“Volcanoed In”, whilst in NYC

Twitter was chock full of volcano.
I really should have taken more pictures for this post.

I think it was Thursday when I had the following exchange at work…

Colleague: Is your flight canceled?
Franc: Why would it be?
Colleague: Did you read the flight alert mail?
Franc: Oh, no worries, I’m booked on Virgin. (assuming more strike action by British Airways)
Colleague: …the one about the volcano?

Needless to say, I never expected to have a flight to the UK canceled because of a gigantic cloud of volcanic ash. I definitely can’t pronounce Eyjafjallajökul, and there I was, “Volcanoed In”.

Once my flight was officially cancelled on Friday night, there was lots of hold music. Lots. Then came hotel swapping, a whole lot of booking drama, and even more hold music.

Roughing it at the Plaza Athénée

Some people were very sympathetic. Was I okay? Did I need clothes or a place to sleep? I was offered my own room, several couches, an aerobed, and a bedroom full of cats.

There were kind offers of frequent feeding; a BBQ, a chicken, and my friend Elisabeth gave me a bag of homemade cheese sticks (awesome!). A colleague even offered to do my laundry. I felt extra loved.

Reminding myself that life was tough, I tried to be strong. I reminded then that while I was suffering soooo much at the Millennium Hilton (my home for the last 5 days of the trip), it was still at least a smidge better than an airport cot.

Others were apathetic. They didn’t relish saying that I had been volcanoed, and well,  they aren’t very fun people anyway. 

My view from the Hilton
The site has come a long
way since I worked on the other side

High on the collective to-do list at work was trying to find an alternative way home once our flights were canceled. My colleagues treated this like a life or death mission..something about having wives alone with hordes of small children seemed to really put the fear in them. I’d get phone calls and emails at all hours, notifying me of the latest Plan, encouraging me to call travel and try to get wait listed for the latest chosen vehicle.

They looked at taking the Queen Mary 2  and at flying to Madrid and taking a car service or train back to London. My employer announced  plans to charter a jet to an undisclosed location from which transport to London would be provided via a British Naval ship and coach bus.

I can think of few greater contrasts in transportation than “private jet” and “coach bus“. 
I concluded the ash would have to go eventually and opted to stay put. After all, I had a pregnancy sweater and a lot of hotel shampoo.

Pregnancy sweaters come from precious people.

You see, I began to run out of clothes on d+1 (d= departure) so I began to collect items from others, specifically items they definitely didn’t mind not receiving back in the near future. I wore them all at the same time, feeling like a spoiled refugee. That t-shirt with a spot, the pregnancy sweater, and the airline socks made for a fine complement to my new jeans on d+2. 

 By the time I left for the airport on d+6, I was definitely ready to go. Two weeks of not sleeping well and working loads has caught up. Even so, the extra week was a blessing in disguise.

Despite being crammed in the office more often than not…

Bagels, just as planned

-I got to catch up with a number of workmates  
-I even managed to see a few old friends, a highlight!
-I learned that Landmarc will not only deliver fantastic food but also beer!
-I had lunch at Google on their roof deck in the sun, and during my visit, saw a live kangaroo.
-I met a dear friend’s new wife and saw him the happiest I’ve ever seen him 
-I bought many pairs of socks 
-I failed to go to the gym, except for one day
-I never had barbeque. I did have a lot of sushi, though!
-I was reminded how convenient 24 hour restaurants are. Thank you, Bubby’s.

So many weird ads on the subway. 888-LAPBAND ?!?!

-I was invited to Brooklyn for chicken, and it was the most fun chicken I have ever had. 
-I learned that restaurants can give you an itemized guest check (key for submitting expenses) after the fact thanks to customer service that rivaled the food at Wolfgang’s in Tribeca.

     …and I learned that there’s no place like home, and that I’m truly lucky to have two.


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