Ordinarily we discuss investment and fiduciary issues. Today, I’m going to exploit my position as the primary author of this blog to share a short travel story. Last Wednesday, I planned a due diligence meeting in New York. My plan was to get up at 4:30 am, catch the 6 flight to JFK, visit 4 investment managers at their offices and fly back on the 8:45 flight, getting back home around 10 pm Wednesday. That’s a full day, but not unusually long.
The short version is that my return flight was delayed by several hours and, after waiting in a plane on the tarmac for an hour, it was announced that were heading back to the gate.
By 1 am, we leave the secured area of the airport back to the checkout line to rebook flights. I presumed several flights were cancelled after I get to the check-in line and see approximately 100 people waiting in line to rebook. Phone booking is unavailable due to call volume. Flights back to Rochester are usually pretty full, so if they started integrating stranded passengers into the regular traffic pattern, I might get booked onto the 5 PM Rochester flight, getting me home around 7 PM Thursday.
I make a new plan: I’ll drive back. But first, I should sleep. I’d been awake for 21 hours and I’d be relying heavily on the GPS for the first few hours driving out of the city. I take the JFK Airtrain to Federal circle and start asking the hotel shuttles if there are any vacancies. There aren’t. Lots of flights were cancelled and so every available room had already been taken.
It’s about 1:40 am by this point. New plan: I’ll rent a car and drive for a few hours, try to find a hotel or sleep in the car for a few hours, and finish the drive. I’m standing in line at the Avis counter at JFK when I overhear that the group ahead of me in line were also stranded on the Rochester flight and they were going to drive overnight.
“Me too,” I say, “we should carpool.” I said this jokingly.
“Ok, welcome to the group!“ they answered.
They were team of lawyers from the Empire Justice Center. Waiting for a Thursday flight was not an option for them either since one of their team was getting an award from the Daily Record 2014 Excellence in Law Awards Luncheon. It’s about 2 am when we start carpooling back to Rochester. Happily, I think everyone in the car was able to eke out some sleep during the drive back although I think Bryan, Chief Counsel for Empire Justice, got the worst driving experience starting in the middle of the night and enduring outer borough NYC traffic, and bad weather.
I was, in fact, the second stranded traveler from Rochester they’d picked up. It makes me proud to be Rochesterian; I’m not sure how many other random strangers would be so easily welcomed, just based upon their destination. I was grateful to be home safely with a modest amount of sleep after what had promised to be a much longer day.
A great big “thank you” and tip of the hat to the Empire Justice Center and their team.