by pam ashlund
Come along with Pam on her work travel adventures. Don't have time to read the whole thing? Jump to the punch line!
Los Angeles, 8:30 am
OK, make that 8:45 am. Realizing the clock is running down, feed the cats, throw the laptop in the carry-on, dash out the door, drag my suitcase down the fire stairs behind me and beat it to LAX.
LAX, 10:45 am
Take off in a very ugly (and old) airbus. The plane is completely full. The guy sitting in our center seat leaves me no elbow room. Food is "pay-to-play" and I buy some cheese and crackers for five bucks. Watch "The Devil Wears Prada" while sit-sleeping for four and half hours.
Dulles, Washington D.C. 6:15 pm
Arrive at Dulles and take TWO airport subways to Terminal A, while chugging a dry cappuccino, lugging my carry-on and talking to Ma on the cell phone.
Dulles, 7:25 pm
Jump on the 30-seater to Charleston. This plane is half empty and the flight attendant asks for volunteers to help "balance" the plane. Nothing like thinking about what happens if the weight distribution is wrong to start off a flight. I get up to change seats and when the flight attendant asks me to please sit down, I say "it doesn't matter since I'm staying in the same section". To which she drawls "yes it does matter ma'am". Mercifully, she does offer me an alternate empty row of seats.
Charleston, South Carolina, 9:30 pm
I go out to grab a cab and the attendant tells me there's a 15 minute wait for a shuttle; A shuttle driver tells me this is his last trip of the night and I end up having a private shuttle ride. As we hit the road the driver tells me he's from Alabama, but his parents are from Wisconsin. He says that's why he doesn't have an accent; his parents thought the southern accent would hold him back. Looks like this didn't pan out. He tell me this is his second week on the job and he doesn't know the area! We call the hotel and after three tries (and an unintentional tour of the historic downtown) we pull up in front of the King's Courtyard Inn. At least he turned off the meter when he realized he was lost.
Kings Courtyard Inn, 10:30 pm
The courtyard is beautifully restored, punctuated by a fountain, vintage 1853, crowned by a (kind of corny, but authentic) pineapple.
A confused Concierge tells me that all the guests have been checked in for the evening. I pull out my confirmation and point to the folio number and he winces and tells me that there is no record of my reservation. Worse, there is no room at the inn, all the rooms are full. A manager is called and after much muttering he tells me that my reservation was cancelled.
I sit (collapse) down on the antique settee while they mutter that they will try to find another hotel with availability. In an effort to distract myself, I browse thru the beautiful leather bound (and gold guilded) hotel menu. The menu features: Pecan Pickled Palm Hearts and Chicken Fried Quail Breast.
Many calls later, the boys find me a room at a nearby Hotel. It is about a block away, so when they ask me if they can call me a Rickshaw (don't ask; I have NO idea why there are rickshaws in South Carolina!); I say no thanks, I'll walk.
The Mills Hotel, 11:30 pm
At the front desk, I wistful ask if they have a restaurant and they tell me it has closed at 10. As the hotel clerk checks me in, a couple comes up to the front desk. Even thru my weary eyes, I could see she was wearing a wedding dress. They were a bride and groom and their magnetic key card wouldn't work. They couldn't get into their honeymoon suite! I let them go first and then, clutching the phone number for take-out pizza, shuffled up to my room.
Bed, 12:47 am
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