Cosmic collision…

Whew!  It’s been awhile, I was on withdrawal with no internet access.  And boy did I wish I had internet access.  Grab a cup of coffee, it is gonna be a long one!

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,

A tale of a fateful trip…

That started from this tropic port (ok so it was Newark)

Aboard this tiny ship…  (ok so it was a Boeing 737).

The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed, if not for the courage of the fearless crew, and the rest just gets curiouser and curiouser…

I left Newark for Denver on Continental airlines, with my bags checked through to Durango on Thursday morning.  I was up at 4am, with little sleep the night before.  The plane was delayed leaving Newark, but I had hoped they’d make up time enroute.  Sadly I missed my connection in Denver for Durango on United by 5 minutes.  I wasn’t worried; there are planes on United every two hours to Durango from Denver.

I was eventually put on standby for the next flight, and lined up in the queue.  It took a few standby flights coming and going to realize the situation, that even though United had flights to Durango every two hours, the little 30 seater prop planes had standby lists of more than 30 people on each flight.  I wasn’t moving up the list, and was not hopeful  I’d make it out of Denver any time soon.  Meanwhile my bags hopped the next flight to Durango without me.

prop_planeBy late afternoon, I was finally able to contact the conference coordinators, and left word to pick up my bags, and the search started for how to get me to Durango, a seven hour drive, though no rental cars were available to Durango from any airport in a two state radius.  Every flight on United to Durango from Denver or Phoenix was oversold and the first available flight I could get was Saturday.  By then the conference would be half over.  No flights, no cars, I was starting to panic.  Someone at the conference found a flight on Frontier Airlines, late in the day, on Thursday, the last available seat, for a modest $325. One way.  I grabbed it.

So I eventually made it to Durango, and my bags were waiting for me. As soon as we excited the aircraft on the tarmac, a huge torrential thunder storm struck, and we ran for cover.  The drive to the conference was difficult since visibility was zero. We made it to the conference, and one of the coordinators and her husband took me out to eat since all I had eaten was a bowl of cereal and three tacos.  We stopped at a local bar, Farquarharts,  and I had an amber beer on draft.  And a pulled pork sandwich.  There waslocal_bar local band playing, and they were loud, but enjoyable, I didn’t have to think, and slowly, the stress of the day began to dissipate.  The beer really helped.  I made it to the conference and all was well…   Or so I thought….

Friday morning, I called the coordinator to make sure the box I had pre-shipped with all my teaching supplies, handouts, pattern paper etc, (and a hefty amount of monographs to sell) was put into my classroom.  I had shipped it to conference services, at Fort Lewis College, as instructed, and had received confirmation it had been delivered.  Or so I thought…

The box was nowhere on the college grounds.  There must have been a dozen people working on the mini crisis, including my shipper Chuck from Packaging Plus in NJ.  Corporate UPS was involved, and eventually the box was tracked to the Durango Home Depot.  I’m not kidding…

Home Depot claimed they did get the box, and left if for UPS pick-up, and they no longer saw it laying out on the loading dock, so it must have been picked up…

Meanwhile, I’m trying to teach 14 handweavers how to make a jacket from their handwoven fabric.  Which involves them trying on all of my test samples, and then drafting their own custom pattern.  That all went well, with frequent updates on the box debacle, until it came time to actually trace their pattern from my masters.  The pattern tracing medium was in the missing box.  At Home Depot…

I went to lunch.  The food at this college cafeteria is really awful.  Everything is in the form of fried taters or pizza, we were given a plate with a slab of fried fish, French fries, and three baby carrots.  I moved to the end of the line and found a container of tarter sauce, which looked as artery clogging  as the fried stuff on my plate.  Next to the tartar sauce was a container of salsa, or what looked like salsa.  It was a funny color, so I called over a cafeteria employee, and asked what the red stuff in the salsa was.  I explained I was highly allergic to strawberries, and as a rule I don’t eat red food unless I’ve made it or I know who has.  He assured me that this was a tomato salsa and seemed annoyed when I repeated that I was highly allergic to strawberries and I had to be really sure.

