. We could've been there already if we weren't so sure that everyone else was a moron. There's probably a lesson here.
J: Yes, there probably is.
So, I would like to re-phrase my earlier statement. I do not hate airports. My brain is simply not adequately equipped to handle them.
And just so you know, remember 3GL vs 3LL? Yeah...that meant Door 3 on Lower Level, and Door 3 on Ground Level. This is not rocket science.
It's amazing I can get myself dressed every day.