Just a Bit More Bad Luck

Dulles International Airport, Washington, DC, USA

From My White Wintery Hell

I spent all morning hoping my flight might be cancelled and might be able to stay until Tuesday, crash Karla’s Valentine’s Day, and take the CASA exam on Tuesday morning.

When it became clear that my flight would really leave, I spent all afternoon trying to figure out how to get to Dulles. The Metro wasn’t running. Even if it had been, the Metro bus to Dulles wasn’t running. Neither was the Washington Flyer nor the Airport Shuttle. I could get a cab from Alexandria, but if I took the bus to Ballston I could save almost $15. Rachel and her friend said they’d seen the bus to Ballston, so that was the plan.

From My White Wintery Hell

I dragged my suitcase, carry-on and backpack full of books for my supervisor’s PhD over the snow to the main road. At 6pm it looked pretty much like it looked at noon:

From My White Wintery Hell

But the longer I stood in the dark and the slush on the corner, waiting for a bus that might not come, contemplating the prospect of schlepping all my luggage on and off the bus…. I started to feel like $15 maybe wasn’t so much money after all. I called a taxi.

When the taxi arrived, he was playing Arabic music. He loaded in my bags and as soon as we were off, he flipped the dial for the radio. “Oh, I liked the Arabic music!” I said. “It reminds me of … home.”
He gave me an odd look and said, with an unmistakably Arab accent, “Where are you from?”
“Well, I’m from Pennsylvania, but right now I live in Jordan. That’s where I’m going, actually.”
“Really?” he says. “I’m from Jordan!” And an intensely homesick Jordanian, too. So we chatted about home, until his car started making funny noises. He pulled over onto the shoulder of I395 and called his brother to take me the airport (such an Arab!). When his brother was busy, he called his friend, but he couldn’t come either. That was when I started to notice the cab filling up with really foul rubber-smelling smoke. “Look,” says my driver, “I’ll take you down to the Pentagon Metro station and get you another cab. I’m not even going to charge you for this ride.” He was very sweet, poor guy, and found a cab from his own company down at the Metro and handed me and my bags over.

My second cab driver was from Eritrea, a country about which I know very little except that there’s apparently a significant Eritrean community in Amman (many of them cousins of a Peace Corps friend, in fact). I learned all kinds of things. I had no idea that Eritrea was a mainly Christian country, for example, and that there’s a lot of Italian mixed into the local languages, left over from the colonial era.

And though it cost me a fortune, I made it to the airport in just the perfect amount of time to check in, get through security, and arrive at the gate a mere 10 minutes before boarding.

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