My trip to Mexico came to a close Friday, February 8th with my 5 a.m. cab ride to the Guadalajara airport. I was scheduled to grab a 7:30 a.m. flight to Houston and then hop on a connection to Toronto in the afternoon.
Arrival to Pearson International was scheduled for 5:30 p.m., and I planned to be home about an hour after that.
I was looking forward to some R and R after a surprisingly hectic week on vacation.
Before I go on, it's probably worth mentioning that I was completely off-line the whole week, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The first inkling that something may be afoot came from my cab driver, Miguel, when he mentioned something about a storm.
Storms in February, I thought to myself, no big deal -- it happens all the time.
But I was yanked, rather abruptly I might add, out of my Utopian state when I was told my flight to Toronto had been cancelled.
CANCELLED?! (insert expletives here).
I stood there for a minute, staring at the ticket officer as if she had the power to change that situation.
She calmly told me that instead of Houston I could fly into Chicago, where I could catch a flight to Toronto the following day at 11:22 a.m.
That didn't sound so bad.
"Maybe with a bit of luck I might be able to find a spot on a stand-by and make it home Friday evening. At worst, I'd be home 2 p.m. Saturday!" I said.
The ticket officer just smiled and nodded. What more could she do?
When I arrived at Chicago's O'Hare airport it became clear that no flights would be going to Toronto that night and I would have to wait it out in a nearby hotel.
The following morning I arrived at O'Hare at 8:30 a.m. and discovered that my revised flight to Toronto was also cancelled.
CANCELLED??!! (more expletives may have slipped out at this point).
After waiting in line - again - I was told there would be no flights to Toronto on Saturday and Sunday's availability was filling up fast. It was suggested that I go to a different terminal and try my luck with a different carrier, but every flight I tried was booked.
Heavy overflow from a day and a half of cancellations will do that, I guess.
I should probably mention that my suitcase handle would only elevate just a smidgen. I was a a pretty sad sight as I pulled my suitcase and its 47 lbs of contents around.
Occasionally the bag would hit my heel, topple over and another expletive would fly out.
Back at original terminal, it was suggested I fly to Detroit and take a bus to Toronto. After a long stint on hold, I found a Greyhound that had room. It would be leaving the station at 4:55 p.m. that afternoon. I procured a flight to Detroit that would arrive at 3:55 p.m., leaving me one hour to get to the bus terminal in downtown Detroit.
A $50 cab ride got me to the bus station with minutes to spare and the bus ride across the border back home commenced.
Little did I know that we would be making several stops along the way, including one in Chatham that took us off the 401, through a thick fog on country roads, only to find an empty bus stop.
As we inched closer to home, it was hard not to be impressed with the snow that had fallen.
I arrived at the Toronto bus terminal at 11:30 p.m. Hunched over, I wheeled my decrepit suitcase to the subway station and began the 30 minute train ride home.
Or so I thought.
When we pulled into Keele Station we were told that everyone on the subway had to exit because the remainder of the line was closed for construction.
Shuttle buses would take everyone from there.
For those who don't take subways, their capacity is much, much greater than a bus.
After another long wait in line, I made it onto the shuttle bus. As I exited it, the puny handle on my suitcase broke.
The final eight minutes of my odyssey would be spent walking through the snow, in my dress shoes, hunched over even further and lugging my suitcase from its zipper.
Home happened shortly after 1 a.m. Monday morning, a mere 40 hours behind schedule.
To all those who work at airports and go through this zaniness every time a big storm hits, my hat is off to you.
Thank you for your patience and your help -- you earned your wings on this one!