Saturday, September 27, 2008

Faye Hughes On Adventures in Flying

Okay Guys, With great pleasure, I'd like to introduce you to my good buddy, Faye Hughes. She's my writing partner, my friend, my critique partner (among others) and a partner to a lot of my crimes. As a computer guru, she talks me down from all the computer ledges that I manage to get myself on. She's also nuttier than a giant slab of peanut brittle. Which explains why we are such good friends. She is, as we say in the south, a real hoot. Together we wrote, The Everything Guide to Writing A Romance Novel, which was just released this week. She is also the author of seven romance novels, two of which were optioned for TV movies. (Yeah, the girl can also write fiction.) Take it away, Faye. ~Crime Scene Christie

They say hindsight is everything. I have a tendency to agree because, looking back on my March 2007 flight to New York City, I realize how close I came to ending up on the “No Fly” list along with suspected terrorists and other “persons of interest.”

You see, I was flying from Syracuse to La Guardia, where I was going to meet Christie Craig, my critique partner and new writing partner for non-fiction in the baggage claims area. I was totally excited, if a little sleep-deprived. You see, Christie and I had talked on the phone daily but we hadn’t met in person yet, and the PASIC conference in NYC was going to be our chance to get better acquainted.

So, I lugged my too-large-for-carryon suitcase from the long-term parking garage and checked it in with the skycap, then headed inside the terminal at Syracuse’s Hancock Airport. I made my way through the security checkpoint and arrived at my gate about an hour early. I really needed coffee, but before I could grab a cup, they announced that the flight from Syracuse to LaGuardia was boarding.

WTF? I mean, you’d think somebody would have told me that the flight was leaving an hour early. Still, I grabbed my boarding pass and got in line. It was a small plane. Getting small planes balanced can be a challenge, so people rarely end up sitting in their assigned seats. As for me, well, my seat didn’t even exist. I had an “F” and there were no “F” seats. I asked the flight attendant who looked at me as if I was the last thing she wanted to deal with that morning. Hey, I don’t’ blame her. After all, she had bigger problems, like getting the plane balanced. She told me to sit anywhere. And I did and less than an hour later, I was in LaGuardia. But still no coffee.

No problem, I decided. Christie was supposed to meet me in my baggage claims area and since her flight got there earlier than mine, we would probably be able to get out of the airport and to the hotel a lot earlier than we’d expected. We could grab some lunch and, yes! Coffee!

It was a great plan. Only, my suitcase never made its way around the luggage turnstile with the rest of everyone else’s luggage. Crap, I thought. Now what? First, they assigned me to a seat number that didn’t exist and now I had no luggage.

Now, by this point, I’m sure a lot of you know what happened but, honestly, it took me another 20 minutes before I figured out that I’d taken the wrong flight to LaGuardia. (If you’re wondering why I didn’t check the flight numbers, hey, it was all I could do to find the right gate number. I seriously needed coffee that morning.)

Anyway, I figured my suitcase would arrive on the next flight, so I started calling Christie on her cell. According to her last email, her flight should have arrived. But Christie’s cell was heading straight to voicemail. (A quick bit of info about Christie, she always carries her cell phone when she travels but she rarely ever remembers to turn it on. It wouldn’t be so bad if she could remember how to access her new messages but, hey, that’s a blog for a different time.)

So, there I was, settled in on a bench in the empty baggage claims area, waiting for Christie and my luggage.

Christie got there before my suitcase. I knew it was her when I first laid eyes on her. A small blonde woman in a hat dragging two large suitcases on wheels that were bigger than she was. She got to the turnstile, saw me sitting on the bench and smiled. “Hello,” she said.

I smiled back and said, “Hi, Christie.”

The look on her face was priceless.

You see, I’d seen pictures of her but all she’d seen of me was an old author photo on some of my out-of-print paperbacks. And the hair color was different.

Anyway, Christie nods and asks, “Faye?”

Okay, I couldn’t resist. I said, “Nope.”

She started to look worried then. She even glanced from side to side, to see if there were any security guards nearby. But no luck for Christie. It was just the two of us.

She said, “Um” or “Uh” and I could just see the wheels in her head spinning. Who was I? How did I know her name? And probably most important of all, Why the hell had I agreed to meet Faye at her baggage claims when we didn’t fly in on the same airline?

I started to giggle then, and that’s when she started seriously looking for security, but I quickly confessed that I was Faye.

Then she said, “But your plane’s not supposed to be here for another half hour.”

“Yeah, and did you know cell phones don’t work unless you turn them on?” We had a good laugh. Now, let’s flash forward a few hours. That night at the hotel, I received a call from Travelocity. He was very nice but he sounded just like the Travelocity gnome they have in the TV commercials. Anyway, he told me I’d taken the wrong flight and he wanted to make certain I took the right return flight. “Very naughty,” he said. “Naughty, naughty.” (You try not to burst out laughing at that kind of dialogue. I mean, the Travelocity gnome was chastising me.

Then he made me write down the info and I hung up. I joked to Christie that TSA should contract the Travelocity gnome to handle security. I mean, he had busted me about the wrong flight and nobody at the airline figured it out. “But that voice,” I said. “Very naughty?” I nearly fell off my chair laughing.

I guess I was a little disrespectful of the gnome because at 7:00 the next morning, a guy from “hotel security”, dressed in one of those MIB type black suits, unlocked the door to our hotel room and came in to give us our personal “wake up call.”

Only we hadn’t requested a “wake up call.” Personal or otherwise.

And when we called down to the front desk to ask about it, they told us that hotel security never unlocks and enters a guest’s room to deliver a wake up call.

I figure I learned a valuable lesson that day. Okay, maybe a couple of them. First, always drink coffee before flying, or before boarding a flight. And two, never make fun of the Travelocity gnome. He may seem inanimate and cute but if he calls your hotel room to tell you that you’ve been ‘naughty’, you’d best be respectful, or you might end up with a MIB type in a suit in your hotel room the next morning for a non-requested wake up call.

Respect the gnome. Seriously. Always respect the gnome.

Faye Hughes


Gemma Halliday said...

Too funny! So... who was the MIB guy? And what did he do to you? I had no idea they would track you down for getting on the wrong flight... scary!


Anonymous said...

Hey, Gemma,

All the MIB guy did was do a quick visual inspection of the room and tell me he was from hotel security and was there to deliver our "7:00am wakeup call."

I think, once he saw me with my hair sticking up every way but the right way, along with strewn suitcases, books, Christie's hat collection and other paraphernalia, he decided we were okay.

Of course, by then, Christie was awake, going, "Wait a minute! Did he come INTO our room?"

Me? I just crawled back in bed and swore to never piss off the gnome. LOL.



Estella said...

Hilarious! Did you ever find out who MIB was?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Estella,

Nope. We never did find out who the mysterious MIB was.

Thanks for dropping by!


Jenyfer Matthews said...

That is so weird! I sometimes worry about doing such a thing but think, "not possible - they check your boarding pass when you get on". Sounds like they didn't have their coffee either!! ha ha

Anonymous said...


No kidding. LOL.

A lot of people asked me why they didn't notice it when they scanned the bar code. Maybe it's a Syracuse thing but they didn't scan anything.

I'm telling ya - the Travelocity gnome should handle security. lol.

Thanks for dropping by.