Monday, September 19, 2011

My $450 cab ride to Iowa

Since the 2011-2012 School Visit Season has officially begun, I thought it would be fun to share an adventure from a few years back.

“Well, this is our tenth year. Something had to go wrong sometime.” sighed the librarian before she hung up the phone.

Not on my watch! I thought. But this was my fault. I had been more than halfway to the airport in Hartford when I realized that I had left my wallet back home in Vermont. I had week of school visits scheduled in Iowa. I had obsessed over packing everything I might need, but apparently my wallet had not been on my list of essential items.

I caught a later flight to Chicago, but there were no more connecting flights to Davenport, Iowa. And none Monday morning that would get me there early enough to give a school presentation. I was gnashing my teeth and pulling my hair out, but once I accepted the notion that Monday’s visit was not going to happen, I had a revelation. If I could spend Monday’s honorarium getting to Iowa, I could still make Monday happen. My speaking fee would be gone, but at least the kids wouldn’t be disappointed (sounds hokey, but that’s how I think).

My first thought was to rent a car, but I realized I would look like a zombie the next day if I drove all night. Might scare the kids. I would have to cab it. When I asked the Ethiopian cab driver if he could take me to Davenport Iowa, he smiled and said “Yes, Milwaukee!”. At some point there was a consultation with a map. The fare would be $450, I forget if that was before his tip, or including. Either way, I had a few dollars to spare.

So, I got to Iowa in time to sleep for an hour or two, shower and present. And all week the lovely librarian and her husband enjoyed referring to themselves as my Ethiopian cab drivers as they drove me around.

A year later in a similar situation (not my fault, the Atlanta airport was covered in ice) I rented a car and drove all night from Cincinnati to Birmingham in order not to miss a school presentation. If I was a zombie, the kids didn’t seem to mind.