Two bites into the salsa/fish, I realized that it was loaded with strawberries, oh crap, and I was in trouble.  I ran back to the cafeteria line, panicked, and asked the chef who happened to be standing there, about the salsa, and he was shocked that someone (who turned out to be the general manager) told me it was tomatoes, since it was a tropical fruit salsa loaded with strawberries.  I dropped everything, ran all the way back to my dorm room, at 6,600 ft. altitude, not the brightest decision of the day, and gulped down two Benedryl tablets.  I returned to the cafeteria, and connected with someone who would then take me into town, to pick up tissue paper at Walmart, and I’d be closer to a hospital if it turned out I needed it.

We  drove to Walmart, and we picked up ordinary tissue paper, that would work in a pinch for the class.  I was hoping the box would be recovered in short order. Meanwhile,  I talked to my shipper who was concerned that it was Friday and if I didn’t get the box that day, I wouldn’t get the box in time for the conference and I’d be gone back to Jersey.  He was sure the box was still in Home Depot since it hadn’t yet been scanned back in the system.  My shipper recommended I get in the car and drive to Home Depot and see if I could search their shipping and receiving.

So off we went, more confident that the Benedryl was doing it’s job and I wouldn’t have a reaction to the small amount of strawberries I ate. The managerial staff at the Durango Home Depot couldn’t have been more accommodating.  We toured every possible place that the box could be, and no luck.  We looked in lunch rooms, offices, cabinets, stock rooms, shipping and receiving, you think the selling floor of Home Depot is huge…  No luck.

We got back to the college, and I resumed teaching my class.  The next chore was to get my husband, who was dealing with his own crisis’s at his job, to get into my computer system at home, and print out the critical part of the handout for the students, fax it to an Office Depot, where they could print 14 copies, and get it to me in the morning.  (Normally all that back up data is in my laptop, but since I just bought my new laptop, I hadn’t put all those files on the new computer, I’d never needed them in 25 years of teaching.)I tried calling him and he was unavailable, so I went to dinner.

In the middle of my  dinner, I got a call from the manager of the Durango Home Depot, they had found my box in the book keeper’s office, under a box with their agendas, that had gone missing.  I grabbed my dinner to go, and raced over to Home Depot again, and there was my box.  Can I say that I was briefly overcome with relief and the poor Home Depot manager got a very big hug…

Later that night, when I reconnected with my husband, I found out my son was diagnosed with Mono, how inconvenient for a 19 year old with a life, and my daughter, asleep in the cabin on her final couple of nights at Girl Scout Camp, had been awoken by frantic campers who had discovered a bat in the cabin.  NY State Law turns out, requires that anyone who is sleeping when a bat is discovered, must be treated for prophylactic rabies.

OK, I don’t know about you, but what cosmic collision of planets is ccurring out there, messing with my stress levels?  My students couldn’t have been more understanding, and the conference staff unbelievable in their ability to keep smiling and working on my little emergencies.  In the end, I made a lot of new friends, the staff at Home Depot, the college conference center employees, the campus police, and the cafeteria staff, from whom I found out later, had quite the scene over my salsa incident.  It wasn’t a pretty sight between the chef and the general manager of the cafeteria…

I don’t know why stupid stuff happens.  I’m organized and good at what I do.  Nothing that happened in this odd 48 hour period could I have prevented.  All of this series of unfortunate events was totally out of my control.  But I found out just how good people can be in a crisis, and how helpful, even to strangers.  And anyway, no one died, my bags weren’t lost, the plane didn’t crash, and everything eventually worked out.

Stay tuned…

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Nancy JC
August 4, 2009 5:57 am

“OMG!” in my best Daryl Lancaster voice…. All I can say is that the moon is getting more full every day, and I hope things will stay on the straight and narrow for your next installment in Michign. Be safe! and see you soon.

August 4, 2009 6:59 am

WOW…and I thought I had a problem at MAFA with 3rd floor dorm room/no elevator, deluging rain and my farm help vanishing when poor Kevin was alone careing for my sheep.

Maurine Adrezin
August 4, 2009 6:52 pm

Hi Daryl- Despite all the events that happened to you at IWC- you did a fantastic job as MC at the fashion show and looked beautiful in your handwoven dress. It was so great seeing you again. I own all of your publications and love wearing the Daryl Jacket that I made in your class years ago when I lived back East.

August 5, 2009 4:18 pm

Yoou summed it up in the last sentence. Way too much excitement there. And jenny, thanks for the heads up about Mafa, because I heard they were planning to try it again at Gettysburg college. I’ll stay at a hotel.

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The Day Before…

Just checking in as I wrap up loose ends and get ready for the next conference, I fly out Thursday...