Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Seattle looked like this on the day we left for Xmas with my family in Chicago. Our governor literally was about to declare a state of emergency when we were leaving for the airport.
It's 5am on Christmas eve. It's been snowing for a week and it continues to snow. Our cars had not been driven in 6 days. We live in a hilly city where snow is paralyzing. We have 2 small cars without 4 wheel drive. A cab to the airport was the best option because they are equipped with chains for their tires in snowy weather. And then the nightmare began....
There were no cabs available - the cab company said to call back in a few hours. We couldn't think of a person we would ask to drive us in this horrible weather or at this hour. My husband was all over the internet for weather reports, flight times - called the airline, etc. It seemed like our flight was delayed but still going, it was just a matter of how to get there. So we headed out to catch a bus in a 30 degree snowstorm. It would take 2 buses but both were allegedly running. I asked P to just bear with me and try. I just had to know that I tried as hard as I could to get home. Out we went, dragging our suitcases behind us up 4 blocks of hill to the bus. There we stood in the pre-dawn snow. 30 minutes later, a bus drove right past us while we waved and screamed at the bus stop. I had my first breakdown - knowing that we were barely going to get there and now the chances of making it were slimmer. We were freezing, wet and miserable.
As dawn broke, more people came to the stop. They came and went as no buses arrived. About an hour after we'd gotten there, an SUV drove past with hand written signs in the windows - "Downtown $5". We ran up to her and she said she was full but would come back. We figured if we at least could get downtown we could catch the airport bus or find a cab at a hotel. We contemplated calling it quits. I cried. P comforted. We talked about what our options were. I didn't know what to do and thought somehow perseverance would win. It was Christmas Eve, wasn't it? P went to the coffee shop once it opened and got me some tea. At 7am the woman in the real estate office next to the bus stop let us stand inside to keep warm. She also told us the buses were running every 2 hours. (thanks, bus schedule website....) I couldn't feel my feet, but at least we had hope that a bus would be here in about 20 minutes.
Then the miracle happened. We'd been waiting for just shy of 2 hours. The woman in the SUV came back for us. She said we looked so cold she had to come back. Turns out she drives offroad for sport and knows how to handle her truck on tough terrain. Figured she could make a buck out of the weather. She absolutely peeled down narrow streets full of snow with 2 cars parked on either side. We didn't slide once. As soon as we were in the car, I knew P would convince her to take us all the way to the airport - which he did. We ended up paying her about 1 1/2 times the cab fare, but that was just fine with us. Our SUV saviour is a single mom and said the extra cash would help her with Christmas for her daughter. We hoped she would get people to take back to Seattle once we got to the airport and made her a new sign for the window. A good deal on all sides.
We got to the airport. I held my breath as we looked at the flight departure board. We had 50 minutes left. Our flight had been an hour and 45 minutes delayed. P looked at me and said "You know we are in Christmas miracle territory, don't you?" We would not have made it if the SUV hadn't taken us all the way there. We checked in, got thru security in no time and as we approached the gate it was boarding.
That woman in the SUV who's name we didn't get. She was my Christmas present.